Late night phone calls are not normally a good thing, but that’s not always the case. We had just been moving my best friend all day and our bodies were all incredibly worn out. Her new place had a garden bathtub and she insisted I soak in it with epsom salts to ease my spent muscles. I melted into the water, washing the enormous amount of work from my skin. Salty and tired it felt like I was engulfed in mud each time I pulled my buoyant arm from the water. I managed to wash my hair and then pull myself from the tub after my fingers resembled pale raisins. My friend immediately filled the tub for her turn.
I got dressed and lied down on the bed chatting with her as she soaked her ailements into the epsom salt bath. She was in about 10 minutes when her phone rang. She answered. It was past midnight and we both were surprised by the call. I listened from the other room as I heard a one-sided conversation become something extraordinary. It was her son. He lived far away and she only just saw him a few months back. Prior to that it had been years since they had seen eachother. Even though they don’t see eachother much, they do keep in contact on a weekly basis through phone calls and social media. It was justr strange for him to be calling at such a late hour. She reclined into the tub for what she thought was going to be an end of the day recap.
She listened for a few minutes and then replied with “It’s ok, what’s the matter?” “You can tell me anything.” I became quiet enough that his tremors could be felt in the silence. She splashed her arms to readjust and for 15 minutes she kept reassuring her son that no matter what he needed to tell her that she was there for him and loved him unconditionally. At first I was afraid this might have been a last ditch call before a suicide at the severity and nervousness in her voice, but as she spoke I could hear the mothering tone of support and coaxing. He had a secret he needed to tell her, he was just scared as hell to tell her what it was.
My heart was nervous for her. What news would he be ashamed of? A drug problem? An unplanned pregnancy? Was he gay? She kept softly reassuring him of her love and loyalty to his happiness and then the dam burst. He was hiding himself his whole life. He always identified as a girl but was far too ashamed to let anyone in the family know. His heart was aching to tell her and so fearful even though he knew she would always have his back, or so he hoped. When you are coming out with a big dark secret, the biggest fear is to be alone in your nakedness of truth. We all fear that instead of support we would be shunned or treated differently. Her words grew even softer and more reassuring. She was sad that she didn’t know this side to her son. That she didn’t spot this when he was a child so she could walk with him and give him the support he desperately wanted from her, but she made up for it in that moment. She doted on him and told him how proud she was that he found the strength to tell her. She offered up exspensive wigs that she used to wear in an effort to further support him. She asked him his new name and what sort of plan, if any, had he made to transition. I think he was blown away. I cried at her beautiful mothering spirit. She made me such a proud friend.
The next day I asked her about how she felt and what she thought. Her words are the reason she is my friend. She said. “I just wish I knew as he was growing up so I would have helped him be more comfortable in expressing himself. I’m so surprised that I missed this.” She had nothing but love for her son and so much pride in him finally finding what it was that made him happy. He now has another ally to support him in his journey in transitioning. I’m not sure I will ever be calling her son in a male term after now. I hope that she finds her happiness in whatever form she takes an that her body matches her heart in the near future. Either way, her mom and her bestfriend will be there supporting her every step of the way….