Disclaimer: This is a story about gay people...if you can't read it or
Don't like gay people, leave. Go...bye. But if you like it, read it and
"So, lemme get this gay, you were at Kendall's apartment the other day to tell us that you were thinking about running away with Davis?" Christina asked, "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I don't know. Besides, I think this was a decision I needed to make on my own, you know?" I said, "Besides, you'd be surprised how many people got laid the other day."
"We're sorry." Kendall said.
"No, it's cool. Life got in the way." I smiled, "I give everyone a pass."
"And Marco doesn't know?" Kendall asked.
"No." I said, "And he can't. Not until I tell him."
"What about Hannah?" Christina asked
"Are you sure I can tell him?" Kendall asked.
"Hannah never has to know." I frowned, "And I don't know, but I have to."
"Are you going to the memorial?" Kendall asked.
I looked to her, "Not something I want to rememorial." I frowned.
"Come on, you are one of the people who was there first hand." Kendall said, "It would mean something to the rest of us."
"I just don't want to...I'm not into it." I said, looking at my cell phone, "I'm late to pick up Noel."
"Are you serious? You can't just spring that on us and leave." Christina said, "There's so many questions we haven't asked."
"I know the feeling." I said, leaving.
I walked into my house to find Marco rocking Noel. He was already dressed in his gym clothes when I got there. He smiled to me as I walked in and I smiled back, putting my keys on the end table by the door. I walked over and noticed that Noel was sleeping. I found myself staring at Marco.
"What is it?" Marco asked.
"Do I have formula on my face?" Marco asked.
"No, I just...You're so cute with the baby." I smiled.
"You don't think it dates me?" Marco asked.
"No." I said quickly, "You're like an older version of yourself."
"You sure you're going to be okay with the baby? I mean, while I hit the gym?"
"As long as I don't have to go." I nodded.
"I could always find another babysitter." Marco said, "Hannah's been dying to have him."
"It's the middle of the day and she's at work." I smiled.
"Okay." Marco said standing and laying Noel down in his basinet. He moved over and stood in front of me, "Are we okay? I know you keep saying—"
"We're fine. I love you. I choose you over everything else." I smiled, "This baby is a surprise...but I'm not leaving."
"You should reconsider what I asked you." Marco said, "About marrying me. I know the baby complicates things and I'm a new artist and—"
I stared at him.
"This isn't changing your mind, is it?" Marco frowned.
"No." I said, "My mind changed a long time ago."
"What are you saying?" Marco asked.
"Maybe I...Maybe you should ask it again." I smiled.
Marco looked at me with fascination, "You're serious?" he asked.
"Never been more." I smiled
Marco nodded and bent down in front of me, pulling out a ring box from his pants. I smirked to him in confusion and he quickly replied, "I saved it. I hoped." He smiled, sliding the ring on my finger, "I cannot imagine my life without you. Will you marry me?"
I chuckled softly, "Yeah. Yes!" I smiled.
Marco stood up and hugged me, "I don't want to rush you, but—"
"Why do I get the feeling you're going to?" I smirked.
"I want this to happen really soon." Marco said, "I hope that doesn't freak you out."
"No." I said, "What a few months?"
"Two weeks." Marco said.
"Two weeks?" I asked, "Why so soon?" I asked.
"Because...I got an offer on one of my paintings from a gallery."
"That's great!" I said.
"The gallery's in New York." Marco said slowly, "It would mean moving there. I want you and me to move there, husband and...what do they call the other husband?"
"Can we put together a wedding in two weeks?" I turning from him, trying to shield my nervousness "Is this—is this even possible?"
"Second thoughts?" Marco asked.
"No," I turned to him, "No, it's just sudden. It's sudden."
Marco nodded quickly.
"You know, I keep going through this whole thing, replaying my life and all opportunities we missed. All the things that kept us apart. I don't ever want to be a part again." I smiled, "Oh God, I'm getting married...and I have a baby...and I'm moving away from home. This is all happening in within two weeks."
"We have seven thousand friends. I know they'll help." Marco smiled, "I'm ready for my life with you."
I chuckled, "Me too." I smiled.
"So, I'm going to the gym?" Marco asked.
I chortled, "No. We have a wedding to plan." I smiled.
"Does anyone know what Adaen called us here for?" Christina asked.
Christina, Ballard, Davis, Kendall, Harry, Hannah, Lillian, Hope, Peter, Nikka, Eric, Kya, Julie and Zack were gathered in my living room waiting for Marco and I to come in. They knew they were there to hear something but they didn't know anything about our life changes.
"Maybe Adaen's pregnant." Kendall chuckled.
"That is so not funny." A very pregnant Hannah frowned.
"I just hope it's not more nonsense." Julie said.
Kendall sneered, "Why are you here again?" she asked.
"I was on a date with Eric." Julie frowned.
"Seriously?" Christina asked, looking to Eric, "You're dating her now? Do you just inherently have bad tastes?"
