4.9.15 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshot_137x185Suddenly, I believe in miracles.

I’m not talking about the kind that turns water into wine, makes a disabled person suddenly walk or removes a disease with the simple touch of a televangelist.

I’m talking about more subdued, yet no less-special, miracles.

On April 2, my mother lost her five-year battle with cancer. It hurts, and that’s an understatement. But I know she is no longer in pain.

Less than 24 hours before she died—on April Fool’s Day—I found my miracle. It was a day of hurried plane flights, a torturous layover and a rushed ride from the airport to the hospital.

I hoped she was okay. Despite the texts from my sister, I remained optimistic that this stubborn woman I have known for 38 years would be waiting for me in her room with a big smile on her face.

But that’s not what I found. She was in and out of consciousness and a little confused. She knew I was there and hugged me. She thought I was there for the Easter holiday. I didn’t correct her.

I got one more chance to tell her I loved her—and one more chance to tell her that I was happy. Hours later she slipped into a deep sleep, something that had evaded her for nearly a week. We knew she would never awaken. She died at 10:30 the next morning.

There is nothing miraculous about that, I admit. The miracle came the night before she passed away, while immediate family and a constant onslaught of extended family and friends spent the night in an uncomfortable waiting room.

At one point, I drearily emerged from the ICU and saw my father hugging the man I love.

Both were teary eyed. Yet both were smiling.

I walked over, sat next to them both and inquisitively glanced into the eyes of both men. That’s when my dad put one hand on my knee and his other hand on the knee of my partner.

My dad told me he loved me and pointedly asked me if I loved the man sitting to my left. When I told him I did, he responded by saying, “Then I love him too. I love both of you and you are always welcome in my home at any time.”

I typically hide my emotions. I like to think I’m rather stoic.

But no floodgate could hold back the tears and sobs that escaped from me. In the middle of the worst experience of my life, I finally found the acceptance I had searched for since I came out to my parents in 1999. My dad also confirmed that my mother approved of the man with whom I plan to spend the remainder of my days.

I see it as her final gift. Her final, miraculous gift.

When my dad walked away to go back to my mother’s bedside, my sister sat beside me and asked if the reality of what was happening had finally hit me. I responded by telling her no, that wasn’t it. It was hearing something from our parents that 16 years ago I never would have thought possible.

I could see my sister reconsidering some of her own positions and prejudices.

As I write this, I’m sitting at the kitchen table where my parents and my sister ate throughout my childhood. It’s the evening of Easter Sunday. My partner is in bed, catching up on much needed rest. My dad is watching the opening night of baseball season on ESPN2.

Tomorrow, we greet relatives and friends at the funeral home. Two days from now, we will bury my mother in a plot my father purchased the day after she died.

I know there will be more tears and that I will rely heavily on my partner to get me through. But I have learned that out of tragic circumstances come unexpected miracles.

My father freely admits that he doesn’t understand my “lifestyle”—his word, not mine. But he has confirmed that he respects me and he respects my judgment with my choice of a partner.
That gives me comfort. And after searching for it for so long, it is indeed a miracle.

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