“On the eve of our life we will be judged by how much we loved.”
St John of the Cross
On the afternoon of January 5th, 2015, in a winter-locked clinic … my fingers twitched in spasms, splayed over a steel gurney rail. The thick IV needle was embedded just below my forearm tattoo — grip unable to tighten because of the deep wedge in the skin.
“I won’t damage your ink,” the French-accented anesthetologist assured me, medical-taping the nozzle into place and turning on the drip.
Then (as goes typical hospital protocol) he switched on his headlamp and studied a buzzing monitor, simultaneously instructing me to count back from 10.
“9,” I exhaled.
Already my eyeballs had begun to roll inward upon their own orbits. Seven seconds. My sex reassignment surgery. Every accumulated wish from that lifelong unrequited emptiness within, summarized as a buried dread: “Why wasn’t I born a girl?” Losing, breath, sinking, last cry.
Throat could only accomplish a coarse offering that barely passed across cracked tongue. Final seconds. Prayer.
“Mary, my only Mother, please allow me to be a daughter of your immaculate heart.” (Whoever heard me, on heaven or earth, I don’t know — as the world disappeared.)
Six hours later barely registered. Stammering back into light, pain, consciousness, awareness, and overflowing gratefulness that is the return from a taste of death. The first garbled stutters out of my mouth were to repeat that prayer. And then I asked: “Am I ok?” As ripples in the crisp fabric of a nurse’s mask, the smile appeared. Better than ok: my own personal albatross was released.
Every syllable of that petition has been continually reinscribed through contemplation — please allow me to grow — “daughter”, “mother”, “heart”, “immaculate”. The heavenly epitome.
Mary is my Mother, and I know she has not turned her precious face from me, a Catholic transsexual woman. Worries arise, but love aspires. So with the fresh beginning that is each now, the opportunity that is today — offered to the mother of forever — this for all of life my daily prayer.
Please allow me to be a daughter of your immaculate heart, dearest Mary, queen of mercy.
I recite a rosary of glory on this Feast of the Immaculate Heart, for Love who is Love Itself … in a San Francisco cathedral, the consecrated title of which calls to Our Lady of the Assumption. Assumpta . . . my confirmation name. (Or what would have been my confirmation name. Other I then: the “boy”.) The grieving is still there: I have severe depression, and I struggle, curse, and blame myself in cyclic redundancy.
But, more powerful than these: her heart and the sacred heart of her Son, in both I lay and render my faith.
Pray for us, Immaculate Heart of Mary: please wrap your mantle of comfort upon those currently being told that who they are invalidates them from your embrace.
Addendum (June 12):