I lost a friend yesterday.
He wasn't my best friend, or my oldest friend. He wasn't a drinking buddy, golf partner, wingman, school chum, former lover, next door neighbor or casual acquaintance. He was just my friend.
Ian was a special guy. Everyone knew that. You could see it. You could feel it. And if he let down his guard a little, you became even more aware of how remarkable he was.
I've always thought of myself as a pretty smart gal. Quick with a quip...know a little bit about a lot of things...informed just enough to have an opinion on just about everything. But I always suspected that Ian knew something I didn't. I believe Ian was smarter than me, and I don't say that out loud about too many people.
Ian was taller than I am. Taller than most people, in fact. As a result of that, I think he always slouched a little bit, to try and not take up too much space, or stand out anymore than necessary.
Ian had better hair than I do. It was long and wavy. He looked much more like a rock star than I do...and I have, in fact, been a rock star at various times in my life. Ian would have been completely at home on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine with a smokin' hot, candy apple red Gibson Les Paul in hand. Except for the fact that he was painfully shy.
Ian was painfully many things. Painfully intelligent. Painfully sensitive. Painfully aware of the world he lived in. Painfully different. Painfully inquisitive. Painfully lonely. Painfully courageous. Painfully transgender.
Ian was also deeply loved. His mother, herself an unassuming yet confident woman, loved her son with all her heart. She loved him precisely for who he was, not in spite of who he was. She loved him for being her child. And she worked hard to prepare this world for Ian, because it was clear in so many ways that no matter how hard she and others tried, Ian was not prepared for the world.
Ian's father loved his son too. It was harder for him to come to grips with having a son, rather than a daughter, but he tried his best. And through it all, he loved Ian.
And Ian's younger brother loved him. He loved Ian the way most younger brothers love an older sibling. It wasn't all hugs and kisses...but it was always love and support. He loved Ian no matter what his friends might think or say. He loved Ian for looking out for him. He loved Ian for showing him that people come in all different kinds of packages, and that is a good thing.
Ian's brother loved him...and I love Ian's brother for that.
I didn't know Ian for all that long. And we didn't spend much time together. We did, after all, live more than 2,000 miles apart. But we understood each other.
Ian and I walked simultaneously through much the same space and since Ian was shy, the fact that not many words needed to be exchanged was an added bonus. As with all things, we didn't share everything in common...in fact, on the surface we couldn't have been more different.
I'm older, Ian was...well...less older. I'm a transwoman, Ian was a transman. We both were raised in the snowy cold Midwest, though I came from a dysfunctional, poverty stricken family while Ian came from a loving, nuclear upper middle class family.
Ian was a gifted student. I was, let's just say, less than gifted at the whole attending school thing. Ian had the support of his family and extended family and friends while I had none of that.
Ian had what most other people would consider to be a future. I'm not sure you would have found many people with the same feelings about me at his age.
And yet...here I am writing about my friend Ian while he is...lost.
I didn't misplace my friend. I didn't lose track of him in the woods while we were hiking, or forget where I set him down while I was cleaning house. But I lost him just the same.
Ian was 16 years old. Ian was a transman. Ian committed suicide on Monday.
We all need to find forgiveness in our hearts. We all need to realize that each of us is not just special, but irreplaceable and valuable. We all need to recognize that perfection is unattainable, because there is no standard to measure ourselves against. We are unique....we are already perfect.
We need to forgive ourselves for being transgender. I think if Ian had been able to do that, my friend might not have gotten so lost that he just disappeared.
There are so many children and youth like Ian that can be saved. But like the oxygen masks on an airplane, we must first save ourselves before we can save our children.
This year, on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, I'm going to rededicate myself to saving myself, so I can save others. It's an appropriate day to do that for all of us. But it's especially appropriate for me...
You see...November 20th is my birthday.
I loved you Ian. I always will.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I lost a friend yesterday.