One evening about two weeks after Dana’s gender reassignment surgery I had let the dog out before turning in for bed. He scampered out the front door and within seconds took off at top speed to the top of the hill at the edge of our property before stopping at the base of a tree. He then started barking out of control as he stood on his hind legs with his front paws on the trunk of a tree staring straight up to the raccoon he had chased up to the branches. Damn it I thought as I went in to get a flashlight and put sneakers on. “Benny, get back here. BENNY.” He was completely ignoring me. I hear the raccoon snarls and hisses as it tries to climb higher. My next thought was to go back to the house and get my sleeping husband. Next thought – oh that’s right, I don’t have one anymore. I could go inside and get her but somehow realize that’s a fruitless thought. This is for me to handle on my own. “Get over here” I yell through my gritted teeth as he keeps barking. I notice the neighbors upstairs light flicker on. Shit. Tears spring to my eyes. I swiped them away and take a deep breath. Pulling up the bottom of my nightgown I start to climb the hill staring only at the lit up path made by the flashlight. As soon as I get close to the dog, I grabbed him praying to God that the raccoon doesn’t slip from the branch and end up on top of my head. Benny is squirming to get out of my arms as I turn to head back down. I lose my footing and fall to my butt sliding down the hill with the dog in my lap. We get back inside and put the dog down, both of us panting and out of breath. I picked the leaves off the back of my nightgown, turned off the downstairs lights and headed upstairs.
I got into bed beside Dana and listened to her softly snoring as I tried to slow down my breathing and wait for the heart rate to slow down. I’m wondering if I should feel victorious for grabbing the dog in the dark with a hissing raccoon staring down at us. Should I feel sad that I have consistently relied on my husband always to protect me and should I feel even sadder that I never felt like I could defend myself? I lay in the darkness staring up at the ceiling reminiscing about the early years of our marriage,
Every young bride that stands before her handsome groom has a dream as to what her future life would look like. Images of tropical vacations with umbrella drinks, babies that grow up to kids to shuttle to soccer practice and ballet lessons, and sitting together on a porch swing as grandparents dance before her eyes as she walks down the church aisle towards a new life while holding hands with her new husband. I know I carried these thoughts the day I said I do to my husband. When my husband told me early into our marriage that he has an obsession to wear women’s clothes, that fact fit into did not match the life-plan I had laid out for myself, for us. It was not part of my future dreams. As the years crept by the obsession turned into a need which eventually led to the realization that my husband could no longer live his life as a man. It was too painful for him to live a lie and exist in a body and a lifestyle that was not his own. I knew this. I had witnessed over the 25 years of marriage my once handsome young groom fight against his norm and tried as hard as he could to be the man I wanted him to be. He provided a beautiful life for our children and me one beyond the dreams that danced with me on my wedding day while fighting every single day the fact that he wasn’t who he really was. The double life was killing his spirit slowly, and it was too painful to stay in a world where he felt he didn’t belong. A change was necessary to save him and what I didn’t understand at the time, save us.
I let go of the grip I had on the future dreams of our marriage. The dreams turned out to be that of a fairy tale, not our reality. The reality was my husband transitioned to a woman, and I let go of what I thought we were supposed to be. I relinquished the images of husband and wife holding hands into the future. Instead, I have since fashioned a reality that I could claim as us. A reality where there is two Mother of the Grooms. And two Grandma’s. And when at times I can do what I have to do for ourselves, like breaking up a ruckus between Benny and the hissing raccoon.
My happily ever after is my reality, not a fairy tale — a reality where the love is real.
(Photo purchased by the author on http://www.shutterstock.com)