Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vivianna Week, The Finale: Introducing Vivianna to Her Family

I totally felt like I should have fireworks and presents and stuffed animals sent to every single person who wrote a post or commented for the last day of Vivianna Week. Or you know, have some clowns or something (Lor). But then I realized that the best way for me to finish out my memorial and tribute to my daughter is to do the one thing that I couldn't do right after I lost her.

Dear Vivianna,

I miss you.

There is a part of me, a very big part, that is so angry that you were taken away from me.

There is a part of me that still cries at the fact that you're not here, that I'm not taking care of you.

I think about the times that we will never have with each other and it makes me so sad.

I think about the people that I will never get a chance to introduce you too and I feel like crying.

Like this new family that I have, one that is loving and accepting. One that makes mistakes but then actually apologizes for them. They're a great bunch of people and I know they would have loved you.

You have an amazing grandfather, Aleks, who I know would have doted on you, as grandparents do. You would have been one of the smartest, most eloquent, most courageous little girls on the planet because he would have made sure that you knew how smart you were and he would have made sure that you knew that you could stand up for yourself because there are people who will stand up and support you.

You have two amazing grandmothers, Stephani and NJ, who I know would have spoiled you. You would always know that you were loved with them and they would have made sure that you were the prettiest, most well dressed little girl on the block. No one would have been able to tell you that you were ugly or that no one loved you, because with your two grandmothers, you would have known that it wasn't true.

You have an amazing older sister, Catrina, who I know would have loved you immensely. She would have made sure that you respected your elders, that you appreciated art and education, that you learned from the mistakes of others. She would make sure that you lived your truth and that you always knew that you were supported and loved. She would have made sure that you had fun, that you read, that you played sports and that you never followed anyone blindly, but that whoever you followed and whoever you put your faith in, that you had a good reason for doing so.

You have an amazing uncle, Damon. He's hilarious. Much like Justin, he would make sure that you appreciated good theater, you would be charismatic, full of life, full of passion and energy. He would make sure that you never took life too seriously, but that you always made sure to take care of yourself. The greatest thing about your uncle Damon, Vivianna, is the fact that in every humorous exchange with him, there's that kernel of unyielding truth there. You would always walk away smarter and happier.

You have the world's greatest aunts. Cherie, MJ, Heidi, Piper, Taylor, Xara, Katharina, Lucy/Kat, LC and Keesha. They would all make sure that you knew how powerful you are as a woman. They would teach you about standing up for yourself. About honor, integrity, truth. With your aunts I would never have had to worry about you being taken advantage of, because they would make sure that you knew your strengths, they would make sure that you knew how talented you were and that you never let anyone take you for granted. They would spoil you, yes, but they would never let you get too spoiled or bratty. They would make sure that you towed the line and were respectful of your elders, of others around you, and of yourself, because that's how they live their lives. They would make sure that you appreciated history, culture, that you acknowledged a higher power. You would be a force to be reckoned with and your aunts would always make sure you knew how special you were, how talented, how amazing (because they remind me all the time).

You also have three other uncles, Thorny (his husband Jazz would have loved you), Matty, and Brad. My darling girl, they would make sure that you didn't focus on the negative. That you always saw the sunshine and appreciated the roses. That you laughed. That you sought help when you needed it and gave help when it was needed. They would have loved you so hard and so fiercely. You would know that you could do anything that you set your mind to do and that as long as you have a family that supports you, nothing can stand in your way. They would always be concerned for you and would always make sure to put a smile on your face, even if it's just by being enthusiastic about a cover that you did (Matty and Brad).

You also have the world's most amazing great-aunts. Poppy, Embry, mc and Anne. They would love you hard and always encourage you. They would make sure to always acknowledge you when you spoke, they would support you, no matter what you tried to do, as long as it didn't hurt you or someone else. They would be concerned about your well-being. Make you laugh, laugh at your jokes, and make sure that they did all that they could to make you comfortable with being you. They would be in your corner, Vivianna, as long as it was a corner of your choosing.

You have the world's coolest cousins. They would have kept you on your toes, kept you in shape and made sure that you appreciated the Earth, the animals, the plants, that you would treat it well and that you would never take it for granted. The Nieceling probably would have tried to make you turn you into a vegetarian, but we wouldn't have let that happen unless you wanted it to. You would have a love for good games and good television and you wouldn't have been a Belieber (which makes your Daddy very happy).

And those who fill in the gaps of our family, Vivianna, they would make sure that your world and your life was complete. Lor, Aija, Sammy, Patty, Adara, Cleon, John, Thomas, Crystal, Kathryn, Maria, Amy, Kris, Sarah, CJ, Angel, Richard, Ryan, James, Mary, Gabrielle, TA, and Daniel. You would never want for humor, for support, for comfort, for wisdom, for unbelievable expression, for encouragement, for someone to be on your side, for someone to keep you moving forward, for love.

These are the people that make up our family, our world, my baby. These are the people that I wish that you could have gotten the chance to meet. Not to mention the countless others who weave in and out of my life to help me to grow and to better myself, you would have benefited from meeting them. And the ones who were here and have gone on before: your father Christopher, Justin, Valerie, Tabitha, Granny Mary, Mores, William Neale. Some amazing people to help shape you, to help you shine just a little bit brighter than you already do.

The things in this world that you never got a chance to experience are nothing compared to the people that you never got a chance to meet. How I wish that you could have gotten a chance to meet them. I know that you have, in a way only known to YHVH, met and seen them all and that you know all of these things, but not only do I wish that you would have had the chance to meet them, but I wish that they had had the chance to meet you. I am so sure that you would have been amazing, my darling. You would have changed the world. You would have discovered a cure, or brought peace, or made an amazing discovery, or created amazing music, or written the Great American novel, but whatever you did, you would have been amazing at it.

So I miss you my daughter, and I love you so much. I hope you've appreciated the memorial that I've given you over the last two weeks and that, in some way, you've grown to love these people, just as much as I know they would have loved you.

