Since my mom passed away, and then dad, I have come to see holidays such as this one as different. Thanksgiving is one of those that I really never understood as a child. I would take for granted that it is a time to reflect on the things we are thankful for. I would take for granted that it actually meant something to others.
Mom would always prepare this large spread. She would do it without complaint and make sure there was always something on the menu that everyone liked. She would go out of her way to please everyone and never take praise for doing so. I never realized that she was showing her thanks and love for us, her family, by cooking, by slaving away at the hot stove and oven for DAYS. She showed us her love and care in every single dish she produced. It was a time when the whole family would come together. It is a time where we would put our pettiness and attitude aside in the spirit of love and family. These are the memories I have come to appreciate now that it no longer occurs. Four years ago my perfect world was shattered when mom was no longer part of my every day life. My world further shattered when Dad, whom never said he loved me, who never said he was proud of me, and never needed to because he showed it with his actions, with his quiet affection, with a simple smile.
Now almost two years after loosing both of them I realize how greatful and thankful to the both of them I am. When I came to realize who I was as a person, or should I say started to come to realize, I became filled with dread. How would the people who have been a major part of my identity react when the secret I held so close and dear to my heart was revealed?
You see, eleven years ago, right before this day (Thanksgiving) I decided it was time to completely reveal to my parents the "whole" me. It was time I stopped hiding away part of my heart from them. It was time to come completely clean and stop "lying in wait" in that strong walled closet I had spent the previous five years. So what would any self-respecting eighteen year old do? I wrote a letter. Yea, I know, a letter. What parent would mind getting an EIGHTEEN page letter from their child, right before one of the major holidays of the season right before they come home to celebrate, that says… MOM, I’M GAY?
However, in typical mom fashion, I received a phone call a week later (odd because we talked like every other day) and the only thing out of her mouth were “Are you sure?” You don’t know how that made me feel at that moment. No “how could you”. No “silent” treatment. All she wanted to know is if I was sure. Of course I told her if I was ever sure of anything in my life, it was this. And in true mom fashion she asks if I was seeing anyone and if I was being “safe”. I went from scared to embarassed in about five minutes.
These are the moments that I hold dear now at thanksgiving. And today I can say I am thankful for the following: My Life, My Family, My Friends, My parents, Those who have loved me, Those who have hated me, and just about everything. I am thankful for the good and bad times for they have created the person I am today.
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect. It is a time to think about those things which we truly care about and make a difference in our lives.
I am thankful, are you?
Jason P. Ruel
BellaOnline's Gay Lesbiand and HIV/AIDS Editor