The phone was ringing in my apartment when I got home from work. I missed it before I could get there.
I got out of my work clothes and hit the shower. Construction work was fun and paid well but it was hot, dirty and dangerous. It didn’t take too much of it for me to figure out that I didn’t want to do it for a career. For now it was paying the bills.
The phone rang again and interrupted a perfectly wonderful dream as I was napping on the couch.
“Jimmy. Thank God I got you.”
I recognized the voice immediately and he didn’t sound good. “Hi Lee, how are you?”
Lee sighed and said, “Randy had been bugging me to get some moles on my back checked on. I went to one of the docs here at UT and he sent me to the UT Medical Center to see a specialist. They took one off to do a biopsy. Jimmy, have you heard of GRID?”
My stomach lurched: Gay Immune Related Deficiency. I had. It was all over PRM (Public Radio Mississippi — kind of like Radio Free Dixie) and it was scaring the shit out of the folk all over the country.
All I could think to say was, “Jesus, Lee.”
“Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. They said I might have it and they’ll know with that biopsy.” Lee’s voice cracked as he said, “I’m a basket case and Randy needs you guys.“
There was nothing else he had to say. “I’m going to call Alec and Travis right now. Clay is off shore. Hang in there. We’re coming.”
I had a lot to organize and only a short time to do it. It turned out to be an exercise in herding cats. Everybody wanted to go but the short notice make things difficult.
My boyfriend Jeff had met Randy and Lee and he was in. So was Alex’s boyfriend Patrick. Travis would have walked if he had too. The spirits were willing but the logistics proved to be a nightmare. We all had jobs and getting that all worked out in the middle of summer on a Monday night was enough to try the patience of a saint. Finally, after much chaos, cajoling and cat herding, we left from Jeff’s place in Clinton riding in Patrick’s mom’s four-door Pontiac Catalina at 3:30 Tuesday afternoon. We departed on the long road trip to Austin in somber spirits, gossiping, catching up and, though subdued, enjoying the camaraderie of old friends.
The road trip was a long one. We made slow time on I-20 due to scattered thunderstorms and road destruction. I call it road destruction because I didn’t see any actual construction going on.
I slept through most of Louisiana on the back seat with my head in Jeff’s lap. Thankfully it didn’t start getting dark until after eight o’clock when we were just into Texas. We stopped in Marshall to get gas and eat at a barbecue place before it got too late.
I took over driving on the last leg since I had been to Austin before. I took US 79 toward Austin just past Marshall. Soon we were on long, dark road through the Texas countryside.
Soon the back seat fell silent and I could see through the rearview mirror that Alex and Patrick were sleeping soundly. Damn they were cute. Jeff, buckled into the passenger side, was the next to nod off.
Bad weather started about Henderson and thunderstorms dogged our path the rest of the way. Once we passed Henderson, even my intrepid navigator Travis was sound asleep with his head on Jeff’s shoulder and the map in his lap.
Radio reception was spotty but I finally got a strong FM station with a goofy DJ out of Dallas. I had it turned way down low to let the guys sleep. They were playing standard FM fare- the Stones’ latest, Steely Dan and Supertramp.
There was a big bolt of lightning and a clap of thunder that translated to crackling noise over the radio. Jeff opened an eye and said, “Bet you dinner he’s going to play it.”
I grinned and said, “Yeah, he’s a dork— he’ll play it. He sort of has too play it on a night like this. It’s just a matter of time.”
Sure enough, two songs later the DJ played the Doors— Riders on the Storm. I guess it was in the FM DJ’s rulebook that they had too on stormy nights.
Jeff didn’t open his eyes. He said, “Told ya.”
I said, “Yep.”
We weren’t the kind of couple that had a lot of scintillating dialogue. Alex and Patrick were a whole lot chattier and wittier. Most of what was between Jeff and me, we didn’t really have to say. A lot of guys would have been really uncomfortable for their boyfriend to have his arm around a cutie like Travis.
Knowing our history, Jeff could have gotten really jealous having Travis or Alex or Clay or even Randy around but he didn’t. He just knew. We never really had to make promises. We just knew that one way or the other, hell or high water, we would end up together. That certainty gave me something to hang onto.
Jeff knew my demons better than anyone else. He had seen me at my worst and he could always put me back together when I came apart. He believed that I was a winner even when I sure didn’t feel like it. He didn’t nag and he didn’t push. His gentle support just made me want to do better and, there was plenty of room for improvement.
