A Special Place--Part Fifty-seven--Luke
Matt and I were up Sunday morning and had breakfast with Mom and Dad. We told them about Douglas and Janet--they had been in bed when we got home the night before. We went to St. Mary's and I was surprised to see Douglas with Eugene and Larry. Douglas was sure sore, but managed to smile when he saw us.
"How's Janet?" I asked.
"She's sore. Eugene and Larry took me by to see her earlier. She's ok. Dr. Walker had left word he'd be back to discharge her about noon. I wanted to stay with her, but she wanted me to come here and say a prayer of thanksgiving. Guess I wanted to do that too. Soon as church is over, we're going back. She should be ready to leave then."
"We'll hold Sunday dinner until you two can get there," Matt said. "That's when Luke and I are making our announcement, kinda Sunday and announcement dinner."
When church was over, Larry, Eugene and Douglas started toward Eugene's car when Millie--she was walking well but had started carrying a silver-headed cane, "just in case"--yelled from the parish house steps, "Hold up there". When she reached us, she said, "Look, I know you guys like your sporty cars, but that young woman will need something comfortable. Douglas, you come with me and we will pick her up. The rest of you head to the Greywolfs'."
By the time we had gotten home, dinner preparations were in full swing. Paula and Jacob had already arrived and soon all of the Fellowship was present. Uncle Michael and John came shortly afterward, followed by Gladys and Chelsea. Millie came driving up in her land yacht. Fr. Tom was the last of the invited guests to arrive. As soon as I saw him, I grabbed Matt's hand and we raced to ask about his celebrating the Eucharist the following Saturday. We had intended to do that the day before but, with the news of the accident, forgot about it. He said there would be no problem.
Dinner was finally ready and when everyone had gathered around, Greywolf said grace and when he finished said, "I have been told that Matt and Luke have an announcement to make".
We hadn't decided who would say what, so we stared at each other for a few seconds until Mary Kathryn said, "Well, will you or won't you?".
"We will," we said together and then both got the giggles.
Finally Luke got control enough to speak. "All of you know about me and Matt. You have all been with us through some very hard times in the past few months. Now we hope to have you with us for a very happy time. You know, of course, that Matt and I are very much in love. We have promised each other we will be together until death do us part--and I'm not sure, after the last few weeks, even that will separate us, but that was the promise we made to each other. If it were possible, we would be legally married or whatever the equivalent would be for two men in love. But that, at least now, cannot be. We do want to make our vows to each other with friends and family as our witnesses, so we want to invite all of you to a commitment ceremony which will be held at the falls next Saturday at..." I looked at Matt, and he at me, and finally stammered, "We haven't set a time!".
"Three o'clock in the afternoon," Mary Kathryn said. "That's the time your planning committee decided."
"At three o'clock in the afternoon," Matt said. "I know better than to cross the women of the Fellowship!"
Jacob, Bill and Michael all shouted, "Wise move!".
I don't know why I was nervous but I had been and, when I finished, I grabbed Matt and kissed him. Everyone applauded.
Well, after dinner, the rest of the day was spent planning and checking this, that and the other. At one point Douglas said, "Think Janet and I had the right idea--just do it".
"Yea, but you two didn't have as many people to celebrate with you as Luke and I have," Matt said.
"How true," Janet said. "Even our parents really didn't give a shit. But this is exciting." She was obviously sore, but was soon in the middle of all the planning going on.
Matt was busy with Millie selecting the music, the mothers were going over the food list that had been made Saturday, and the men were huddled talking about heaven only knows what. Eugene, Larry and I were with Douglas, who had been persuaded to sit down and try to get comfortable. Seems his seatbelt had bruised his ribs good fashion, and Dr. Walker had given him pain pills which he finally agreed to take so he was feeling very mellow. "I still find it hard to think of you and Janet married," I said to him.
I was taken aback when he said, "What's so unusual about that? Aren't you two getting married next weekend?" I guess that was the first time I had really thought of what Matt and I were doing as getting married. I mean, we had talked about it that way but, when Douglas asked the question, it really hit home.
"YES!" I exclaimed. "Hell yes!"
"Before that happens, we've got some other things to take care of," Larry said. "I mean your and Matt's ceremony is important, but the world still spins."
"Which reminds me, Douglas, have you called your parents?" Michael asked.
"To tell the truth, I haven't. I guess I better." I got the phone for him and he called. It was obvious the conversation was not a happy one when he finally said, "Mom, I called to let you know about the accident, that's all, not to discuss my wife or my marriage," and then slammed down the phone. He said to us, "They're still trying to figure out a way to get my marriage annulled. Great parents I have! Here are two guys getting themselves committed to each other and their parents are happy. I had a perfectly ordinary marriage and Mom and Dad are raising hell. You figure."
"Well, at least you have taken care of the phone call. Now we need to plan how to take care of other business. Tomorrow, Eugene and I will take you to see an insurance adjuster and, if you like, check into a new car, that sort of thing," Larry finally got to say.
