My husband, Rob, wrote this letter to Ryan as part of our expanded “Just Because He Breathes” presentation for Exodus International. The video below was shown in our presentation, after Rob read this:
I miss you so much. I don’t really know how heaven works because you might already know everything I’m about to say but just in case you don’t there’s some things I want you to know. I love you so much and it hurts so bad that you were not here last weekend to celebrate Riley’s wedding with us. We all missed you so much. Riley and Abby left an empty place for you, and Lindsey was the only bridesmaid who walked unescorted down the aisle, because you should have been with her. Even though the day would have been difficult for you in some aspects, you would have been so proud of your brother. And I know that you would just ADORE Abby. Your handsome face and easy laugh would have made the day complete for me.
That said, I am not angry that you relapsed on that day In late June 2009. I know you did not intend to let things get out of hand like they did. In fact I would not be bitter or angry even if you had taken your life. I have nothing but compassion and respect for how well and how long you battled your difficulties. Only now by reading your journals, do I more fully realize how much pain and difficulty you were facing. Whenever I feel like I need a good cry, all I have to do is to pull them out and it puts me in touch with the deep pain you were in…and how, as your earthly father, I let you down in many ways.
I am so very, very sorry for the things that I did to contribute to your despair. I so desperately wish that I had known back then what I do know now. I thought I was so right when you first came out to us. Little did I know how much I had to learn. Please forgive me for letting fear control my decisions and the way I responded to you, instead of faith. I should have trusted God, who loves you so much more – and better – than I do, and who never stopped chasing after you.
I so regret how slow I was to truly understand and love you without any conditions.
But you always had such grace for me. You were so patient with us while we learned what really mattered.
Thank you for trusting us with your deepest thoughts and fears and sharing so much of your experience as a gay teen, and a gay young adult, attempting to reconcile his faith with his sexuality. Thank you for all your letters and emails; the ones that made us laugh and the ones that made us cry. Your handwritten letters are priceless to me.
I so wish that I could introduce you to some of my dearest friends now, men and women who love Jesus with their whole hearts. They have helped me to understand that gay is not a deal breaker for God…that gay and Christian can co-exist, and that God isn’t wringing His hands over this issue. He is way bigger than this. I know that God did not reject or abandon you, or anyone else.
I wish I could take you to dinner tonight and tell you all the ways that your life…and even your death…blesses ours every day. We have learned so very much from you. God, through you, has opened up a whole new world for mom and I.
I wish we could make that snowboarding trip to Mount Baker that we had planned.
I wish you could see how we’re still using the zip line you designed. I will never forget the joy on your face as you concocted yet another way to creatively fly across our back yard.
I wish I could take you backpacking again, and that we could talk and talk and talk as we hiked.
I wish you were here to have backyard bonfires, and to come up with ever increasingly crazy ways to alarm our neighbors.
I wish you could call and tell me all about it when you met a guy you were interested in…and that I could meet him, too.
I wish that we could have a barbeque on your roof, with the view of the Space Needle that we loved so much.
I wish we could ride down the driveway together…one of us on my rip stick and one on my long board…and that we could teach each other new tricks as we laughed and crashed.
I wish you were here to help me hunt the raccoons that threaten to eat our Janie cat…I will NEVER forget the time you pegged that one 30 ft up in the tree in our front yard, and then 20 seconds later, got the second one on your first try.
I wish you could cook your specialty eggs in our kitchen, adding that fire sauce, while you sang funny songs and worship songs and whatever else came to mind. I miss your voice.
I wish you were here in the audience, sitting with Larissa and Cam and Lindsey and Grandma Pat and Uncle Ronny and Uncle Don and all our new friends from Biola Queers, who I know you would love so much.
I wish I could hold you again.
I love you, Ryan.
I miss you. Oh, how I miss you.
I am so very, very proud of you.
I am sorry for EVER wanting you to be anyone other than who God made you to be. I am so very sorry for all the things I said that caused you to feel that I would love you more if you were straight.
I know now that you were EXACTLY who God intended…and that you were BEAUTIFUL.
You were, and will always be, my beautiful, beautiful boy…
We showed this video to accompany the letter during our presentation:
289 responses to “Mail to Ryan…Our Beautiful Boy”
Linda and Rob,
Thank you so much for your vulnerability and grace. I am so honored to have met you this past week at Exodus. I cannot wait for our paths to cross again and again and again and again and… 😉 My heart wells up with love for you both as I, like Julie, can’t stop thinking about you two. Many blessings to you on your journeys with Jesus.
In Christ’s love and mine,
Trista!! What a blessing you are! Thank you for sharing your passion to love Jesus above all else; you encourage me to do the same!
Next time our paths cross, lets plan on having coffee and talking more! Tons of love to you!
My heart goes out to you. I know God loves sinners of which we all are but we must obey Him to please Him. So sorry you had this tremendous pain in your life. Life truly is a mystery
I am gay. I went to a religious evangelical school for all my schooling prior to college. Reading about your son makes me really angry. I relate to him. I had the luck of not coming out until I was out of home because I can only imagine what hell that would have been. I was a true believer and I prayed just like your son did and I some point I realized that there was nobody listening and that I have accomplished nothing but to make myself miserable, a depressed, sad, shadow of a man. When I finally came out, to my surprise some relatives had a very kind and understanding reaction, except my sister my one and only sister, who after the death of my mother was all I had. She reacted exactly the same way you did. She threw at me all these empty platitudes, all these religious nonsense and stopped communicating with me since. I hate religion. I truly do. Christianity stole the mind of my sister and almost drove me to suicide. I want to understand how illusions and fantasies and stories from the bronze age can provide any solace to people. I cannot understand how you and your family cling to this so called faith in the face of such tragic loss. I feel terrible for your son, I truly am. It is a lot harder to empathize with you and your husband. I’m sorry if this is harsh but stumbling into your blog by chance made me very angry, and it reminded me of all I went through growing up. It’s not fair.
You are right. It is not fair. I am so sorry you had to endure so many attacks and such harm in the name of religion…no wonder you can’t feel sorry for Rob and I. I sure don’t blame you for that.
Dear Linda, Rob & family,
I cried as I read your letter and watched the video.
Thank you for sharing your deeply moving and personal story. Each of us is on a different place on the path to God; thank you for reminding me of the most important commandment. Love one another. It’s so easy to forget and become confused and distracted. Your honesty and grace humbles me and inspires me to be a better person. This story could be the story of many families-Ryan’s goodness lives on in the love of your family, and your willingness to share and spare others pain.
