After I Died
I thought the casket a little over the top. Pictures of me growing up filled it and looking at them laid out together, I could see how unhappy I’d been, how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin. But I couldn’t find my favorite photo. I was 3, wearing high-heels, a horrible make-up job, and one of my mom’s dresses. My brother had taken it and everyone had been so proud of him. It’d even won first place at the state fair. Now, I couldn’t see it anywhere—it’s place of pride on the mantle was empty. My heart sank.
Attending your own funeral is weird. Nobody wanted me there. No one even looked at me. It was exactly how things had been my whole childhood, I realized. I felt no sense of tragedy, even though everyone around me did, “Such a shame to loose Butch that way, such a tragedy.” The only tragedy had been my coming out.
I’d sat my parents down. “I have a problem and I really need your support,” I said.
“You can tell us anything, Butch,” my mother said. “You know that.” My mom took my hand and squeezed it gently. “Just tell us. Whatever it is, we’ll figure a way through it together.”
“I’m transgender and transitioning to become a woman,” I said. “I’d like you to call me ‘Sally’ and use ‘she’ and ‘her’ pronouns.” My mom dropped my hand.
They did figure a way through it: this funeral. My dad declared me dead to them and I hadn’t realized how literally he’d meant it. I stayed until the end, crying through it like the girl I am, still looking for that photo. Everyone kept a space between them and me, so they wouldn’t accidentally touch me, like being transgender was contagious. I worked my way through the entire house. I was getting frantic, when I finally found it, still in its frame, in the kitchen trash.
I guess I should’ve felt sad, but I didn’t. I should’ve been angry, but I wasn’t. The tears I shed were ones of relief and happiness. I could move forward without guilt; nothing held me back. I fished a marker out of my purse and wrote on the picture’s glass “RIP Butch. Welcome Sally.” Then I turned it over and breathed a sigh of relief when I found the envelope still hidden there, between the picture’s back and the paper covering. I pulled the letter out and read it for the umpteenth time. “Dear Sally,” it said. “We are pleased to inform you that your application to the University of Oregon has been accepted.”