This post has been a long time in the writing. I have started it and discarded it so many times, I cannot count.
Many hours have been spent reading articles and trying to get my head around the concept of forgiveness.
What I have managed to accomplish is to think through the pain of happenings in my past, and even come to the point where I can forgive those who have done me wrong. I won’t and in some cases can’t face them to admit to it but it does give me some peace of mind when I think of clearing my mind and emotions that I have felt against those people.
Those instances of forgiveness do indeed clear my mind of the negative thoughts associated with those people and actions and while I would like to think that I have made some sort of breakthrough, I am only fooling myself.
In the darkness of my mind, and the cloud that follows my every thought and action, there is something that I cannot ever forgive.
I can never, under any circumstance imagine forgiving myself for what I managed to do when Annie passed from this life.
When she explained to me that she intended to travel to Thailand for her surgery, I did not try and force the issue of my traveling there with her. She explained that she waited her whole life for this trip and she wished to do it on her own. I could have gone with her. I could certainly afford it time wise and financially. In the end I honored her wishes and stayed home.
That is the one decision in my life I will regret to my dying day.
I left her to travel alone and lay in a hospital in a country she had never been to, with no one by her side.
She died alone in that hospital without me by her side to show her how much I loved her or to be able to say goodbye.
There will never be closure for me.
I will never be able to forgive myself for not being there for her at the end.
My life will go on however, and it is a bitter life to face without her.
Annie and I loved the beach, but not in the sun.
If it was a cloudy day and we were near a beach somewhere, we manages to take time from our work to just sit and enjoy the sounds and sights of the ocean. We also enjoyed sitting in the dark at night in those same places where we could just snuggle up together under a blanket and discuss our amazing luck in having found each other.
One night we found ourselves at one of our favorite beaches. We had brought a blanket and some wine and planned on an evening together enjoying the solitude and each other. Unfortunately, a lot of other people seemed to have the same idea.
We gathered up our stuff and decided to walk down the beach in a direction we had never gone before to see if we could find a quieter spot. In a short distance, the beach sort of curved around and we found ourselves in a nice quiet place. There wasn’t a lot of sand there and the beach was covered with millions of small rocks and pebbles.
We found a nice spot and while just sitting there the tide came up and the water started to rush up onto the pebbles. As the water receded with each wave, the sound of the water rushing over the rocks was amazing. We had never heard anything like this before.
The water would wash up in normal sounds and as it receded it was like the rocks were singing. It was mesmerizing to us since this was a totally new experience.
I can’t even begin to count how many times we came back to this same spot. We always checked to see what time the tide came in so we would not miss it.
I would love to go back and hear the rocks singing to me again.
But, I just can’t. It could never be the same again.
Annie and I loved to walk in the forest.
Neither of us were sun people. The idea of sitting and roasting in the sun for hours on end just did not appeal to either of us.
We preferred the shade and dappled sunlight of the forest. It seemed that wherever our travels took us, we always managed to carve out time to find a local forest for a walk.
In fact we did as much sitting as walking. Once we found a suitable bench or log to sit on, we could relax and sometimes spend a very long time sitting.
Silence is the key to enjoying the forest. The longer we sat quietly, the sooner the animals of the forest would make themselves known to us. We were fortunate to not run into any dangerous animals, but every other type of denizen of the shade would appear, usually one at a time. Either they did not see us, or recognized the fact that we were not a threat and therefore went about their business as we watched in surprise and at time wonder.
Some of our favorite times together began with picking up a blanket and heading out to the forests of the north. Cuddling together under the blanket, the silence of the forest could easily overwhelm. Enjoying each others’ body heat, we could sit and listen to the sounds of nature forever. The rustling of the animals through the brush and leaves on the ground, the sound of the wind breathing through the trees is mesmerizing if you just give yourself up to it.
It’s not the same anymore. When Annie died, this became another piece of life that died with her. I still go to the forests, but it is never the same as it was when we shared it together. The sounds of the forest are still there, but instead of wonder there is just an overwhelming sadness each time I visit.
Most of the comments I receive are of the positive type and most of the questions are asked in a respectful way. But, sometimes a question comes across that simply throws me off my game.
One such question came from a male who while not subscribed to my blog, obviously reads it, and reached out to me recently.