"By the way, you and Janet have my suite," Eugene said. "Lar and I will take the guest room."
Douglas started to protest, but both Larry and Eugene would have none of it. "It's the honeymoon suite this week," Eugene said, "although we may borrow the Jacuzzi--if you don't mind."
"Be our guest," Douglas laughed. "I'm sure we will join you."
Margaret came by and said, "I'm giving Janet a pain killer. She's hurting pretty bad from her bruises and you don't look too happy either, Douglas. I think both of you could use some down time."
Douglas didn't protest as Eugene and I helped him to the downstairs guest room. Matt and Larry helped Janet. As we tucked the two into bed, Eugene said, "No hanky panky, now".
Janet laughed and said, "I never thought I'd say it, but this husband of mine better not touch me--unless it's very lightly. I hurt like hell."
About 5:00, the two were sound asleep when Millie said, "I need to get home and start getting music together. Eugene, your keys." Eugene gave her a funny look as he handed his keys to her. "Well, you don't expect the two accident victims to ride back in your bone crusher, do you? Use my car to come home," she said, and handed him her keys.
Eugene, of course, had the top down on his car and Millie crawled in, started the engine, turned the music up loud and roared out of the driveway. "That's my mom," Eugene laughed.
It was 6:30 when Douglas and Janet finally woke up. They had supper with the Family and then Eugene and Larry took them back to Millie's. The rest of the Fellowship had left earlier. The Family all sat around the dining room table, making a checklist of the things that needed to be done. We told the Family we had planned for Michael to handle the ceremony and see if Taequo could come and bless our union. Greywolf found his phone number and I called him. He was delighted that we would ask him and assured me he would be there. "Proper dress?" I asked him and he assured me it would be.
When I hung up the phone, it promptly rang. "Luke here," I answered.
"Luke, it's Danny. Can you, Matt and Michael come to the apartment? We need you."
"Be right there," I replied and hung up the phone. I told Michael and Matt that Danny wanted us, and we left without knowing what was up. When we arrived, Chelsea and Gladys were with the two guys.
As soon as we walked in, it was obvious both had been crying. The three of us grabbed both in a big hug and held them. As we did, Buddy said quietly, "Jake is dead".
"Dead? Jake's dead?" Michael asked.
"The hospital called shortly after we left your place," Chelsea said. "They identified him by his fingerprints. They needed someone to take responsibility for the body and Jake's parents refused to, saying they had disowned him. I told them I'd take care of any charges and came right over to tell Danny and Buddy. It seems that, late last night, someone rang the emergency room bell and when the attendant rushed outside, he found Jake lying on the loading dock, in a coma. He saw a car--all he knew was it was a sports car of some sort--skidding around the corner. He couldn't get a license number and wasn't even sure of the color."
"They rushed Jake inside and did everything they could, but it was too late. He died of a drug overdose. Nellie, the nurse on duty, said his arms were covered with needle tracks. She also said it was obvious he had been into some pretty kinky things, but wouldn't say more beyond the fact that he was dressed--the part of him that was dressed--in leather and chains. The police have no more leads than they had when he disappeared."
We sat and talked with Danny and Buddy for a good two hours. Finally Danny said, "We three were more or less trapped into doing whatever McBride wanted, and Buddy and I have often talked about how we are now free to make choices and how hard that is sometimes--I mean having to make choices when you don't know how things will turn out. Jake made a very wrong choice. We have both talked about it since he disappeared, and are sure he chose the fast life and paid for it with his body. Now he has paid for it with his life. We were never really close. I guess we were bound together by what we had done and had been forced to do, but I can't help crying over Jake's death. He really did have a lot to offer. It's just that... well, I don't know what to say."
We talked a while longer and, finally, Gladys said, "His body will be cremated after an autopsy--Nellie did say everyone was very careful because of how he was dressed, and other things--because no-one would be surprised if he is HIV%2B."
"Since no-one will take responsibility for his body, and Gladys and I have agreed to pay for his cremation, they will release the ashes to us. We thought maybe you three could hold a memorial service--something simple--when we scatter the ashes. We plan to scatter them in the garden at the hospice."
"Sure, no problem," Michael said. "Just let us know when. Buddy, Danny, I am sorry it ended this way for Jake. Any such death is a great waste, especially when someone is as young as Jake."
"Thanks. And we'll be ok now. It's just that when we were told, you were the only family we had except Gladys and Chelsea," Danny said.
Early Monday morning, Dr. Walker's office called and asked if Matt and I could come in at 10:00. When we got there, Dr. Walker had his nurse draw blood from Luke for tests and then he sat and talked with us. "Luke, Matt, I am concerned, more than I would have been a year or so ago, about what's going on with Luke. After your first suicide attempt, Luke, I did a lot of reading about teen suicide. Much of what I read shocked me--the numbers of teens who attempt, and far too many succeed, to take their life. I have always known that teen years are not easy--I'm not so old I don't remember my own," he smiled. "But there seems to be something else involved--I mean more than just raging hormones and that sort of thing."