Love Always,

Daddy Vic

Friday, April 27, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Twelve: My Daughters Catrina & Vivianna

Vivianna Week, Day Twelve: My Daughters Catrina & Vivianna

When I first decided to do a memorial for my daughter Vivianna, I wasn’t really expecting that one week tribute to turn into two. I’m glad that it did because over the past two weeks I have been able to see the different forms of love and family and it has filled me with such a joy that I know Vivianna was sufficiently honored. Losing Vivianna so shortly after losing Christopher, I never thought I would, nor did I ever want to, have any more children. The grief and the heartache was just too much. The hardest thing was the people that I expected to be there for me, family and friends alike, had disappeared into thin air. I had Angel, Justin and Ryan and they were very much my family, but that was it. Grief and death, sad moments, and moments of what my Granny Mary called “trial by fire” really helps you to see exactly who is in your corner as you fight the fight of life.
That next year, after having the doctor tell me that it seemed as if my body was not equipped to carry a child (now I can totally say “duh” to that), I went home to soak in the garden tub in my new home and cry over the fact that it was official. I was defective, flawed, my body rejected babies, contracting rather than expanding to allow the zygote to become a fetus and the fetus to become a baby to be born. I got a phone call from Sarah, a friend of mine at the time, and she told me about Catrina, a young lady who was 11 at the time, who needed a place to stay.
I won’t go into detail about why Catrina needed a place to stay, that’s not my story to tell, but Sarah said to me, “She really only needs a place for like two weeks maybe, but she needs you.” When I told Sarah yes and then told her about what the doctor said she told me that this was God at work. He was giving me a child after the doctor told me that I wouldn’t have one.
I knew Catrina through Sarah and had always been drawn to the young girl. I wanted to see her smile and hear her laugh (she sounds like a Chipmunk when she laughs and talks), and protect her, because you could look at Catrina and see that she had a heartbreaking story to tell.
Catrina came to stay with me and when two weeks turned into me getting guardianship of her (at 23), I got the chance to be a parent and she got the chance to have a real parent that loved her and took care of her, etc. It was, for us, the perfect set-up.
I learned about disciplining a child, the worry that comes when they’re not in your sight, I found out that I was the overprotective parent who looks at everyone who looks at my child as a suspect, until proven innocent. I also found out that I could be the fun parent. Catrina and I would spend hours listening to music as I taught her how to walk like a model. We would watch “Reba,” play games, color in coloring books together, watch movies, and I always, always did everything that I could to make her smile and laugh. We had two dogs for a while, when we still lived in our house, and she was so good about taking care of them.
I was proud as I watched her grades soar from B’s and C’s to straight A’s. I was happy as she went from only eating frozen chicken nuggets, to trying different kinds of food, to working out and staying healthy. I was ecstatic when I watched her go from a shy, introverted child to trying out for sports at school, getting involved in after school activities, making friends, painting, drawing, sketching (and boy is my baby talented), and getting involved in the community right alongside me.
Enlisting in the Army was one of the hardest things for me to do because I ended up having to return Catrina to her grandmother, since her grandmother wouldn’t sign over her parental rights to me. I cried that night when I had to say goodbye to my daughter and it felt like I was losing Vivianna all over again. Catrina and I kept in touch and to me, and to her and those who knew us at that time, she was still my child and I was still her parent.
So Vivianna Week has not only made me think of the child that I lost, but it makes me think of the child that I still have, even if it’s long distance. Catrina is smart and talented, my special ball of sunshine and being her parent is one of my proudest accomplishments. She doesn’t care that her dad is gay, she thinks I’m cool (though she thinks that her Aunties Cherie and MJ and her Grandpa Aleks are “freaking awesome”), and she has every faith in me that I will be successful and that I love her. She knows that I do and I know that love is returned. She remembers our time together fondly, as do I. She regularly brings up me singing her to sleep and reading bedtime stories to her and the day that I pretended to be in a musical, just to make her laugh (and let me tell you something, making up songs at the spur of the moment, is not easy at all). I remember those times as well, but I also remember taking care of her while she was sick. Buying her a tv as a reward for her good grades. Introducing her to my Granny Mary for the first time and watching the two of them connect and fall in love with each other (my Granny never stopped asking me about my sweet daughter). I remember the day that I had to return her and the tears that we both shared. I remember the day, a year and a half later when I had to go to the hospital with her, because she was pregnant and having pains and bleeding. I was scared and freaked out. Afraid that I would have to watch my child go through what I went through. I was ecstatic that she didn’t miscarry though I was grieved that I would become a grandparent so early and she would become a parent so young.
So while I lost Vivianna, I know that she would be happy to know that she has an older sister, Catrina, and a nephew named Hayden. I know that she would love them both and they would love her in return. It hurts that I lost her, but I’m almost positive that she led me to Catrina, who needed me more than she did and whom I needed just as much.
So, while tomorrow is the last day of Vivianna Week and I thank all of those who wrote posts, those who commented, those who wrote private emails to me letting me know that they were sorry that they couldn’t write a post but they still wanted to share a personal story with me and wanted to encourage me (mc-I’m talking about you), I say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of this gay man’s heart for your constant support and encouragement, for your love for your families, for the lessons that you taught, the memories that you shared. Thank you for helping me honor Vivianna, even if all you did was retweet a link or leave a comment. I appreciate you so very, very much. You have all become, in one way or another, family and close friends to me and it means more than I could ever put into words.
Thank you again.

Vicktor Aleksandr B

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Eleven: Angel "The Original Gay" Rodriguez-Benton

My best friend Angel, whom I've known since ninth grade and whom calls himself "The Original Gay", wrote today's blog post. I cried, but then again, he wrote a lot about me and he doesn't often do the mushy with me. But Angel wrote about love, family and what it all means to him.