I knew for sure that I was a fuck up. There was simply no denying it. After one apparently successful semester at Mississippi State, I ran home with my tail between my legs. Jeff saw me when I came home in October. There was no hiding the ass whipping that I took. My friends figured out that I was being shunned. They didn’t realize what else had happened that I couldn’t even admit to myself.
All my friends were doing well in school. I was skating by at 9 hours a semester— junior college hero, as my friends were passing me by. I hid the drinking and the dope from the others. I knew they would be disappointed. Hell, I was disappointed, too, but it was getting a grip. When it all got down to it, I was afraid of everything and, I was disgusted with myself.
I was a filthy coward, afraid that what happened at State would happen again. I was afraid that I was losing my grip. I was afraid that some random asshole would kill me. Worse, I was afraid that I would lose Jeff. This GRID shit was absolutely terrifying.
Nothing could be more evil than a disease that you would get and give to the people you loved. If I got it and gave it to Jeff no one could keep me from blowing my brains out. Nothing was better in my life than his love. Losing it would destroy me.
I started getting a little paranoid about driving. Two thirds of everybody I cared about in the world were in this car, on this dark road in these summer thunderstorms. They trusted a fuck up like me so much that they could actually sleep.
For some reason, I thought about Tolkien’s the Hobbit and the storm giants having a thunder battle in the Misty Mountains. There’s very little in nature that is as awe-inspiring as a thunder storm on a summer night in Texas.
The lightning stitched blue-white jags across the skies followed by booms, rumbles and echoes. It was like a flash bulb going off and for an instant, the landscape was bright as day.
The last town of any size before Austin was Palestine. I looked for a place to stop but didn’t have much luck. It was late and everything was closed. I followed 79 through town and was careful about my speed and driving. Little towns in Texas were notorious for their speed traps; so far, we hadn’t had any problems.
The town was actually bigger than I remembered it. On the West side of town things got more promising. I spotted a big Amoco station with a big convenience store. I pulled off and parked under the shelter by a gas pump. We didn’t really need gas but it was the last chance for it before we got to Austin. It was after ten-thirty and things were quiet. Everybody started waking up, yawning and stretching.
I said, “This is our last chance to stop. Austin is another two hours and change. Take a bathroom break, maybe get a snack. We’ll probably get there a little before one. Everybody remember—this is rural Texas. We need to be discrete.”
Jeff got that playful look in his eye and said, “Now where’s the fun in that?”
“Be good”, I admonished. “We can play when we’re on friendly ground.”
There was a general mumble of sleepy kids, doors began opening and we began to get out. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that Patrick was walking like his legs were asleep.
I went inside, gave the attendant with bad teeth a twenty for gas. The rest of the guys wandered off toward the restrooms.
I topped off the tank and went back inside to pick up a Mountain Dew and some peanut M&Ms. Jeff was browsing and Travis was waiting outside the rest room.
After collecting my favorite junk food, I went up to the register to check out.
Mr. Bad Teeth grinned, rang it up and said, “Where are you kids heading?”
I said, “We’ve got a cousin at UT. He might have cancer and he’s going in for tests. We didn’t want him to go through it alone.”
“That’s good of you. Most kids don’t understand family these days. It’s good to see young people that know how important it is.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Jeff joined me at the register with his preferred junk food— Dr Pepper and Cheetos.
Travis, Alex and a very flushed and much more relaxed looking Patrick followed shortly thereafter with their stuff.
We chatted up the guy at the register as he got their purchases squared away and then we headed out to the car.
As soon as we got outside Jeff, Travis and I started laughing and Alex and Patrick started blushing like a neon sign.
As we were getting in the car Alex said, “Were we that obvious?”
Jeff laughed and said, “Only we would have figured it out.”
“I figured it out when I saw Travis standing guard on the rest room,” I laughed.
Patrick sniffed, “I’ve had my boyfriend’s head in my lap for the last three hundred miles. My balls were so blue I was hurting.”
I stopped the car to look both ways before we pulled out in the highway and said, “This is what happens when I tell you guys to be good.”
Jeff purred, “You had your head in my lap all the way across Louisiana. Just wait until I get you somewhere cozy.”
With everybody awake, laughing and crunching on their favorite junk food, the road wasn’t nearly as lonely and my thoughts weren’t so dark. Even the weather relented. Just down the road from Palestine a road sign announced Round Rock 155 miles and we all groaned. This had been a long day but the Mountain Dew and Peanut M&Ms were doing the job for me. I was back in the saddle and the radio station out of Dallas just kept getting stronger.
