A Special Place--Part Three Matt
No one was surprised when David just opened the door and walked in. He was family. Just behind him was Dr. Bailey. As soon as he was inside the house, he introduced Dr. Bailey who said, "How are you doing, Matt?"
"I'm fine, considering."
She smiled and nodded. David gave me a big hug and said, "I've got news for you, St--Sport. Luke's temperature is approaching normal. His pulse is steady, but still very weak, his blood pressure is low, but rising and other vital signs are improving. Dr. Walker says there was a sudden change in his apparent willingness to fight to live which took place last night. He hopes to start weaning Luke from the ventilator soon. Of course, he is still in a coma, but it is induced by the doctors. The drug he swallowed is out of his system."
"His mother told Dr. Walker he had taken the phenobarb from the medicine cabinet. The doctor had given it to her some time ago, but being the stoic German, she had taken only a few, maybe ten or so, before she stopped. There were maybe twenty or so caps left, but she was not sure of the exact number," Dr. Bailey said.
"But why would such a promising young man do such a thing?" my Dad asked.
"He is such a beautiful child, what could have been so bad to make him do such a terrible thing?" Mom added.
"Well," David looked at me, then Dr. Bailey, "that's half the reason we two are here."
"I need to do this," I said as I pulled Luke's letter from my pocket. "Mom, Dad, yesterday I went to the Larsens to change clothes after David and his crew were on their way to the hospital with Luke. I had jumped into the river with everything on except my shoes. Luke had left his clothes, neatly folded, on the bank of the river and I took them with me to pick up Gabrielle. When I went to his room to change, I put on the clothes he had been wearing."
"Why would you do that," Mom asked.
I pretended I didn't hear her and went on, "After Luke had been taken to ICU, I found a letter, this letter, addressed to me in a pocket. I know this is going to shock and upset you, but you need to hear it." As I unfolded the letter, the tears started and I simply couldn't see to read Luke's letter, although I practically knew it by heart. Dr. Bailey put her arm around me and David took the letter from my hand and read it aloud, slowly. Mom and Dad were surprisingly calm when David finished.
Dad said, "Teenage suicide is bad enough at best, but young men who love other young men seem to stand a better chance of survival in combat. Damn, when will people learn?" Mom said nothing, but had a very strange look in her eyes.
"Mom, Dad, that's only half the story. If my priest had told me constantly that I would go to hell for loving a man and had my parents preached the same thing, I might have written that letter. I have been in love with Luke for as long as I can remember and I, too, was afraid to tell him, not because of any fear of hell, but because I was afraid I would lose him as a friend and I couldn't stand that."
Having just said what he had said, I was shocked when my father got a stricken look on his face and said, "I need to be alone for awhile," as he turned and walked though the house and out the back.
Mom, who never, ever had a trace of Korean accent looked at me in disbelief and said, "But the sons. Where come the sons?"
I knew exactly what she meant and there was no answer I could give her. I was bawling like a baby. "So much for knowing how your loving parents will react," I said bitterly."
"Don't dismiss them, Matt. Remember your reaction when you read Luke's letter? Remember how surprised you were? Remember how you berated yourself because you had not known something was not as it appeared? Give your parents the same break," David admonished me as he embraced me and held me tight. When he released me, he said,"I think I'll go and see if I can find Greywolf," as he followed my father's path through the house.
"Do you want me to talk with your Mom?" Dr. Bailey asked.
"No, I think I need to do that,"I replied, "but I would like for you to come with me." The door to the library was half open and I saw my mom sitting at her desk, her head in her hands, weeping bitterly. "Mom, can we talk?" She got up from the desk, ran to me and I actually dodged fearing a blow, which was very strange since my mom had never hit me, not in my entire life. But right now everything was strange. My reaction made her cry even more.
"My Sarang Hanun Pomul, how could I ever have placed myself ahead of your happiness? How could I ever have risked making you hate me because I wanted grandsons. Can you ever forgive me?"
