I told my parents the news last weekend and now I’m heading back to spend another weekend there to answer the first set of questions I’m sure they have. I leave alone this time. M is not with me, I figure this will give my parents a chance to ask questions or bring up sensitive topics without her around. We plan on M taking the boys there in a few weeks to give them time to talk to her without me around.
The flight is less stressful this time, there’s less unknowns over what will happen. I rent the car and drive out to visit my parents for the second time in a week. The last time I was there was 3 years ago. Now I’m back twice in one week.
Again I arrive with a bottle of wine and dinner on the table. Once again we make small talk and retell the same stories as we have every time we see each other. I catch up on my bothers’ lives and we go over my parents’ health. Mostly what I want is to answer their questions. I want to talk about the elephant. I want them to know this is important to me. To know M and the boys will be OK and we will always be a family. To know it’s not going to go away. I want them to know that I waited a long time for this. I want my mom to not think any of this is her fault. I want my dad to know I’m worried about disappointing him.
From a selfish point of view I want to talk about the elephant so that I know they care. So that I know they’ll try. That they’ll try to do what it takes to see me through this journey. I, more than them, can see the path before them. M just went down it. I know what’s about to happen to them and what they are soon to start thinking. I saw how hard it was for M and how hard she works at it each and every day. I want to think they are able to go down this path. I want to think they will try and stand by me as I transition.
I know that soon, sooner rather than later, I’ll need to tell my brothers. I also know I’ll likely lose one of them to the righteousness of his religion. And that I will be putting my parents in a position to choose between me and his religion. I know sometime soon I will make them uncomfortable. I know the easy path. I want to think they will try for the harder path.
Again, I can feel my Mom is uncomfortable with the whole thing. She’d prefer to not talk about it, I’m not sure if she wants me to go back to the other coast and pretend all is well or if she just wants to put the transition part of all this behind and just jump to the end of the story.
I ask a few times during my stay if she’s OK, if there’s anything she needs, and each time she pushes it aside. Then at the end of my visit, after my Mom has gone to sleep I get a few moments alone with my Dad. It’s the end of the day and we are on our way to bed. The house is dark and locked up for the night. I ask him if he’s OK, and if Mom’s OK. He sits down in his big easy chair in the dark and chooses his words carefully. And so starts a three hour long conversation on the whole process, what’s ahead for me, how M and the boys are doing, He wants to know how my work is taking the news, how my life has changed. We talk about my Mom and my brothers. He tells me he can’t and maybe never will understand what I’m going through. That he struggles with the ‘Why’ of it all. I tell him I’ve been working on the Why for 45 years now and still don’t have the answer. We talk for three hours in the dark. Three hours of a real honest, open and true conversation. I learn more of my dad in this one trip then the 30 years since I left home. I’m sure he learns more of me then he even could guess existed. I keep from crying the whole time, yet feel the weight of 50 years lifted off my shoulders.
The next day arrives quickly and I have to leave their small town in the country for one of my weeks away at a city across the country from the both of us. I hug them both and tell each of them I love them. I leave closer to my dad then I have been since I was a child. I leave worried about my Mom, I’m worried it might all be too much for her. I’m worry about my Dad and the choices he’ll soon have to make to keep his family together.
I know I’ll always be their child. I have two myself and I know they will always be mine. But I wonder if it might be too late now to take this all in.
I wonder if they are up to the path ahead and if they’ll make the effort required to see me as their child, Dana.