Two years ago, a woman named Kathy had a pivotal conversation with her daughter.
At the young age of 24, her daughter told her she wanted to transition from being the woman Kathy and her husband had raised into the man she had wanted for so many years to become.
Without hesitation, Kathy found an online peer support group for parents of transgender kids that she says "saved her sanity" and provided "the support, compassion and information" she needed in order to process this new information.
Two months later communication between parents and daughter broke down, and anger took over. Kathy knew she needed to find a way to express her feelings, so she put pen to paper and wrote a letter she titled, "Things I Know," a list expressing her emotions that she hoped would inspire the two to rekindle their relationship.
According to Kathy, "The letter I wrote made a huge difference."
Kathy shared the note with her support group, PFLAG, and, more recently, with us on aNoteToMyKid.com, a grassroots movement designed to bring a little more love into the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning people, and their family and friends.
A year after sharing her letter with her daughter, now her son Marcus, Kathy updated her original note to reflect the journey she and her son had experienced together.
An excerpt of the list summarized below demonstrates the difference a single year can make as Kathy went through her own emotional transition.
Per Kathy, "The first lines are from the original letter I wrote, and the words marked with an asterisk are the additions I made one year later."
For all the parents who may be struggling with a similar situation, we dedicate this post to you. Please know that you are not alone. We hope Kathy's note to Marcus will help inspire the love and strength needed during your personal journey so that you and your child can grow closer than you've ever imagined.
To Marcus: "Things I Know" and * "What a Difference a Year Makes."
"I know this is a process of stages. Grief is the first, acceptance the middle, celebration is the last."
* "I am now celebrating the wonderful joyful man that you have become."
"I know I can move forward through my grief and sorrow, and eventually find a sense of peace, seeing my child truly happy."
* "I see a more confident, strong, giving man than my 'daughter' had ever been. It is amazing!"
"I know someday, very soon, everything will seem that it was meant to be and I can put it all in perspective."
* "That day is here. My perspective just had to learn to keep up with you."
"I know I don't have to 'erase' the past. All the memories are mine to keep. I can have them and the new ones to come, together in my heart, they'll all fit."
* "You have shown me already the new ones are astonishing in their joy and brilliancy."
"I know I am waiting to hear 'I love you, Mom,' when you understand how hard I am trying."
* "I know you knew and appreciated my efforts. Now it is as effortless for me to support you as it seems to be for you to tell me you love me."
"I know I have been thinking really hard about how brave you are and how difficult it must be for you to be true to yourself."
* "You are the most courageous person I know. I am in awe of your undeniable determination."
"I know I will get through this because I love you more than you can ever know, I want only for you to be happy and at peace with yourself. I am blessed to have you in my life no matter what."
* "You were patient enough to allow me my worries, and you are loving enough to share with me the tranquility and joy you now possess."
"I know that I care deeply enough for you that communication can't be stifled by my discomfort, even if I am struggling."
* "You allowed my awkward attempts at understanding until I could stop struggling and start believing."
"I know that I am proud that you feel you were raised with the strength to be able to do this rather than cower and hide in a life of unhappiness."
* I was able to learn by your example and discover that I had that same strength within myself."
"I know now this isn't a loss, I will still know you, my child, with every smile and hug I get."
* "The person I raised will always be here. Looking different on the outside made no difference to the wonderfulness that you are."
"I know you aren't the only one who is transitioning, I am transitioning right along with you. Because I love you, I know there will come a point when I will be settled with your identity."
* "Your identity has always been there, now your outer appearance matches the inside. I don't need to be settled with your identity, because you are."
"I know responding to you from my heart is sometimes painful for you, but I need to be honest and help you to understand me, too."
* "Your transition was a gift -- to yourself, to me, and to everyone who knows and loves you. You will always be my beloved, cherished child, no matter how old you are."
"I love you, no matter what!"
Follow Patrick Wallace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/aNoteToMyKidcom