You are correct, scripture says we are each working out our own salvation. It is about a personal relationship with our eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our only example is Christ. I think of Judas stealing money and then selling Chirst for 30 pieces of silver. Yet, Christ allowed Judas to continue being treasurer and provided one last chance for him to make a choice for life instead of death at the last supper. We are to share God’s love and be a light in the world as He was and is through us as His testimony and witness. When we study God’s word the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truths. Homosexuality is a sin like other sins. We all fall short and yet we do not look at our own weakness if so we would extend God’s grace to others. Organized religion has precepts based on scripture. These precepts are used to encourage and exhort as we struggle with sin. In the end no one can condemn us, Christ pointed this out when people were ready to stone the harlet. But, He did say go and sin no more. It is a fine line between encouragement, exhortation and listening to the Holy Spirit when we deal with our christian family. It is difficult to remember we are not all at the same place and each of us is a story in His book of life. We cannot burry our head in the sand. We will make mistakes but we must not give up living according to His standard in our home, church and world, Each requires the same standard for our salvation and witness,God takes care of others,His Holy Spirit reveals His truths! Our story is still being lived, there is nothing new under the sun according to scripture. Life challenges renew our minds and make us take a closer look at who God is. We have a choice to realize His grace and whether or not we have created an image in our own mind of who God is? Are we following that create image of God or do we really know the God of scripture? Are we willing to allow Him to reveal His truths until we die knowing that He is in control. He is a just and excellent God and ,wants only good things for us. He is truly interested in our relationships and witness for Him not a witness for our selves or self perceptions of who He is! I am so humbled by this story. I do not have answers but know I am a work in progress and will loook to HIm and be thankful for His grace and provisions in my life. Especially life challenges as they are used for good to change my attitudes as He refines me and I learn to see His grace in my weaknesses and my need for a savior.
Linda! i just have seen your testimony, and i am gay i am 51 years old, i got down on my knee and thank god for this. i left church many years ago… my love to god his always there but faded away…. because i never got the chance to talk about this with christians friends, they left my life , only one remain, he lives in houston , and i am in montreal ,i whant to put god in the center of my life has i did when i was 17 , i am maried with my husband, we have been togetter since 29 years , i had choices to make, i took the one to love my hubby……right now i am in a breakdown in my proffesional life, please pray for me that one day i will have a chance to come backto church with my husband, and that i will not been judge , but only god will in the end of time.
unconditional love thats what i beleive we shall i do in are hearts
may God bless yous has much has he did with your story for me, i dont know how i will get back to god, but i will …..
Praying right now, Norman! God has NEVER left you…He ADORES you! He delights in you!! So glad that He allowed our paths to cross! Bless you, my friend!
If a Christian or person of faith rejects you…that is not evidence that something is wrong with you…that is evidence in the limits to their understanding of God.
God is love.
Learning just what it means to love is a lifetime experience…. One that is worth all the painful experiences. God is love, God loves you…
Our value is not based on our sexual orientation any more than our value is based on our bodies, beauty, bank accounts, education, successes or perceived failures…
We are something far greater…God is love and we are created in his image. You are love.
Our world needs more love, Go and be the love that you are…regardless if it is understood by those around you.
Norm, Linda here again…
God also understands our confusion, our anger and even our distance…
It’s ok… We don’t have to have all the answers or profess a faith that is based on misunderstanding of God.
Above all else God is lovr.
God understands all…
We are all works in progress… Allow yourself to wander and seek with curiosity and interest -vs -out of fear, duty or society pressure…
You will find your way. God is with you.
In the last few days I have read through all of your blog posts, and cant really describe how I’ve been touched and felt healing. I barely survived Biola as a gay student, and in the time since graduating have struggled to believe God could ever love me, or that my family will ever see me as a “good” person who is still trying to live a life that honors the Lord. Thank you for sharing your journey in such a pubic way, it makes me feel hopeful!
J.D…Your message – YOU – are the reason God has prompted me to write. YOU are so deeply, deeply loved by Jesus…FAR MORE than I can even imagine. I know that with more certainty than ANYTHING else that I know.
If you would like to join a private group of Biola alums – both LGBT and allies – please find me on FaceBook and send me a message. There are SO many amazing people in that group…people who are seeking the Lord and wrestling with just the same things you are.
Your message has me in tears…because you have reminded me of what – and why – we are no longer staying silent. God has used you powerfully in my life today…Know that I love you, and that He loves you far, FAR more.
I am so truly sorry about your son. There is however, a way to love and except your child and still please God. What he was doing was for hom to work out. nOTHING WILL EVER MAKE GAY OR LESBIAN RIGHT, However it was not your battle, it was his, You should have just prayed and loved him right alone and I know you did love him very very much. Lesson to learn not to be so hard and just pray. Lesson to learn here is to “Let go and let God”. Hes the only one who can work things out without messing up. I know you miss him greatly, but do not be so hard on yourselves, you were trying to do what you thought was best for your son. May God bless the whole situation.
How my heart hurts for you. I understand every word that you wrote. I, too, have a gay son. I remember the day he told me….I was in the basement and he came downstairs and cried when he confessed to me, not before making me swear to not tell a soul. I sat there and cried for 3 hours . All I could think about were the ignorant people who would hurt my son if anyone knew. A year went by and I held that pain to myself. I was with a girlfriend of mine who told me she had a gay son, when I broke my silence and my promise to my son. We spent hours discussing the gay issue. At the end, she said to me “the only thing left is to stop loving your son.” I looked at her like she was crazy. She said “well, you’re not going to accept it, so to protect yourself, you need to stop loving him.” I couldn’t believe someone would think I could do that! Then, I caught the look in her eyes and knew she was foreseeing my future, if I didn’t change. I went home, told my son that I loved him, no matter what happens. My baby had to leave the house to shed his tears….and we were healed. My son is giving, loving ,sweet and good. Yes, my son is a good man. I’ve had several occasions to befriend boys whose parents disowned them. It breaks my heart. They gathered around me like bees to honey, soaking up the Mama vibe. My son is 33, put himself through college, owns a home, new car, god job in a major hospital. He is calming down from a breakup and working things out. He’s lonely, but smart enough to realize he needs to go slow. Do I wish he were different? I used to, but I know in my heart that my son is gay. I don’t want him to be anything but happy. I also was worried about his relationship with God, until I read your story. Thank you for that. Thank you for your unselfishness.
