In 1996 I had moved from Utah to Dallas in March. My sister was living in a suburb north of Dallas and she offered to let me stay with them until I got on my feet. I was hired at the bank where I currently work. Around the same time she found out she was pregnant with her fourth child.
By October I was busy out looking for an apartment and so my sister was glad that I would take some or all of the three kids with me for a few hours on the weekend. This was a difficult time for me since I had not been around many little kids under the age of five.
While the rest of my siblings were having their babies I was separated from the family physically and emotionally; I was living in Baltimore and they were all staunch Mormons in Utah and they didn't like that I was gay.
When my niece Maddie was born, thirteen years ago today, I went to the hospital to see my sister and the new baby. She was the first one of my nieces and nephews that I got to hold on her actual birth day.
The feeling I had was overwhelming. I was holding a tiny baby that is so weak and fragile and had her whole life ahead of her. This was the only time in my life when I wished I could be straight with a wife and kid. I can understand the love a parent has for their babies when they hold them that first time. I know I'm not describing it very well but it was a great feeling.
My niece and I have been close since." When she was about 5 years old and they had moved away she decided to see for herself what her parents were talking about, thinking the subject was over her head. She got me alone and asked, "Uncle Jim, do you date girls or boys?" I laughed and told her, "I am dating a man" to which she replied; "Well, Jesus says that isn't OK" I laughed again because I'm hearing this from a 5 year old. I tell her that as long as I live a good life and am happy then Jesus will understand. She thought that was good and the conversation ended. She was such a little sweetheart.
My sister tells me that in the last year and half since I last saw them, that Maddie has grown and matured a lot! She is the typical teenager; has a busy social life and is all 'googlie-eyes' over the boys. She's the one I wrote about a few months ago who wants to be a writer.
So Happy Birthday to my little Maddie. I love you!