"Luke, your attempt really puzzled me because it seemed you had everything going for you. Your love of Matt and fears for his safety didn't seem enough to push you over the edge. But, when things turned out as they did, I relaxed a bit then there was this last attempt. I'll grant that, to you, you made a mistake, but it just didn't make sense. Then I remembered something else. I had just read a medical journal article on teen depression. We've finally realized that depression is most often caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and have drugs to treat it. These drugs are, of course, not without side effects but they are saving lives--from suicide and from just existing in a living hell. After your second attempt, I suspected depression might be involved in your case. I'm not going to prescribe for you until I get some test results but, if they turn out as I suspect they will, then we'll try to overcome the imbalance. Matt, in the meantime--and from now on--you need to be sensitive to Luke's emotional state, as I'm sure you will be."
"We've talked about that," Matt said, "and I have already decided that I missed something, and don't intend to do so again."
"Good. And I know that you'll not be depressed Saturday, Luke. It will be a happy day."
Well, when the autopsy report was finally complete it showed Jake had been HIV%2B. What a waste. The body was released, cremated, and Gladys called and asked if we could do the memorial Wednesday afternoon. We did. Michael was in charge, and did a remarkable and moving job of what had to have been a difficult task.
I noticed that Buddy was with a very attractive young woman who had her arm around him, holding him close throughout the service. When it was completed, he introduced her to us. "Michael, Matt, Luke, this is Gloria James. She is a fellow student and a very special friend." We shook hands with her, and she and Buddy left together after Buddy had thanked us profusely. Danny looked at them as they left and said, "Buddy has found a real friend in Gloria. She knows all about us and still, I think, is very much in love with him. I am very happy for Buddy. He has made a good choice--well, I guess it's more like he fell into a good thing when he finally got up the nerve to ask Gloria for a date. I know it was hard for him to do, but she has made him very happy. He's a real lovesick puppy these days."
"And you haven't found someone?" I asked.
Danny smiled and said, "I think it's going to be a bit harder for me," and said no more. "Thanks, all of you. This has been very important to me and Buddy. In a very real way, I think Jake's death closed a chapter for us. Not a very nice one and no happy ending--for Jake--but it confirmed our choices. See you three Saturday."
Matt and I had earlier asked him and Buddy to come to our ceremony. "We're going to be very busy but, if you and Buddy need us, call," I said. "And, by the way, if Gloria won't be freaked out, tell Buddy we'd love to have her come."
"I think she can handle that," Danny smiled. "See you then."
While there had been no question about our doing the service for Jake, it was another addition to an already hectic week. Thursday, Margaret said Dr. Walker had been right. I was suffering from a very low-level clinical depression which could be aggravated by stress. Just knowing that made me feel a whole lot better. Margaret gave me the drug he prescribed and said it would be a week or two before I would see any effects of the antidepressant, and even then I probably would not see any marked change, just that the dark thoughts would go away or be much less severe. She was right.
The rest of the week passed in a blur--not only were we all planning for the ceremony, but also getting ready for the trip to Ohio. We gathered up the tools we'd need to make the repairs to the house, and had to decide what personal belongings we were taking and what we would be leaving.
Millie spent a couple days recording the music, using Matt's organ since it was simpler than trying to use the pipe organ at St. Mary's. Douglas made arrangements to get the car he wanted delivered to a dealership in Ohio, and things were actually falling into place. Michael and I were packing my things when Demetri somebody called. After he finished his conversation, Michael told me about going to the Greek restaurant with Fr. Tom. "The owner mentioned his grandson was coming sometime this summer and wanted me to keep an eye on him. Think you can handle this while I run into town, meet him, and maybe show him around a bit?"
"Sure, no problem."
I finished what I was packing and took the truck to Matt's. We were loading things into it when Michael returned. I could tell he was not a happy camper. "What's the problem, Lil Bro?" Matt asked.
Michael exploded. "Christopher, Demetri's grandson, is a first-class asshole. As soon as we were in the Tracker, the first question he asked was where he could score some weed! Learned he was supposed to be here a month ago, but got in trouble again and it took a major effort to get him released to come. He is big-time trouble and I'm supposed to keep an eye on him. I will, all right, but he's not going to like it. He's a big-city, streetwise, wiseass asshole who will probably be in jail before we get back."
"Guess that's your junior year project," Matt said.
"I'd rather try to save a rainforest or something," Michael shot back. Didn't know what all Christopher had said or done, but Michael was boiling. One thing about it: when he's mad, he is a whirlwind. We had the truck packed in half the time I expected.