Dear Linda and Rob,
I salute you for the courage. The pain of losing a child is the worst. My parents lost their girl while she was only 9months old. But God is there, to give you the power to face life. Since I read your article online, I searched more and found this letter. Extremely touching. I am probably very lost right now, hence wish to stay anonymous, but I must tell you, there has been many days where I wish I could die, I prayed to God to make me die… I’m 23 years old, a human being, and unfortunately a lesbian, and things are not that way in my country as in the US. I wish my parents were like you. Coming from a hindu family, my mum goes to the temple very often, we are a happy normal family, my parents just celebrated their 30th anniversary, and they love me a lot. But… They will never understand this. People in my country just won’t try to be open minded. And at times I feel I should not even have been born. But I can not ‘go’, as my parents have already lost a child, and they would never see things that way though. It’s so frustrating, but honestly, it’s a life of misery. I love God, and wish God could just take me away from all of this and give me shelter, protect me from all this suffering. But I would never blame my parents, as I love them and know how much they sacrifice for me, how much expectations they have of me, I don’t blame them, cause the way they’ve been brought up, the way religion and society has influenced my mother, it’s hard for someone of an age of 55 to change his beliefs and opinions… I love mum and dad so much… but I a m so tired of this life. Sorry for using this space as a therapy to my own suffering, while this is about your loving son. May God bless him and I’m sure your angel is happy where he is, looking after his parents from paradise. The same as I feel for my sister, who must also be with God.
Lots of love.
I am crying as I reply to you…I wish I could give you an enormous hug…and that we could sit and have a cup of tea together and just talk.
YOU are beautiful. Exactly as you are. I know that I know that I KNOW that God ADORES you…He DELIGHTS in you! We are praying for you to have strength to face each day…that God Himself will reassure you of HIS love…and that you will know, deep within, how precious and valuable you are to Him.
Thank you SO much for writing…YOU are the reason I have started sharing our story.
As a parent, I can tell you that it is possible for parents to change their opinion on things. I don’t know if this would be true for your parents on this topic of being gay, but God does love you and there is always hope. You sound to be a terrific, sympathetic, compassionate and bright young woman. I do get it about the cultural aspects being different, but you are not alone.
My 18 year old son told me three years ago he was gay. It was hard and I cried and asked God to take of him – and I don’t believe in God. Our son is a wonderful and brilliant and talented young man and we love him very much.
Our daughter might be gay, too. I am not sure and you know what – it doesn’t matter. She – like you – are who you are and have every right to feel how you feel and be who you are. I cannot tell you what to do but I would ask you to love and accept yourself and know that there are others who do and will love you for who you are and without conditions.
Take care of yourself 🙂
How beautifully written! I am so sorry for your loss and pray that your broken hearts will one day be full again. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your family – it is much appreciated.
I am a 58 year old man…I came out to my parents 30 years ago…..and my relationship with them was NEVER the same….my mom tried to understand…but died before she could tell me she understood…or was trying to….my dad and I have grown very very distant and while he is courteous….he is very disappointed…we rarely speak any longer..no more than a few minutes a month…maybe 5 mins a month…and only if I call…your letter made me cry.
Sometimes we can’t go back and fix the messes we’ve made…that is a hard cold fact of life…..but there is astounding grace..isn’t there?
I pray that you all take solace in the memories of your time together. though short it was special. he was a gift from god given to you to cherish and love. and I know he is still watching over you from heaven. as a girl who is bullied for her sexual orientation I know how he felt. life is but a moment in the grand picture of god’s plan. cherish your moment and live to the fullest.
remember this quote from the bible to take comfort
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Matt 6 : 33)
What an amazing and brave young man your Ryan was. His story is such an inspiration that understanding and acceptance are truly possible on every level. He absolutely was perfect … as all God’s creatures are. It’s just a shame that the rest of us feel sometimes that we are smarter than God and question that simple truth … that He is all-knowing, He is love. Bless you and your family. Coping with the loss of a child is a never-ending journey.
wow! This is life change for the good.
I am very sorry for your loss.
I am not Christian, but pagan, but I also strongly believe, that if you peel away the man-made fluff of all religions, everywhere, you end up with the same basic principles.
Be nice to each other
Don’t steal and don’t kill each other.
Treat each other with dignity and respect.
Little easy-to-remember things like that. In the end, in my opinion, it is about choosing to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do, not because you are afraid of the consequences if you do not. Unfortunately, “the right thing” is a terribly subjective issue, and depending on who you ask, it may be polar opposites. But if you go back to your beliefs … to be nice to each other, not to steal and kill each other, to treat each other with dignity and respect … and so on … it is hard to misunderstand.
It pains me that you were forced to learn that lesson in such a tragic, horrific way.
I myself have lost my family, only to regain them. When I “came out” to them, almost fifteen years ago, I ended up losing all contact for a while. My father came around first, but he had to hide it when he contacted me, or my mother would have his hide pinned to the wall. For years, she denied my existence, rejected all contact with me …
Then my grandmother died. An old lady whose only wish had been to see the family reunite before she passed on. I offered my dad that I could go to the funeral parlor the day after the ceremony so my mom wouldn’t have to spend time with me. Shocked and horrified, he told me to be there on the day, and that if my mother gave me any kind of grief, he would stop it.
“Your grandmother loved no human being on this green earth as dearly as you. Of -COURSE- you should be there!” he said.
So I went. I spoke … at the wake. I got up and spoke about this remarkable human being that had made it her mission in life to be “Grandma”. She was “Grandma” to everyone, even people who met her for the first time. The only person in the world who didn’t call her that was her own daughter … my mother … who obviously always called her mom.
My mom … who had to sit there a whole day in my company. Who could not get up and leave. And who finally had to come face to face with the daughter she denied having.
A few months later, after much soul-searching, she came around. We all celebrated Christmas together that year for the first time in eight years.
In the end, my grandmother got her wish. But she had to pass on to faciliate the bringing back together of the family that she had so desperately wanted.
Sometimes, even something as tragic as someone’s death can be a catalyst for good. It can bring people together. Make them see each other in a new light. Make them respect each other … even realize that yes, they do love one another.
It can make them forget their fear.