"What's to forgive, Mom? You have a right to have expected grandchildren. If I could choose, I would chosen to have loved some beautiful woman and made you beautiful grandsons, but I had no choice. I have no choice! When will people learn, this is not a lifestyle you choose, it just is; it's just as much a part of who I am as the color of my hair or the shape of my eyes. Even when I have tried to deny it, my love for Luke has always been there. I know I want to spend my whole life with him, but . . . ." And the tears started afresh.
Mom pulled me to herself and gradually started rocking me in her arms. Without realizing it, I'm sure, she began to sing a Korean lullaby she often sang to me when I was very young and which she always sang when I was very upset or ill. I found myself relaxing and holding on to her, once again a child, beloved of his mother. Dr. Bailey walked over to the two of us and put her arms around my mother, who was surprised because she was in a kind of trance. She looked up at Dr. Bailey and said, "He is my beautiful young man, my Beloved Treasure, who loves so deeply, so very deeply. I love him; I love him so very, very much." We all just sat quietly in the library thinking our own thoughts when I heard the back door close.
I started to get up, but Mom motioned me to be still. Soon Dad and David appeared in the door of the library. David sat on the arm of the overstuffed chair where Dr. Bailey was seated and Dad came and sat beside me on a small sofa. "Matt, I know I hurt you by my reaction and I must appear a terrible hypocrite after what I said earlier, but there is something that I have told very few people which you need to know. Something which was pushed so far down in my guts that I had forgotten it, but when you told me you loved another man, emotions long forgotten flooded out and made me act an ass. You need to know the story so you will know that it has nothing to do with you and your love of Luke."
"As you know, my mother left Rosebud Reservation when she was barely fifteen. Her mother had left her with her grandparents when she was eight or nine. Her grandparents were old and couldn't handle a wild girl, so she became even wilder. She was trading sex for alcohol before she was thirteen. Her grandmother died about that time and only her grandfather was left to look after her. She became even worse. Finally, he just threw up his hands and she left Rosebud. She came back when she had just had her sixteenth birthday and thought she might be pregnant. She was sick and had been physically abused. Her pregnancy was confirmed immediately and Grandfather took her in and was determined she would have a healthy baby. He took her so far up in the hills that she couldn't get alcohol; he saw that she ate right, even if it meant he went hungry. When her time came, he delivered her son--me."
"As soon as they came back to grandfather's place, she took off, never to be heard of again, leaving me with grandfather. By that time, he was a very old man. The winter I turned six, he died. My mother's brother took over the place and I became little more than his slave. It started with physical abuse when I didn't do exactly what he wanted, but later it became sexual abuse. So when you said you loved Luke, all the horror of that sexual abuse fell on me afresh. I know there was no love involved in the abuse I suffered from my uncle. And I know you, my beloved son, well enough to know that when you say you love someone, it is love unto death. I am so sorry, so very, very sorry that I reacted as I did, but in all honesty, it happened before I could have a rational thought. I love you, my son, more than life itself and would never hurt you intentionally. But my kind of irrational, unintentional reaction is something I fear for you and Luke."
"That's one of many other issues which we'll have to help you two deal with later, but right now we have to deal with immediate concerns," Dr. Bailey said.
"Yes," Dad agreed. "and one of those is to make it very clear to you, Matt, that as much as I love Luke, and I do, he is a very, very lucky young man to be loved by you Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Greywolf!"
By this time, the whole room was filled with weeping, laughing people hugging each other. I noticed that Dr. Bailey fit right into this gathering of the family. Dad went into the kitchen and came back with five wine glasses and a bottle of wine. "Let's celebrate the power and promise of love," he said.
After we had finished our wine, David and Dr. Bailey explained what had happened the night before and that they thought I should spend the night with Luke again. "There's no way anyone can explain the progress Luke has made, especially in light of his will to die yesterday, except that it has come about by the power of Matt's love and Luke's love for Matt.