Since the Ohio house was furnished, we decided we'd take little in that line. If we wanted or needed something different when we got there, we'd buy it or do without--"so long as there's queen- or king-sized beds," Matt had laughed. We only packed in the vehicles what we would need immediately. The rest would be picked up by the movers who were coming for Matt's organ. The fact that we were actually leaving hit home when the movers came very early Friday morning and picked up the Oberlin Five's things and packed Matt's organ. When the truck pulled away, we all breathed a sigh of relief but, I suspect, were also more than a little sad--and frightened.
"Now we only have the ceremony to go," Matt said as the truck pulled out of sight.
Janet and Douglas had improved each day and by Friday were pretty much back to normal. After the movers left, we spent the rest of the day getting the falls ready--improvising an altar, that sort of thing--and getting Matt's place ready for a reception. I had thought that would be at the falls, but Greywolf suggested we'd want to dance and the house was better for that, so the reception would be at Matt's.
Matt and I had talked about what we would wear for the ceremony, but hadn't discussed it with anyone else. We had talked about tux and all that, but then decided we had something better. When we told Michael what we wanted, he got a huge Michael grin on his face and said he'd talk with Matt's mom and dad as well.
The week was so hectic, there wasn't a lot of time to devote to love-making, but Matt and I did manage to find a little time for ourselves and we made the most of it! We had decided, and neither he nor I were really sure why, that we'd spend each Friday night in our own bed.
Friday had been overcast all day and I feared the worst for Saturday. When Taequo arrived late Friday, I guess Matt had been worried too because he asked, "Taequo, is there a no-rain dance?".
Taequo laughed and said, "Do you think Red Hawk would permit rain tomorrow?". He must have been right because when I raised up on an elbow Saturday morning, the sun was streaming in my window.
Matt and I had agreed we'd not see each other until the ceremony, and I had nothing to do so I mostly just paced the floor for a while, flopped down on my bed for a while, and then paced some more. I was getting nervous and didn't know why. "What difference is a ceremony going to make?" I asked myself. I mean Matt and I had been a couple for months--well, if you started counting our having sex for the first time, a little over two months--so what difference would today make? I didn't know why, but I knew it would make a lot of difference.
Finally, it was 1:30 and I started getting ready by taking a long shower. When I finished, I dried my hair--a major undertaking these days--and got dressed. When I was dressed, I looked at myself in the mirror and I was pleased with what I saw. "You are one good-looking hunk!" I said, as I turned in front of the mirror. "There's only one other man in the world who is better looking, and he's mine!"
I decided I was ready just when Dad called upstairs, "Luke, time to go". When I came down, Dad whistled and said, "You are a handsome young man, Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird Larsen," and hugged me tightly. "Your mom and Mary Kathryn have gone on, so I guess it's just the two of us."
Matt had told me Millie had chosen the music and wouldn't take no for an answer when he told her it seemed like bragging. She had chosen happy excerpts from "The Family" and "Yonghon Tongmu". As we approached the falls, I heard the music and agreed with Millie's stubbornness. Matt and I had discussed how we were going to walk in, and had decided we would walk between our parents. Mary Kathryn, in her buckskin dress, would walk behind Mom and Dad and me. We thought that would show how our families supported us. When I got close enough, the tape started playing Clarke's "Trumpet Voluntary" and Eugene, live, was playing with the recording. It was time for us to start. I could see Michael and Taequo standing side by side, both dressed in full Lakota regalia. As we walked toward them from one side, Matt and his parents came from the other. Greywolf was dressed as the Lakota warrior he was, and Yong Jin had chosen to wear her Korean hanbok--proclaiming to the world that she was the mother of the beautiful Lakota warrior walking next to her. And he was beautiful! I, of course, was also dressed as a Lakota.
A Making and Celebration of the Covenant of Union Between Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf Greywolf and Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird Larsen
Michael Jacob Golden Eagle Andrews: "Friends and family, we are told that God is love and if this be true then, truly, love is a mystery beyond human understanding. And why should this come as a surprise to us? For who can explain the love of a parent for a child, of brothers and sisters, or of friends. No-one. Even more mysterious is the special love which draws two people together and which draws them to yearn to join their lives. It is a powerful force, capable of overcoming many obstacles, of being expressed in many ways. We all know Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf Greywolf and Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird Larsen. And, since we know them, we know their love for each other is that kind of love, a love which knows no bounds. Yet many would condemn their love. Even some of us who know them and their love cannot understand it, but we accept it and acknowledge its reality. And we rejoice in it and the happiness it gives to them. Therefore, we have been chosen to witness their profession of that love, one to the other, and the vows they will make to each other. And we are honored."
[Michael nodded and our parents stepped behind us and Matt and I joined hands.]
"Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf Greywolf, will you have Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird Larsen as your partner, companion and soulmate, to live together in the covenant of holy union? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him until death you do part?"
Matthew: "I will."
Michael: "Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird Larsen, will you have Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf Greywolf as your partner, companion and soulmate, to live together in the covenant of holy union? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, be faithful to him until death you do part?"
[Suddenly I was choked up and was barely able to answer.]