Family & Love From a Gay Puerto Rican from Polk County, Florida

When Vic asked me to write a post for Vivianna Week I was beyond confused. I am a gay man who has never even entertained the notion of being a writer (there are some of us out there). I especially didn’t know what the hell he wanted me to write.
                “Just write about family. About love. Hell Angel, write about you and James fucking, I don’t care just write something and remember that it’s dedicated to Vivianna, so try not to gross out my child too much.”
                So I talked to James and he told me that while Vic said I could write about us fucking, that’s not really what he wanted. He said that Vic wanted meaningful posts about family, parents, children, love. He said that Vic wanted people to show that they loved their family, show that they loved their parents, show that they loved their children, and that maybe through some twisted way in which only Vic’s mind works, people will show that they care for him and Vivianna and Christopher, by showing that they care for their own families. Which makes sense if you think about it.
                The thing is, whenever I think about love I think about five people. My Madre, my husband James, my best friend Justin that passed away, my Abuela, and Vic. Especially Vic. And I’m not just saying that because this is his blog, but because it’s true. I know that everyone doesn’t know Vic’s story, at least not all of it, but I do. I was with him the day he lost Vivianna and I saw how much it tore him apart to lose her. I went to the funeral with Justin and Ryan for Christopher to support him. Vic has lost a lot of people who were in his corner, through accidental death, disease, old age, freak accidents, but he keeps on loving people. I told him once before that he’s like the standing punching bag and life keeps beating the shit out of him and he keeps springing right up, never giving up.
                Vic is the reason that James and I are married. He wouldn’t let either one of us give up on the other. He’s the reason that my Abuela didn’t disown me when I came out. He’s the reason that I wasn’t killed in high school when the other kids found out that the cute little Puerto Rican freshman boy was a “fag” and had to walk home from school every day. Vic got some of his friends to walk me home whenever he couldn’t and when I got jumped in the hallways at Winter Haven High, Vic was the one who threw down his books and jumped right into the middle to help defend me.
                Loving someone, the way that Vic loves people, leaves you open to a world of hurt and grief when people die or when they move on, but it also gives you a strength to survive that loss. I think about Vic when I want to beat the hell out of my husband and I can hear him telling me that people in love argue, because there’s something worth fighting for. I think about Vic whenever James and I have another meeting about adopting, because Vic gave me the courage to try and be a dad.
                And no, this isn’t just a “Vic is so wonderful, everyone should love him,” post, though I’m sure it sounds that way. That is merely background.
                The day that I called Vic to tell him that Justin had AIDS was the first time I truly understood what family was. We were both angry. We were pissed off. At Justin and his shit for brains ex boyfriend Ian. We were mad at God, at our parents, at damn near everyone. I can remember picking so many fights with James that month, because it hurt, goddammit and how dare Justin do this to us? How dare God!? Didn’t he know that we were friends? That we were a family, the four of us: Me, Justin, Vic and Ryan, with our significant others and pets? What the fuck was going on in the universe when our little family was going to be torn apart by this stupid disease?
                But even though we were angry with Justin, because he hadn’t listened to us and dumped Ian or gotten tested for AIDS regularly, we were still there for him. We still got together and paid for him to move from New York back home to his family. We still teased him and held him up when he got depressed. Don’t get me wrong, in every conversation we had, someone would say “And you with your dumbass fucking AIDS, Justin,” or “We’ll make sure you’re still here Justin,” but he would always laugh, because in light of the pain that we were all suffering through, family keeps each other lifted and encouraged, always.
                Vic is very much a bulldog in that way. He could be bleeding from a gaping hole in his stomach and if you’re crying he’ll do a quick patch and be there for you. When Vivianna passed, a week after Christopher, James and I were arguing all the time, Justin and Ian were temporarily broken up, and Ryan’s wife, Tiffany, had just found out that she couldn’t have children. We all stayed with Vic to make sure he was okay and while he cried for himself, he made sure to be there for us as well.
                That’s what a family is. They’re people that you can fight with, be mad at, but still love at the same time. They are the people who fly across an ocean to stay with you for a few weeks. They’re the ones who put their own pain and hurt aside, push aside their own problems and situations to make sure that you’re okay, whether you do the same for them or not. Family is selfless and priceless. So is love. Which is why those you love become your family.
                So while I could’ve written all about James teaching me about the wonder of making love while on the plane flying from Heathrow in England to JFK in New York, and how there is a plane full of people who know what I sound like when I have an orgasm, I decided to write about love instead and about family because that’s what Vic is to me and that’s what he had with his daughter Vivianna and fiancé Christopher and that’s what he gives to others and receives from those who are special enough to see how amazing it is to be loved by him and want to give that love back.
                I love you Vic. I really, really do. I’m so glad that you’re doing this for Vivianna and you know that Justin is up in Heaven singing “Summer Lovin’” with her and teaching her all of the dance steps. She’s in good hands up there.


(Angel doesn’t have a bio so I wrote one for him):
                Angel Rodriguez-Benton was born to feisty Puerto Rican mother who still maintains that his father is Juan Valdez and that’s the reason that Angel’s obsession with coffee is in his birthright. A graduate of the University of South Florida with a major in communications, Angel proudly states that he does his best communicating when shopping, cooking, dancing, and making love to “the sexiest white boy in the world,” his husband James. Affectionately called "The Original Gay" by family and friends or "Bitch" by those who know him best, Angel is out and proud and tell those who don't like it, that they can kiss his sexy, gay boy, Puerto Rican ass. Angel divides his time between answering the phones at his in-laws company, talking to his best friend Vic about cloning himself, getting fucked by his husband on a repeated basis (in the most delicious places that we can think of) and spending all of said husband’s money. Angel refuses to get a Twitter, a Facebook, a Myspace and only uses his email when he absolutely has to as the internet is “where time goes to die and ugly men become hot gay twinks.”

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Ten: Claudia Jardine

Today's post for Vivianna Week (Part Two) is written by Claudia "CJ" Jardine. CJ has always been super supportive of me when it comes to my transitioning, my writing, my attempts to save the world, and my future. In the case of me remembering my daughter, her support was no different. And when I asked her to write a post, with the option of saying no if she wanted to (I always tell people that they can tell me no. I'm all about the freedom to choose), I was honored when she said yes. So enjoy CJ's post about her take on children of the heart and children of the womb.

When Vic asked me to write a post for Vivianna Week I was very surprised and extremely humbled. And nervous. It took me a while to say yes. But that's because I don't often talk about the loss of my child. I was 20 when I miscarried. Looking back now, I can clearly see how it truly was for the best. But back then...

I met him Oct, 1990 through a mutual friend. He was near my height, blond and blue eyed. He had a bit of bad boy about him. Didn't realize till later that it was more than a bit. We dated for a few weeks, my mother totally disapproved of him, which of course, made me want him more. I got pregnant sometime in early Dec but didn't know till after we broke up in Jan. Even with that sadness I was excited and happy. And then 4 weeks later the pregnancy was over. In the meantime, drama with the ex, my family and a soon to be former friend all came to a head. I was stressed out, depressed and trying to hold on to something that wasn't there. I knew I lost the baby before it was confirmed, but I so desperately wanted to be pregnant that I denied it. Especially when it seemed like everyone was coming up pregnant and staying pregnant! Because my friends were caught up in their pregnancies, no one seemed to mourn my loss. To me it seemed because my pregnancy didn't go past the first trimester, people didn't think it mattered. Or that it wasn't official. So I had no one to turn too. No one to grieve with me. I never turned to alcohol or drugs. I just turned inward and lost myself to depression for that entire year. I came back in bits and pieces. I played piano for about 12 years and taught for 2 by then, but I think I played more that year than I had ever played before or since. It was my outlet and my balm. It wasn't until the birth of my god-daughter the following year that I finally felt whole. Kayla has brought me so much love and joy! She may not be the child of my womb, but she def is the child of my heart.

Today, I don't have any children of my own. There are enough people running around loving me and calling me Aunt CJ to fill whatever void may be there. And that's quite all right with me!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Nine: Mary Calmes

I am so honored to have Mary Calmes here today for Vivianna Week. She wrote a very sweet, short post about her relationship with her mother and what she learned about it after having her daughter. Mary has been an absolute sweetheart to me over the last 2 years and has been super supportive of me. She's also one of the most amazing authors that I've ever had the privilege of reading before (hello!? The Change of Heart/werepanther series? Have you read Honored VowOr Timing & its sequel After the Sunset?).

So enjoy!

My Daughter 

My mother passed away five years ago and I still miss her. What’s interesting though is that before my oldest child was born, I had not been close to her in about 11 years. I left home when I was eighteen, bolted fast, because growing up with her and my step-father was hard. It’s not important the why what was important was the distance that living together created. We weren’t friends, we weren’t parent and child. We were nothing. Sometimes we spoke on the phone but the conversations had yearlong lapses between them and for all intents and purposes she was gone from my life. But that all changed with the birth of my first child.

