I was bad gas and indigestion for my mom when my parents were traveling in their VW Bus cross-country from North Carolina to California. She couldn't be pregnant: It was 1967. My mom had given birth to my brother about a year prior to the trip, and it was a tough labor. The doctors removed an eight-pound tumor from her uterus after the delivery and emphatically told her that her likelihood of having any more children was slim to none. Miraculously, I was conceived. According to the doctor, I was a leprechaun. 5 pounds, 4 ounces...big blue eyes. Eyes that would ultimately see the world in a very unique, profound way. I came into this world as the miracle daughter and little sister.
Five more siblings and a decade and a half later, I became not just the daughter and little sister, but the big sister and the little mother. Changing diapers and bottle-feeding became second nature to me - as did playing the piano, cheerleading, running for student council, excelling at basketball, track, soccer, and poetry writing. There was and has always been the me that the world sees...and then there is me. The real me.
I had my first sexual encounter when I was 11, when my friend Jane and I decided we would explore each other's bodies and just see what was what. She had much larger breasts than I, and she always seemed to be more worldly and knowledgeable about the female anatomy. She even had a mile-high collection of Playboy magazines that I reluctantly - one eye open - looked at curiously. All the while, I was trying to imagine how I would confess this the next time I went to church. Oh, did I mention I was raised in quite a strict, Catholic household? I never actively pursued a lesbian lifestyle, although I did experiment more later on.
Jane died of ovarian cancer when we were 26. I'm pretty sure she took our secret to her grave. I sang "Amazing Grace" at her funeral. Every word of every stanza punctured my heart. My daughter had just turned one. Now, I was a mother. I remember Jane holding my daughter that Christmas...with the bandanna wrapped around her post-chemo bald head and a Virginia Slim pursed between her lips. She was laughing and loving what was left of her life. She died that March.
My daughter had a father. We got divorced when she was five. So in between all of this, I became a wife and a daughter-in-law. Neither role was easy, but it was the life I chose. I had affairs - so did my husband. So now I became an adulteress. Still trying to figure out how to confess these things - being Catholic and all.
I became a teacher and then a counselor for at-risk students at a local college. But that happened only after years of delivering newspapers, working at the deli, the flower shop, and the dairy mart. Then fate stepped in, and I became a professional fundraiser. Now, I was a bona fide professional, working, single mom.
Then my dear friend Marc died. He was the most glorious throw-back from the sixties who introduced me to Bob Dylan in the most authentic and intimate way. I loved Marc. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2001. I gave his grave-side eulogy. The next week, I was hospitalized for anxiety. My heart ached for him. I was a friend who lost another friend.
My daughter is pregnant - not planned...not an ideal situation...but now I am going to be a grandmother. I have always told my daughter that her journey is her own - that she should never compare her life to anyone else's. And I have tried to do the same.
I am a daughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin, a mother, a grandmother, a deep thinker, a lover, a fighter and a friend. I am a dichotomy - strong, but weak; proud, but humble; courageous, but scared; totally loving, but protective and skeptical at times; forgiving, but sad sometimes; beautiful, but have moments of feeling ugly.
I am me.
Submitted by Anonymous, Edited by Arianne Keegan