Their insecurity. Their lack of comprehension.
I am not Christian, but I hope you will accept it when I say that I will say a prayer for your family regardless. It is earnestly meant. It is genuine and heartfelt.
It is honest.
I wish you and your family the very best. And thank you for speaking up and sharing your story. It is important, and it is appreciated.
So glad that your family got back together for Christmas.
God don’t forgive because he never blames, he only loves,and I’m sure he loves Ryan no matter what
Joan….you may not be a Christian but you are more Christ-like in attitude than any Christian I know….the world needs millions of “pagans”like you…..I am happy for you that yourmother came to her senses…..
Wow! Truly touching. Thank You.
I am truly touched by this letter and by this story. I too as a teenager was deeply confused with my sexuality, just when i had come to terms and accepted myself i was ridiculed by others at my school everyday. Every time on the bus or out at lunch or in the grass i would always hear something or always confronted about me dating another girl. The teachers insulted me and sent me to the office with false accusations towards me. I felt so bad about myself, i didnt know what i had did wrong to make people send me death threats or to be physically and verbally harassed i didnt flaunt my relationship respecting some peoples beliefs but i was just happy. To this day i still dont understand why i was made to feel so bad about myself. I never defined myself off of other people though. I am in tears with your story. Your son would have been proud of you guys, i only wish my parents and family would come to love me like you love yours. Take care.
I stumbled onto your article and video tonight by accident and I can’t tell you how inspirational it was to me. It made me cry and I still am. He was truly a beautiful kid. I am sorry for your pain and most of all your loss of him. But what you are doing is a true inspiration to others by telling your story and showing the video of your son who you were so proud of and that he was deeply loved.
Thank you and God Bless!!!
Thank you for sharing your journey–God grants us the grace to heal us from the pain we have inflicted on ourselves and those we love. And in going through that process we often gain wisdom. When I transferred to a different college my second year I immediately met a young man and though neither of us recognized it mutually fell in love at first sight. For the next five years we were pretty much inseparable, both still dated females, both still attended our respective Sunday services (often attending an early mass then to the later protestant service). We found it hilarious when an Aunt we were visiting asked whether we wanted the guest room with two singles or the one with one full bed. Years later would learn my family had assumed we were “lovers” almost immediately. But when we finally ended up “doing the deed” 6 or 7 years after we met, it was ecstasy at night, guilt with the sunrise, both being sincere “believers” in the mid-70’s we prayed and prayed and talked and talked during the day. Within a very few weeks we mutually agreed though we would continue to love one another we had to live half a continent away from each other to avoid temptation. He ended up marrying and having a family, I fell in love again. We stayed the very best of friends, as his first marriage ended and he was granted custody of his children, my partner died after a long battle with cancer. He would marry again, I thought I found love again. Our friendship thrived living half a continent apart, sharing pretty much everything over the phone or during an infrequent visit. One Friday night when I got home from work there was a message from his second wife, “Please call as soon as you get home.” Concerned that perhaps something had happened to one of the older children I was not prepared when his wife answered the phone telling me he had died suddenly that morning then asked if I would I fly back and be part of the funeral. It was a long standing joke between us that for retirement I would live in the south, they would live up north giving them a place to stay in the winter when the snow got too deep and me a place to stay in the summer when the desert heat got to be too much. And he would always add, “That is, if you live that long.” in reference to my youthful wild, partying ways. I was emotionally numb–it was me that was to go first, not him. How could a loving God do this again? Take someone I had always loved, we had even given up “the fun stuff” to keep it holy. Why???? Did everything I could think of for his family and that included being part of the service–my cue would be at the very end. This wasn’t my faith tradition so was only vaguely familiar with what was taking place and misread my cue and ended up standing in the front of the church filled to the rafters with people who had come to honor him at the incorrect time. As I stood there embarrassed beyond belief could swear he whispered in my ear, “Everything is perfect just the way it is.”
Your story has touched me very deeply, as I have struggled with having the same views you had about homosexuality. I have good friends who are gay and I have said most of those same things to them. No More!! Your story has helped me to see exactly what you said, that God is so much bigger then that. I too lost a child, Cassie, she was 15 years, 7months and 12 days old when she lost her 4 year battle with cancer. It is the most devastating thing life can throw at you! I am sorry to say that my reaction would have been very similar to yours if one of my children told me they were gay. I am crying thinking of what you went through and am feeling so blessed that somehow I ran across your story and will always remember it. You have helped me to see this in a whole new way. Thank you!! God Bless You and Your Family!! I look forward to meeting your wonderful son, Ryan when I get to heaven!! Thank you again, you have changed my way of thinking!!
Dear Linda and Rob,
I can’t begin to tell you how much you story touched me. Thank you for sharing it; I can’t imagine how painful it must be to do so. Ryan inherited his bravery from you. Your message reminds me of something my grandmother once said to me when we were discussing the topic of homosexuality. I was fully prepared for her to argue against it (she’d been raised in a very traditional time and place), but instead, she said to me, “There is little enough love in this world. Who are we to say where people find it?” Those were nearly her last words to me before she died, and I cherish them. I hope that she and Ryan will meet each other in heaven and share their thoughts for their families here on earth and for all those who are still struggling to find a path in the world. I will stand with you and honor them by passing this message along in their memory.
Thank you again, and it is my hope that the memories you have of Ryan will bring you peace. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Ryan, but I can tell you this: I will not forget him.
Linda and Rob, It’s so easy to see how light hearted and fun loving your beautiful son Ryan was. Thank you for sharing him with us and thank you for teaching us what true love is. I wish you both continued healing in your journey of recovery and I am confident that continuing to share Ryan and his lifes’ journey will assist you in the healing process. THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH!
I don’t see any conflict between loving one’s son while making him aware that acting upon his desires will not meet with God’s approval. There is a saying: Love the sinner: hate the sin. None of us is immune to worldly temptations but we know we cannot act on them if they conflict with God’s plan for us. I am certain that God knows full well that Ryan fought against his impulses as hard as he was able and forgave him and, indeed, loved him for his efforts. I am afraid, however, that his parents are confused. Loving Ryan is a good thing, but loving his sexual persuasion is quite another.
