my aunt passed away two weeks ago and i am deeply conflicted – as many folks tend to be with loss, i guess.
while she wasn’t a queer warrior, her loss has certainly made me long for one.
so i made one up – my sistacousinunclemom.
this warrior is my gender non-conforming, fiercely loving and accepting family member. and some days they are a pansexual, robustly political listening energy, and other days they are the ancestral spirit that has gifted me self-acceptance. sistacousinunclemom can be all of that, really.
my aunt loved me and i loved her, yet we were not close. she knew very little about my life; struggled with homophobia so knew very little about my love; lived in a different city, so we saw each other infrequently; and was dying of lung cancer, with which i experienced a challenging empathy.
i questioned how she could “choose” to die from the same illness that killed her sister – my mother – how having the gift of life granted twice again since she was born – she had two separate chemotherapy treatments, from two separate aggressive cancerous attacks – for taking life for granted because she still smoked.
it was all my anger, rage, unresolved mess to clean and be present to, which i did before she died. i waited a long time and had a lot of excuses for why i was “right” to. we tried other times; saying the common “i love you” and “no matter who you are” and things of that sort, but we lingered in the mediocre.
it was a strange love.
while staying with her in her hospice care room she had a visit from 3 of her closest friends. they walked in with immediate tears, sullen eyes, and head shakes at seeing the woman they knew so differently, so actually ill. people who had known and loved her for twenty years. and none of them knew who i was. i felt like a stranger who had made up the relatedness i thought i had with my aunt. that my childhood memories were lies. and the truth is that i had held on all these years to a relationship that was long passed. and none of that mattered/matters.
and i can’t explain the strange love i have.
i imagine that sistacousinunclemom is guiding us both to love and joy and a new way of seeing. and i can’t help but want a kind of sistacousinunclemom for all of us.
a being who is a loving voice for the queer warriors that are/are to be who lose their homes, families, care givers, friends, communities, sense of self because of their queer or warriorness. these sistacousinunclemoms are our house mothers, poets, educators, artists, friends, mentors, scholars, activists, diviners, ancestors, and folk who say “yes” to who we are and encourage us fully and completely at our best.
who reveal spaces of love for all of the complicated (hurtful and joyful) ways the people and world we are born to show up in our lives.
who remind us we all have access to the sistacousinunclemom that is us/we/ourselves.