He began by stating that he enjoys my writing style and the subject matter, and wanted to know what city I lived in and if I would be interested meeting for a date? He explained further that if I had such a loving relationship with a trans woman, I should be receptive to dating a man. Well, I politely shut that down in short order, but that then got me to thinking, which is always a dangerous thing to do.
Why would anyone equate a trans woman with a cis male? It is like comparing the sun and the moon. I have never had the desire to date a male and honestly, while I have seen a few very attractive men in my life, there has never been a desire to date or have any type of romantic relationship with a male.
It’s just not in my wheelhouse. The thought of such a relationship just never occurred to me and after thinking long and hard on his comments, I can say it most likely never will. Simply put, I am just not attracted to men or the male body. All that testosterone is a definite turn off for me.
So that brought me to part two. Will I date another trans woman?
How can I answer that? I didn’t know Annie was trans when I met her. I did not seek her out. We met organically, solely by being in the same place at the same time, and formed an instant bond with each other. I have grieved for her every day for these past eleven years and have no intention of ever doing anything to lessen my memories of the time we spent together.
Dating. Nope. Not in the cards. I could accept a serious friendship however.
I asked many times, but Annie always refused my offer to join her in the shower.
She said that she couldn’t face me in such a vulnerable manner. She also said she was terrified that I would come to hate her.
So it was that one night while out to dinner, we decided to play a little game of guessing the ingredients contained in our dinner. The winner would be entitled to anything asked for, but could not reveal what it would be in advance. I felt pretty confident.
We kept score during dinner and in the end I did in fact win. I told Annie I would collect when we went back to our room.
Back in the room, I took her by the hand and we walked into the bathroom. I said my prize is to shower together. She sobbed and said she couldn’t bear it if I left her. I wrapped my arms around her and said that would never happen.
Once in the shower, she made sure to face away from me. I hugged her from behind and told her to make the water to the temperature she wanted. She did so and with shaking hands picked up the bar of soap.
I said no…you cannot have the soap. She turned her head to me and her eyes were filled with tears and she asked why.
I said I am the only one who can use the soap here.
That was just the first of many showers together. After that evening she asked many, many times for me to join her.
Those are nights I will never forget.
Montreal was one of our favorite cities. I didn’t travel there often before I met Annie and because of that I knew little of the city. That all changed with Annie.
Annie loved Montreal and convinced me to travel there more often so we could meet and she could show me all the great things about the city. It only took a few trips for me to realize how much I had been missing and how this particular city was so well suited to who we are and our dreams together for the future.
As I write this, you have to remember that all of this transpired a long time ago. Annie was never welcome in the U.S. during that time. The fact that she had a successful corporate career was a testament to her drive and the fact that she found herself in a company that refused to allow discrimination within its ranks. Even by today’s standards, many companies pay lip service to non-discrimination but turn an eye away from actual instances of it.
I became an expert at watching for “the look.” The more often I saw someone looking at Annie with disdain and hostility, the more dismayed I became for her safety. The reality of the situation was that since I was accompanying her, those feelings were projected onto myself as well.
We shared our feelings over this many times and we worked hard to find a place where we could live and have a future together in a welcoming environment. In the end, Montreal became the obvious choice. Even though it was only a short plane ride away, it was like traveling to another world where your gender or color of your skin held no sway over living an every day life in peace and happiness. The U.S. held no such hope for us. Even today, while I still live in the U.S., I would prefer to live somewhere else that is more inclusive and welcoming to everyone.
Without Annie however, there is little motivation for me to leave. Without Annie, life has become something like living on a treadmill. The day-to-day is repetitive, all the while my memories of her surround everything I see and do.
Her picture in my phone and her iPod, which frequently finds itself in my pocket, represent the shattered life that remains from the love that we shared for each other.
Annie had the most beautiful eyes and hands of anyone I knew.
There were so many stories that hid in those eyes. It always surprised me to see how quickly her eyes could change. The pain and despair she felt when dealing with an intolerant society always showed in her eyes. She was beaten down so many times, yet always persevered to rise up again even stronger.