When my girl was born, I finally understood that without your mother, a child has no chance. And I mean without a mother or a father, without a caretaker, that a child is helpless and fragile. I didn’t really get that before. I had done some babysitting and I had friends that had kids but it still didn’t click in my head. But when I became a parent, for me I realized what exactly my mother had done to keep me healthy for the first year of my life. Parenthood is hard. You don’t sleep; I haven’t slept in twelve years at this point. But the birth of my child was the only thing in the world that could have bridged that gap between us. Children born, those who are with us only in hearts or minds, and those that we have lost, bring people together for love and eventual healing. It’s their way.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Eight: Sarah Botting

Today's post for Vivianna Week (Part Two) comes from Sarah Botting, aka Pointycat69, who so graciously offered up a very sweet post. Enjoy!

Reading the first few posts for Vivianna Week made me think of photos. The first one that came to mind I took over Easter; my sister with her 5 month old son. Not a picture I can include given she was breastfeeding him at the time (maybe it was a little unfair of me to take a photo at that point, but sometimes that’s what big sisters are for!). Gwyn had been dressed in a superman costume complete with cape; he’s being held up to feed and he looks as if he’s flying. And Hannah is looking down at him and I can see the love in her face.
I’m not maternal, not even vaguely. Babies confuse me. But looking at that picture makes me understand a little.

And that made me think of other photos that mean a lot to me. Some of them make me smile; my sister’s wedding, her graduation, my graduation, pictures of my family with silly expressions or doing silly things – there’s a lovely one of my dad in the garden with one of the cats draped over his shoulders. It isn’t a very flattering picture of either him or the cat to be fair but it dad is smiling and the picture always makes me smile.
Some of the photos are very precious to me; I have one of mum holding me while I was still a baby. She looks so young, younger than I am now, and she has that same expression of love that Hannah has while holding Gwyn.

Mum with me as a baby

Some of the photos make me cry; I have some of my gran, my Nana (on my dad’s side).  She had Alzheimer’s and the photos were taken in the year before she died. She looks so very fragile and confused even with her family beside her. But those memories are still precious for all that they’re sad.

Nana with mum & dad

When I look at those pictures of her I can see how ill she was and I remember how painful I found spending time with her. Alzheimer’s is a cruel illness; she was drifting back into the past, was often upset and paranoid, and could no longer take care of herself. Occasionally she’d realise what was happening to her, how ill she was and she’d be distraught. And we were all trying to smile, to pretend everything was okay so she’d be less upset. Those memories still hurt.
But at the same time I remember that she looked after my sister and me during the holidays. We’d watch TV together, sit in the garden, play dress up and listen to her. She comforted us when family members died. She lived just down the road from us; she was always there when we were growing up. And I loved her. Still do.

So although some of those pictures make me cry I treasure them all.

I'm bi, depressed and easily irritated...and hopelessly addicted to tea (black, no sugar please!). Courtesy of the depression I’ve been unable to work for a bit now; in the meantime I paint, draw, bead, knit and read a lot – which means I have no floor or shelf space as well as bags of wool stuffed under the chairs. Next hobby will take up less space. Honest!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Seven

I found these poems in my old email. They are poems that people sent to me right after I lost Vivianna. Some of them are ones that I found only recently. They are so filled with love and emotion that I knew they had to be the post for today. They show that a parent doesn't stop being a parent, just because their child goes to Heaven.

I thought of you and closed my eyes,
And prayed to God today.
I asked what makes a Mother,
And I know I heard him say:
A mother has a baby,
This we know is true.
But, God, can you be a mother,
When your baby's not with you?
Yes, you can he replied,
With confidence in his voice.
I give many women babies,
When they leave is not thier choice.
Some I send for a lifetime,
And others for a day.
And some I send to feel your womb,
But theres no need to stay.
I just don't understand this God,
I want my baby here.
He took a breath and cleared his throat,
And then I saw a tear.
I wish that I could show you,
What your child is doing today,
If you could see your child smile,
With other children who say:
We go to earth and learn our lessons,
Of love and life and fear.
My mommy loved me oh so much,
I got to come straight here.
I feel so lucky to have a mom,
Who had so much love for me.
I learned my lessons very quickly,
My mommy set me free.
I miss my mommy oh so much,
But I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep,
On her pillow's where I lay.
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek,
And whisper in her ear.
"Mommy don't be sad today, I'm your baby and I'm here."
So you see my dear sweet one,
Your children are Ok.
Your babies are here in My home,
They'll be at heavens gate for you.
So now you see what makes a mother.
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of,
Right from the very start.
Though some on earth may not realize you are a mother,
until their time is done.
They'll be up here with Me one day,
And you'll know that you're the best one!
~Author Unknown

"These are my footprints,
so perfect and so small.
These tiny footprints
never touched the ground at all.
Not one tiny footprint,
for now I have wings.
These tiny footprints were meant
for other things.
You will hear my tiny footprints,
in the patter of the rain.
Gentle drops like angel's tears,
of joy and not from pain.
You will see my tiny footprints,
in each butterflies' lazy dance.
I'll let you know I'm with you,
if you just give me the chance.
You will see my tiny footprints,
in the rustle of the leaves.
I will whisper names into the wind,
and call each one that grieves.
Most of all, these tiny footprints,
are found on Mommy and Daddy's hearts.
'Cause even though I'm gone now,
We'll never truly part."

"I know I'll see the sun shine bright
upon my baby's face....
When I finally get to heaven,
all my pain will be erased.

We'll soar the skies together,
as angels two by two.
We'll have a sweet reunion,
this mother's dream come true!"

"Daddy please don't look so sad, momma please don't cry.
Cause I'm in the arms of Jesus, and he sings me lullabies.
Please try not to question God, don't think he is unkind.
Don't think he sent me to you and then changed his mind.
You see I'm a special child, I am needed up above.
I'm the special gift you gave Him, a product of your love.
I'll always be there with you, so watch the sky at night.
Look for the brightest star and know that's my halo's brilliant light.
You'll see me in the morning frost that mists your window pane.
That's me in the summer showers, I'll be dancing in the rain.
When you feel a gentle breeze from a gentle wind that blows.
Know that it's me planting a kiss upon your nose.
When you see a child playing and your heart feels a tug,
Don't be sad mommy, that's just me giving your heart a hug.
So daddy don't looks so sad and momma please don't cry.
I'm in the arms of Jesus and he sings me lullabies!

Forget me not
My little one
You have left us too soon
Though my body can no longer hold you
I hold you forever in my heart
As precious and beautiful as this flower caught in time
A mother's love does not forget.

We go through life so often
Not stopping to enjoy the day,
And we take each one for granted
As we travel on our way.

