"NO!" I screamed as I dove through the window towards Michael.
I felt my hand touch material, and then I heard an explosion, and I heard my mother scream.
I was too late.
"NO!!!!!!!" I screamed "MICHAEL!!!!! OH, GOD!!! NO!!!!!"
I opened my eyes hesitantly, not wanting to see my cousins head and brains splattered all over the roof, and almost died when I saw Michael looking at me, tears running down his face. When I hit his arm, he missed.
I grabbed the gun from him, and slung it off the porch. Then I grabbed my cousin, and drug him back into the house.
I grabbed him, and locked him in the biggest hug I could, as he cried into my shoulder.
"Oh, Jeremy...oh, God...why? Why, Jeremy?" he asked as he sobbed and choked into my shoulder.
"I don't know, Michael, I don't have the answers. Just, please, promise me you won't try that again!"
Michael hugged me hard, and cried, and cried. Travis came up to us, and began gently rubbing Michael's back. That made Michael cry even harder.
"Oh, Travis! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean it, honest to God, I didn't mean to hurt you!"
"It's ok, Michael," Travis said, as he turned Michael around to hug him. "It's ok, buddy. I understand, and I forgive you. And Jeremy does too, don't you?" he said, looking at me with a look that begged me to go along with him.
Honestly, at that point, as happy as I was that Michael had not succeeded in killing himself, I wasn't so sure that I was ready to forgive him for almost killing Travis. But, the pleading look in Travis' eyes told me I needed to.
"I forgive you, too, Michael. It's ok, man."
By this time, my mom had gotten upstairs. "Are you ok, Jeremy? Travis?"
"Yeah, mom. We're ok," I responded. "And Michael is ok too."
"Travis," mom said, "you come with me. We need to get you cleaned up."
"Ok, mom," he said.
"Jeremy, take Michael downstairs. Wait for me and Travis there, ok?"
We went downstairs and sat on the couch.
"Why did she have to hate me, Jeremy?" Michael asked.
"I don't think she hated you, Michael," I said.
"Oh, yes she did," he replied. "I heard her and dad fighting this morning. She said that queers were an abomination before God, and that she hated them."
"Michael, she was very upset, at me and Travis. She was probably just trying to work things out for herself, and, in her anger, she said things that she didn't really mean. You know that your mom loved you. She could never hate you, Michael. She didn't always agree with the things you did, did she?"
"Well, she might not have agreed with you about whether or not you're gay, but regardless, you were her son. She loved you, and she would have worked it out, one way or the other."
"How can you be so sure about that? You didn't hear her this afternoon."
"Michael, do you think my folks wanted me to be gay?"
"No. Probably not."
"They didn't. I can tell you that. But, they were smart enough to realize that it was something that I couldn't change. I didn't ask to be this way, I just am. If it turns out that you are gay, your mom would have eventually come to realize that and to accept it, and you. Michael, look at me," I said as I turned his chin up to look at me.
"Michael, your mom was a mother. That means that she has something inside of her that makes her fiercely protective of her children. She has a drive in her, most moms do, to do whatever it takes to protect her children, and to make life easier for them, and nothing and no one can get in her way, or do anything to harm her children. She, like most folks do these days, just didn't understand homosexuality. Maybe some day folks will, but for now, they think it's something that a person can change. Michael, your mom loved you, and, in time, she would have come to a place where you would have felt that love. What happened to her was an accident. That's it. A really badly timed accident. But do you know what I'm most grateful for about this accident?"
"How can there be anything to be grateful for about it?" he asked me.
"Well, there's two things, actually. First, according to what we heard, your mom died instantly. She didn't feel any pain, and she didn't suffer. One minute she was driving, the next, she was with God. I'm grateful that my aunt, and your mom, didn't have to suffer. Second, I'm grateful that none of the rest of you were with her in the car, or we might be grieving over more than one family member today, and I just don't think I could handle that. That's also why I'm so glad you didn't shoot yourself. I don't think your dad, or Elizabeth would have survived."
