Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sharing a letter

I know a wonderful family. They have an amazing son who has cardiomyopathy, which means he is in heart failure. Their little guy, Simon, became very, very ill just a few months before Loki was born. Reading their blog has been a major inspiration and has shown me that parents, with an incredible amount of love for one another as well as their child, can practically manage any challenging situation. A few weeks ago we happened to bump into this family. Their handsome and charismatic little guy immediately charmed both Loki and myself with his huge, bright eyes. His mothers were wonderfully supportive of the difficulties we have faced with Loki's feedings and his tube. In addition to handing us some really useful supplies for Loki's mic-key button they gave me the advice that completely changed our lives; make home made blenderized food. I kid you not, since we started making our food at home Loki has barely vomited, he tolerates 60 cc's at once and he is eating more by mouth!! Needless to say, we are incredibly grateful!

I do not want to turn Loki's blog into a political sounding board. But I do want to share a letter that one of Simon's mother's wrote. It has deeply touched me. I have worked with many families living under incredibly difficult circumstances. I can attest to the fact that this family has a gift of making life beautiful, safe and happy for their son, despite his serious health issues. I hope for many more years of following their blog and I invite you to check it out as well: www.simonlev.blogspot.com

Below please find Jamie's letter:

Hello,

You don’t know me but I walk past your house 3-4 days a week on my break from work. Every time, I'm struck by your Yes on Prop 8 sticker. I'm guessing this may not be your intention, but every time I see your sticker, it feels like someone is standing in my face, yelling "I hate you and I hate your family”. I wanted to let you know what kind of an impact it has.

I thought the most constructive thing to do would be to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I'm guessing (maybe incorrectly) that you don't know any Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) people and in particular LGBT parents. I have found that actually meeting or knowing about a real live person who is happy, healthy and well adjusted AND gay can sometimes change things for people who seem to feel the way your family does about people like me.

I can tell from your house that you have children. I am also a parent and the issue of Proposition 8 has taken on a whole new meaning for me since having my son, Simon.

I have known I was a lesbian since I was 17. When I came out to my family, they were distressed because they were very concerned for my safety. They knew that people who have been taught to be homophobic do and say terrible things to people like me. However, my entire family including my parents and grandparents, were also very clear that they loved me unconditionally and would support me in leading the happiest, healthiest, most fulfilling life I could live, even if I were gay. That meant more to me than probably anything in my life.

I met my wife, Laura, over 8 years ago through a mutual friend. We were good friends for some time before we fell in love. A year and a half later, when Laura asked me to marry her on the Ponte Neuf bridge in Paris with an antique diamond ring, I gleefully said yes. Our family and friends were thrilled and we had a large, beautiful wedding in Tilden Park, at the Brazil Building with over 120 family and friends.

Laura has known her whole life that she wanted to be a parent. I was a little more reserved about the idea, but after overcoming my fears that I would not be the kind of present, attentive parent I wanted to be, we moved forward with our process. A year and a half after we were married, Laura gave birth to our son, Simon.

Simon became gravely ill with a serious heart condition when he was almost four months old. He was in the ICU at Children’s Hospital Oakland for four months and nearly died numerous times. One of the things that sustained us as parents through that time was love. Love for each other, love for Simon and the love that so many other people showed us. Our doctors and nurses, friends of friends and relatives of friends prayed for us, sent us emails, gave us hugs, brought Simon toys and supported us as a family.

We were later shocked to learn that many of the people who were so kind to us in the hospital were evangelical Christians. They were able to treat us with kindness, love and compassion AND be Christian. They supported us as a family even though they may have had issues with us being gay, because they knew it was the truly good and kind thing to do. They did what Jesus would have done.

Which brings me to Proposition 8.

The only thing Proposition 8 and policies like it does is hurt families. It doesn't do anything to strengthen your family or those of any other straight people. It just hurts families like mine, especially families with children.

My being gay and being in a happy, healthy relationship doesn’t actually hurt other people. It won’t make your kids gay and it won’t make my kid gay. Anyone who has spent any amount of quality time with gay people knows this. Prop 8 isn’t going to make it any less likely that someone is gay or that gay people will create families together. Instead, it just makes us sad and feel scared that some day someone may hurt us or our families. And it makes the people that love us feel the same way. Fear and hurt are the opposite things that I would I hope loving Christian people like the ones that you seem to be, to bring to the world.

I am lucky enough to live in a state that has some policies that help me provide for and protect my family. I am the sole breadwinner right now because Simon is too medically fragile to be in day care so Laura stays home with him. In other states with policies that seek to deny LGBT people the basic privileges straight people have, I might have been denied the right to visit my own son in the hospital while he appeared to be dying or he might be denied health insurance through me. That is simply cruel.

Denying Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people the same privileges heterosexual people have doesn't actually help anyone. It just creates a culture in which people are fired, injured, killed and isolated for being gay. I know the goal of these types of policies is to somehow strengthen society but what they really do is divide us and hurt us. All of us. It hurts my parents when someone treats me badly for being gay and it will hurt my son when someone is cruel to his parents for being who they were born to be. It hurts me and I venture to say that in some ways, it also hurts you.

In the spirit of love, I want to reach out and invite you to learn about my family. We have a blog that we started at simonlev.blogspot.com that tells our story about living as a family with a critically ill child. You will probably laugh, you will probably cry and you may find that you come to see us as three of God's perfect creatures.

6 comments:

berkeleygal77 said...

absolutely beautiful

Anonymous said...

You know I love to talk...but this leaves me quiet and i awe. Thank you for sharing it.

The Fitch-Jenett Family said...

I'm *so* touched that you did this. :-)

Jaime

marieke said...

This is great news!! Martin and I are happy. I thought you allready made your own food in the blender.Or do I maybe don't understand?

Checked out the prop 8 thing. Indeed,the only thing to do to people who believe gay people should not merry is to invite them in your lives or ignore their statements.
And now, check out Simons blog.
Kus,Marieke

rstiles said...

Great post. I'm continually amazed that Prop 8 passed and that so many still have such strong, anti-gay sentiment. Continual decline in education, a broken health care system, the wars, environmental and economic meltdowns, genocide in Africa, etc... and yet denying Gays the right of marriage is the grand cause that some folks want to rally behind? Wow! talk about standing on the wrong side of history!

Mom said...

Rob, thanks for putting this even more in perspective! So true, what do you want to fight for in life?

About Loki Sky

Loki Sky is a special little man. He was a very early micropreemie, weighing only 610 grams (1 lb, 5 oz) after 24 weeks, 3 days gestation, born to an American Father and a Dutch Mother in Berkeley, California on October 18, 2008.

On January 11, 2009, while still in the hospital NICU, his one kidney stopped working. It was repaired after three surgeries. After spending time in three hospitals in three cities, Loki came home on February 17. He struggled with eating, and then stopped in July, leading to 8 days in the hospital, a failure-to-thrive diagnosis, and a NG feeding tube. On October 10, a minor surgery installed a G feeding tube. Another procedure replaced it with a new one, and then again with a Mic-Key button in Jan. 2010.

In August 2010, he and his parents moved to the Netherlands.

Read about his first name.
Read & hear about his middle name.
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