I hate to admit this.  I love Facebook.  A little too much.  When Heather was in elementary school, she completed an assignment about her family.  She divided a piece of paper into four quadrants and drew a picture of a family member in each quadrant with a description of something they liked underneath.  Below the stick figure she had drawn of me, which depicted me as much taller {and thinner} than I was, she wrote, “My Mom likes Facebook.”  I was mildly offended, but we all got a good laugh.  I never thought I liked Facebook too much, until my last iPhone update.  Now, a notification pops up on my screen each day and shows my “screen time.”  Not only does it show my screen time, it shows me precisely how much time relates to social media.  {Yikes!} I’m not going to share my average daily screen time, suffice to say, it’s more than I thought!

I do enjoy Facebook.  The main reason I enjoy it is because I am in North Carolina and most of my friends and family are in Illinois.  Facebook allows us to remain in touch rather nicely.  Recently, I was on Facebook, scrolling through my news feed when I saw a meme.  It was a simple, hot pink box with the sentence, If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? Without pausing, I continued scrolling through my news feed.  The question caught my eye, but not enough to cause me to pause and read other people’s responses, or even remember who posted it.  As the week wore on though, the question kept nagging at me.

There was a time when answering that question would have been easy.  The first thing that would have come to mind was my father.  I lost my Dad a month after turning 32 and three days after Heather turned 3.  Abby wasn’t even a year old at the time. There was a time, if presented this question, I would have changed my life so my Dad would still be alive.  Losing him was a defining moment in my life.  I was not the same person after.  I spent the better part of the next ten years wishing I could change what happened.  Until, my brother died.  He was ten months older than my sister and me.  Irish triplets, if you will.  Another tremendous loss for my Mom, brother, sister, & I to endure.  My immediate family was never the same after losing my father, and it was even less so after my brother died.  It no longer felt right to wish my father was still alive.  Because if I could change only one thing about my life, and have my Dad be alive, I would still not have my brother. 

Which led me to ponder the question, “how would my life be different if my father was still alive?” Well, for starters, I wouldn’t be living in North Carolina. I was a “daddy’s girl.” Not even self-proclaimed. Ask anyone who knew us. There is no way I would have left the state of Illinois if my Dad were still alive. Being the lover of Facebook that I am, I scrolled through my friend list and counted the number of people I would not know today, had we not moved to North Carolina. I stopped counting at 100. More than 200 people in Illinois would have been happy that I never left, but at least 100 people and I would never have met.

I am special.  I don’t mean chosen by God for anything specific or something like that.  I am special in that I am extremely sensitive.  I feel things very deeply. I cry hearing happy stories. I cry watching sad movies.  Tears form in my eyes when I see an animal has perished on the roadside.  I delight in watching cardinals dance among the tree branches in my yard and truly do believe the feathered creatures carry the spirit of my father, or my brother, in their heart.  I believe in kismet.  I believe everything happens to us for a reason, even if we do not understand the reason at that moment.

“If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?”  I’m sure whoever posted the meme expected simple answers like “lose 50 pounds,“  “win the lottery,” or “eat chocolate every day.”  Life has humbled me and I’m much too pragmatic to provide such a trivial answer.  The truth is, I wouldn’t change anything about my life.

Every experience, good or bad, from childhood through yesterday, has prepared me to be the person I am today. I try not to focus too much on the reason why things happen, especially the things that change my heart in such a way that cause it to never be the same. But perhaps I needed to experience my profound losses in order to be strong enough for the journey I am currently on. Perhaps, if we had stayed in Illinois, Heather’s journey would have been an even more difficult one. Maybe the last ten years I spent volunteering to do things no one else stepped up for prepared me to be the ally and advocate I have become.

Knowing what I know about the LGBTQ community, and more particularly transgender youth, my heart will not let me forget about those who have not come out to their parents yet.  My heart will not let me forget the isolation I felt as we scrambled to understand what our child was going through.  And, if my life did not transpire the way it has, I would not be here today, doing the things I am doing, albeit little things, to make the world a better place.

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