Luke: "I will."
Michael: "Those of you who are here as witnesses to this union, will you promise to offer your support, friendship and prayers for these two men as they continue on their life's journey? As their extended family, will you share their joys, help them bear their burdens, and do all in your power to uphold them in their covenant?"
Family and Friends: "We will!"
Patanka St. Michael Greywolf, reader: "A reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes: Two are better than one, for their partnership yields this advantage: if one falls, the other can help his companion up again; but woe betide the solitary person who when down has no partner to help him up. And if two lie side by side they keep each other warm; but how can one keep warm by himself? If anyone is alone, an assailant may overpower him, but two can resist; and a cord of [two] strands is not quickly snapped."
Gabrielle Larsen, reader: "Psalm 67 (Read responsively) May God be merciful to us and bless us, * show us the light of his countenance and come to us. Let your ways be known upon earth, * your saving health among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; * let all the peoples praise you. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, * for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; * let all the peoples praise you. The earth has brought forth her increase; * may God, our own God, give us his blessing. May God give us his blessing,* and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him."
Jens Larsen, reader: "A reading from First Corinthians: [Behold] I ... show you [a] better way. I may speak in tongues of men or of angels, but if I have no love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. I may have the gift of prophecy and the knowledge of every hidden truth; I may have faith enough to move mountains; but if I have no love, I am nothing. I may give all I possess to the needy, I may give my body to be burnt, but if I have no love, I gain nothing by it. Love is patient and kind. Love envies no-one, is never boastful, never conceited, never rude; love is never selfish, never quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs, takes no pleasure in the sins of others, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, its endurance. Love will never come to an end. Prophecies will cease; tongues of ecstasy will fall silent; knowledge will vanish. For our knowledge and our prophecy alike are partial, and the partial vanishes when wholeness comes. When I was a child I spoke like a child, thought like a child, reasoned like a child; but when I grew up I finished with childish things. At present we see only puzzling reflections in a mirror, but one day we shall see face to face. My knowledge now is partial; then it will be whole, like God's knowledge of me. There are three things that last for ever: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of the three is love."
Hymn: O God of Love O God of love, to thee we bow, and pray for these before thee now, that closely knit in holy vow, they may in thee be one.
Whatever comes to be their share, of quickening joy or burdening care, in power to do and grace to bear, may they in thee be one.
Eternal love, with them abide, through change and chance be thou their guide, let nothing in this life divide those whom thou makest one.
Yong Jin Greywolf, reader: "A reading from St. John's Gospel: [Jesus said] As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Dwell in my love. If you heed my commands, you will dwell in my love, as I have heeded my Father's commands and dwell in his love. I have spoken thus to you, so that my joy may be in you, and your joy complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you."
Michael: "The poet D. H. Lawrence wrote: Those who go searching for love only make manifest their own lovelessness only the loving find love and they never have to seek for it.
"If anyone doubt the truth of the poem, you have only to look at Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf Greywolf and Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird Larsen (who obviously never went searching for names becuase they have them!)." [Michael looked at the two of us and gave us that wicked Michael grin.]
"They came into this world to loving families and a loving family--for they were born in the midst of three families who, before they were born, had become one. Yes, the two never had to look for the love of family, it has always surrounded them.
"Nor have they had to look for the love of brothers and sister. They were brothers from the time they came into the world and soon had another brother and a sister who loved them and whom they loved in return.
"Your very presence is witness to their lack of need to search for the love of friends. All of you, again and again, have proven your friendship and love of these two young men. And perhaps, most importantly, they have been best friends since the time--well, since forever.
"Nor did they have to search for the special love between two human beings for it, too, was there. Their struggle was actually to deny it out of fear that if one's love for the other became known, it would destroy their friendship and fracture the love they had from their family. That fear of love almost cost Luke his life. But they didn't have to search for it, for the loving find love.
"Their love is a forbidden love for many. It is a love that is rejected by many. It is a love which has cost them, and will cost them, much pain. But it is a love which will endure because it is from their hearts. It is a love to which they ask that we bear witness and in which they will bind their lives together.
"Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird Larsen, Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf Greywolf, my beloved brothers, remember, "There are three things that last for ever: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of the three is love."
[Matt and I had taken off our rings and when Michael asked for them, we handed them to him.]
Michael: "Great Spirit, the Father of All, from Mother Earth came silver and, through the skills of one of your children, these rings were made. May they be for Matthew Silver Wolf and Luke Fire Thunderbird, your sons, symbols of their love for and trust in each other."
[He then handed to me the ring I had given Matt, as a pledge of our love, and I placed it on Matt's finger and said:]
"Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf, with this ring I pledge to you my life-long devotion; with my body, I you worship and my love I entrust to you. This ring is a symbol of my solemn vow."
[Now it was Matt's time to be choked up as he placed on my finger the ring I had given him and repeated the the vow I had just made to him:]
"Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird, with this ring I pledge to you my life-long devotion; with my body, I you worship and my love I entrust to you. This ring is a symbol of my solemn vow."