You smug, self-righteous, pontificating fool. Sounds like you didn’t read the underlying story: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-robertson/just-because-he-breathes-learning-to-truly-love-our-gay-son_b_3478971.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cipad%7Cdl2%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D338528
If you had, you’d see that they realized, too late, what they had done to their son when they shared your viewpoint of “Love the sinner: hate the sin.” They taught him to hate himself, because we cannot separate our sexuality from who we are. You sound as if you think “gay” is something people DO — but it isn’t. It’s who they ARE. And if you have a problem with how God made some people, you’re going to have a rough time when you explain to Him how He screwed up.
His efforts killed him. Wake up. Imagine, if you can, trying your damndest to change your own gender your whole life (sans surgery, etc.) because you grew up in a world where men were outcast for their “evil” and “wrong” gender traits. You’d be pretty miserable. It wouldn’t really be any different than what Ryan was up against. There are some things that can not be changed about a person. These are not sins–they’re character traits. And it’s pretty hard to love somebody if you completely reject one of their major character traits. What would Jesus do?
Jack, your post is so insulting to people who have a true understanding of God, & bottom line, God is love & his love is, & always has been unconditional . Your quote about loving the sinner & not the sin also conflicts with what God is about. I’m 100% certain that you sin, & a big sin, like one of the 10 commandments you’re of sin. Think about it; if bring gay was such a big deal to God, don’t you think it would have made it to His top 10What makes you think that you know what God’s plan is for us, or what it was for Ryan?
Our job is to love our children and to teach them to love themselves and God. It is up to each of us individually to figure out how God fits into our lives and how to best serve him.
It really is amazing that you think that a god that is supposed to be all knowing and all loving cares about sexuality. Sexuality is simply a biological urge that drives the majority of people to seek out partners for procreation. Every once in a while, there are people that are driven toward people of the same sex. It’s not a matter of having impulses. I have impulses to go shopping, or to eat that extra slice of pizza. It’s about BEING. I AM gay. I have a partner of 12 years and we’ve adopted an older son and he went from flailing in his foster home in the Bronx to THRIVING with us, where we give him love and teach him how to live life the right way. We attend church — one that doesn’t waste time telling people that their differences make them bad, but one that tells people that their differences make them who they are. I pray that nobody ever has to come out to you, and be judged in the way that you obviously judge anyone who does not live exactly like you.
Dear Linda and Rob,
The pain you feel for the loss of your beautiful son, Ryan, is momentary. Just like the mother in “Prayers For Bobby”, parents of gay children do not know how to take the news that their children are gay and “defective”. Rather, they are not “trash” as many so-called well-meaning Christians try to point out. They are what you, Rob, called Ryan, “beautiful”. I know, because I am gay and a Catholic Christian. The Catholic Church does not say gay men and women are lost, but acknowledges them to be children of God. It does however, condemn their behavior as intrinsically evil. It prompts a question, “When one acts according to their nature as a human being, why are they evil.” Grace confirms nature. Your beautiful boy was an act of Love given to you by God. It is really sad that he had to fall into the wrong crowd to be accepted. I don’t blame you for your “Christian” upbringing. My heart goes out to you that you had to be taught the hard way through “loss” to accept what God knew all along, that Ryan was good and beautiful as He made him to be. Our Christian heritage and religions make me wonder some time, that when we stand before God at our judgement and he asks us, “Why did you not accept others, different than yourself, as images of my love?” that we will be hard pressed for a good answer.
You loved Ryan as a son; there is no question of that. The question really is, why didn’t you love Ryan as your gay son, and one in which he fought to reveal to you through deep prayer and thought at the time, that there wasn’t anything wrong with him, just because he was gay?
[…] Ryan’s father wrote a letter to him which, again, is heartfelt. Here is the link to his letter […]
Dear Rob and Linda,
Thank you for sharing your story. I sobbed as I read each word. We, too, have a son who came out to us last summer, at the age of 16. We accept him and love him so much. We support him and we hope that in this cruel world, he can find happiness. He is our beautiful, beautiful, boy.
Linda and Rob,
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can identify with your son only he was so much braver than I for coming out to you. I’m in my 30’s and still have never admitted to anyone about my sexuality. I come from a Christian family and have heard for years about homosexuality being something wrong and shameful and how it is an abomination in the eyes of God. I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to ignore and deny all sexual impulses I have. I have resigned myself that I will probably be alone my entire life and die that way. My parents are still alive and I have an ok relationship with both but I think I bury feelings of resentment towards them because we have never even discussed once the possibility of me being gay even though I’m virtually positive that both surely suspect it at this point. When your 30 year old son has gone through life without any romantic relationships there has to be a serious issue there right? Yet it remains the elephant in the room. Something that nobody wants to talk about because then everyone has to deal with it and it is easier for them not to know about it and not have to deal with it than for me to just keep quiet and have to deal with it alone and on my own. I have learned to be as happy as possible living this way but I still suffer from depression.
I applaud you for telling this story. This is a story that needs to be told and that the church needs to pay attention to. The damage is devastating to people like me who grew up in the church and must reconcile what they’ve been taught and believe in to what they can’t help but feel. Nobody wants to talk about it unless they happen to fall into that situation of having a gay son or daughter and consequently nobody is prepared to deal with it when it does happen and appropriate resources appear to be few and far between. Meanwhile the young person, as the church stands today, must either throw away their faith or grow up hating who they are and if you’re like me then you might end up doing both. I’ve been able to (somewhat) deal with this but it pains me to think of how many others must struggle with this and end up leading an empty shell of the life they are capable of because of it. It is only through brave people like your son who have the courage to acknowledge who they are and brave parents like yourself who can reflect on what has happened and share what you learned that progress will be made.
Thanks again for sharing your story.
Anonymous…my heart breaks for you. I applaud YOU for hanging on to your faith!! May I make a suggestion? Read the book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee – it is FANTASTIC. It tells us Justin’s own struggle, as a man who LOVED Jesus above all else, to hear God’s voice as a gay man. I would love to hear what you think. Praying for you, friend.
Wow! What a beautiful letter. I honestly don’t read too many stories on the internet because everything seems to be so negative and distasteful. As a gay young Christian myself, I can relate to your sons story and know how hard it is to be in his position. I came to a point after many years or praying for God to change me where I stopped one day and realized just as Rob wrote in his letter, that I am the exact person God has created me to be. I admire the courage it took for you guys to express such a personal story in your lives. Although your son may not be here in the flesh, I’m sure he is in Heaven gracing us with his smile. Through this tragedy, I believe that with your testimony, many people in this same situation may understand that Gods love is unconditional. I thank you for sharing your story and may God Bless you!
