Waiting On A Phone Call

by Catherine Eure

6:49 p.m. Tuesday, May 14

Waiting on that phone call.

Sitting at our red kitchen table, Rachel Maddow talking to me through the hallway from the living room. Soft golden breeze of sunset through the hills, swimming in from the open window. The breeze of children running and skipping and napping by my cheeks and making the hearts jingle against the windows. Our delicate doggy sleeping in a violet bandana on the rug by the sink. Life is changing. It has been autumn. It has been winter. It will be spring. All of the moments from my childhood, the smell of the grass in my backyard, the smell of the trampoline and the black soles of my feet…ache in my soul as hard as the diamond on my ring. My beautiful ring that my beautiful lover made for me. For a beautiful life. I feel as if I am lying next to my boom box in my backyard. Dreaming of everything ahead…feeling the sun and the water from the hose.

Waiting. Any minute now my mother will call from the sleepy living room on Johnson Street in North Carolina. Shortly after the walls hear the familiar sound of footsteps on the wood floor, wine-soaked chatter will become silent and then, here in California, my phone will ring.

The microwave in that kitchen. Why am I thinking of the microwave? The safe box that heats up my mother’s Lean Cuisines, where she sits in her bathrobe, allowing herself to not feel guilty while she eats that meal. I feel my ribs hardening with sadness. I miss it all. Things are black, things are sleeping, things are awaiting rebirth. As I look out my window, I see leaves enflamed, I hear dogs barking, I hear dinners being made. I was once at that table. The creak of the wooden chairs, the clink of my dad’s fork on the plate. The safety. The rich, blanket of safety. The warm bath I don’t want to get out of because the reassuring towel is never close enough.

Engagement. The part where you are out of the warm bath, naked, freezing, and it’s too late to get back in. You learn to dry yourself. You learn to make your own.

Waiting for my mother’s phone call so that I can tell her that her only daughter is marrying a woman. My mother, who is not ready for this news. My mother, who never learned to love herself and who uses me for validation—or for proof of her failure. My mother, who has never truly understood me. My mother, who for some reason I still feel a painful need to please.

I see these things pass, these memories, the front porch swing, my dad and I singing together and scratching mosquito bites. Growing is painful. Becoming my own, and learning and accepting that that is not who my mother wants is painful. But without darkness there is no dawn, and without death there can be no rebirth.

Waiting, on the edge of my seat and with steel lungs and a strong heart, to tell my mother that I am getting married. That I have found the person I will grow old with, have a family with, and make my dinners with. And in this moment I make the promise to myself to always love my future children for exactly who they are, and to let them know that they are enough and they are worthy.

Photo: Gabriel Harber

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  • Great.

  • Greatness.

  • Ainsley

    Absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for such an honest piece. “Growing is painful. Becoming my own, and learning and accepting that that is not who my mother wants is painful.” Learning to accept yourself and your own beauty and raw self-ness, in spite of the yearning need for validation is a brave thing. A thing to be PROUD of.

  • Katherine

    Beautiful, courageous, gorgeous piece. Love and luck to you & your baby family, Catherine.

  • Gorgeous piece.

  • Karen

    Thank you for this. I love your descriptive language and your honesty about how hard it is to stand in your vulnerability knowing there might not be a pleasant outcome.

    • Yes. It made tears prick my eyes. And I love the conclusion you came to.

      Karen, your comment reminds me of Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability.

      • Karen

        I have just recently discovered Brene Brown. I love her work! Vulnerability is so hard but also very important if we are to live whole lives.

  • Karen

    And, on a shallow note, I must ask: where can those red shoes be found?

    • Cleo

      and the rainbow petticoat!

    • Pear

      They’re Fluevogs! I’m not sure if they have Illeanas in that color anymore: http://www.fluevog.com/

  • Jen

    Beautiful piece! I wish you all the best Catherine!

    On a completely different type of waiting- we could get a decision on DOMA and Prop 8 today! Today could be the day!!! A historic day! A Brown v. Board of Education type of day! See ya later APW- I’ll be over at SCOTUSblog!

    • meg

      Trust me, that’s where I was this morning. Curled up in a hotel bed with my family with the SCOTUS blog open and MSNBC on. I suppose that’s how we’ll spend some other mornings this week (well, not all in a hotel. We’re not like, boycotting our house till DOMA is overturned or anything.)

      • Catherine

        I know!!!! ugh I was so hoping to wake up to some good news! I am so ready for this nonsense to be over. And I am jealous you were in a hotel. Those are my favorite things in the world.

  • Wow. Just wow. This is beautifully written and gut wrenching. I hope your blood family comes sound to supporting your chosen family soon.

  • Gut-wrenching, and gorgeous.

  • Claire

    Just lovely.

  • Kate

    “to let them know that they are enough and they are worthy”
    so beautiful, you ripped my heart wide open with this line – it is the most important lesson a parent can ever teach her child.
    thank you for your honest and thoughtful piece, your writing is art.

  • I resonate with this so much. The wanting to be there, but needing to be here.

  • Amber

    Exactly to this whole piece. I came out to my parents last week (they’ve been in some seriously deep denial for years but I’m fairly sure they had a good idea of it and some pretty harsh disapproval) while informing them that I’m marrying my sweetie next month. And now I’m in that waiting phase. Waiting to hear back from them, good (highly doubtful) or bad (much more likely and I’m prepared for that), and the waiting is hard. So hard. It’s been a few days now, and I want to give them time to process it all, but it’s so hard. Anyways, thanks for this, I just wanted to say that I feel it too, and I hope things went/are going well.

    • Catherine

      Wow, Amber, yes this is a lot at once!! I kind of felt that way too, as in when I “came out” I told them, Oh, also mom and dad I’m in a serious relationship and we’ve been together a year! Surprise! Congrats on your wedding ahhhh that’s so soon and exciting!!! :)

      I know it’s a very fine line between being compassionate with parents in this situation and then standing up for yourself and what’s right. My dad has been pretty great, my mom is her own basketcase.

      Good luck with everything and have a great time at your wedding!!xx

  • Audrey

    This is beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  • Sara

    This is gorgeous.

  • Rachel

    This is so beautiful, well written, and hits home like a ton of trucks. Thank you APW for publishing this.

  • You just reminded me of the uncomfortable part of my engagement, wondering just how awkward it can sometimes be. You captured it perfectly. Thank you for sharing.

  • martha

    thank you for your honest and beautiful words. i am in a similar situation with my mom, and it’s so tough to be patient. it’s incredibly difficult to constantly decide between not pushing the envelope (for the sake of our relationship), and wanting and needing to be “out” (for the sake of my emotional health).

    am i wrong, or does having a gay daughter seem especially hard for moms? do they feel like they failed us in some way?

    “And in this moment I make the promise to myself to always love my future children for exactly who they are, and to let them know that they are enough and they are worthy.”

    just beautiful–thank you.

    • Catherine

      Aw thank you! And yes, it does seem that the parent who is the same sex of the gay child has a more difficult time accepting. Which, of course, stems from the belief that there is something abnormal wrong about being attracted to the same sex. For my mom, a lot of it is about what other people think, and since she is the same sex as me, it was “her job” to raise me right- which to her, isn’t gay. She is coming around, but I know it will take lots of time…All you can do is live your life, and try to have compassion for those that are still on their learning journey I guess…

  • Beautiful.