Life is never the same without your mom. And mine, Marcy Lee Kensinger Francis, died four years ago this morning. I remember the chill in the air as I shivered toward the ringing phone to hear the news that a grandmother should never have to tell her grandson: “Your mama’s gone,” she said quietly, hanging up the phone. The sun was about to come up through the cement, steel & glass loft that Bronson, Max & I had taken residence in earlier that summer. Cancer came and took her — fast.
This morning, exactly 48 months later, as I watched the sun rise in a different apartment, memories of her final days came flooding back. Then came the realization that 15 years ago today, Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence, beaten and left to die.
These two deaths, juxtaposed, are strangely poetic for me. While visiting my grandmother, Ramona, on her birthday in March ’02, she made a very specific request that our family watch The Matthew Shepard Story. It was a watershed moment for our tiny family. That night I wrote in my journal:
“What are the chances that ‘The Matthew Shepard Story’ would be airing on NBC the exact same night I took a weekend trip to see grandma for the first time in a decade? So me, grandma, mom & dad sat in front of her little TV and watched it all: we saw Matthew fall in love and kiss his boyfriend in prime time, and we watched him beaten to death on that wooden fence in Laramie.”
I’m rather awestruck that mom’s death-day would coincide with Matthew Shepard‘s. I’m not sure why these things still surprise me—but they do! So I’m grateful for the synchronicity. And butterflies. For friends and family who help us pierce the veil and see what is real. For lovers who are our mirrors and partners in our growth. Because of a few of you my dear ones, I know what it means to love unconditionally—and the incredible power of forgiveness: thank you.
Forgiveness is the golden ticket.
Forgiveness is the glue.
Wish more people knew that.
I’ve knocked my head against that same Rocky Mountain sky, and it knocked a mean streak out of me. It left behind a desire to live the words of Kahlil Gibran: “To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love. To bleed willingly—even joyfully. And to wake another dawn, with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”
Today, I beat my drum in memory of Matthew & Marcy.
E hoʻomaha me ka maluhia.