21 July 2007

A blast from the past...

I don't know why I'm posting this, but for some reason I felt the need to share. This post originally occurred on my other web site which tells the story of my life dealing with HIV up to a point. I am sorry to say that the site needs a complete update and I need to finish my story and maybe just maybe I'm feeling the need to do so. Anyway, as I said I'm not sure why I'm posting this but I am. Let me set this up a bit.

The post I'm about to share was written based on a letter I received from my daughter. Now you should know that for the first 13 years of my daughters life I had only seen her once and that was the day after she was born. I had to sneak up to my then wives room and I held my daughter for a precious fifteen minutes. I then had to leave for fear that my soon to be ex-wife's family might show up. Even though my wife and I were divorcing due to the fact that I had finally come to the realisation the I could no longer live a lie about my sexual orientation. I had been battling that dark secret for way to long and at that point there was no way I was going to bring a child into the world and have her see her parents living in a lie. Many people tried to get us to stay together for the sake of the baby but I just couldn't. As I said I would not have my child grow up seeing and feeling the fact that her parents did not actually love one another anymore. I say anymore because I have to be fair that in some way even though inside I knew I was gay I fought so hard against it and I did actually find a woman for whom I could feel love. To this day I honestly do care for my ex-wife. she's a good woman and she raised my daughter to be a very well adjusted young woman and I could not ask anymore than that. We had some how come to a friendly arrangement and I give my ex-wife a lot of credit for she was very wise before her time. My ex-wife and I had agreed that for my daughters sake it would be best for me to stay in the background so as not to confuse the issue. I suppose on reflection it was not the best choice, never the less it was the choice we made.

For the next thirteen years my daughter grew up to be a lovely girl from what little things I found out through various avenues. The how I found out does not matter suffice it to say I found out. My ex-wife had remarried and I even went as far as allowing my daughter to be adopted by my wife's new husband because I thought it was the right thing to do. At the time I did not think I deserved to have a daughter as I was very good at becoming a self loathing gay man, not worthy of proper love, understanding and support from various friends and family. What I did not know was that during all time she was growing up my ex-sister in-law was keeping my daughter in tune with who her real dad was. My sister in law apparently told my daughter everything, including the fact that I was gay. Which she told her only because my daughter pressed her for the answer. Now I could be mad at my ex-sister-in-law for outing me but the truth would eventually have to come out and as it was that would be the impetus for my daughter wanting to meet me. The way I understand it she asked her mother who did not want to say anything about me and my daughter said fine she would find out on her own and eventually got my parents on the phone and talked to them.

In those thirteen years my life changed a lot and during that time I had become HIV+ as well I had buried the first of two partners. I was living with the second partner, when my mother called me to tell me that my daughter had called her and that she wanted to meet me. My daughter asked my mum if she thought I would be okay with meeting with hear after all this time. To say the least I was bit shocked. There had not been a day go by since the day she was born that I did not think about my daughter and wondered how she was or what she was like. Needless to say I said yes I would be more than happy to meet her. I knew in my heart that one day I would have to meet her and she would eventually ask me what happened thirteen years ago and why did I leave. I did not know what she had been told so I would be flying blind but I figured the best way forward would be with honesty. So the day came to meet and my mother had arranged for my daughter, along with my dad, to come to my home. My partner at that time used to be a professional photographer among other things and he was going to take some pictures of my family all together for the first time. Needless to say the meeting was very emotional so much that I can not even convey it here in words. At the end of the day the photos were taken and a new beginning began to form between my daughter and I. Shortly after that meeting I received a letter from my daughter and in that letter was what ended up being the post that I'm about to share with you.

So without further adieu here is that post:

A few weeks ago I wrote my previous column, and I discussed the trials and tribulations of taking all the different medicines I need to help my immune system fight the HIV virus. I often asked myself wondering if it was all worth it. Well several days after writing that column I received a letter from my daughter and I got the best answer as to why I continue to fight this disease. I would like to share this letter with you. I think you'll agree I have a very good reason to fight back against this devastating disease.

Dad, Hi! How are you? I'm just fine. Well I wrote this poem two years ago and never gave it to you. I hope it doesn't upset you, something just told me inside that I should send you a copy of it. Well I gotta go!