When we passed the Big Lake Bottom Wildlife refuge, Travis got tickled and giggled for forty miles.
Whether I was infected by the silliness or maybe slap-happy from the long drive I said, “Hey Jeff—did you hear the one about the redneck that showed up at his doctor’s office with his dick bright hunter’s orange?”
Jeff nearly choked on a Cheeto and said, “No, I don’t think I’ve heard this one.”
“Well the doctor asked him if anything had changed in his sex life recently. The redneck said, ‘No- not really. I just got a six pack, some Cheetos and a porn flick like I usually do.”
There were groans and laughter from the back seat and Travis’s giggles got worse.
Jeff said, “I’m so gonna get you.”
“I’m looking forward to it.”
An hour later we arrived in Round Rock and the little town was quiet and still. The storm clouds had abated and the stars were out. I took the exit for I-35 south and Austin was a mere twenty minutes away. Travis giggles had long subsided and he got more and more thoughtful as we got closer to seeing Randy and Lee.
As he had become particularly close to Randy in high school, Travis asked, “Jimmy, what can we really do for them?”
I put my arm around Travis and said, “Right now they are more afraid than they’ve ever been. They don’t dare let anyone near them know because people all over the country are freaking out over this thing. We get there, we hug them, we love them, and we take care of them. Lee gets his test day after tomorrow and we’ll know one way or the other.”
Travis asked, “Then what?”
“We’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. Of course, I’m not a doctor but I’ve been following this thing as closely as I can. I doubt he really has it. A lot of medical people are freaking out and labeling anything that gay people get as possible GRID and sending them on to a specialist because they don’t want to deal with it.”
Patrick said, “I read about a kid with hemophilia that got it and they ran him out of school.”
There was silence for a few moments. The question was hanging in the air. I decided to address it rather than leave it hanging.
“What you have to be wondering is, are we in any danger. You all know I love all of you and would never put you at risk. I know you trust me with this but, from everything that I’ve read, we won’t be in any danger. We aren’t going to shoot drugs, have sex with them or do a blood brother ceremony so we will all be OK. The important part of this whole trip is to support our friends. They need us now more than ever.”
Travis said, “I fear for Randy. If he loses Lee, it would kill him. Randy knew all about me from the first day we met and he’s been one of my best friends ever since.”
Jeff hugged Travis and said, “I’ve only become a part of this little family very recently but it is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Before I met Jimmy I was so alone and isolated I just couldn’t stand it. The way you guys hang together—I love it, and all of you.”
Alex hand came over from the back seat and rested of Jeff’s shoulder.
Patrick said, “When Alex and I first started dating and told me about you guys I didn’t know what to think. I had to be around you a while and get to know you. The way you all made me feel welcome was…” He got choked up for a moment, “I was so stupid to be jealous at first. If I had walked away, I would have missed out on something really special.”
I sniffed and said, “It’s probably not a good idea to make the driver cry this close to our destination.”
Fifteen minutes later I parked the Catalina beside Randy and Lee’s two trucks. Their house was a picturesque Victorian that they had bought and renovated. We walked up the path to the front porch and knocked on the door.
Lee answered the door and he looked like he hadn’t slept in a couple of days. He looked a little surprised to see us. He looked even more surprised when I stepped up and hugged him— followed by Travis and all of the rest.
He got a big grin on his face and his eyes got real moist and he croaked, “Y’all come on in! It’s so good to see you!”
Lee was tall, thin and quite beautiful with high cheekbones. He had shoulder length light blond hair and sparkling blue eyes. His skin was fair but tanned. I could tell that the last few days had been really hard on him. His eyes had dark circles and his usual energy was muted.
Randy and Lee came from wealth but they never flaunted it. I had been here before and knew what to expect but Jeff’s eyes lit up and he said, “Oh my, your house is beautiful!”
Lee said, “That’s all Randy— my aesthetic sense is a little retarded. Without him I probably wouldn’t even wear matching socks.”
We followed Lee through the house into the living room and found Randy on the couch and, he looked worse than Lee. His eyes were puffy and he wasn’t really there. He was staring off into space, unfocused and disconnected.
I looked to Lee but he didn’t meet my eyes. He sat down beside Lee and said, “Hey baby, your friends from Mississippi are here.”
Randy’s eyes snapped into focus as I sat down beside him and put my arm around him. He jumped like he had been shocked and said, “No Jimmy, you might catch it!”