Dear Linda and Rob,
I am in recovery. I am also mother to five children, nana to three. One of my children I can no longer see because she was born to my ex-partner. Although we planned this child and co-parented her after her birth, when her biological mother and I dissolved our relationship, my ex invalidated the relationship our daughter and I shared and I’ve not seen her since ’05.
It was the pain of that dissolution and loss that sent me out looking for the one pain-killer guaranteed to help me forget. It took several years of hard work supported by the efforts and love of others for me to find my way back. The pain the loss of a child elicits is staggering. The pain of drug abuse and its associated features is likewise breathtaking. It is with gratitude and Grace that I am now able to acknowledge my gifts, grieve my losses, and face each day with a clear head.
What your family has endured is nothing short of a nightmare. I appreciate the courage you demonstrate by telling your story. It hits on two extremely important and inflammatory topics: sexuality and addiction. Thank you for sharing it. Your devastation is palpable. If only love were enough to end active addiction. However, if love were enough to keep us clean, there would be very few addicts.
Similarly, I have not met parents who have no record of mistakes nor children lacking evidence of lapses in judgement. Be kind to yourselves. The hurt takes one’s breath away, I know. The what-ifs are endless, indeed. However, I think we all do the best we can with the tools at hand at any given moment. The trick is whether we see a way to use our histories to enrich our futures and the futures of those around us. You are doing that. Brava.
I wish you all the peace and Grace of a gentle healing.
I’m sorry but you should feel guilty.
Why should they feel guilty? As parents we do the best we can. We love our children and make decisions based on that love and the love of Jesus.
I do hope that you forgot the ” nt” on the word should! And if not?! Youre the the one that SHOULD feel guilty.
Guilt is an emotion which tends to be unproductive.
It can leave a person overburdened and depressed with little direction… It is much more useful to do as this family has so beautifully demonstrated in seeking new understandings, & choosing new perspectives. Leaning away from judgement & into the space of love… and finally learning just what it really means to forgive. Which usually includes forgiving ones self… Their willingness to be open about such a painful experience is an opportunity they offer so that others…us/ unknown strangers to them…to learn and possibly avoid such a devastating experience in our own lives…I am truely gratiful and in awe for this gift.
Bless you, Linda. Your words remind us of the power of vulnerability. Thank you!!
Abel, you’re an idiot for posting what you did. Who are you to say ANYTHING about how ANYONE should feel? Nobody. That’s who you are. Get your negative-ass out of here. Oh, and take Jack Kathleen’s ignorant-ass along with you.
They obviously DO feel guilty. Their son is gone, and they feel responsible. Don’t rub salt in their wounds just to score a point.
“I’m sorry but you should feel guity.”?? What?? Based on what? What a rdiculous, cruel and compassionless thing to say….
You have re-enforced the meaning of acceptance. Not for just people who are gay but people who are just different from the norm. My daughter has always felt different from her peers. When she was a teen she dyed her hair different colors, dressed in black and Goth. She got ridiculed by her peers. Even I got on her case about her ways. But when she became very depressed I realized that it was not important to judge and not accept a person for who they are or what they are experiencing in their lives. God made everyone different. Every one walks to the beat of a different drum. Everyone grows in their own way. I learned that as long as a person feels loved and accepted they will flower into their own beauty that God meant them to be. Thank you so much for sharing. Life is so fragile. Thank you for teaching acceptance!!!
I am neither gay nor a Christian. Your touching story is a lesson for everyday experience with our children and for the different ways they choose to live their lives.
[…] the presentation, Rob read a letter that he’d recently written to Ryan, which you can read here. We also shared a slideshow of photos of Ryan through the […]
I just wanted to tell you how amazing the story you have shared is. I am a therapist and encounter many people going through struggles. I hope to be able to share your story with clients to help them love and embrace their family members regardless of differences. Thank you so much for being so generous to share your story to teach and inspire others. I know the impact will be huge on those blessed to hear it. I will personally try my best to ensure it touches other families in need. Thank you!!
OMG Thank you for sharing your story with us. You son lives on through you and all the lives that will be touched because you shared. Now that’s what I call GOD’S Grace and Mercy. Peace with with you and yours all the days of your life. God bless you all
I hope that wide dissemination of the story of your journey might help other parents deal more lovingly with their children who “come out” to them. Perhaps that might lead to a decline in the alarmingly high suicide rates of LGBT youths.
I am very sure that Ryan keeps his loving eye on his family and is greatly proud of your love and courage.
I am confused. I understand the message of unconditional love. I am hurt at this very moment because I believe my daughter, recently moved to San Fran after college, is gay and does not feel that she can be open with me. I am a born again Christian. I suspect I may have harbored her girlfriend on several overnights. That is the biggest bother to me – because fornication of any kind (sex outside of marriage) is not right. I would not allow heterosexual friends or relatives who lived together to share a bedroom overnight in my house. By the same token, I am very aware that as I declare homosexual acts to be sinful, I must be humble in realization of my own sins…sexual or otherwise. I believe that all people should be treated with love an respect – especially those who irk you, whom you don’t have to “love”. As a mother, I would not allow sexual orientation or any other thing to get in the way of my relationship with my child. I don’t think she knows this. It saddens me. As for what the Bible says re: homosexuality, it would have to be rectified between my daughter and God. She knows His word. She knows the repercussions of blatant sin. I am more scared for myself, in being sure of my beliefs in the dealing with blatant sin. I am confused because I do not understand whether we are saying that God’s grace and love cover sin no matter what while we are saying that love is and should be unconditional. I believe your son was given the utmost chance to experience the utmost love of God for himself, in the end. I do not believe that making mistakes keeps you from the arms of God. I DO know that certain acts are classified as sin (beyond the 10 commandments) and that there are reasons to heed God’s words on these. I found the whole presentation (letter, video, etc.) to be “slippery”, while at the same time it made me cry because of the love for your son and his pain. While you never said that homosexuality wasn’t a sin (purported by demonic spirits) you did cho0se to let people think that you are okay with your son’s sexual orientation in the end or at this time. …I think? Well, I think that while giving the message of love, you need to be very clear on the demonic roots of homosexuality. I state this knowing there will be hateful backlash, but so be it. God loves all of us and no one is a throw away no matter WHAT we’ve done. In the end, it is God who is the judge, but as Christians, we need to be clear on what we believe, and not be “slippery”. It matters. You know why. There is no room in God’s kingdom for hate of any kind. Of this I am sure, so I’m sure that he is happy with your choice to love all for what they are. (Well, I hope that’s ALL…what about the unlovable people – those who’ve done wrong to others?)
