This year has brought so many moments to think about: the coronavirus, the election, the protests and not being able to hug those I love. How do you distill the concept of “one moment in time” with a year of moments? I sat in front of my computer looking at a blank piece of paper on my screen, which matched the blankness in my mind.
In this emptiness, I began to replay the year. I saw what changes I have made in the way I think and the things I do. As funny as it seems, being aware of how much toilet paper and paper towels I use has become a conscious decision.
I no longer buy cases of bottled water — I use our tap water most of the time. I appreciate the clean, fresh air, since where I live, we were faced with smoke and ash from the summer wildfires that lasted for days. The fires prevented me from taking long walks, since the air quality was so toxic.
I realized that having to shelter in place focused my attention on cooking meals for my husband and son, reading more books, working on puzzles and taking more naps to nourish my body. My life seemed to slow, and I was able to see more of what I had.
As far as my advocacy, Aiden and I continued to share our story, but now we do so virtually on Zoom. The last four events we have done, we can’t see the audience — we can only look into the camera’s green light on our computers and share our hearts.
What I know now is that even though we can’t see anyone, they can feel us … our pain, our joy and our love. Many cried with me when I talked about my shame, sadness and fear. Many felt the years that Aiden suffered alone and tried to find his self-worth, when the world said he was not good enough.
But most of all, what I noticed is that when Aiden says, “Mom,” or I speak his name, you can almost touch the love between us. Seeing our children soar just as they are and having them feel our love when we speak their name is one of the most beautiful moments of being a parent.
And speaking of Zoom … being part of a virtual platform has also made it possible for us to move closer to people like never before.
This year for the first time, I attended a wedding that was livestreamed. When I logged onto my computer, I wondered how much I would connect with the bride, groom and their families. But when you zoom into people, you can see their faces and the emotion that often you cannot pick up when you are sitting in the church pew or large reception hall so far away.
I was able to see the groom’s eyes drop down in sadness and remembrance when the minister talked about his father, who had already passed away. I also saw the sparkle and warmth of love in the groom’s eyes as he connected with his mom in the traditional mother and son dance. And I saw the happiness, hope and love of a bride and groom as they spoke their vows. I was not there in person, but I felt every moment as if I was standing right next to them.
I also Zoomed with a new friend that I met recently through my advocacy.
His name is Drew Griffin, and he is dying of cancer. Talking to someone who is faced with the end of his life is not a comfortable conversation to have. But somehow, with Drew, you feel at ease.
He talked about returning from a week in Hawaii and how he is writing a book about his last 10 years, many of them faced with cancer. He told me about things he was grateful for and how he wants to spend his remaining time on Earth with people he loves.
I fell in love with Drew, and I told him so. He loved me back. And if he is afraid of dying, I didn’t feel it because all I felt from him was the joy that he had another day of life and how that day was not going to be spent with regrets or sadness.
I wish I lived this year like Drew.
Some days I did, but then there were other days when fearful thoughts brought an icy feeling running deep within.
Could I keep my family safe from a disease that seemed to touch every aspect of our lives?
I lived in fear and often anger because of a president and other leaders who seemed to have lost their morality and humanity. I lived in sadness for all of our marginalized communities who continued to fight for equality, dignity and just to be safe.
I lived in sadness for all the beautiful souls who died from Covid-19. Often fighting off the darkness to find a place of light was exhausting. And not every day was I successful …
But I have been lucky. I have a roof over my head. I have food, a husband who is kind and children who look out for us. I have my Mochi, who needed to be walked, so I went outside most days for fresh air. I have a television to entertain me. I have money to buy books to read. I have the ability to donate to causes that are doing meaningful work. I had time to phone bank for Biden and Harris. I have a community that I was able to connect with via Zoom. And I have friends who keep my spirits up.
With a vaccine just around the corner, a new president, a government that will be for the people, I believe life will get better. It has taken time, but maybe I needed the time to think about how I am going to do better for my family, my friends, my community and my planet.
So, I realize 2020 has been an entire “moment in time” for me to be grateful and move in closer to what is important. I hope this holiday season you move in closer to those you love and find ways to tell them how important they are to you, even if you can’t do it in person.
I hope you move in closer to issues you care about and do something about them. I hope you move closer to yourself and see how beautiful your life is and how beautiful you are. There IS beauty all around us … we just have to open our eyes to see it.
Marsha Aizumi is an advocate in the LGBT community and author if the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”