parvo and a little white box

this definitely starts out as a story about dog poop. (sorry.) it gets better though. (promise.)

last week, our puppy got very sick. she almost died, and we are going to be paying her vet bills for a very long time. what started with a pile of vomit outside quickly escalated to the worst mess i’ve ever had to clean up…from her kennel she somehow managed to get poop all over the bottom shelf of our bookcase (in addition to the carpet, floor, and wall). i put her outside so i could clean it up, naively believing she had just eaten something she shouldn’t have. it became clear when i went outside to bathe her check on her that we were not headed anywhere good (or clean)…that without medical intervention she would certainly die. so i left the bookcase contents, removed and sanitized from the bottom shelf, scattered around the living room and took our girl to the vet (because look at that face).


a couple of hours later, with an assurance that our vet’s office would kindly cap our bill at $1,000 we had a diagnosis…parvo. we also had a terrible mess from the car ride there, that no matter how many times we scrubbed it or what “guaranteed to work” cleaner we used did nothing to mask the “our dog was terribly sick in this car” odor. to say that we were exhausted from the day is laughable. what i wanted to do was climb into bed and sleep for days…

but there was a pile of things strewn about the living room that, now cleaned and sanitized, needed to be put away: a box of slides from my mom’s childhood, a photo album full of treasures from the 90s, ashes from a childhood pet (i know, i know), a few knick knacks…and a plain white box. i stacked everything back in its spot, but i couldn’t put that white box back without opening it first, a trip down memory lane that i probably hadn’t taken in at least a decade, and one that always leaves me with more questions.

the box is full of all the things my grandparents decided to save from my mom’s funeral and the days and weeks that followed…the death certificate (12/22/91, 10:47am, cause of death: cerebral edema secondary to fulminant hepatic failure), a copy of the eulogy (delivered the day after christmas), a guest book full of signatures (mostly of people who loved my grandparents and me…very few who actually knew or loved the woman whose funeral they were attending), a few sympathy cards (one from my first grade teacher, one from her ex-boyfriend, another from my aunt), the pictures we displayed at the service (full of smiles), and two letters from the man she was dating when she died.

i’ve probably read those letters a hundred times, mostly in my early 20’s when the plain white box was given to me, definitely before i had children of my own. his words were so familiar, but reading them this time felt different…like i was noticing parts i hadn’t before. he talked about her mood, her health, how much he cared for her, how sorry he was, that his heart would never be the same…he would never love anybody the way he loved her. god i hope that’s true…that she really did get to be loved like that, even if it was in the midst of addiction and homelessness and a sickness she was incapable of surviving.

and then, he said this:

“anytime she was feeling bad or down she would always talk about getting it all over.”

and in that moment, i don’t know…it was like breathing deep and holding my breath all at the same time, getting pulled under the waves while breaking through the surface. in that instant, reading those words, i was her and she was me, connected by words written almost thirty years ago by a man i never met.

getting it all over…i wish i could say i’d never had that thought, that things have never been that bad or hopeless or lonely. but when i’m really honest with myself, yes. i’ve thought the same thing, in exactly the same words…getting it all over.

on the days when my kids are being bullied because of choices i made about who to love,

when another day passes without a phone call or email or text message from family members who have decided that my family is expendable and unworthy,

when someone i once confided in and called friend turns her back and pretends not to see me,

on days when all those things stack up and the weight of it feels suffocating and impossible, overshadowing all of the goodness and sweetness and healing and magic,

on those days, i have thought the very same thing she did…i’m ready to get it all over.

and i’m so glad that those thoughts don’t win. i’m so grateful for a wife and a therapist who pull me back from the edge, for new friends, for a group of literally the strongest women i’ve ever met who somehow love me in spite of myself, for our kids who have had to be more resilient and stronger than kids their age (or adults for that matter) should have to be, and for a community that will gather this weekend to celebrate love…to remember the people who fought so that we can love whoever we want, regardless of the personal fallout we might experience.

even on the worst days, on the days when getting it all over seems like a solution, i am so proud to have chosen love and happiness and health and safety and warmth and magic. i’m proud of all of us who choose truth. and this weekend we will celebrate with our kids, our friends, our city. i wish there was another person celebrating with us…that she would have chosen differently. i wish she would have fought harder for the good stuff, that she could have known her granddaughters and celebrated the magic this weekend with us.

life is hard, y’all. hate and holding grudges and judgement and abandonment is not only hard, it’s terrible and it’s destructive. i’m choosing love and hope and magic…choosing to stick around for the amazing days and the shitty ones. and if you need a friend or a cup of coffee or a shoulder to cry on, i’m your girl…because getting it all over is not an option. you belong here, and we belong to each other.


(and all of that because of parvo…funny how things work, huh?)