"I didn't think about dad, or Elizabeth." he said. He looked at me, realizing how selfish what he had tried to do was, "Oh my God! What would daddy have done if I had succeeded? He would have lost a wife and a son in the same day!" and he burst into tears again.
"But he didn't, Michael. You're still here."
Michael cried until mom and Travis came into the living room.
"Jeremy, do you have any cuts or anything?" Mom asked.
"I don't know, Mom."
"Let me look, honey." And she took me into the bathroom to check me over. I had a few cuts and was going to have some serious bruising on my ribs and chest where I had dived through the window. Michael and I were lucky that when the window had shattered, there were no shards sticking up. Must have been guardian angels.
When Mom and I got back to the living room, Travis was holding Michael, who was still heaving he was crying so much. My heart broke, and I knelt down behind him, and helped Travis hold him.
About that time Uncle Jack walked in. I looked up at him, and could see the tear stains all over his face. I was looking into the face of a broken hearted man. Elizabeth came in the door behind him, obviously in shock.
"Oh, Jack," Mom said, "I'm so sorry."
"Thanks, Linda. I was wondering, would you help me with the service and everything. I just don't think I can do this."
"Jack, you know I'll do anything I can. First of all, why don't you go take a shower. Maybe that will help you relax."
"OK," he said, and turned and walked back to his bedroom.
"Elizabeth, honey," Mom said, "Why don't you come into the kitchen with me?" Elizabeth followed mom with the same vacant expression she had when she came into the house.
Michael finally stopped heaving, and was now just crying softly.
"Oh, Jeremy. What am I going to do?"
"I don't know, Michael. I don't know. But I do know that whatever comes, you've got Travis and me here for you. And you know that my mom is here for you as well."
"I know, but it's not the same. I mean, my mom is dead. She's not coming back. She won't be here this evening to make supper, or wash the dishes. She won't be complaining about me not changing my sheets, or wearing the same underwear two days in a row. She won't be there for my first prom this year, she won't be there when I graduate, she won't be there when I get married." He started sobbing.
"That's not entirely true, Michael," Travis said.
"Huh?" Michael questioned.
"As long as the memory of your mom is alive, she'll be with you. She'll be with you in spirit, instead of person, but she will be with you. Tell me, Michael, what was your moms' favorite color?"
"Every time you see the color yellow, let it remind you of your mom, but in a good way. When you go to the prom, wear a yellow boutonniere; when you graduate, wear a yellow rose on your robe; when you get married, explain to your wife,"
"Or husband," Michael interrupted.
"Or husband," Travis continued, with a smile, "tell your perspective mate that at your wedding or commitment ceremony, that yellow will be a prominent color theme, in honor of your mom. Then, you'll always know that she is with you."
"I didn't think about that," Michael said.
"I wouldn't think you would," Travis said, "But, see, my mom is dead, too, so, I've had to figure out ways to help me remember her. When Jeremy and I have our ceremony in June, purple will figure prominently in our decorations, to help me remember my mom. And the blue cummerbund and tie that Jer and I wear will remind me of my dad."
"Wow," Michael said. "That's pretty cool. So, doesn't Jeremy get to help about the decorations and what not?"
"Yeah, Michael, I do," I said. "And when Travis explained to me what he wanted, I was only too happy to agree. The flowers at the church and the reception will have lots of purple and yellow, and you already know about the cummerbunds. Although, and this is not set in stone yet, Travis and I may be wearing white tuxedos, and the guys who stand with us may be wearing the blue. We're still talking about that."
"I still think it's way cool," Michael said. "I think I'll follow your advice, Travis," and he leaned over and hugged Travis.
"Thanks, guys. Thank you for stopping me from doing something so stupid. I don't suppose we can not tell dad about it."
