She was about 16 and teetered between wanting to be cool and needing to be cuddly. She had had auburn hair that must have glistened marvelously with her green eyes. Bright green eyes are rare, and I remember hers as they stared in silence or twinkled in laughter. The laughter was rarer as the days wore on. Her thick Georgia accent weakened to a whisper. She was tired and had grown weary of the gray Minnesota days that crossed into night with nary a change of sky. She often laid prone looking at nothing but the white ceiling. We took turns sitting with her, holding her hand, reading to her, or tickling her forearm, which she found most comforting. She had spent the better of part of the year alone, with friends visiting when they could and when she was well. She was cared for by a cadre of nurses and volunteers. I was among them. Her older brother came once, unbeknownst to their parents. He had come to say goodbye.
This teenage girl was dying. She needed a bone marrow transplant and eventually got one from an unknown donor. Her own mother and father refused to be tested to save their daughter’s life. Her brother refused at first too, but eventually succumbed, to guilt or shame or heart, I’ll never know. In the end, he refused to be a donor too. He was a match.
But he came to say goodbye.
She had come out to her family the year before she was diagnosed. They shunned her. She was from a small town in Georgia, though I think that hardly matters. From what I understand, her parents were typical of what you’d expect from the heart of America’s Bible belt, for better or for worse. Her family sent her away so she lived with friends who took her in. You see, simply because this young girl was gay, her parents disowned her, refusing to even be tested to donate life saving marrow to their own flesh and blood. They committed the worst crime a parent can commit. Their closed minds and iron hearts cost their daughter her life. Literally.
I am a mother and cannot imagine…
And so tomorrow we vote on Amendment One in North Carolina. We vote to ban gay marriage in our state constitution. The push to pass this amendment comes from the same place the young girl’s parents came from. The move to amend our constitution comes from a place of fear, judgement, intolerance, bigotry, and hate. Where are the compassion and love and tenderness and mercy? Surely those are Christian mores; heck those are human values, plain and simple. Should we let this amendment pass in North Carolina, we are saying that we stand arm in arm with these same parents who let their daughter die, for we exhibit no courage or strength or virtue for our fellow citizens. We are better than this, North Carolina.