If I’m honest with myself about my sexuality, I would say that I had a crush on my high school best friend, I don’t think anyone we knew didn’t know. I’d say that since I can remember I’ve been attracted to all kinds of people. And that I was always more scared of being judged than I was ashamed, that it took me nearly 36 years to separate those two things. 

I liked and loved both of the men I was married to. Fought hard for healing and peace that was never won but the failures of those marriages don’t rest on the shoulders of my attraction to women. I don’t say that to convince anyone, it’s just a fact I’m sharing here along with this- both of my husbands were aware. My second husband in all of our fighting and trying, in all of his mental health issues and abuse, still cared enough to give me the freedom to explore my desire and curiosity about women. I’m sure that’s a hard pill for most people to swallow but it was something that we talked about openly and some of my closest friends knew about. If I cared enough to escape judgment for it now, I’d keep on lying and hiding and say that I cheated and the dissolution of our relationship was all my fault. But alas…

He knew the first woman I slept with. We talked about it, the three of us. A lot. We talked about boundaries and honoring and consent and and and… I wasn’t prepared at all to fall for the entire female gender the way that I did that night. It ruined me a little, how it was everything and nothing I’d imagined, to be with a woman. But I went back to him, in love with him, not wanting to leave, grateful to be with someone who loved me enough to let me live a life that sort of embraced parts of me that I never had. 

(Gosh I think most people reading this will have no understanding and I don’t have a way to help you understand really except to say that this is so deeply my truth and I need to share it for those who might need to know they’re not alone or crazy or wrong at their core.) 

That marriage was hanging by a thread due to years of abuse and backwards religion, Kara walked in the door on the 23rd and my heart finally felt wild and free enough to let go of trying to fix him and just love… something I’d never really done. I am a fixer and a doer, a big sister and a mama bear and it still feels foreign to not be always trying to fix things with her but. 

She is home, every good thing I’ve never let myself want. 

I do and don’t understand the need for people to label others or themselves even. I don’t have one for myself and I don’t need you to. I fell in love with a human who happens to be a woman. I used to argue, fight so hard for others to be able to love anyone they wanted to love. My social media was full of discussions, arguments and references. Me trying to justify other’s rights to be in same sex relationships, or trans or, just fucking be themselves. I can’t anymore. The other side of that argument is so unreasonable and exhausting and insane. I don’t even have a passive voice about it anymore. 

The same reasons some would say make this wrong are what makes it right. Wrapped up in her arms, I have everything, everything. A mother, a daughter, a sister, best friend, lover like I have never ever known. I have an ocean of stillness and peace, the wildest freedom… She lets me fail and try again, protect her fiercely, hold her face mesmerized and watch every ounce of grace we have sink right in. She’s a mystery and so transparent. Fights just as hard as me and hands me twice the grace I deserve every morning. She is not a man and so many people think I chose her because of that. Think that her not being that makes our love less than, a sin. God when I tell you how deep down I know this to be exactly what the God I know wants for me… I will not argue that with you. And if you believe this to be wrong, I’m not writing this for you. 

I’m writing this for the other women out there, who’ve never let themselves be free enough to see this as an option. The girls and boys who’ve felt love in their hearts big enough to love anyone, who’ve been told they just needed healing, or Jesus. Listen to me, Jesus loves me and you this I know. And He didn’t make you wrong. He knitted you and me in our mothers wombs with arms wide enough to hold anyone and a deep capacity for healing. If you feel ashamed, or scared of judgement, you’re not alone. It’s not okay, but you are not alone. 

I won’t pretend it’s okay that 95% of our friends and family have abandoned us in this, calling it “too much” and choosing to quietly (or loudly) walk away, that our support system collapsed under the weight of judgement and fear. It’s left us and our children reeling, but more resolved than ever to fight for freedom in love. 

I won’t pretend to understand why so many in the Church can’t see the wholeness in this. We are getting every ounce of safety and unconditional acceptance and holding and healing we ever needed… when we lay down, and wake up, and make love and so many moments in between I ask her- “Do you feel good? Do you feel safe? Do you feel loved?” I ask her out loud with my mouth, and I listen when she answers. I ask her with my eyes and with my hands. All the time. Because nobody asked either of us those things before. And they should have. We are (all) worthy of those questions. 

If I am honest about myself, my sexuality is both much bigger and much smaller than I ever thought. And loving her has everything and nothing to do with it at all. Loving her is like breathing air, impossible not to do. And yet it is absolutely a choice. We both gave up nearly everything for this. Chose each other and our family at the unexpected loss of almost every other relationship. And I would do it again forever without skipping a beat. Not because of sexual attraction (but Jesus I do think she is an actual goddess, you guys), I’d do it again forever because we feel good and safe and loved and that… That is all the reason we ever needed. (And I think we always knew that even though the world told us otherwise forever.) 

So… Happy PRIDE everyone, from one lover to another. Call me what you want, crazy even, crazy for sure actually. I don’t care. Rainbows and unicorns forever I love her. 

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