But…there was so much joy in those eyes as well. When we were together, making our way in finding out everything we could about each other, her happiness pushed back the pain. Once she accepted and embraced our relationship, she transformed into a new person. Still shy and introverted in public, she never held back from seeking new adventures and explorations with me. It seemed to me that I opened a door that she kept closed since she was thirteen, and now that it was open, there was no holding her back.
And she had amazing hands. Long and slender fingers which were always perfectly manicured with a constantly changing palette of nail polish. Soft hands…the softest hands I ever felt. Yet those hands were like fire. When she touched me, whether it be holding hands, or something more intimate, those hands caused me to lose my mind on so many occasions. The simple act of her human touch sparked many emotions and so many times it was hard to maintain control.
I have never met anyone else who could speak to me in such a personal way with just her eyes and hands. Watching and observing, and interacting with her every day, and week, and almost year that we shared together made for the happiest time of my life.
She didn’t deserve her fate. Annie had so much more to live for. I know how happy I made her, because she told me and showed me over and over again. If only she could have lived to enjoy the freedom the surgery promised.
There is a common fantasy among the male population. I am not sure if any women have the same fantasy, as I have never asked, but I would suspect it is so for them as well.
It goes like this.
You wait and wait for the day a beautiful stranger will appear in your life and everything you know will change and you live together happily ever after. It could happen, right?
Well, the first half of that happened to me. The night Annie walked up to me was just like thousands of other nights until that moment. I never knew what hit me. I was so mesmerized that I completely missed the start of the conversation. It took a few minutes for me to realize she was actually speaking to me and asking me questions.
Those first few moments changed my life forever. I knew in an instant that this was the moment I had lived my life for. When our eyes locked, we both seemed to recognize at the same time that something scary and at the same time, beautiful was happening to us both. Through everything that transpired from that night on, I could never understand how two people coming from such different places could meet and form an instant bond, while not knowing anything about the other.
I was never sure which of us was more afraid of what was to come. I wasn’t looking to meet anyone and she was afraid of any interactions with men. Her eyes, which were black as coal when we first met, hid her emotions. Yet within minutes I could see subtle changes as the tension in her posture relaxed.
I never tired of watching her change when she was with me. We spent countless hours watching each other in all types of situations. We communicated with each other even in the most intimate moments without speaking a word. I learned exactly what she lacked and desired and how to please her in every way. I waited my whole life for her and she was so much more than I could have ever hoped for.
Annie opened my eyes to people and lifestyles I never experienced before and once I did know, I could not live without them or her. Her joy became mine and her issues became my issues.
When she was ripped from my life, I was left with nothing. All that remains is a black hole where I find my peace and solace in the memories of our life together. I trust few people and put on a happy face when I need to deal with others. But…it is all a lie and a hollow life now.
There will never be another beautiful stranger like Annie in my life. When the fantasy becomes reality, it only happens once in a lifetime.
Saying a final goodbye can often provide closure.
I never have had the closure I need so much when I lost Annie. She passed away in a foreign country and is buried there along side some of her extended family.
I did however get closure with Ellen. When Ellen passed, I got the word from her girlfriend Lisa. So soon after losing Annie, it was a devastating call. Lisa was frantic to find out what the final arrangements were going to be, but she was rebuffed by Ellen’s family.
In the end we decided that she should probably reach out to the agency Ellen worked for as a last resource. It turned out to be a good decision. Ellen’s director gave up the details under the understanding no one would know where it came from.
Ellen would be buried in the Denver area where her family now lived. Lisa and I agreed that we had to make the trip to say our farewells. We didn’t go to the service, but we hung out in the car at the cemetery and waited for them all to show up. It was a gray and drizzly day and when everyone gathered together, Lisa and I got out of the car and hung back under a tree not far away, but close enough to hear. The family saw us since we were apart from them, and it was obvious we were not welcome, as we were a part of Ellen’s life that they refused to acknowledge.
Even in death, her family refused to acknowledge her life and referred to Ellen by her birth name. Lisa was devastated by that insult. As the family was leaving, we could see the not so furtive looks aimed at us, but we did not shirk from their scrutiny. Once they all left we went over to the plot to say our own farewells.
It grinds on me still that the name on the stone is Ellen’s birth name, completely eliminating anything about her real life. Her family never knew the real Ellen and what a vibrant, beautiful woman she was. More importantly, Lisa has the closure she needs.