We never stop to measure
Anything we just might miss,
But if the wind should blow by softly
You'll feel an angel's kiss.

A kiss that is sent from Heaven
A kiss from up above,
A kiss that is very special
From someone that you love.

For in your pain and sorrow
An angel's kiss will help you through,
This kiss is very private
For it is meant for only you.

So when your hearts are heavy
And filled with tears and pain,
And no one can console you
Remember once again.....

About the ones you grieve for
Because you sadly miss
And the gentle breeze you took for granted
Was just......... "an angel's kiss."

If tears could build a stairway,
And memories were a lane,
We would walk right up to heaven
To bring you down again.
No farewell words were spoken,
No time to say good-bye.
You were gone before we knew it,
And only God knows why.
Our hearts still ache in sadness
And secret tears still flow,
What it meant to lose you,
No one will ever know.
When we are sad and lonely,
And everything goes wrong,
We seem to hear you whisper
"Cheer up and carry on."
Each time we look at your pictures,
You seem to smile and say,
"Don't cry, I'm only sleeping,
We'll meet again someday."

To All Parents
"I'll lend you for a while a child of mine,"
He said.
"For you to love the while he lives and mourn for
when he's dead.
It may be six or seven years, or twenty-two or
But will you, till I call him back, take care of
him for me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you, and should
his stay be brief,
You'll have his lovely memories as solace for
your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay; since all from
earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there I
want this child to learn.
I've looked the wide world over in My search
for teachers true
And from the throngs that crowd life's lanes
I have selected you.
Now will you give him all your love, not think
the labor vain, Nor hate Me when I come to call to take him back again?"
I fancied that I that I heard them say, "Dear Lord,
Thy will be done!
For all the joy Thy child shall bring, the
risk of grief we run.
We'll shelter him with tenderness, we'll
love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known, forever
grateful stay;
But should the angels call for him much sooner
than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and
try to understand."

You never said you're leaving
You never said goodbye
You were gone before I knew it,
And only God knew why.
A million times I needed you,
A million times I cried.
If love alone could have saved you,
You never would have died.
In life I loved you dearly
In death I love you still
In my heart you hold a place,
That nobody could ever fill.
It broke my heart to lose you,
But you didn't go alone
For part of me went with you,
The day God took you home.

Don't let them say, I wasn't born
That something stopped my heart
I felt each tender squeeze you gave
I've loved you from the start.

Although my body you can't hold,
It doesn't mean I'm gone.
This world was worthy, not, of me
God chose that I move on.

I know the pain that drowns your soul,
What you are forced to face.
You have my word, I'll fill your arms
Someday we will embrace.

You'll hear that it was "meant to be,
God doesn't make mistakes"
But that won't soften your worst blow..
Or make your heart not ache.

I'm watching over all you do,
another child you'll bear.
Believe me when I say to you,
That I am always there.

There will come a time, I promise you
When you will hold my hand,
Stroke my face and kiss my lips
And then you'll understand.

Although, I've never breathed your air,
Or gazed into your eyes..
That doesn't mean I never "was"
An Angel Never Dies........

Please don't tell them you never got to know me
It is I whose kicks you will always remember,
I who gave you heartburn that a dragon would envy,
I who couldn't seem to tell time and got your days and nights mixed up,
It is I who acknowledged your craving for ice cream by knocking the cold bowl off your belly,
I who went shopping and helped you pick out the perfect teddy bear for me,
I who liked to be cradled in your belly and rocked off to dreamy slumber by the fire,
It is I who never had a doubt about your love,
It is I who was able to put a lifetime of joy into an instant.

Your little heart beating so strongly
All those months
Is silent.
Your little arms and legs
Moving so vigorously
Are still.

Milk falling like tears from your mother's breasts
Will never nourish you.
Your eyes will never sparkle
Your little voice forever silent.

Your mother and father hold you in their arms,
Timidly kissing your soft, smooth cheek
Caressing your tiny fingers
And whispering your name with tears.

We dream of holding you
Of watching you smile and grow
Our love is always with you
Though you will never know.

We couldn't wait to hold you
And see your pretty face.
To count your little fingers,
And check your toes are in their place.

It should have been the happiest day
To remember all our life.
But joy had turned to heartache,
No breath, no beat, no life.

We will never see you smile,
Or hear your hearty cry.
We will never be able to dry your tears,
Or share your happy times.

Our precious little Angel,
We will always know your face.
In our hearts and stars forever,
You will always have a place.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Six: Justin's Letter

Today's post for Vivianna Week comes from my friend Justin. Yes I know, Justin's passed away and he and Vivianna are hanging out together up in Heaven, but my best friend, Angel, has been searching diligently for something to post and he found an old letter that Justin had written to Vivianna and sent that to me. When I read it, I knew that I had to share it.

Hey Vic,
    I found this old letter that Justin had written to Vivianna when you were like four months along. Thought I’d send it to you for Vivianna Week. I’m still writing my post for you. I changed your name so that it said Daddy Vic rather than Mommy Vee-Vic, because you know that Justin used to call you Vic, but the letter was going into Vivianna’s baby book and he wrote it so that it would be understandable to her and your birth family. But that’s the only thing I changed besides the pronouns. Love you, sexy man. James says hi.

Dear Vivianna,

                I still remember the day that James, Angel and I got the phone call that your Daddy Vic was pregnant with you. We were shocked because your Daddy Vic has never been anything more than this self-assured, extremely vulnerable, more man than woman, in control person from the moment that we met as freshmen in high school, so the thought that he was pregnant was a shock to us. Because he seemed to have absolutely no control over anything (remind me to tell you about him talking about the morning sickness and tiredness. Your Daddy Vic is a way bigger drama queen than me). But Vivi, your daddy is happy that you are on your way. I’ve never seen him so happy. We’ve all gotten into the Vivi Spirit and gone crazy buying things for you. I’ve just bought you the cutest “baby diva” outfit. All in pink. Your Daddy Vic will probably be annoyed because he hates the color pink, but don’t worry, I’ll make sure that you wear it whenever you want to. You’re out perfect little girl. You are our miracle baby. A bunch of gay men are excited to have you as the baby that we all are going to share.
                I don’t know who is more excited though, your Daddy Christopher or me, because no matter what your Daddy Vic says, you are my baby. You are the child that he and I created back when we were sophomores in high school. We’d both always wanted children and had agreed to have children together. You are the reality of that dream, my sweet Vivianna. Because your Daddy Vic may be engaged to your Daddy Christopher, but he’s my soulmate. Always was and always will be.
                So you keep growing in there and we’ll see you soon, sweet Vivianna. And you’ll know who I am when you see me, I’ll be the gorgeous man holding you welcoming you to the world and telling you that I love you.
Love Always and Forever,
Your Uncle Daddy Justin Thomison

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Five: Cherie Noel

Today's Guest Post for Vivianna Week comes from author Cherie Noel, author of Tian's Hero, and my adopted big sis. Here's  your WARNING: This post is going to make you cry. It made me cry. So I hope you have tissue handy.

