Hands linked, souls linked - we were committed, ready to jump.
The plan was in place, the safety confirmed, the time had come.
Two years ago tonight, I slept little - as did Toby.
Two years ago tonight, we lay head to pillow knowing that with the dawn, we were stepping into a light we hoped would envelop us, comfort us, free us.
Two years ago tonight, we knew that May 7th would be the day Toby came out as transgender, and we came out with him.
As a writer, I have laid my life pretty bare. One of my earliest published pieces was for McCall's magazine, in which I wrote candidly, complete with pictures, about having my breasts fixed. Favorite mammory? My child's godmother sitting at the dentist's office reading McCall's, turning the page and screaming internally, "I KNOW HER!"
For almost two decades, I have written the way I speak. I write with passion about that which makes me laugh, infuriates me, makes me ponder. I have also, in this space, written freely about my family. Since 2005, a global audience has slowly amassed and watched my children grow up. They have watched me live my marriage across the miles. Celebrated milestones, achievements, sorrows, challenges. You have cheered on soccer games and recruiting. You have given my fears harbor when our oldest was stricken with something that still has no name.
Writing about my family has been as natural as breathing. The hope has been rooted in writing in an attempt to connect, make others realize they are not alone, and yes, make me feel not so alone.
In doing so, the readers of DGMS have known our youngest since he was 8 years old. Since he was Carson. Since he was she. Or so we thought.
For a full year+ after Toby sat me down and bared his soul to me, the DGMS pages went largely blank. Yes, I wrote here and there, but what we were facing, absorbing, living, was all consuming - and very ,very private. There was no shame, there was only a circling of a very few wagons as we endeavored to create a plan, build a life raft, chart a course.
For a year+, I slept little. For a year, I saw my child do more than I thought humanly possible. I saw him bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things - for one simple reason: because it is true - LOVE LASTS.
For a year+, LOVE was our life preserver as he battled through panic attacks, a darkness that would permanently envelop so many of his fellow travelers. There were depressive clouds that would float in without invitation, floating out with no goodbye.
For a year+ we clung to a woman named Tycee, his therapist - she was then, and continues to be, our emotional sherpa as we have climbed this Kilimanjaro of uncertainty.
For a year+ we worked towards this night, two years ago. The night I would bring our son home from college, where he had withdrawn from school, from the collegiate soccer career for which he had worked so long and hard. This night, two years ago, heralded a new beginning.
With the dawn, there would be no more hiding. There would be no more fear, tap dancing, pretending. There would only be the truth. Every single bit of it. And let the chips fall where they may.
Our son had created his coming out - a video drawn and worded from the hart - no, not misspelled - it was a combination of his heart and his art - a coming out told only the way he could. With music, laughter, and the truth.
I had penned my coming out here at DGMS. It was, by turns, both the hardest and the easiest piece I had ever written. I have always likened my writing to vomiting on the keyboard - that it just has to come out. But this time, as much as it needed an exodus, I knew, as did our son, that the rest was in the hands of the audience.
That piece? Well, we had made real PEACE with our next step. Our line in the sand was firm. We were unashamed, and you would either be in or have to be out. There was no middle, no gray area. Not even for close family. You either have a heart built for humanity, or you don't.
Two years ago tonight, I knew our lives would be changed forever. But in truth, they had already changed, we had already moved miles down the road, we were already making strides that would lead to the eve of revelation. Our hearts had never wavered along the way - this was our child, our sibling, our grandchild - love is all the Sharp family knows, has ever known.
Two years ago tomorrow, we all stepped out with Toby. Ready to lose everyone, and finding in the leap, that we lost no one. Perhaps it was because of how freely we had shared our lives for so long, that preconceived notions disintegrated like so many super heroes in Infinity War. With the snap our our gauntleted hand, we dealt cognitive dissonance the way Thanos dealt "salvation". Like it or not, people suddenly had what they thought they knew, felt, believed come crashing up against the knowledge that they had known, embraced, loved a transgender person for years.
That day was wondrous for us. With each email, comment, text, call - we felt the love, the solidarity, the unwavering devotion to our child as a human being.
An amazing, talented, funny, caring, charismatic, athletic, compassionate, intelligent, dedicated, loyal human being.
In the two years that have passed, we have continued to share our journey with you. Advocacy and openness was never up for discussion. It was simply, like cotton, the fabric of our lives. Continuing to share, to let people in, to encourage people to see the transition, the normalcy, the humor, the heart. To see that everything that makes our son who he is has always been there. He is who he has always been.
For three years we have been learning, as we had started to understand with Culley's illness and subsequent altered path, that life is not so much about what you planned, as it is about what happens. Letting go. And fearlessly walking where the journey takes you.
It has been three years+ since Toby shared his inner truth with me. In those years we have grown stronger, closer - we have been forged. Three years in which panic has been replaced with plans. Three years in which depression has been reduced to a whisper, not a roar. Three years in which Toby has done so much of the heavy lifting in this process. Three years in which Tycee has walked this path beside him, beside us all, culminating in her telling Toby last month that she views herself on an "as needed" basis for him moving forward. Three years+ of consistent therapy has been reduced to "as needed." That is how far he has come.
Three years ago we had no plan, just love. A tunnel with no discernible light. Two years ago tonight, we had a plan and love and could see a tiny beam in the distance.
Tonight, we have a son filled with excitement, engaged in his plans for his future, self assured, self aware, self confident, bathed in love. And that tunnel? Gone. Behind us.
The Sharps have nothing but light.
Thank you all for being with us through the dark.