I am in the midst of illustrating a book for Frankie about the greatest love story of his life — his path to fatherhood with the man he loves and as I get to the point where it becomes his story and Milo is about to be conceived I have to pause and breath and take a moment. I look at old pictures and see the faces of love that surround him — the infamous photo of Milo’s birth which sits in a frame in my dining room beside my wedding photo and my two babies. I pass it every day but this morning, while everyone in my house is sleeping, I stop and look at it and tears just well up in my eyes.
The joy and fear and “I can’t believe this is happening to me” and “everything I could have lost if I had ever given up on my dream” and “how did my life get here when there were so many times I could have lost it all” builds up in my chest and I look at Frankie’s face and I know everything that he felt in that moment. The world looked at that photo and for many, for the first time, they saw that two daddies were two parents who loved their baby every bit as much as a mommy and daddy but what they don’t know is how much more he loved his baby and what he almost lost and what he dreamed about and how this was an absolute impossibility that broke his heart before he even told anyone that he was gay all those years ago. Milo was born on Pride Weekend 2014 and this photo moved the world to see gay love as LOVE without condition. It was that simple. Imagine that — years of fighting, hardship, loss, fear and one moment captures all of this and the world is there to bear witness.
At Frankie’s wedding his father came up to me and held both my hands and told me that as parents, we always worry about who our children choose as friends. We worry how they will be influenced and the decisions they will make because of the friends they surround themselves with but with me — he tells me — he and Elaine never worried. They always knew I was the best friend Frankie could have. We both cried because we both love him with every ounce of our being and we know we could have lost him.
Each time something beautiful happens in Frankie’s life I celebrate the moment and I give thanks for the moment. These are two completely separate things. I think that feeling joy and gratitude compound the love we feel for the moments of shear beauty in our lives. To stand next to him, with his wonderful husband, because of a convergence of history that allows to be there — with each other — in that moment — despite struggle, loss, fear, illness, desperate loneliness, homophobia, hate, and ignorance because we happen to be in this country at this time and we survived to this moment leaves me awestruck.
To know from this moment Frankie is on a path that will lead him to adventures, a home, to love deeper than he thought possible, to partnership, to romance, to companionship and every dream he never thought possible and I am there by his side fills me up completely.
I think when we survive profound struggle and illness somehow the colours get turned up. Somehow we see everything with more vibrance than we thought possible.
I am forever grateful for you Frankie. For your light, your love and your presence in my life. Your joy goes through me and sits in my heart every moment that I see your happiness.
I wish for my own children to know this love, this friendship, this joy for another person’s happiness without expectation.
I love you.