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Dear Mom,

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I remember when told you about me, about what you referred to only as my “condition.” That’s what you called it before my ostracism, that is. I think it’s safe to assume you don’t even refer to it now, or to me for that matter.
Anyway, I suppose I could have approached it differently. I was straightforward. I put myself out there, hoping for the unconditional love of a mother to carry past theological rulings from a couple of lines in the dusty old book that now only serves to even out the fourth leg of your kitchen table. I suppose I should have waited a bit, tried to ease into it, but instead I acted the part of the quintessential adolescent, disillusioned by fantasies of immortality and imagined importance. I acknowledge this, but I do not believe that I was thinking too loftily, once maturity is factored in. I was sixteen, and I’d figured out who I was. The revelation rocked my world, and the excitement could not be kept out; it barreled through my mouth, naïvely screaming, reaching out for conformation.
However, that which I sought was never found. Shock widened your eyes like the deer Dad almost hit that time we were late for church, and then you chuckled. You thought I was joking, and so you laughed. You snorted, let out wheezing sounds that stopped just short of a cackle. It turned hysterical, and as you gasped for breath, avoiding my eyes, I broke a little bit inside. My chest tightened, and I felt my eyes water. Damn it, I thought, as if I wasn’t already a big enough disappointment, here I go pulling out the water works. To be honest, Mom, I hate that could make me have thoughts like that. I shouldn’t have to be afraid of letting you down. I’m not now, and you can bet that it will never be a worry of mine again.
I inhaled and, voice shaking, repeated myself. “Mom, I’m gay. I like men,” and you finally looked at me. You sobered up for a moment, before turning to extremes again. This time, it was scary. Your face contorted so it was hardly recognizable, anger taking over and closing me off to whatever safety I’d hoped to wring out of your so-called maternal instincts.
I tried one more time, pleading, “Mom? Mommy? I need you to respond. I need you to tell me it’s okay,” but to no avail. You stood, mouth gaping, and I added a pitiful, final plea. All I said was please, but by then you’d gained the power of speech back, if once again at an extreme. I couldn’t make out the exact words you screeched at me, but the message was clear: it was anything but okay. Speech wasn’t the only power you regained though, and as the first dish crashed merely six inches to my right, I began to regret approaching you in the kitchen. Suddenly I was dodging flatware, like the image of some twisted video game. I was Frogger, and the cars were coming too close. To make things worse, I was sobbing, vision blurred by a mess of dismal tears. I ran for the door, shut it behind me, and breathed the first breath of my new life as our family’s secret embarrassment. A few more kitchen items hit the door, and then I heard you give up. No, that’s not accurate, because for a minute or so you were silent. I guess I felt you give up.
I would later learn that, after the last plate, grabbed the bottle of wine you’d been cooking with, sunk to the floor, and wept. You thought you were a failure as a mother—raising a “fruit,” how absolutely shameful-- and I suppose that’s the part that gets me the most. You probably still think of yourself that way Mom, but it is not true. You were a great mom… well, maybe up until that moment. But everything and everyone are redeemable, right? Don’t think of yourself that way, because you did not fail. This is simply me. I would have turned out gay whether you’d had the money for that extra year of Bible Camp or not. I still love you Mom, even if I’ve been struck from the family tree. I’ll love you even if I never see you again.
Unfortunately, you won’t ever read this. Ignore any smudges on the paper please, I seem to be getting emotional at the thought of closing this improbable letter. I know I won’t send this. I’m not that courageous. Mostly, this is my closure. I’m letting go, and I’m going to move on and embrace myself for what and who I am. It’s okay, and I don’t need you to tell me that anymore! On one level, I hope you’ve let go of me, too. My more vengeful side wants you to forever remember me, your angel-turned-f***-up, the boy who destroyed. I’m sorry for doing that, but I can’t hold on any more.
Once again, I love you.
Your son,
Gabriel Shea



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This article has 7 comments. Post your own!

Love.Hate.Passion. said...
Dec. 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm:
Your piece *Love , Gabe* is a wonderful improvement to this already moving and emotional story. You did a great job using this piece to make it even better. Great job!
 
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youngpilot said...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 7:07 pm:

Very interesting piece; I like the details that you had. The beginning, however, was confusing, but after I read in a bit, it didn’t take long for me to understand.

 Just a few corrections to make it easier to read:

 I remember when I told about me, about what you referred to only as my “condition.” That’s what you called it before, my ostracism, that is. (well, I had to look in a dictionary to figure out what ostracism, so that made is l... (more »)

 
ItsAshMal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm :
Thanks for reading my stuff! I've actually gone through a few more revisions since submitting this, and your edits are very welcome!
 
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Hazel-daisy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm:
i really like this! i think its an important topic and i like how you included a reaction that is possible to happen, and i like how the character of the mom didn't seem very living, it was realistic because that's probably what happened to some people...i like how its written too :)
 
ItsAshMal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 28, 2011 at 9:10 pm :

Thanks! I know it's a little cliche and all, but you have a nice way of phrasing it; this probably has happened to someone somewhere.

 

 
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sorlageal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm:
This was amazing! It was beautifully worded and had the best metaphors.  
 
ItsAshMal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 28, 2011 at 9:09 pm :
Oh wow thank you! I try haha.
 
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