I said, “Randy, no one knows much about GRID but it doesn’t work that way. I won’t catch it. Chances are that Lee doesn’t have it either.”
Randy said, “What did you say?”
“Chances are that Lee doesn’t have it. I was listening to Public Radio a few weekends ago and they said that a lot of medical people that see that they have gay patients push the panic button because they are scared or don’t want to deal with it. They send their patients to a specialist so they don’t have to.”
Randy said, “You aren’t just saying that are you?”
“Have I ever lied to you?”
Randy hugged me and said, “No. You wouldn’t. That’s just not you, is it?”
I said, “Nope. You don’t lie to people you love. That’s how you keep ’em. Somebody else wants to see you.”
Randy looked up and Travis was there and Alex and then it all became a big hugging lump on the couch.
When his emotions were under control, Randy asked, “How did you know?”
“Lee called me last night. We came as soon as we could but it took us until three-thirty in the afternoon to get away.”
Randy said, “You guys dropped everything and came on a day’s notice?”
Travis grabbed Randy’s hand and said, “I would have started walking if it had taken any longer to get on the road.”
Jeff said, “That’s why I love my Jimmy. There’s just no way he would let somebody he cares about go through something like this alone.”
Randy wiped his eyes and said, “When I first met you guys you said that none of us are kin but we’re closer than a lot of blood relatives. Thank you. Thank you so much. This means so much to me.”
We loved them, we hugged them, we laughed and we hugged them some more. At two-thirty the morning, we wound down and we started yawning.
We got out suitcases out of the car and Lee put us in bedrooms upstairs—Alex and Patrick in one, Jeff and I in another and Travis in a room by himself.
Randy came by Travis’s room and asked, “I remember that you didn’t like to sleep by yourself in a strange place. Are you going to be OK?”
Travis nodded and said, “I’m so dead, I could sleep in the car.”
Randy hugged him and went to bed.
I intercepted Lee and said, “I know you guys are really strung out over this. Take one of these before bed, they’ll help.”
Lee looked at the little bottle of pills and said, “What are they?”
“They’re for anxiety. I talked to a friend of mine who is a pharmacist. He said this is what they should have prescribed for you. You and Randy don’t look like you’ve gotten much sleep since this started.”
Lee sighed and said, “I don’t mind admitting that I’m scared. Thanks for everything Jimmy.” He hugged me, took the bottle and went to bed.
I went in the room where Jeff was getting ready for bed. He was shirtless and beautiful. He came to me, put his arms around me and said, “You make me proud.”
I held him and said, “I love you so much.”
He led me to the bed and we undressed each other. No words were necessary. I found his lips and didn’t want to let go.
We made love with passion and great fervor. It didn’t last terribly long but, I’m sure that it shook the house.
When we were done and cleaned up I said, “You know Travis hates to sleep alone in a strange place.”
Jeff smiled and said, “Go check on him. If he’s still awake, bring him in.”
I walked across the hall and knocked on Travis’s door. He said, “Come in.”
I stuck my head in his room and said, “Are you doing OK?”
Travis smiled sadly and said, “Well…”
I walked over to the bed and picked him up and he smiled. I took him back to our room and put him down in the middle of the bed. I turned out the light and the three of us snuggled together like a box full of puppies and slept peacefully.
The next morning we all slept in. It was great waking up next to Travis and Jeff. I just lay there and looked at them.
Travis had grown up so much. He was a high school senior now and he had gone from being a real cute kid to a very handsome young man. He could grow up as much as he wanted to but he would always be our little brother. Sleeping he looked so much like he did when he was younger.
Jeff was right beside him. My feelings for Jeff were less familial and much more erotic. I noticed some distinct similarities. They were both were brunettes, both had pale skin, both had long delicate eyelashes and I loved them both so much I was astonished by the intensity of the feeling.
We were here confronting the possibility that Lee and Randy, too, might have a horrible illness. The idea that Jeff or Travis might get sick just made me shiver. I never really pray. I don’t know how and religion never offered me anything in the way of good news. Laying there I did say a prayer— Dear God, please protect them. I’m worthless. If you have to take somebody, take me. I could live with that deal if it would protect them.
I looked at the clock by the bed and it read ten-thirty. I could have lain there all day but my bladder wasn’t having any of that. As quietly as I could, I snuck out of bed, grabbed my bag and went down the hall to the guest bathroom.
