When I think of Mothers’ Day, the familiar words of primary songs drift into my mind. I think I was just about only boy in my primary class who not only sang about “walking through meadows of clover” to “gather armfuls of blossoms,” but actually liked to go out and make little bouquets for my mom. This is what Mothers’ Day meant to me when I was young. But while I was off picking flowers, my mom was busy with something else—missionary phone calls. Over the years, my mom has had twelve mother’s day phone calls with her children; her very last will be this Sunday.
It was on my mission that I came to appreciate the value of those precious phone calls. I understood why my mom so profoundly needed to hear her children’s voices because I so profoundly needed to hear her voice to sustain me through the difficulties of my mission. These difficulties included discovering at long last that, no matter how obedient and faithful I was, my sexual orientation would not change. It was on my mission that, after many prayers, tears, and sleepless nights, I finally verbalized the secret I had tried to conceal and deny since I was a little boy playing in the flowers. It was on my mission that I first began to confront the reality of my life as an bisexual Mormon. These were giant steps for me—the first in a long and difficult path that led to me coming out to my family seven months after completing my mission.
But I wasn’t the only one on an important journey. It was during my two years away from her that my mom began to read between the lines of my letters and realize that I wasn’t struggling with homesickness or culture shock, but that I was struggling to accept myself. She spoke with a couple of my sisters who, as it turned out, were aware of my sexuality even before I was. She learned as much as she could about what it means to be a gay Mormon. She prepared herself to support, nurture, and love me in any way I needed.
It was thanks to her preparation and love that I came out when I did. After my mission, I resisted coming out for several months. Though my heart told me that I needed to, I was scared. During one particularly poignant conversation last year, my mom followed the Spirit and asked through tears of love if the burden she knew I carried were at all related to my sexual orientation. This was a critical moment for me. I took a breath, saw her devotion to me on her face, and came out to her. If she hadn’t strengthened me with her courage in that moment, I don’t know when I would have found enough courage of my own to come out.
Ever since then, she has been an angel of support. Every time I talk to her, she reminds me how much she cares for me and reassures me that she will be proud of me no matter what path I choose and that all she wants for me is to be happy and healthy. She accepted me and loved me when I could not accept and love myself. She has held my hand along this path and has, more than anyone else in my life, helped me find peace. I will be eternally grateful for the love she has poured out over me in the months since my coming out. I will forever “arise up and call her blessed” for the Christlike influence she has been in my life. The words of another primary song come to mind in closing: Mother, I love you. Mother, I do. Father in Heaven has sent me to you.