"We'll just have to deal with Jens and Gabrielle when Luke has recovered because our job right now is to see that he does recover," David said.
Dr. Bailey said she would take me to the hospital on her way home.
"That will be awhile since the Larsens won't be leaving for some time. Meanwhile, Greywolf, call and ask the Larsens to come by for dinner when they leave the hospital. And all of you are staying for dinner, right?" Mom said, a statement, not really a question. With only a little protest, all agreed.
"I'll help in the kitchen," Dr. Bailey said.
"Thank you, Dr. Bailey," Mom replied, "but that's not necessary."
"Of course it's not--and call me Margaret since I seem to have been adopted into the family--but it'll give us time for women talk.
"I need to get to the hospital as soon as the Larsens leave.
"I don't think so," Dad said. I was horrified. He had just heard how much Luke needed me, now he was saying I couldn't go. Before I could protest, he continued, "Matt, you need to eat, so why not here. And one way to make sure the Larsens don't know what is going on is for you to be here for dinner." Of course it made sense, even if I didn't like it.
David said, "I need to get home and see Michael. Because of the events of yesterday, he was already in bed when I got home and we only have a little time this morning before he had to leave for school. I did tell him about Luke--just the bare details. So I'll go and pick him up and come back for dinner."
"David, if you don't mind, I'd like to go get Michael and bring him over.
"Is that the only reason you're going? If so, I will go."
"No, I think I need to tell him what happened to Luke and why."
"Are you sure that is wise," David asked.
"No, but I think I have learned how you gotta trust true friends and I trust Michael is a true friend."
"Granted, but are you sure a near sixteen year old male is ready to deal with two men loving each other?"
"I hope so. I want to be honest with Michael. I owe him that for being a friend." Little did I know that Michael had a major surprise for me.
A Special Place--Part Three--Luke
I could still hear Matt's voice, begging me to come back, telling me how much he loved me, asking God to send me back. The black nothingness of death was behind me now, but still pulling me toward oblivion. My desire for death was still acting even though I now wanted to live more than anything else. I felt I was caught in a struggle between life and death. I was in that struggle and the outcome was not at all clear to me. It seemed that I was in a timeless place where the drama of life and death could go on forever. I felt myself growing weak in my struggle to live. I had desired death, wanted death too strongly.
Yet, every time blackness seemed to be getting the upper hand, I could hear Matt's voice, if not his words, pleading with me, pleading to God for my life. I could feel Matt's presence near me, I could even feel his touch, but his hand in mine seemed like a burning fire, mine was like ice, the coldness of death lay over my whole body. Finally I sank, exhausted, knowing that the blackness would overcome me. I cried: I cried because of my cowardice; I cried for my lost opportunity to love and be loved; I cried for my lost life. I cried for all those who take their own life because they love another man. I cried for Gregory and the abuse he had to endure. I even cried for those who hate and heap abuse on those of us who only want the freedom to love who we love. Then my awareness was swallowed into oblivion.
Later, it had to have been later, but time meant nothing in this place, I became aware again. I could see the blackness of death was still in this place with me, but it seemed farther away than before. I still felt the iciness of death throughout my body, but somewhere within, there was a glow, a spot of warmth. I felt nothing beyond the coldness and the tiny warm glow, the tiny spark of life within. I don't know how, because I could feel nothing outside myself, but I knew that Matt kissed me on the forehead. I knew he was leaving, but the kiss promised he would still be with me.
I started to relax my vigil against the blackness and it started advancing again. Once again, all the strength left in my whole being became focused on running from death to life. I willed myself to keep going, to keep running, to crawl if need be, to escape that blackness. I fought until I had once again left the blackness behind and, once again, sank into the place of unawareness. But I was not dead yet! There was still hope that if I struggled hard enough, I could escape death and return to the Land of the Living and to Matt.