Four years

E.U.P.   •   February 27, 1995 — March 24, 2005.

[I posted this very same photograph and poem last year (here).

Muted backstory here (I provided an anchor link to the relevant part). Reader Chumpy posted this link to Joby Talbot’s “Cumulonimbus” in a comment on last year’s post, and I still find it compellingly apropos.

I also still find it near impossible to write (here) directly about my nephew himself, much less about his illness and death.  Only slightly more possible have been my  attempts at describing the mark his joie de vivre, coupled with his illness and death, have left on my parenthood, about which:  here and here.

At some level this whole blog is a paean to him, though, insofar as it is one sign one of my attempt to live my life and my parenthood with my eyes and heart as wide open as possible.  For which enduring parting gift, my gratitude to him is oceanic.]

“When Death Comes”
by Mary Oliver
from New and Selected Poems

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Myth-busting study released

The COLAGE News Blog passes on the news that the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law recently released a report showing that LGB Americans are more likely to be poor than their heterosexual counterparts.

The study, “Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community, “ [opens PDF file], was released last week, and reported on in national media including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.  Highlights include the following findings:

  • •  After comparing families with similar characteristics, gay and lesbian couple families are significantly more likely to be poor than are heterosexual married couple families; 
  • •  In general, lesbian couples have much higher poverty rates than either different-sex couples or gay male couples; 
  • •  African-Americans in same-sex couples have poverty rates that are significantly higher than black people in different-sex married couples; 
  • •  People in same-sex couples who live in rural areas have poverty rates that are twice as high as same-sex couples who live in large metropolitan areas; 
  • •  Employment discrimination, lack of access to marriage, and a greater likelihood of being uninsured exacerbate poverty among LGB people.
  • •  One in five children being raised by same-sex couples in the United States lives in poverty.

The thing about not having a male income in the family lowering the family’s income?  A lot of us lesbian gals coulda told any researcher that one.  But some other really important findings wouldn’t have been as obvious to me.  The whole picture painted by the report is very important, and one I hope that draws the attention of activists and politicians across various lines of political affiliation.

The report is described as the first of its kind, but local folks might remember that in October of 2007, Our Family Coalition released a report, “Our Families: Attributes of Bay Area LGBTQ Families,” that essentially came up with similar findings. (Here’s my LD post on its release.)  At least so it seems to me, on first gloss.  One glaringly obvious point is that equal access to the fiscal benefits of marriage would have a material impact on these families.