grieving as a non-binary person

Publish in Gay & Grey Montreal newsletter – January 2023
This text has been edited after its publication in Gay & Grey Montreal.

Three years ago in January, my mother transitioned at the age of 100 years and 7 months. At the time, we were 66 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and our partners gathered to honor her life, her dreams. Those who had been accomplished and those who weren’t. And their leftovers. The lessons she had learned and happily shared. The many stories she didn’t speak openly of because she didn’t have the words, and/or they were frozen within. The pleasures she delighted in: food, food and food.

At one point in her nineties, all of her children were called to come say their goodbyes. She was in her bed, weak, terribly weak, wanting to leave, to be reunited with her husband, her parents, sisters and brothers, her friends. Except for one of her in-laws, she was the last one of her generation to be alive. With a heavy heart we were waiting for the last call, when we heard from our sister, who had been her caretaker for the last 6 or 7 years at the time…

“She will make it, this morning she was hungry wondering what is there to eat.” 

A woman who was the 14th of 14 children, born while the Spanish flu was raging in Montreal. Who grew up during the Great Depression, got married during the Second World War, got pregnant and gave birth to her first child while her husband was fighting abroad.

. . .

At the wake, speaking with my son about who would be one of the pallbearers, my transmasculine self informed by my feminine self, cultured into ongoing patriarchal residues, told him that I was really uncomfortable with the fact that there would be no expression of the feminine in the cortege wheeling in the casket. No feminine expression for a woman who, inspired by Amelia Earhart, had dreamed of being an aviator. Who had worn pants and suits most of the time, at least the time I knew her. I was profoundly uncomfortable with this ongoing invisibility.

“Mom, you should take my place.”

“Are you sure?”

Even though a part of me didn’t want to be once again the one making waves, because yes, there was some opposition to this desire to adapt this old ritual to reflect our present reality, my non-binary self knew they had to be there. There for this fierce woman. There for my three afab grandchildren.  

. . .

To read my identity as a non-binary person/being, here’s the link