On the day that I was born, my twin brother died. There are all sorts of family stories about the hows and whys of the event, but if we cut right to brass tacks, the facts are easily understood. On March 11th of 1969 at St. Mary’s Hospital, in West Palm Beach, Florida, I was born.

*don’t ask me how this works either, but that date of birth makes me thirty-six… and holding*  

I was born sometime around two am, and my very white mother (half English, half Scottish) and very NOT white father (Seminole, Black, Hispanic, Chinese, and some other kinda White that nobody can ever remember) were fighting two very different battles. George was fighting with the doctor and his nurses to withhold knowledge of my brother’s birth from my mother. The little boy had been born dead, and there was no way George wanted his beautiful white wife to know. She had been terribly, powerfully sad, and he thought this might be the final thing that pushed her beyond what she could bear.
George loved his statuesque Northern beauty, and he’d fight hell itself to keep her in his arms. She would never, ever leave him, never, not unless he put her in the ground himself, and damn sure not by her own hand. George worked for a sizeable Palm Beach County furniture store, and he rated as their best salesman hands down. George consistently out-sold every other employee, white, black—the other men claimed that George could sell an ice-box to an Eskimo, and it was true. Within a few hours his silver tongue convinced the doctor and his main nurse to falsify the birth as two separate events, one live birth and one still birth. The records were filed separately, and for eleven years, no one but the three of them would know that Nancy had given birth to two children that day.
Nancy’s fight was more immediate. She was fighting for her life. When her son was born, something tore inside and she started to bleed heavily. The boy had hung on his umbilical cord as he passed through the birth canal, and they’d been unable to slow the birth or shove him back and free him because… because of me. I was there and pushing to get out and the doctor and the nurse got busy saving me after they realized my brother didn’t survive the transition to the outer world.
Nancy started to hemorrhage, and once I was out there was  no longer anything  blocking the way, nothing holding pressure on the place where something had torn… her vitals dropped, and the doctor, in desperation shoved his hand and half his forearm up into her to apply pressure from both inside and out.
As horrific sounding as that may be, it saved her life.
Nancy did not regain consciousness for nearly a full day.
By then George had taken care of all the messy details of the tragedy he feared would steal his highly prized wife from him.

Eleven years later he finally confessed what he’d done. Strangely, I was neither shocked nor appalled. The knowledge that I’d had a twin settled something in me, made sense of the hollowness that had echoed through all the days of my young life. I accepted the new knowledge, and moved on.

Last Fall in New Orleans I met an extraordinary man. He writes under the name Vicktor Alexander and I’ve adopted him into my home and heart as the brother I should have always had at my side. Vicktor walks a tragically dark path through this world, and does so with enormous bravery. He laughs in the face of danger—

*realio, trulio, and it makes me want to smack the shite out of him and tell him he damn well better start learning to keep himself safe, by Golly*

—and nearly stops my heart with the sheer wonder of watching him grow into the man he was always meant to be and only kept from though a complicated tangle of bigotry, fear and inadequate support. Vicktor lives steeped in the love of his Rainbow Family now, with his fiercely protective Nieceling ever-ready to take up arms in his defense. He laughs and plays silly Egg-plant(?) games with us when someone in the family need that sort of goofy fun. He writes stories of such immediacy and pull they draw readers in by the droves. And he bleeds.
He bleeds in silent rivers of pain all the atrocities committed upon his person in the years before he found his way to his Rainbow Family. He strides forward, ever forward… but not tirelessly. Vicktor has been through the wars. He’s been told and taught and forced to believe that the ills that befall those he loves are all of his making. That if he were better or stronger or perhaps more pure of heart he could save everyone.
And so it hurts him badly when a loved one dies.
Like Vivianna.
Like Christopher.
Like Justin and Mores and Joel…
The list keeps going on and on and…

So this week is a celebration. Love transcends the flimsy walls of death, you know, and often, we fill the empty and broken parts of our lives in the most unexpected ways.
Vivianna may no longer be here with us in the flesh, but the love Vic feels for her is pure and true and makes the world at large a brighter and more beautiful place. And the love that his Neiceling and I feel for him brightens our little corner of the world. We hold onto the belief that one day we will all be together, laughing and loving and playing silly Eggplant games and romping and… eh, it’s all good.
Well, not all good, but all full of love. And full of hope.
I lost a brother once.
My mother lost a son.
But the world is twisty and strange, and I found another brother. I found a niece I never knew I had. My daughter found an uncle and a cousin and today I am celebrating because there is still beauty and joy in the midst of the turmoil of the world. I am celebrating because love is never wasted and not even death destroys it.
Please, come and celebrate with me.    

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Four:Sammy Goode

Today's guest post for Vivianna Week is from Sammy Goode. The story that she shares is so touching and so amazing that I actually cried. So I hope you have some tissues handy. I think that I would have been honored to have Sammy as Vivianna's kindergarten teacher. Thank you for sharing this Sammy.

Mary’s Story

I want to tell you a story…a story about the resilience of children…of how they can bear extraordinary pain and continue to love unconditionally. 

Before I begin this story I want you to know three things:  1) this is a completely true story.  I had the amazing privilege of being a part of this little girl’s life for one year, over 10 years ago and in all that time, she has never left my memory—never.  2) Her name has been changed—this “little” girl is now 16 and, while I am quite sure she would not mind her story being told, I have no way to contact her so we will respect her privacy by using a false name.  3) This is not a happy story in the classic sense, but rather a story of courage and strength and the amazing power of love.

I had been teaching kindergarten for 5 years in a large school in the suburbs of Washington D.C.  Unlike some towns, this one was poorer than most—a sort of black mark on the county.  I lived two towns away and am ashamed to admit that every time I crossed over the border of the town in question, I thanked god that I did not live there.   The town reeked of poverty, cried out with neglected and forgotten people, and screamed for someone, anyone to notice.  But this town also held some of the most precious children to ever grace the earth.  Mary was one of them.

Mary was tiny for her age.  As a five year old, she barely reached the middle of my thigh and she was painfully thin.  No matter what season, Mary always wore the same thing to school, a short sleeved shirt that was gray with age, a dark blue cardigan and a pair of jeans with patched holes in both knees.  On top of her neatly plaited hair sat a pink bow that had turned slightly gray with age.  On her feet Mary wore a pair of sneakers that were taped with silver duct tape to cover the holes. 

By spring of her kindergarten year, Mary’s grandmother would cut the tops of the shoes away, leaving a modified sandal—not to give Mary ventilation but so that her toes stopped hurting as the shoes were almost a full size too small, and Mary was not due for her new pair until August, right before the beginning of the next school year.   The only big thing on Mary were her feet—they spoke of a little girl that should have long, graceful ebony limbs, made strong and sinewy from good nutrition.  Should…but did not.

