I have changed and, therefore, QueerieBradshaw.com is changing as well.
Today, my brother is having a major portion of his jaw removed to stop his aggressive cancer from spreading any farther. They do not know if he will talk or eat again. Yet, while this surgery is going to be horrifically painful and scarily complicated, it’s a welcome change from the no-more-options scenario he was in a few months ago. We are happy they’re willing and hopeful enough to give this a try.
It is impossible to get to this point – the point where you hear of a surgery like this and think of it as good news – and not change. It is impossible to live through this year of watching my brother lose his battle with cancer and not gain some perspective.
Last June, I watched for ten days as the stroke that attacked my grandmother’s brain slowly took her life. I was there when she miraculously woke up to say one last “I Love You,” to her family, I was there when it was determined she was beyond medical options, I was there when they moved her into a room to die and I was there when – surrounded by family and two harpists the hospital sent to our room – she took her last breaths. I held my father as he cried for the loss of his mother, an opinionated, powerful woman with whom I had a very complicated relationship but loved fully. I was there as arrangements were made to get her body cremated and her ashes sent the thousand of miles to her home – she had this stroke while visiting Oregon for my law school graduation. I was there when my beloved grandfather bent over and gave his wife of over 60 years one last kiss, and I was there to hold her cold hand until they took her away from all of us forever.
And while this experience was horrifically painful to endure, it was an honor to be there; to be a part of my family and to experience this momentous event together.
I was present. I was aware. I was there.
Until recently, my biggest fear in life, the one that kept me from sleeping, from breathing, from feeling, was the possibility that I would be going through that all again too soon, that I would be there as my brother took his last breaths. My biggest fear was that I may have to watch helplessly as this cancer takes over his body and leaves him, leaves all of us, with no more options.
Then a wonderful friend painfully pointed out that I was living as if my brother were dead, incapacitated by my fear of watching another family member die, of losing a brother I was not yet ready to live without. I was accepting his death as fact, sad about the apparent last moments of his life, overwhelmed by the pain this supposed inevitability caused in me. And instead of encouraging me to seize the day and enjoy the last moments I thought I was having with him, this thinking just led me to flee.
I was not present. I was not aware. I was not there.
I am moving from Oregon – the one place in the world I’ve ever felt like I truly belong – back to Southern California – the place that has always told me I did not belong. Instead of fleeing the home that filled me with insecurities, apprehensions, and issues, I am moving towards it, meeting those monsters with the weapons of knowledge, experience and distance. These are weapons I have gathered from my travels throughout the world and from within myself: weapons of peace, not the tumultuous weapons I used in the past to tear through the pain. I am going to my family, instead of running from them, because the only thing that scares me more than being there when my brother dies is not being there while he lives.
I am going to be present. I am going to be aware. I am going to be there for every moment I possibly can with my brother, my sister, my brother-in-law, my father, my mother, my cousin, my nieces and nephews – my family and my closest friends.
When Queerie Bradshaw came into being, I was looking to escape from love, life and law school. Now, I am looking to experience everything, even the emotionally wrenching things that hurt beyond words I can produce. I am changed because I am human and humans change. We grow, we shift, we adjust, we mutate, we survive.
The wonderful thing about technology is that it too is ever changing. It grows, shifts, adjusts, mutates and survives with us. So as I dig deeper into myself, my life, and the world around me, so too will this site dig deeper into the world around all of us.
In the next few weeks, we’ll roll out a new look, a new theme and a new mission statement. Yes, there will still be lots of porn, sex toys and lists of people we’d fuck, but accompanying the pieces that are fun to write, we’ll have those that are hard to write: those that make us bare the bits of ourselves we are most protective of, the bits of ourselves that are most real.
We will be present. We will be aware. We will be here.
And we hope you will be too.