[When we had placed the rings on each other's fingers, Michael stepped back and Taequo came forward, bid us join hands and, when we had, he bound them together with a rawhide strip. As he did, a large red-tail hawk swooped down and landed on his shoulder, and stayed there as he said:]
"Fire Thunderbird and Silver Wolf, you have made promises to each other here before your family and friends, underneath Father Sky, and standing in a sacred place on Mother Earth. You have bound yourself, one to the other, with words and you have symbolized your vows with rings. You are bound together forever as you are now bound by a cord from our Brother Buffalo. Let no-one speak evil of your being bound and let none come between you or break the bond which binds you together."
[Then he prayed:]
"Great Spirit, you have given us the good earth and all its creatures. You have shown us your love in the beauty with which you have surrounded us. You call upon us to love all your creation and especially to love each other, to be a comfort and strength to each other in times of sorrow and weakness. Now give Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird and Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf the wisdom and vision, the strength and courage to so live and love that their love may be strength to others. So bless their union that all may see and know that theirs is a holy union and pleasing to you. Hetch etu.
"Matthew Sarang Hanun Pomul Silver Wolf, Luke Hans Yonghon Tongmu Fire Thunderbird, Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no loneliness for you, for now you are no more alone. Now you are two bodies, but there is only one life before you. Now know that you have entered into your days together. And may they be good and long upon earth."
As Taequo finished, the red-tailed hawk shot into the air with a mighty scream and disappeared. Taequo winked at the two of us, and Matt and I embraced in a passionate kiss. As we broke the kiss, we walked, hand in hand among our friends, receiving their hugs and handshakes. When we returned, Fr. Tom began the Eucharist.
When the time for the blessing came, Matt and I had understood that Fr. Tom would not bless us as he would have a married couple, but we were wrong. He had us kneel and, as he pronounced the blessing, he laid his hands upon us and used the blessing he would for a regular wedding. When he finished, he looked at us, smiled, and said, "Sometimes you just have to do what is right!".
Of course there were pictures to be made, but it was obvious that Matt and I were ready to get on with the celebration. After about fifteen minutes of picture taking, Greywolf said, "It's time to celebrate!" and the Fellowship and Taequo started walking toward the Greywolfs'. The crowd walked or drove behind us.
When we reached the house, we formed a receiving line along the front walk and greeted our friends. I thought I had seen everyone who was present, but was surprised when Ms. Jones gave me a great hug. "Luke, I am very happy for you two. We will miss you this year at Independence."
"I think we're leaving Independence in good hands, Ms. Jones."
"You are indeed. I know you are proud of your little brother."
"We certainly are," Matt said.
Food and drink had been set up on the front and side porches and, as soon as Matt and I had cut the cake, there were toasts but no speeches, then the feasting began. While everyone was eating, the two of us--holding hands all the time--talked with our friends, thanking them for being a part of this, our special day, and for all the things they had done for us in the past. When we had spoken to almost everyone, Linda came from inside and said, "Time for the first dance".
As Matt and I walked inside, the music started--"More", of course. I took Matt in my arms and we danced our first dance as--what?--a married couple. I looked into those black almond eyes and saw tears forming. Sure enough, I could feel the tears forming in my own eyes as I pressed my lips to Matt's, closed my eyes, and we danced.
Soon we were joined by the parents and Michael and Mary Kathryn. As the song continued, Linda and Bill, Jacob and Paula joined in. I wondered what Eugene and Larry would do, but I should have known--they were soon dancing with us. I guess that gave John and Uncle Michael courage because, for the first time, I saw them openly acknowledge they were a couple as they moved onto the floor. Matt and I finally kissed each other and broke in on our dads and moms. Jens broke in on Michael and Mary Kathryn, and Michael promptly broke in on David and Margaret.
As "More" played a second time, the Fellowship all took the floor and even Douglas and Janet were dancing. The dancing continued for some time and, finally, a great fast tune came around and it was outdo-each-other time for the Fellowship, joined by Buddy and Gloria. Douglas and Janet started, but it proved too much for them.
We were all having a grand time--even Millie danced a slow dance with Eugene--when I realized it was past sunset. I asked Dad to play "More" one more time, and Matt and I danced again. I could have danced with him for hours but, when I said so, he said, "I had other things in mind!". I looked at him and had to admit I had other things in mind as well.
When the song finished, Matt said, "I hope all of you stay and enjoy yourselves, but I think Luke and I will be leaving now!". Damn, I blushed! When I did, everyone roared laughing. After lots of hugs and kisses, Matt and I walked, hand in hand, toward the falls, stopping for a kiss now and then. "You remember when our secret was out because we walked hand in hand and stopped for a kiss?" Matt asked.
"Wow, do I!" I replied. "Now the whole world can know because we are a married couple!"