Love always & forever, Erin

ps. I just want you to know that I love you with all of my heart even though I haven't known you for all of my life. A girl couldn't ask for a better dad. I'm proud of you & everything you have ever accomplished. I love you daddy!

Is Life Fair?

I just met my dad the other day.

There is so much more that I want to say.

His body is a wilting flower,

Here today, then gone tomorrow.

Yet his spirit is like the ocean.

It waves up and down,

One day calm and the next rough.

I ask myself "Is life fair?",

"Why my despair?"

I think of my wedding day.

How will it be?

Who will give me away?

Who will stand next to me?

He wears a smile.

But inside he is frowning.

I sometimes wonder is he drowning?

My father loves me with all of his heart

I know in spirit that we will never part.

But, it just hurts really bad.

Life is robbing me of my dad.

That letter and poem have stuck with me to this day and in the end here we are in my daughters 25th year and she is all grown up and she's even given me a granddaughter. I've obeyed the doctors and will be lucky to see my 50th birthday this November. I don't know if or when my daughter will get married but at the end of the day if she stills wants me to walk her down the aisle it will be my pleasure. All in all as difficult as it can be I think life is good because I have won this battle so far. Anyway, thanks for reading and now we will return to our regularly scheduled and much more current posts.


sandy said...

TJ, you may not have meant for that story to be particularly inspiring, but to me it certainly is. I cannot imagine what the past couple of decades have been like for you, and my fatherhood experience has happened under very different circumstances. I'm already understanding how strong that bond is. It is beautiful that you and your daughter managed finally to reconnect...and in such a beautiful way. All the best!

Sorted Lives said...

That was just beautiful. I wish you all the best and hope your relationship will only grow stronger.

Brad said...

What an incredible poem.

Spider said...

What a beautiful post - for a beautiful man... my guess is you will be walking down that aisle one day.

publius100 said...

Family is everything. It is self-validating. And despite its flaws and hurt, it is wonderful. You have family, and you know are lucky.

gotcris said...

What an incredible story! Truly an amazing daughter you have. Thank you for sharing your story!

Red7Eric said...

Wow, that's amazing -- congrats to both you and your daughter ... as a gay man who'll (probably) never have kids, I will admit that I envy those who do; it's a huge gift.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

We find with HIV that people are surviving longer, and can we chalk that up to medical science or the additional effect of emotional sobriety and love. If I listened to my doctors who told me I was going to die tomorrow, (in fact I heard it FOUR times in my life) I would be long since dead.

Knocking on my desk here...

It is proven that people with HIV/AIDS do survive a percentage longer with loving, praying, hopeful people in their lives. It's not all magic and medicine, but the human spirit and those we surround yourself with.

It pains me to read men who say "Oh, I'll be lucky to make it to my next birthday!" UGH!! I did it too.

I did it for the first ten years. After that I stopped counting the days between my birthday (Next Tuesday the 31st - I'll be 40!!) and Christmas...

Get out of your head and live, live live, we are supposed to have learned all the lessons at 50 and are ready, "as Oprah says" to live out our calling confidently...

It took me a long time to learn a lot of lessons. I am still alive, and someone up there likes me because it has been 14 long and sometimes HARD years getting to this point where I can offer you my strength and wisdom.

Love carries us and helps us survive...


TJ said...

Jeremy - First, thank you for your comment. Second, maybe you misunderstood me. What I meant was that I am more than pleased to see 50 and every year after that and I know that the reason I have made it this far is due to both a combination of medicine, lots of supportive people around, which I have many, and a very large positive attitude in myself worth and value. So, again thank you for your positive reinforcement and at the same time I wish you well in your journey with HIV. I've visited your site and it sounds like you have found a way to help you support your inner self and that is what we all must do.

Doug said...

That's such an uplifting story, it is heartwarming to hear the kind of person you daughter became and how close you two are after all you went through.

Matthew said...


I am contacting you because I am working with the authors of a book about blogs, and I'd like to request permission to use the photograph you have posted in this book. Please contact me at matt@wefeelfine.org, and I'd be happy to give you more information about the project. Please paste a link to your blog in the subject field. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.