Every day Mary came to school and had free breakfast and free lunch.  These two meals were most assuredly the only meals Mary most days.  Mary’s grandmother worked the evening shift and left Mary in the care of a neighbor woman.  The woman often sat Mary in front of the television and went about her evening, having already eaten her evening meal.  Mary simply went without.  At 9:30 in the evening, the neighbor would take the spare key to the next-door apartment where Mary and her grandmother lived and let Mary in, watch her get ready for bed and say goodnight.  She would then lock Mary into the apartment and go next door to her own. 

At about 2am, Mary’s grandmother would come home from work to a sleeping Mary, who had been alone for over 4 hours.  Mary confided in me right before graduation that she often cried herself to sleep because she was so scared being alone.  Remembrance of those little confidences cause guilt and bile to rise up inside me to this day.  How did I not see…why did I not know? 

The answer is perhaps because of Mary herself.  You see every day Mary came to school smiling, happy.  She would come into my room after eating her breakfast in the cafeteria and run over to me and hug me and say, “Good Morning, Mrs. G., I love you!”  And ever morning I would smooth down her hair and fix her bow and stroke her thin shoulders and say, “Good Morning Mary, I love you too!”  We would then start the day with the other students and as the morning progressed I would feel myself smiling whenever I would hear Mary’s breathless laugh, or sweet little giggle.

So by now, I am sure you are wondering many things.  Perhaps you are asking where child services was or why I, as Mary’s teacher, did not intervene.  Why didn’t the school report the grandmother?  Why didn’t someone, anyone buy Mary a new pair of shoes for god’s sakes?  Or give her grandmother a bag of groceries?  Where were Mary’s parents and why in god’s name did this child have to suffer?

I wish I could tell you that I was Mary’s hero.  That I made sure she had all the things I mentioned above and then some.  I truly wish I could tell you that Mary’s life changed; that she did not continue to live in bone-crushing poverty.  Unfortunately, if I did tell you those things I would be telling you a lie and at the beginning of this story I promised you the truth…and so here it is.

Mary’s father was in a maximum-security prison in the state of Maryland for stabbing his wife to death as Mary watched.  It was Mary’s grandmother—the same grandmother who left Mary each day rather than turn her over to social services where she most assuredly would have become a shell of the child she was, that stayed her son’s hand before he plunged that same kitchen knife into his own chest. 

They lived on less that $350 dollars a month and, while bone thin and small for her age, Mary went to the dentist every 6 months, was up to date on all her shots, and came to school clean and alert every day—this is what her grandmother could do for Mary and she did it fiercely, loyally, without hesitation.  Mary may have had less than pristine clothes because her grandmother could not afford a washing machine and hand washed their clothing, but Mary had good sturdy clean clothing…and believe it or not…Mary was content with that.

You see, the one thing that Mary and her grandmother did have which trumped all else was love.  Mountains of it…rivers of it…endless miles and miles of it.  From the raw and devastating hurt of a life lived on the edge of an abyss, they made a small island that was all theirs.  The love that shined in Mary’s eyes was there because even though she lay alone for those 4 hours each night she knew—she knew with a certainty beyond reason that at 2am her grandmother would come home and crawl into bed with her, and pull her close, kiss her gently and keep her safe the rest of the night.

Here is the real truth to this story, dear friends.  It is not what we own, or where we live, or how we dress that makes a home…no…it is the love that permeates every corner of our lives.  Love that wraps us up in it’s tender embrace and says, I will stand here between you and the world tonight and you will be safe…you will be loved…you will be my home and I will be yours. 

Every weekday morning, Mary’s grandmother would get up and walk Mary to school.  Two days a week, every week of the school year, I had front door greeting duty and morning breakfast monitoring.  I shared these duties with other staff members.  I remember remarking to a colleague about overhearing Mary’s morning ritual with her grandmother.  That teacher said she heard the exact same thing when it was her turn to man the door.  So I can tell you with certainty that when Mary and her grandmother reached the front door to our school they said the same farewell to each other every day…this is what they said:

“Mary, be a good girl today, learn everything you can and help your teacher.”

“Yes, Nana.”

“Remember Mary,”

“I’m your sunshine.”

“Yes, girl you surely are.”

Dear, dear friends, that is love…pure and simple, yet profound and lasting.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Three

Today's guest post for Vivianna Week, comes from my bestie and fellow author of Being Human, Patricia Lynne. It's a really sweet story and such a beautiful dedication to her sister Katy and her nephew Arik. Enjoy!


I am not a maternal person. I think I was born without the ability. Plenty of people have told me time and time again, “That will change. Just wait.” And I’m still waiting. If anything, I think my urge to have kids of my own has shrunk. Of course, I’m not completely anti-kid. I have to amazing nephews with an equally amazing mom.

My big sister I seriously think needs the Mom of the Century, no of Time award. Like me, when she was younger, she didn’t want kids. They were the farthest from her mind. Then Emmet came along. He is one firecracker of a kid. His antics are just priceless. For Halloween, he dressed up as Billy the Exterminator. Seriously, how many kids do that? They want to be Superman or Spiderman. My sister takes it all in stride – after leaving the room to laugh her ass off.

But what really earns my sister the Mom of all Time award is her second son, Arik. In the womb, we knew Arik was going to pop out special. He had a cleft lip and palate and there was no knowing how bad it would be until he was born. And when he was born, it was a shock. He barely had an upper lip and the gap in his palate went all the way to his nasal cavity. And it didn’t just end there. He has a laundry list of issues, a ton of doctors he sees, and multiple surgeries planned in the future. It’s rough on my sister and her husband, and big brother, Emmet, doesn’t always help since he’s only six and doesn’t know better. Despite all that, it’s pictures like this

that shows how much all those medical problems and doctors appointment don’t matter to my sister. She’ll do it all, and on two hours of sleep, because her face says it all. I love my baby.


About Patricia Lynne in Her Own Words:

A Story About Me

PictureI am a born and raised Michigander and transplant yooper - that means I can hold my hands up and point to where I live in the upper peninsula of Michigan. My whole life I was always creative. I remember wanting to be a dancer when I was little. In middle school, my love for art started when I did a report on Pablo Picasso. I was also in band all of middle school and high school. My mom told me I couldn't quit because every year the senior band members went to Toronto Canada to see an musical and SHE WANTED TO GO. Which she did and honestly, I didn't mind. Having Mom chaperon meant I had a bank account with me the whole trip. Remember that kids, don't be ashamed to let your parents come on a field trip because all you have to do is hold out your hand when you see something you want.

I went to college at Grand Valley State for a grand total of 1.5 years. My major was art, naturally, but I didn't see where an art degree would take me and I wasn't really enjoying the work part so I dropped out. Please, no But you could have been an art teacher. I have the maternal instincts of a rock. In fact, a rock has MORE maternal instincts than I do. College wasn't a wasted experience though, I did learn a ton in my classes and I met my hubby in an anime chat room. DragonBall Z to be exact. I can be a big anime geek.