Linda and Bill had said they would take care of our wedding bed, and we were surprised when we reached the falls and there was nothing there. "I guess they forgot," I said.
"We'll go to our special place and then we can go to my bed or yours if we want to," Matt said. "I'd not have been surprised, with everything going on this week, if 'most anything had been forgotten."
Well, no-one had forgotten anything. When we ducked under the canopy of the willow, there was an air mattress bed resting on the mossy ground. In the limbs of the willows, Japanese lanterns hung, the candles inside giving our special place a soft glow and filling the air with the fragrance of my beloved Matt.
We carefully removed the chest pieces and chokers from each other, then I removed Matt's headband and his black-as-night hair was free. He removed my headband, but there was no cascade of blond hair. If I were Matt, I think I'd feel cheated, but his hands in my hair assured me that it gave him as much pleasure as his did me.
We still were dressed in arm bands, leggings and breech cloths when Matt pulled me to himself, covered my mouth with his and lifted me in his arms. He walked to the waiting bed and gently laid me down. We lay, side by side, just gazing into each other's eyes, drinking in the love reflected there. Matt's eyes sparkled in the flickering candle light and, as I looked into them, I was overwhelmed with my love for him and his love for me. "Matt, what have I ever done to deserve this night and you?" I asked.
"You love me and make my life complete," he smiled. "That's enough to earn you hundreds of nights like this."
"Thousands of nights with you, but never another like this. I think... I don't really know how to say this, but I think this night is more special than that first night. Do you know what I mean?"
"Yes, I do, but don't ask me why. I don't know why, but I know it is," Matt said, as he drew me to himself and covered my mouth with his in a gentle, tender kiss. "Luke, it is different, isn't it?"
I answered by kissing the lips that gave me life as my hands wove themselves in his hair. We lay together, still dressed in leggings and breech cloths, exchanging kisses, our hands exploring each other's body, teasing each other's hair for a long time. "Strange," I thought, "but I'm in no rush to move beyond what we are doing." Stranger still, hot-to-trot Matt was also taking it easy and, as I, enjoying every minute of our gentle, tender love-making.
Of course, it didn't go on all night! Matt finally reached down and removed my breech cloth as I did his. Our love-making became more and more passionate, our kisses now including tongue duels, our hands touching nipples and cheeks and, finally, each other's manhood. Even though leggings didn't cover anything of importance, they do get in the way, but that was a situation soon remedied.
Still, our love-making had a leisurely pace. Matt entered me slowly, consummating our vows and, when he did, he rested on my chest, kissing me passionately, but slowly, and I savoured every moment. When he started moving in and out of me, I sucked his tongue deep into my mouth, filling my being with the taste of Matt. As Matt's manhood filled me, he fell into a slow, wonderful rhythm. I was enjoying his slow, tender love-making as, I'm sure, I had never done before. But, after all, he was Matt and an eighteen year old. Gradually, his plunging into my body became deeper and faster as I cried, "Yes! Matt, Yes! Yes!" As I did, Matt knelt on his knees and I drew my legs to my chest. He wrapped one arm around a bent knee and his other hand found Little Luke and began stroking him with the same rhythm as his own. Finally, in one climactic moment, I felt his hot seed start to fill me as Little Luke exploded. It was pure Fourth of July fireworks! For us both, I was sure. When we had both regained our regular breathing, Matt lay on my chest, his eyes sought mine and a glorious Matt smile covered his face. We lay that way even after Chili Pepper, in his shrunken state, slipped from my body.
Matt kissed me, again tenderly, gently, and his smiling eyes looked into mine. "Yonghon Tongmu, our vows have been sealed forever now," he said and kissed me again.
We talked of our love, our vows, what lay ahead for us. We talked about how special this day had been for us and other things that lovers--real lovers--talk about. They were silly things, I guess, unless they were, as ours were, another way of making love, of expressing our love. Finally I said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, I think it is time we made sure our vows are sealed forever". Once again, our love-making was slow, tender, gentle. Once again, we were able to reach a climax together and the second was no less powerful than the first, as I poured my man's seed into the body of the one I loved.
As we lay in the afterglow of the double sealing of our vows, Matt asked, somewhat puzzled, "Luke, I don't think we have ever made love as fully and as completely as we have done tonight, and I know it has never been so slow, tender... well, loving. Why do you think that was the way it was?"
I'll admit that I had realized, and wondered about the same thing, and wasn't sure I had an answer--and said so. "Maybe, before, we were rushing for fear it would be our last time. Now we know we have a whole lifetime of love-making and there is time to slow down and savour every moment."
"I think you're right, Bright Angel," Matt said, and kissed me with a long, slow, passionate kiss. "And I like it!" he said, his eyes aglow.
The river beside where we lay was not really deep enough for swimming but was just right for frolicking, and Matt and I were soon taking advantage of it. I knew that I wanted to be surrounded by the fragrance of my Matt and had, some time ago, started using the same scented soap and things that he used. When we headed for the river, I grabbed the bar I had brought and we loved soaping each other in the cool waters of our own special place.