I hear your pain…your confusion. It is all so very real. I can’t respond at length here (but hopefully in future blogs), but I do not agree that homosexuality has demonic roots. There is no Biblical support for that, much less scientific support. Only fear and propaganda.
Millions of children – and their parents – have known they are gay from a VERY young age…surely these young children aren’t possessed by Satan. I would encourage you to do some reading on the other side of this issue…from Christians who love Jesus, and who see it differently, just to allow you to understand your daughter better, even if you never agree. (Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee would be a great start)
We don’t take a position. We don’t have all the answers. Our position is ON OUR KNEES before Jesus, actively seeking direction from HIM each day, each moment. And He told us CLEARLY that we were to LOVE our son. PERIOD. We had to learn to close our ears to all the other voices, and to just listen to HIS.
And as for whether God loves those who have done wrong to others…I TRUST SO, because I sure have!! Remember what Christ said to the thief on the Cross?? If God’s grace covers ALL of our sins, that means ALL. Even if I have been hateful and cruel.
Keep seeking, my friend…and thank you for taking the time to consider what God has shown us.
I read the entire text and it made me cry with the story, but with all the happiness of knowing more people that think so beautifully about gay people. I am gay, and proud of knowing that in this world there are people like you that are not afraid of spreading the word over, so people can change their mind and think a little more based on a GODS MIND. I GREW UP IN A CHRISTIAN FAMILY(BORN AGAIN ONES), and i noticed that i was diferent from others guys around me, and it took me a long way to accept myself and who i am as a gay person. Now that i am 37 already, so now i am more aware of who i am in this world. THANK GOD PEOPLE LIKE YOU EXIST. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
WES FROM BRAZIL.
Hi Linda and Rob:
I was so touched by your story and also so sorry for your loss. We too have a gay son who came out first to me at the end of his freshman year in college–I wasn’t totally surprised. And a few days later he told his father–we never for a moment thought of disowning him. We are a Christian family and just because he was gay didn’t mean we would suddenly stop loving him. We also told him that we would continue to pay for his college education and we did.
During his years in college–he was in an apartment in the same city-he knew he was welcome to bring his friends to our house. I had more than one of them tell me how much they appreciated us opening our home to them because their parents didn’t want to see them again. And one of those young men also committed suicide because he was rejected by his parents.
Our son graduated but over the next 4-5 years he was let go of three jobs when they found out he was gay but he has now had a wonderful job for 10 years and is successful. He’s also been in a committed relationship now for 10 years and he and his partner adopted two brothers 8 years ago. I might add here that they were chosen to adopt these two boys over 3 ‘traditional’ couples. It was a tough few years because the boys had really had a rough start in life–the epitome of tough love. We love our ‘adopted’ grandchildren as much as our other 5 grandchildren.
But, I also think back to the time when our son was 12 and he said to me, “I don’t feel a part of this family–I don’t feel like I belong in this family–I don’t know what is wrong with me.” We went to family counseling but after he came out to us 7 years later I realized that he was struggling all those years with his sexuality–I think he knew something was different and I really don’t know at what age he finally figured it out–probably about his sophomore year in high school.
We love our son, his partner and our grandchildren and I think–what if we had disowned him–what would have become of him. But we would have missed seeing a fine young man find the love of his life and then having two super kids for us to love.
I just want to say that your honesty is breathtaking. The business of raising children is at times an overwhelming responsibility and we, like our parents, and theirs before them will make mistakes. I can live with this by knowing that each and every decision I make I believe is the right thing to with the information I have at the time.
You both did that, and whilst I fully realise I have no place to offer you advice please forgive yourselves.
I wish you both peace.
I am astonished at your grace and love and ability to share such a very personal story! Since being an adult I have always had gay friends, though not gay myself, I have always supported them in their lives. This is not widely accepted among my group of fellow christians or even our own family members. My husband and I have one daughter. She is 24 years old. Not gay that we know of, but that is not the point I am trying to make. My husband believes in a God, but doesn’t really like organized religion, I am a faithful and devoted member of my church. Our daughter also a member of the church has separated herself from the organized religion aspect as well, because of the way she was treated as a youth and a young adult. Ridicule and heartache can occur anywhere, in school, in the workplace, at church and yes even in the family, where we should be loved unconditionally. Sometimes, people just dont know any better and need to be educated in the true love of Christ. Long ago, my husband and I decided that what we wanted for our daughter was to live a true life, with integrity, love, joy and faith. Faith in God, humanity, people but mostly herself!
You, Linda and Rob, did this with your children, yes, even Ryan! It sounds like you have an amazing family! I can’t imagine the heartache you went through losing a child, that should never happen. Unfortunately it does sometimes. You have grown as individuals, as a family, as parents and even as Children of God! Thank you for your shining example. Thank you for sharing such an intimate glimpse into your heart and family. I cried several times as I read your various posts tonight, I smiled and laughed at the image of some of Robs images in his letter to Ryan. I have a few fiends going through your similar situation, on both sides of the coin, gay and addiction. I have shared your article with them, hoping it will inspire them as you have inspired me to be a better, more loving individual.
Am so speechless. What an amazing story. I am touched. Its a pity you lost your son, I pray God heals you completely and fills that void. God bless you real good and increase you.
Reblogged this on Out Of My Head and commented:
this is the most heartwarming, most beautiful letter ever
This story broke my heart as once a scared teen to tell my folks I was gay. I’m a girl and hate the words lesbian or dyke. I prefer gay. I told my Mom in 1995 what I was and she refused to speak to me and later told my father I had something to tell him..He called me up asking what I had to tell him and I did…his remark I’ll never forget lol.. “That’s great, now we both and eye those women in their bikinis” I was shocked but felt an ease. Here I am 2013 with a wife of 5 years, but together for 12 years and have 2 children that walk this earth and 2 twin girls who live with God.
