Dear Mom

Coming to terms with her mother’s recent death helps Paula Orton understand that life is too short to be spent hiding who she is.

Dear Mom,

It’s been months now since you passed away. You are in my thoughts daily and I miss you more than I thought possible. What I miss most is the relationship we never had. You left this place without ever truly knowing me. In the end, I know you loved me…but I always wanted you to love me for who I really was, not who you wanted me to be. When I first told you I was a lesbian you ignored it. I think that you honestly believed if you didn’t think about it, or we didn’t talk about it, that it wasn’t real. I already knew how you felt about gay people. I had grown up hearing the jokes you laughed at and told, yourself. I heard you call people “fruity” and found out from other people what that meant. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done…telling you and somehow knowing in my heart what the outcome would be before I had even done it. You didn’t disappoint in that respect. What you didn’t realize was that the reaction I expected and got from you was so painful to receive…I hoped I was wrong. I had crushes on female coaches and teachers all the way from grade school to the day I graduated high school…I attributed it to the fact that they were authority figures. I tried to fit into the mold that society had created for me and that so many times you tried to push on me. You were always so happy when I had a date for anything… like that defined my worth in the situation or something. When I went away to college I was finally able to acknowledge what had been there all along…it didn’t come easy to me and I did a lot of soul searching that year before I decided to be honest with myself and everyone else about it. For years after I told you our relationship was non-existent. I know you kept tabs on me through grandma because, unlike you, she didn’t even blink when I told her. She kept on loving me and treating me the same. She met all my girlfriends and very tactfully stated her opinion of them. She still asks about my first serious girlfriend all these years later…only she calls her Faith (which is not her name but it’s kind of close), it’s pretty cute actually. It makes me quite sad to think now about all the time and connection we missed out on because you didn’t want me to be who I really am. I appreciate that you made an effort after I had been with Linda for a couple years. You tried to do sweet things for her and us collectively…the thing that took away from that was that you still referred to her as my “friend” or “roommate.” It made it seem as if you were ashamed of what we were to each other. When we broke up after 7 years the first thing you said to me was “good, now maybe you’ll find a nice man to marry.” I don’t think you could ever know how much pain I was in at that moment. Not only had the person I had promised to spend the rest of my life with (through thick and thin) just broken my heart…you totally devalued that pain, and that hurt even more.

The hardest part about not having you here is that you will never really know me now. You will never meet who I choose to spend my life with. You will never meet your future grandchildren. I know you are in a better place now. A place free from the physical pain you endured here on earth. A place free from the emotional pain you struggled through in your life. I only wish you could be here to share with me in all that I’m doing and becoming. But I guess in a way you are here because your death brought about so many changes in my life. I’m thankful for that because they are changes I am proud of and I think you would be too. I am a happy person and a contributing member of society. My life would be so different now if I hadn’t been true to myself all those years ago. Your death has renewed my resolve to help make the world a better place for all people and I am so thankful to live in a world where I can be my true self. I am learning more about myself through each challenge and life experience and I can honestly say to you that the process of coming out is making me a stronger person.

I talk to you daily now. I ask you to give me the strength to go on and make a better life for myself. I ask you to give me courage to do things I’m scared of. I ask you to give me the confidence I need to go after the things I think are beyond me. I ask you to give me the patience with myself that I have with others. I ask you to show me the way. I know all of these things truly come from inside me…but having you looking out for me now after everything we’ve been through means a lot to me. I talk to you more now than I ever have…I tell you how I feel and what I really wish for, things I don’t say to anyone else. Mom…I am living each day with a purpose and intent I’ve never had before…and I hope you are proud!

I love you and will miss you until I leave this earth myself…

Your Daughter,
Paula