Life and Death, and all these extremes

There has been so much of it lately. And while this started as a ‘preparing for baby’ blog, it’s also about life and how it unfolds. We just got back from an incredible trip to Portugal, where we soaked up and wrung out every drop of life we could squeeze from 15 days abroad. For more on that, you can check out my blog, where I’m charting the fashion, food and fun of life. It’s more public and though it includes some politics, particularly of the social justice and queer variety, it’s the fluffier side of writing, and it captures my life in images, more so than in text.

Here, I am more likely to unburden myself of the things that feel raw and unattractive; thank you for being a place where that seems possible, for supporting that need to unpack the things that can’t stay too long in the body.

While travel was beautiful and brimming, we also spent our days of fun and love traversing a terrain scorched by forest fires. There were places where the ground alongside the highway was black and still smouldering; the sky full of haze; the treese bare and black up to their necks, still hopeful and green at their peak. At intervals, we would see billowing smoke in the distance; sometimes there were patches of charred ground with rivulets of white curling up from cracks in the still-burning soil. It was ghostly and sad to see a place where we passed, untouched, while all this natural life, and the lives of those who live on the land were being threatened, as they watched – near by helpless.

There were moments when we raised a glass to the firefighters working tirelessly to combat the flames against all odds. There were nights where we danced in gay discotheques, in sweaty protest against the vicious shit being leveled at queer citizens in countries far from here. There are moments when I buckle my resolve tight around me because I know I am sheltered, but not immune to the venom that gets spat at women, interracial relationships, queerness, speaking your mind and that humanity can be very ugly. especially when you are caught off guard.

But I don’t want to live like that. I am a realist; mind racing always to consider the intellectual, reasoned response, fighting to head-off my other side, the one of pure emotion and instinct. I am the toughest bleeding heart I know. But away from people I fall apart sometimes.

When we got back from our travels, I anxiously went to pick up our cats from my parents’ place; alive, but not well. One of our little creatures has been with me for 14 years, but still retains a kittenish, floppy, affectionate nature that makes everyone fall in love with him. He is dog-like in his need to be right next to you, to greet you at the door and to need your touch at all times; he is catlike in his languid, stretching in the sun, all-up-in-your-everything personality; we find him in the linen cupboard, he likes to burrow into the clean laundry, to pull himself on his back along the underside of the couch by his paws. He is so trusting and purrs at the drop of a hat. or a show, or simply because he caught you looking at him.

So finding out that he has Horners, which we’d been treating, and that now it looks like he might have something seriously wrong, neurologically, is breaking my heart. Before we left, his eye was squinting and his one ear turned down; no pain, the vet said, keep watching. Now he is clumsy, has fallen over, seems confused and still wants desperately to be close to us, but can’t make it to the couch or to the bed without slipping.

Our other cat is a one-person cat. She is sweet as pie, but only to me, and sometimes to my wife. She hasn’t been being nice to him, which is not a change, but that breaks my heart, too. I wonder if he knows that he is dying. I can’t stop thinking about him being sick, because I look at him and I can see it, literally, in his eyes.

I’m home with him. Off until September, when the school year starts again. Putting away laundry, watching him always, I see him amble over. He stumbles a little. I dissolve into a pile, with the laundry, pulling him into my lap –

where he is happiest. Listening to music and crying big fat tears, while he is oblivious. Comforting me without knowing it, but also reminding me how lucky I have been to have this lump of love in my life for so long,

lump – in my throat now – because I can’t imagine only weeks or months with him.


Doing it our way

I came across a great article where an Australian man explains why his sister is donating an egg for him and his partner. It makes sense. 

Read the article here

It is the same story for my brother and me, except that he is donating so that my wife can carry. 

That’s the most selfless, generous gift I could imagine. And the thing is, even people who are supportive sometimes say things like ‘ won’t it be weird to look at your child and see your brother’s traits?’ 

 No. What could make me happier than to see a child with my own DNA, thag I could never have had without this gift, with all the expressions and features we share, blended with those of the woman I love? If it were possible,  my own biological child would share a family resemblance with my sibling and me; it would be stranger for me if my child looked like someone I had never met. And that’s just surface detail. If things didn’t work out, yes, we would definitely option a sperm donor; but there is a certain logic to picking someone who will always be in my child’s life, who has shared values, whose family and medical history are known to me, who is supportive of my life and my partnership, who cares about me, who makes the same face that I do when we are embarrassed, and who is the best man I’ve ever met. 

Isn’t that what people search for when they imagine a family? I guess it would be easier, in some regards, to look through a catalogue and pick a Phd candidate, with a good head of hair, low risk of cancer and cute dimples,… But then I’d never really know who that person is and whether the person that helped create my child and that our child comes to know as they grown up is a decent person in reality, or just looks good on paper. 

As the Aussie says, a child who is wanted so much and loved deeply will be worth every raised eyebrow that comes our way. 

I wish for a circle of love and support this strong for all young people and all families, chosen, adopted, biological or creatively conceived.