[…] https://justbecausehebreathes.com/2013/06/23/mail-to-ryan/ […]
If some of you are believers in god, which I’m not, why would you be intolerant and judgmental? This goes against the teachings of all religions. I have three sons. My twins are gay, bright, tolerant, and kind to others. This goes for my straight son as well. There’s not difference. If we’re here for no other reason, it’s to be kind to each other. Nothing else matters. Please remember this when dealing with your children. Love them and support them.
Dear Linda and Rob, let me first say that I am so sorry for your loss, this story is both very very sad and very touching, I started to cry when I first started reading about your sad story and still crying while I am writing you this note. We all love our Children and try to guide them in the right direction and try to keep them safe and helping them make the right decisions, but sometimes something happens to them thats not thier choice, and sexuality is one of them. I have a Daughter who is lesbian and at first it really bothered me, I thought that mabe she was confused about her sexuality because she was very young when she realised she was interested in girls, but I learned to accept the person she is and her partener, it’s a very hard thing to accept but I also know that people don’t choose to be gay, it’s born into them, wheather we want to believe it or not, but it’s still hard and if we love God he will teach us to accept the things that we don’t understand and to try to understand why certain things happen the way they do. None of us are perfect only God is and he is there to forgive us of all our sin’s and to guide us into living happy lives and teach us to forgive others and ourselves for choices that we have made that we had the ability to make or change… I want to say now Thank You for sharing your touchin but sad story, so that others that are going through the same thing will shed some light and help them understand that if we love our Children, we have to accept them the way they are and love them and pray for them and keep them safe and let them know that they are accepted for who they are.. And as Linda and Rob said ” Just Because He Breathes” God Bless You !!! Linda and Rob
Thank you for this!
God loves you and so do I.
Thank you! You make me appreciate circumstances in my life that I have been struggling with. This teaches me that we must accept without judging others for who they are. I believe God is love and love holds no judgment. It’s taken me more than half my life to learn this but I am glad I know it now. Peace and love to you and your family!
A beautiful, beautiful message and gift from the ashes of unfathomable pain…
Thank you for sharing your story.
It takes great courage to look at what you believe and how you live your life and then even more courage to own what needs to be owned in order to make vital changes… I can only imagine how gratiful your son in heaven is for this amazingly powerful message of love. God is with you.
I’ve never written on any blog like this, but I stumbled on the film and letter tonight. I’m 67, lesbian, married, and my wife and I have 13 year old twins, a boy and a girl. A life beyond my wildest dreams. A life I wouldn’t have even known to want. I realized I was gay when I was 25 and I had been what I thought was happily married to a wonderful man for 7 years. A very painful mess. I wish I could have handled the situation with him better. I wish I had been capable of being kinder to him and to my mother who was, of course, shocked and frightened by what seemed to her an inexplicable declaration.
You brought up addiction. I’m a recovered alcoholic and drug addict, a devoted member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 32 years now, and it took a lot of years of sobriety for me to make genuine peace with my sexuality.
What you are doing in the world with this exquisitely moving film and letter is an incredible gift to all who still struggle about these issues. I thought I was beyond this struggle now, but when the Supreme Court struck down DOMA last week, I wept. It’s been hard to hear people discuss whether or not civil rights are for all of us. I once heard a call-in poll on CNN (okay, it was awhile ago) about whether gay people should be allowed to go to churches.
When I got sober, I did try to give organized religion another chance, but it’s not for me.I find the god of my understanding in the unconditional love in the rooms of AA. Because of that, I can feel clearly the unconditional love you have for your son, and for all of us who have had to figure out on our own, in the face of much condemnation, that God made us the way we are.
From my heart to yours.
Blanche, YOU are beautiful! Bless you for your comment!
I’m not even really sure how I stumbled across this beautiful article and video. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. May you find comfortin the Lord Always. God Bless you!
Thank you for your story.
I do not know what to say. I am very touched by this story.
I wish my mom can also accept me for whatever I am. But I am still afraid of it. I am afraid to say it to her :).
Linda and Rob,
A friend sent me a news story of your presentation at Exodus, and I read every word, watched you two give your presentation (through constant tears), and saw the video tribute to Ryan. I so much identified with your son, your family, and his struggles, though I first came of age in the seventies and, through a series of lucky events, came to terms with my own sexual identity in my early 20s. I have been fortunate to be in a solid relationship for 34 years. Because I had a similar Christian upbringing and difficulties, I have such deep respect for not only your son and his struggles, but also for you as his parents as you struggled, like my parents, with the issue in the context of your faith. Identifying as I do with your family and your faith, I wish I could “channel” Ryan’s words to you, because based on what I have learned through your incredible, brave and inspirational example of turning this sadness into a powerful message, you will, I am quite sure, completely change the lives of countless thousands, and thousands, and thousands of families and their children. Not only Christian families, but families of other faiths, or no faith as well. With all of this in mind, I think I could imagine Ryan now saying to you: “I love you Mom and Dad, unconditionally. I also know without a doubt that you love me unconditionally too. Yes, we had ups and downs: what family hasn’t? But because of the kind of people you are, I knew, all along, that what you wanted for me was what you believed in your heart was the best anyone could want for a child. Thank you for that. It means more than you can know. And thank you for taking our story to the public where it will help so very many children and their families to love one another throughout life. The story we have as a family did not end with my passing: in fact it begins anew…in the face of a young teen, or young man or young woman whose parents we are helping to face the challenges of being gay and a Christian. And my life and yours will mean so much to the mother sitting across from her son and his gay family when they share laughs and good times together. And when a young lesbian comes home from college to share the excitement of meeting her life partner with her accepting parents, it will be because of all of us, Mom and Dad. You, and I….all of us as a family, because of who we are, and how we lived, are and will be affecting the hopes, dreams, and life direction of so many countless people….giving to them an understanding of the wonderful gift of unconditional love….of parent for child and child for parent, of friend for friend. And because they are strong as a family, they will be able to face all of life…good times and bad, together! And nothing makes me happier than knowing we can bring this joy into the world. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for making my life count in more ways than I could have imagined. I have not left you. I stand with you as you share your message of acceptance and love for all God’s creation. And I hope you are most of all forgiving of yourselves, for all of us, myself included, are imperfect products of the times in which we have lived. What is important is to keep loving, keep learning, and to take the message of unconditional love, hope, and forgiveness to everyone. I love you Mom and Dad, and I am so proud of you for helping me to make a difference in the world. I am eternally grateful.”
Brad…printing this out right now for my husband and I to read together. Much love to you!