When I arrived, Alex and Patrick were brushing their teeth. Once again the dark shadow of doubt crossed my mind: what would it be like to lose them. Once again I said a quick prayer to a God that didn’t give a damn.
Patrick saw me in the mirror and my expression must have given me away. He asked, “Jimmy, what’s the matter?”
I said, “I’m sorry, it’s nothing.”
Alex said, “You can’t get away with that with me. I saw that expression on your face; what’s on your mind?”
“I’m… Not here OK? Meet me in the kitchen.”
They cleared out and I used the rest room and had a chance to gather my wits. I’m not like this. I’m the strong one. I will not fall apart.
After I finished up I went downstairs and joined Alex and Patrick at the breakfast table. Like everything else in the house, it was flawless. A&P had glasses of milk. I got one of water and sat down.
Alex looked at me, as cross as Alex can get, and said, “OK, what’s bothering you. Spill it.”
I said, “You know how Travis is about sleeping alone in strange places. After Jeff and I… well after, I went and check on him and he was doing that thing where he lays there and stares at the ceiling. I picked him up like a little kid and took him in with Jeff and me. Because we were there, he went out like a light. They’re both still up there snoozing.
“When I woke up I just looked at them. They’re beautiful to me. Then I started thinking about this thing with Randy and Lee. It scares the hell out of me. I can’t lose you guys. Alex, you know what it was like for me before I met you.”
Alex put his hand on my shoulder. “You’re afraid of being alone again.”
I broke down. I couldn’t help it. Patrick and Alex were there for me. They just let me cry the poison out. It didn’t take long and I was embarrassed that I had done it.
Patrick said, “Jimmy, sometimes when I look at you, I think you’re indestructible. Thanks for letting us be there for you for a change. I know how much being alone hurts. I went all through high school scared to death that someone would figure me out. You know how our schools are. It wasn’t until I got to Ole Miss and met Alex that I took a chance—I didn’t just get the coolest boyfriend a guy could hope for, I got a family. This has been one of the best things that has ever happened for both of us and we aren’t going anywhere.”
I looked at Patrick and said, “Alex, have I told you that I think you’ve got really good taste?”
Randy and Lee didn’t stir until twelve-thirty. They emerged well rested from their traumatic few days and they were more themselves. Cooking for seven was more than anyone could ask of a host that going through what Randy and Lee were facing.
We all piled into the Catalina. It was the only thing big enough to carry us all. They took us out to a place where we were introduced to the magic of fajitas.
They gave us a little tour of Austin. It’s a beautiful city on the edge of Texas Hill country. Built around the University of Texas, you might guess that Austin the intellectual heart of Texas. It is home to all sorts of interesting places— bars, restaurants, clubs, but our favorite was a huge used bookstore built into an old department store.
We were like kids in a candy store. This book store didn’t just have books. It had University students’ books! It had rows and rows of stuff that only a nerd could love. Of all the things to do in Austin, we spent a large slice of the afternoon there.
I bought two huge study guides with five thousand solved problems for calculus and Differential Equations and about a dozen sci-fi books by Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert and David Gerrold. We all left with a grocery sack full of used books and we didn’t spend a ton of cash.
On the way home that evening, we stopped at a grocery store and bought some steaks and all the trimmings. Lee fired up his grill and Randy and Jeff did their magic in the kitchen.
I’ve never had a sirloin so perfectly well done with baked potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, Texas toast and a green salad fit for a king.
In the afterglow of this feast, Randy said, “You’ve all seen the Rocky Horror Picture show?”
Randy said, “Do you remember the Zen Room?”
Jeff said it best, “Well, sorta.”
Randy and Lee got big grins and said, “Follow me downstairs. You guys will be the first to see it.”
We all followed Randy through a staircase that led down. Randy explained, “One of the things that came with the house was this huge basement. We decided that we wanted to make it a game room and then we had second thoughts. We sound proofed it and made it into a fun and games room.”
We followed Randy down into this jet black dark space and then he flipped on the lights. We all grinned ear to ear at what they had built.
Randy and Lee’s fun and games room was an area big enough for a pool table but it didn’t have one. There was a wet bar on one end, a big television and a powerful looking stereo system. In the middle of the room was a “U” shaped sectional sofa with a big hookah sitting right in the middle of it.
Lee said, “You guys get comfortable. Randy and I will serve. Jimmy, find us some music.”
