My grandmother was found dead lying on a snowy sidewalk in the middle of winter just steps away from our building.
It was a massive heart attack; she was 60 years old.
I was 5 years old at the time, and I remember my grandfather running into my bedroom. He was sobbing uncontrollably as he scooped me up into his arms and held me so tightly during what must have been one of the most horrific moments of his life.
I have a very vague recollection of seeing her being put into an ambulance as I peeked out of one of the streetfront windows.
This was my first unbearable goodbye.
Shortly after turning 18 my grandfather took ill. My mother and I had been by his side in the hospital as the doctors tried to keep him alive. He had never been sick a day in his life and one day caught something that developed into pneumonia. It would take his life.
I remember my mother had fallen asleep in the arm chair when he suddenly opened his eyes; he had not in many hours. I went to his side and sat by him. I cradled his neck in my arms as his breathing began to change. I was not entirely sure if he was trying to say something to me, so I leaned in ever so closely. He took one last soft breath and slipped away. I remember I actually watched that breath as if I were going to witness to something magical, something miraculous. But It did not happen; he was just gone.
I never quite forgave the universe for that.
That was my next unbearable goodbye
I would have that same opportunity with my mother some 22 years later as I held her during that final moment in an overly cheery hospice room in Florida.
My mother and I were so incredibly close that I thought her passing would be the end of me as well.
That was a most unbearable goodbye.
Oh, of course there have been other important goodbyes woven between the unbearable ones, moves away from friends and family, the goodbyes to youth and innocence, goodbyes after relationships had reached an end and so on. But the unbearable goodbyes that I speak of are the ones that literally take a piece of you with them, pieces that don’t ever come back.
I had hoped to be free of those types of endings for a while longer but our recent presidential elections made that an impossibility.
It is not just the loss of another being that can tear you apart but the loss of your ideals and dreams as well.
I have a terrible fear that some of my most unbearable goodbyes are yet to come, and not just for myself but also for the many I hold dear.
Will I have to bid my marriage farewell?
The fight for marriage equality was a long one, a well-deserved victory that finally allowed love to prevail for thousands upon thousands of my fellow LGBTQ Americans.
My husband and I were legally married in Boston in 2009.
It would be quite a few more years until our marriage was recognized nationwide.
The incoming administration has already made clear their plans to do what they can to nullify our marriage. These are facts.
Will they try to rip our children away from us?
Members of this new administration, powerful members believe that children that have been adopted by LGBTQ families should be removed from their homes and placed in homes with only male and female heads. I know, that sounds unreal right? But please remember that worse than that has happened to minorities in this world. Don’t think for one moment that the horrific and nightmarish realities of the past could not rise up to face us again.
Will I have to say goodbye to our home?
Hate crimes are dangerously on the rise and even here in my beautiful blue bubble called Durham I have friends that have already been on the receiving end of hateful words and actions by people who now feel free to demonstrate racism and bigotry because they believe the president-elect shares their sentiments, and I’m not certain that he doesn’t.
Will I have to say goodbye to my life as I know it?
President Obama recently said that inclusiveness, regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation or gender should always be our north star, it should always guide us forward.
If we lose sight of that star we will be saying goodbye to the most unbearable thing of all: our humanity.
Henry Amador-Batten lives in Durham where he is a writer, life coach, advocate for family equality and a stay-at-home dad to his son. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org