When we got out of the river, we rubbed each other vigorously with towels from the basket Bill and Linda had left for us, lay down once more, and soon Matt's fabulous hot mouth covered Little Luke and sent me sailing into the sky. I started to move so I could give him the kind of pleasure he was giving me, but he looked up and shook his head then, taking his mouth from Little Luke, he smiled, "This one's for you, Luke Babe!". Matt drew out his love-making as long as possible but, before either of us really wanted it, I exploded. When I did, he smiled at me and said, "The great taste of Luke! I love it."
When I had recovered, I said, "Now it's your turn, Matt Babe". The sounds Matt made let me know he was enjoying my love-making as much as I had loved his.
Love-making, even on one's wedding night, must finally come to an end. Both of us had exhausted ourselves when we finally lay, cradled in each other's arms, looking into each other's eyes, bathed in that special feeling which comes to two people who have made love, real love, to each other. "Yonghon Tongmu, my love, my soulmate, my Bright Angel, my life, I love you, I love you, I love you!" Matt said, "And, Yonghon Tongmu, you love me. That is the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world."
I kissed Matt gently and said, "Sarang Hanun Pomul, my love, my soulmate, my Dark Angel, my life, I love you, I love you, I love you. And, Sarang Hanun Pomul, you love me. That we love each other and have each other is the reason we have a world."
As we lay, each smiling at the one he loved, the river's soft sounds echoed the deep feeling of peace I felt--we felt--as it lulled us to sleep on our wedding night, our first night as--yes--a married couple.
Sunrise found us awake, making love again. When we had again exhausted our passion, Matt looked at me and laughed, "Luke, I think we have satisfied--at least for the moment--the first of a teenager's wants. Now I'm ready for food!"
"I'm with you, Soulmate!" We bathed in the river--playing around more than a little bit--dressed, and raced to Matt's. When we burst in the front door, Greywolf was fixing breakfast and said, "I see the second need of any teenager has made itself known. Coffee's ready. Breakfast will be ready shortly."
As he spoke, Yong Jin came from their bedroom looking fresh and beautiful. Matt grabbed his mom and kissed her cheek saying, "Mom, I am the happiest man in the world!".
I hugged Yong Jin, kissed her cheek, and said, "I think he's kidding himself. I think your son has made me the happiest man in the world!"
"Well, so long as you're both happy I guess I don't need to worry about a divorce anytime soon," she laughed.
As we ate, Matt kept glancing at me and smiling. I, of course, was doing the same. Finally Greywolf said, "You two are acting like newly-weds".
"'Cause we are, Dad," Matt said, leaned over the kitchen table and kissed me passionately.
When we finished eating, Luke and I cleaned the kitchen, and even something as routine and dull as that was joyful because we were together--bound together. Never say that words don't make a difference. The vows we made the day before may have seemed to change nothing, but we both knew our relationship was, somehow, different.
When we finished, we went to Matt's room and dressed for church. When we came down, Greywolf acted surprised. "I thought you two would skip today."
"No way," I said. "We have a thanksgiving to make!"
"Besides, it will be our last Sunday at St. Mary's for ages," Matt added.
For the first time, Matt and I did not sit with our parents. When Matt left for Sewanee, Millie had taken on the job as organist again and, when we returned, I, as always, sat with my family and Matt joined his. This morning, however, we found our own place and sat together as the couple we were. It was very special, and a statement to the world of our new relationship.
Sunday dinner was at the Andrews', and Margaret told Michael to invite the Fellowship. All were there, along with Janet and Douglas, and we had a wonderful time together. After dinner, we went over what we had packed, shipped, and were carrying with us. Sure enough, we had missed a few things--like Matt's stereo and my CD collection. When we were satisfied that everything was ready to go, we went to the falls for a final swim. It was decided we would leave early Monday morning for Ohio, so everyone went home to make final arrangements and spend the night with their parents. We agreed to meet at my place for breakfast, after which we would leave.
Matt and I discussed spending the night in our own beds for some dumb reason, but decided we were now a couple and, in our minds at least, a married couple who no longer had two beds. From now on, we only had our bed. So we spent our second night as a married couple in our bed at my parents' place. Again, our love-making started slow and easy, tender, but ended on a high note of passion. Afterward, as we lay in each other's arms, Matt said, "Luke, this is our last night here. Tomorrow begins a new life for us."
"Another beginning and, tonight, an ending. Next week the Fellowship will be together but, today at the falls, I realized this was really its end. Now there's the Oberlin Five and the Concord Five. I wonder what that will be like."
"So long as I have you, I can face whatever our new life has to offer," Matt said.
"Yes, so long as we have each other we can handle the world," I said as I kissed Matt softly, and I meant every word of what I said. Secure in his arms, I fell asleep and slept peacefully.