I moved back home and worked in a small restaurant called Weber's Rustic Inn. There I learned I loved to cook and arranging the food in a pleasing way was so much fun - even in the middle of a dinner rush. Between it all I started making jewelry and knitting. Eventually, I got a business license and opened a small store online called Patricia Lynne's Treasures. My hubby moved all the way from Mississippi to Michigan and enrolled in nearby Bay de Noc Community College. You should know in the UP of MI nearby means less than 200 miles. We moved in with a friend of his and when he transferred to Lake State Superior University we moved across the state. I eventually got a job in a small deli/coffee/bakery. It was the perfect job. I love baking but not necessarily eating what I made. I got to flex my creative muscles via sugar cookies -a love/hate job. April 1st 2011 we got married, the wedding, while impromptu and VERY informal, was a blast.

I don't remember when exactly it happened; maybe while my hubby was at Bay do Noc. I had a dream one night (and I always feel like I'm ripping off Stephenie Meyers when I say this but it's the truth) and in it there was this girl and a vampire, and the cast of True Blood was trying to keep them apart. I woke with the urge to write it - although not the True Blood part. So I did. As I went, I wasn't quite sure where it was going but that didn't deter me. I kept typing along and eventually I figured out who wanted to keep Kris and Kristen apart. After that another story came to me. Then another. And another. I couldn't stop and before I knew it I had a file for writing filled with stories - not all of them finished.

I've been writing ever since. The characters in my head fight for attention and sometimes I wish I had more hands and a few computers to type it all down. In November of 2010 decided to pursue publishing my stories.

Patty's Facebook
Patty's Twitter

Patty's Jewelry Website

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vivianna Week, Day Two: Vivianna's Daddy

And my contribution for Vivianna Week is the cover for Vivianna's Daddy, the novella that I've written and dedicated to my daughter. 10% of the profits will be contributed in Vivianna's honor to: Our Family Coalition: (Mission Statement

Our Family Coalition promotes the equality and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer families with children. We foster community leadership in advocacy efforts that promote social justice.


Our Family Coalition was formed through the 2002 merger of two organizations serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender families – the Berkeley-based Our Family and San Francisco-based All Our Families Coalition (AOFC). Our Family was founded in 1994 by a group of East Bay lesbian and gay parents with infants as a social/educational organization for LGBTQ families. AOFC was formed in 1996 by and for LGBT families to both provide families with services and referrals that addressed their needs and helped them support each other and to build the resources and structures that enabled LGBT families to advocate for themselves in their communities. Since 2002 we have grown to over 700 member families, with many more participating in our activities and employing our services.

Today Our Family Coalition provides a variety of vehicles for LGBTQ families with children to engage effectively in public education and advocacy efforts that challenge the bias and discrimination that affects them. We aim to reach a diverse grassroots base of LGBT families where they are and engage them in challenging the many societal barriers they face.)

Here's the blurb for Vivianna's Daddy:

Growing up the only thing that Matthew "Matty" Bailey wanted more than his very own Prince Charming was a child of his own. When his best friend Keysha devises a way for him to fulfill at least part of his lifelong dream, Matthew is beyond excited to finally be a daddy. However, the reality of parenting is a lot harder, and way more exhausting, than he'd ever expected.

Praying to a god that he'd stopped talking to the day that he came out of the closet, Matthew asks for help taking care of his daughter, Vivianna. Opening the door, Matthew is shocked to find gorgeous part-time handyman, Christopher Hall, standing on his doorstep, telling him that he's there to help Matthew. Too surprised to do anything but squeak, Matthew lets him in.

What begins as help with household duties, turns into so much more as the two men find out that the depth of their love for Vivianna merely sets the stage for the power of their love for each other.

And here's the cover:

Vivianna Week, Day Two

Today's post for Vivianna Week is a guest post by my friend, and fellow author, Lor Rose. It's extremely hilarious, so be forewarned.
In honor of Vivianna Week I decided to write a little tid bit of one of my birthdays when I was little.
This was my sixth or seventh, to be honest I can’t really remember BUT I do remember that no matter the party, I had the best most over the top ones of any child in the entire neighborhood. This particular party was one of the better ones taking place in my Meme’s one acre backyard. My cousin brought her horse for “pony rides” even though the horse was no pony by any means. I petting zoo with various lovable kritters came soon after along with a clown. Now up until this point in life I had no problem whatsoever with clowns.
This is my tale of why clowns suck.

The clown (who wore a hideous yellow jumper with varying patters that would cause a seizer in certain children, the standard big red shoes, a purple curly haired wig, and of course the icing layer of frosting make up with a fake smile) owned the petting zoo. Two for one special yes?
Anywhoop to make a long story short the party as usual was a complete success. Over the course of this lovely affair I fell in love with a black baby pot bellied big. I forget the name now but I remember at the time I thought it very cool.
Petting the big in the clown’s arms I remember turning as my mother called the magic words over the party goers “Cake time!” now as you know cake to any young one is something close to magical.
Something or rather happened (I’m not exactly sure what) but whatever it was the pig didn’t like it. Squealing as if being slaughtered the baby pot belly hops from the clown’s arms taking off for the driveway.
This clown covered in more frosting make up than my cake surges up screaming at the top of her lungs for her beloved pig. This was very frightening when not expected especially for the birthday girl.
Well needless to say the entire party marshaled together in utter chaos to try and capture this little kritter known as the pot bellied pig. The poor scared kritter veers straight for my poor defenseless mother holding my lovely cake.
Do you see where this is going?
With a screech and twist my cake went up, up, up! It was really very comical just like you’d see in the movies of people slipping and the cake goes flying.
Of course following the movie script the cake lands on my poor defenseless mother. The whole party stops in mid-motion to open mouth stare at what just happened. The poor pig completely forgotten by all except the clown who almost ran me over with her overly large red shoes.
The clown frantically searches for her beloved pig but to no avail while the rest of us stare fixedly at my poor mother covered in vanilla cake. I remember thinking I don’t like vanilla cake. Typical child, no?
The clown once again screeches for her pig. A cake covered arms points down and there munching on my cake was the baby black pot bellied pig. My cousins horse likewise paid little mind munching on her grass. The petting zoo kritters in the pen seemed to think my cousin’s horse set a good example.
They ate.
We stared.
“Can someone please get this shit off me and get me a fucking towel?”
A lot less of my friends came to my birthdays after that.

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I am an author. What I write: everything. I'm most fond of writing GBLT. If you don't know what that is. Look it up. I have very little shame & I am known as #TheGutterQueen to my circle on twitter. I am also bisexual and a Switch. Have a problem? I don't care. Love me or hate me. It's up to you. I warn you though. You just might love me.