Randy and Lee got busy behind the bar and I approached the stereo of my wet dreams. I looked through the albums and pulled out Jimi Hendrix’s Are you Experienced and gently put it on the turntable. I powered up the amp, selected turntable, adjusted the volume and punched the button that automatically dropped the needle. After adjusting the volume down to a level that would allow conversation, I joined Jeff on the sectional sofa.
Lee brought out a platter and served chilled champagne in real glasses.
What Randy brought out was even more interesting. He opened a box and began to load the hookah with this bright green and red bud that made my mouth water. Then he took a big chunk of hash and scraped off some with a razor blade. He continued to layer the weed and the hash until the big bowl was full.
There were five hoses attached to the hookah so we had to share but when we fired that bad boy up nobody missed out. By the time the bowl burned out, we were so hammered that all we could do is lay back on the couch and make out.
As I was between Jeff and Travis, I found myself in the middle! Jeff was kissing one side of my neck and Travis was kissing the other. It was ecstasy.
I had the presence of mind to say, “Uhh… Jeff, are you OK with this?”
Jeff kissed me on my left ear and said, “Travis and I talked about it when we woke up. I used your proxy vote. We didn’t think you would mind.”
I looked across at Randy and Lee and over at Alex and Patrick. Oh well. When in Rome, have an orgy. I pulled my two beautiful boys close and held them savoring the feel of their warm soft skin under my fingers.
Lee stood up sporting a huge erection struggling with his blue jean shorts and ran to the bar to grab a bottle to refill our glasses.
Travis wormed his way in between Jeff and I lying across my lap. I wondered where his shirt went.
All I remember after that is a blur of flesh and passion. This is one of the reasons I gave up getting high. I wish I could remember what happened in detail. I can’t.
The next morning I woke in our assigned bed very naked with Travis and Jeff on either side of me in the same condition. When I stirred, Jeff woke with a smile on his face. He reached down and grabbed my morning wood and mounted it. I felt myself slide inside of him and he writhed over me in ecstasy. His own cock went rock hard as he bobbed up and down.
Travis woke and his eyes went wide at the sights of Jeff on top of me. He lay there and watched for a moment as Jeff went up and down on my cock.
Travis then positioned himself very carefully and took Jeff in his mouth. Jeff gasped and his rhythm became faster and faster. He grabbed the back of Travis’s head jamming as much of his cock in as possible.
I was on fire and I erupted inside my lover. Jeff made an indescribable sound as he came in Travis’s mouth and he collapsed on top of me.
I said, “Baby, we’re not done yet.”
We pulled Travis in between us and we had him for breakfast.
Once again we were late falling out of bed but were quite happy about it. Everyone had that cat who just fucked the canary look on their face and I believe we were all still a little stoned.
I ran into Alex and Patrick at the bathroom again—this time stark naked.
I said, “And I thought you two were cute with clothes on.”
They both giggled and blushed.
I showered with Jeff and we did it again.
The main business of the day was Lee’s doctor’s appointment. We all went.
We stayed in the waiting room and Randy went with Lee back to the exam room.
Thirty minutes later Randy and Lee came out beaming. They didn’t have to say a word. We knew. Lee was all right.
Lee got a lecture from the doctor about protecting his fair skin from the Texas sun. Three moles were frozen off. But we got to keep our friends.
We all grabbed Randy and Lee and hugged them tight. Tears of joy and relief were shed. We got to keep our friends. We made a spectacle of ourselves in our joy and not a fuck was given, not a single one.
Whispering Pines Hospice
Feb. 22, 1996
It was horrifying to see Jeff that way. We thought we had more time but he got the flu and Pneumocystis Pneumonia followed very quickly in his immuno-compromised condition.
You're never really ready and we sure weren't. There was so much we hadn't done or said and we had wasted so much time waiting for someday. He was afraid. I could see it in his eyes and it haunts me to this day. I held onto him as long as I could and then they pushed me out of the way to do their work. Two hours later he was gone and a big chunk of my soul, maybe the best part went with him.
I blamed myself for all the stupid arguments and the time we wasted. There just isn't any getting it back. For a long time I was just plain messed up. You see I was suffering with this but other people didn't know. We didn't wear wedding rings. Most of the time we didn't live together—ambition and careerism kept us apart chasing dollars. In the end, none of it was worth a minute or even a second of the time we did have together. When you lose the love of your life and you're married, you're a widower. I didn't get that distinction but in every way that matters, I lost a spouse.
I learned a hard lesson: treasure every minute because it doesn't last forever. You never know when it's going to end.