Last Thursday on the #AskSteveAustin Podcast, I had the honor of talking with my friend (and best-selling author), Natalie Brenner about her fantastic new book, This Undeserved Life: Uncovering the Gifts of Grief and the Fullness of Life. Natalie has served alongside her husband in ministry, been wounded by the church, had a miscarriage, and […]
I haven’t checked on my friend Kevin Garcia in at least two weeks. His prediction was right. We’ve moved on. We had never done anything to reach the gay community before the Pulse shooting, but suddenly we seemed to care. We wept and wailed and mourned on social media. And now? We’re done. It’s no longer in the news cycle. Last week was Dallas and in a few days, the vigils will be over and we’ll be writing about the next tragedy that sweeps our broken-as-f*ck nation.
I was fourteen when my Aunt Missy killed herself. It was the last day of June in Alabama when a police car pulled up to our new house, which was still under construction. I remember how hot those 2×4’s were, as they baked in the sun. Per the officer’s instructions, we loaded up in the minivan and drove down the hill to the fire station where my dad worked, so Mom could call her parents. Very few people had cell phones yet, and my Momma wasn’t one of them. I’ll never forget the way she screamed, “My sister!” as she dropped the grey receiver and it swung out and slammed back against the concrete wall, there in the lobby of Fire Station #1.
I am a straight white male from Alabama. I have zero personal connection to any victim of the Orlando shooting, but these are still my people. They are Americans. Deeper than that, they are humans! People who assumed they were safe in a place with their friends. But they weren’t safe, and now I am grieving the tremendous loss, along with so many others.
Many of my straight friends have texted or called me, asking what they can do for me and how they can be there for other queer people who are suffering. The answer is very simple:
Mourn with us. Sit with us. Hold us when we need holding. Be the shoulder for us to cry on. Listen to us process what we are feeling. Pray with us and for us. But, most importantly, don’t make it about you.
My mom killed herself when I was 12. I’ve spent a good amount of time obsessing over the circumstances of her death.
No amount of “pray this prayer”/ “claim this scripture”/ “read this book”/ “ten ways to recover from childhood trauma” is ever going to fix what’s broken with the deepest parts of people’s souls, including mine. Yet life does not have to be dictated by the past.
You were the one I could always talk to about the things no one is ever supposed to discuss: religion, politics, and a myriad of current affairs. For years, you’ve been far more than just a Grandfather. You’ve been my teacher. My mentor. My friend.
And you are fading. And my heart breaks with every single visit.