This post is dedicated to Ambrosia, iwonder, and Jason Lockhart, and you should go to their blogs and say hello to them--please leave a comment, otherwise your visit will show up on their counters and they won't know who you are, and it's very rude to visit someone and not introduce oneself. And just for Jason, because he asked, I have "supersized" this topic and will write about it in more than one post.
(By the way, before I begin the post--thanks to those of you who have identified yourselves either through comments or email in the past week. I love getting to know other people, reading their blogs, and learning more about them. And if you haven't said anything yet--there's no time like the present.)
DJ has always been a listener. He talks when he feels comfortable, or when he has something to say, but mostly he just wants to be with people and hear their stories. There's a warmth about him that people are drawn to, and for me, well, he just makes me feel happy when I'm with him. Sully and DJ have become very good friends over the past couple of years, which is a good thing for me, because I absolutely love Sully. We've had him come to our home often, and he celebrates most holidays and birthdays with us in some way. And just in case you're wondering why I'm bringing Sully into this post--it's because it was through him that DJ learned about me.
Before he left for school, Sully had written notes to each member of our family. He had spent an evening with us, and after he went home, I sent the kids to bed and cleaned up the kitchen. An hour later I opened his note to me, and saw at the bottom a postscript which read: In my letter to DJ I told him that I was gay...
It was nearly midnight. I walked up to DJ's room and listened. I could tell that he wasn't sleeping. I turned on the light and asked if he wanted to talk. He nodded, so I sat beside him on the bed and asked him what he thought of the things Sully had told him. DJ said he wasn't really surprised. He had wondered about it and thought it might be true. But to have it written out and confirmed was sort of disconcerting. He wanted to know why Sully came to me. I told him Sully really hadn't come to me, I had come to him. DJ wanted to know how I knew Sully was gay without him telling me, and why I would want to talk to him about it. So, I told DJ that I was gay, as well, and that I knew how it felt to grow up thinking that I was the only one--at least in the church. And I thought that Sully might need to talk to someone who kind of understood how he felt. And besides that, I loved Sully and wanted to support him as he learned more about himself which can be really scary. DJ had a few questions about me, but none about Sully. I gave him the same reassurances that I'd given Adam, and also made it clear that he must keep confidential the information Sully had given him. He gave me the, "well, duh!!" look, but I told him I just felt it needed to be said. He said he would never tell anyone, of course.
I asked DJ if he had any other questions about me or about Sully. He said he didn't because we have talked about homosexuality openly for many years. DJ shares a birthday with my cousin, who is gay, who came out when DJ was about five years old. So when he heard conversations about the person who was born on the same day as he was, DJ had lots of questions about what was happening. We answered them.
Our current conversation continued:
Me: DJ, Sully's been through a lot in the past couple of years, but I think he's much healthier today. He definitely seems stronger. It's okay to worry about him, because he's your friend, but Sully is a really wonderful person, and I think he'll do what's necessary to stay healthy and strong.
DJ: I know. I'm really not worried.
Me: Why not?
DJ: It's because of you.
Me: But I worry about people all the time.
DJ: Yeah, but you also have taught me for my whole life that even if people mess up, it doesn't change who they are. Even if they think or believe differently from me, I still love them. You just taught me that I can care about people and let them live their lives without deciding what they need to do. You always say, 'Other people's lives and choices belong only to them. Your job is not to tell them what to do, but to love them no matter what.'"
Me: I do?
DJ: All the time. I've heard it for as long as I can remember.
Me: Wow. I had no idea I was so preachy.
Me: I'm sorry.
DJ: Mom, you know I'm kidding. You don't really preach, you just let us know that everyone is very special. And I believe that.
Me: Why do you believe me? You're a teenager, you're supposed to deny everything your parents have taught you and go be rebellious with your friends.
DJ: Maybe someday.
Me: Warn me first.
DJ: Of course. I'll write you an email and bake you cookies.
Me: Good idea.
DJ: Can I tell you why I believe you?
Me: Oh, yeah, I asked you a question.
DJ: I believe you because I've watched how you care about people--and I see that they love you, too. It's real. You're not loving them because it's a calling, or because you think it's right, but because they're really important to you. I've seen you cry when one of your friends is hurting. When they're in our house, I've watched you laugh with them. And it makes you happy. I want to be like that.
Me: DJ, you often surprise me.
DJ: Well, I'm just pretty awesome.
Me (laughing): No question about it. Will you sleep now?
DJ: I think so. I'm pretty tired.
Me: Be sure you respond to Sully's letter. It's a really important thing to tell someone what he's told you. Just make sure you let him know how you feel about him.
DJ: I'd already planned to email him in the morning.
Me: And please, ask questions, if you have them. I think Sully would love to answer them, and you know you can also ask me.
DJ: I know, but I really don't have any questions right now.
Me: Okay. Sleep well, and I love you.
DJ: I love you, too. Mom? I'm really glad you're my mom.
Me: DJ, that might be the nicest thing you've ever said to me. Good night.
How about that? My teenager listens to me occasionally, and in his eyes, I'm an okay mom.