"I imagine that mom will talk to him about it, since somebody has got to repair that window. In fact, while we were talking, I thought I heard mom on the phone. Michael, let's me and you go up and clean up that glass," I said.
"What about me," Travis asked.
"Would you mind helping mom when she talks to Uncle Jack?"
"That's probably a good idea," Travis said.
Michael and I went upstairs and began cleaning up the glass, not really talking, just working. After a little while, Uncle Jack came up and said, "Jeremy, can I have a minute with Michael, please?"
Michael looked like a deer caught in headlights, but I gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze, and, while I was looking at him, said, "OK, Uncle Jack. I'll just be downstairs getting the broom and dustpan," and I turned to look at Uncle Jack. I couldn't really read the emotion on his face, but I honestly didn't think he was angry, so I went on downstairs.
Travis was standing at the bottom of the stairs, listening.
"I take it y'all told him?" I asked.
"Yeah, he didn't take it so good at first, but, wise man that you are, me being able to tell him what Michael told us, and our conversation with him helped calm Jack down. I think he's so in shock about Sandy, that Michael's attempted suicide is really not registering with him.
We heard crying, and looked up the stairs to see Jack holding Michael tightly, both of them crying.
Travis went with me to find the broom and dustpan, and we stopped in the kitchen to check on mom and Elizabeth. Elizabeth didn't look good at all. She still had that same vacant expression on her face, and a lifelessness about her that worried me. I looked at mom to see if I should try to talk to her, but mom motioned us out of the kitchen.
"Don't worry about Elizabeth," mom said. "I've been talking to her, and I think I can get her out of her shock, but I think it best if the two of you steered clear of her today. It's not you, personally, but she knows what her folks were arguing about, and she obviously knows about the two of you. Please don't be offended, boys, but I think you need to give her some space for a couple of days."
"OK, mom." I said, not hiding the hurt in my voice very well. "It's not fair, though. We didn't kill Sandy."
"I know, honey. But, well, you know how things are. You can't blame Elizabeth for feeling the way she does. She'll get over it, though. It just may take some time, that's all. Oh, and, by the way, the window repairman should be here shortly. Do you think you guys could watch for him, please?"
"Sure mom," Travis said, as he gently took my arm and started leading me to the living room.
When we got to the living room, he was sobbing, softly, and he took me into his arms and just held me
"What's wrong, baby?" I asked.
"Just so much hurt, and I feel like I'm the cause of it. If I weren't around, none of this would have happened. Your Thanksgiving dinner wouldn't have been ruined, and Sandy would still be alive."
"Travis, baby, look at me," I said, and took his chin in my hand. When he finally met my eyes, I said, "Maybe not this year, but at some point, it would have happened. I'm gay, Travis. I thank God for you every day, but if it hadn't been you this year, it would probably have been another guy another year. Please don't be offended by that, but understand, the family would have had to face this issue. Maybe another year Sandy would have been ready for it, but it would have happened regardless. And, Michael may have talked to me about his sexuality this year regardless of whether you had been here or not. We just don't know. But this I do know, what happened to Sandy is no more your fault that it was Michael's'. Quit blaming yourself. OK?"
"You never cease to amaze me," Travis said. "Such wise words from someone as young as you," and he leaned over and kissed me. When he broke the kiss, he looked deep into my eyes and said, "I love you, Jeremy. Every day that passes, I realize just how much, and how rich my life is because you're in it. Thank you for agreeing to share the rest of my life with me,"
"My pleasure, babe. My pleasure."
Well, dear readers, that's all for now. Unfortunately, chapter 5 may take a bit, as I have some rather pressing issues in my 'real' world to deal with, not the least of which is the beginning of my final semester in college.
Thanks to you guys that respond. It's nice to know that somebody is reading! I don't mind getting e-mail at BiDadWriter@Yahoo.com and I try to respond to them all.
Hope you all had a wonderful New Years, and I hope that the coming year brings you happiness, prosperity, and joy.