"Hey!" Julie frowned. She looked to her former friends, "We've been friends for years. Yeah, I've done some bad things, but I'm your friend."
"Julie was our friend. I have no clue who you are." Kendall said quickly.
"Guys, can we not do this here?" Eric asked.
"Eric's right." Kya said, "This is not the time."
"Or the place." Lillian said calmly.
Ballard sighed, "I just hope they're not breaking up again." He shifted uncomfortably as Davis stared at him.
"I think we'd know if they broke up. Someone would be crying...and stuff would be broken." Hannah chortled.
"Where are they?" Davis asked.
Christina and Kendall looked at him knowingly.
"I just have to practice. And get ready for that whole town meeting against Brad." Davis frowned, "Besides, why would they want to include me anyways?"
"You're his brother." Harry said, "I thought you were on this kick about being a better brother."
"I am. I'm brotherly. I just have a lot on my plate." Davis argued.
"I know this is hard for you..." Lillian began.
"No, it's really not. He chose. I'm living with that. I wish him and my brother the best—"
"Oh please." Christina frowned.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Davis asked.
"You're a good guy, but you're selfish." Kendall said, "And you're sort of transparent."
"Hey, can you guys lay off him?" Hope said, "I mean, it's bad enough he got dumped, can't we just let him have some dignity. I mean, he got a team Jacob-ed."
Davis stared at her with anger.
"I just—I meant—"
"Doesn't matter." Davis said.
"Come on you guys." Julie said, "He's trying. You guys are dicks sometimes."
I heard that as I came into the house with Noel and Marco. We quickly made our way into the living room, looking around at our friends...and Julie.
"Julie..." I said.
"Not again." Julie sighed.
"She's with me." Eric interjected.
I smirked, "Whatever. Listen, sorry we're late. We got held up—"
"You kept us waiting, son." Lillian said, "Is everything okay? Noel's fine?"
"Yeah, he's fine Mrs. Lawrence." Marco beamed.
"Then what's this all about?" Davis asked.
It was the first time I'd seen him since...
"Yeah, spill." Hope said.
"Okay ummm two announcements. Nothing big, but Marco and I are getting married." I smiled.
Everyone's faces dropped. Some smiled while others looked to be in disbelief.
"In two weeks."
"What the F—" Hope started.
"Hope!" Lillian frowned.
"And we're moving." Marco added.
"You can't be serious." Davis frowned, standing, "You're getting married?! This is...insane! Two weeks and you're leaving?" he looked confused.
"A gallery in New York likes my work and wants me to relocate." Marco explained, "And I love him. He loves me."
"Okay, what does love have to do with this?" Davis asked, "You're just so hung up on each other that you don't want to be apart. This is crazy. You're still in your twenties."
"If you could marry him, would you?" Marco asked.
Davis stared at him with an impassive face, "This isn't about me and him, this is about something that's doomed to fail." He spat.
"Davis—" I began.
"No! You're crazy? A shot-gun wedding...You guys can have it without me." He said, leaving.
There was a short silence before anyone spoke.
"Well, I think it's about time." Hannah said.
"Yeah, finally! Congrats, dude." Harry said, shaking his hand.
"Are you sure?" Lillian asked, "Baby, you're so young. Marco's a wonderful boy, but he's a new father who's transitioning to a new job...I just worry."
"Mom, he's a grown-up." Kya said, "I couldn't be happier for you!" she stood and hugged me.
Eric nodded and walked over to us, "You hurt my brother and I will murder you." He said to Marco, who just smiled.
Christina and Kendall walked over, looking at me strangely.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Christina asked.
"Chris!" Kendall said.
"I just mean, you made the right choice?" Christina asked, "You're not rushing for any reason, right?"
"No. No. I've been thinking about this for a while." I said, "It clicked. It finally clicked."
"We're gonna be front and center. Now hug us tramp." Christina said as I shared a hug with her and Kendall.
Ballard and Zack had been talking to Marco, "Dude. He's a good guy, but are you sure you want to wife him?" Ballard asked.
"There is nothing I'd rather do more." Marco smiled.
"Good answer." Eric said, putting a hand on his shoulder.
Ballard nodded, "Dude, you passed the test. You two belong together...and that's for sure." He chuckled.
"You're the only one who can tame him." Zack smiled.
"My brother's not a horse." Eric said quickly.
Zack lost his smiled, "I didn't mean—I just—"
"Mom, you're not happy?" I asked.
"I'm worried. Your life changes all happening in two weeks..." Lillian frowned, "My baby is growing up."
"To think, a few months ago, you were dreaming about breaking up his wedding." Peter said without thinking.
"You dreamed about doing that?" Marco asked with amusement.
I turned to Peter, who shrugged. Julie walked up and stood beside me. I pretended not to see her until she began talking.
"Look, I know I did bad stuff to you and Marco, but I'd be honored to help you with your wedding." Julie said.
I looked to Christina, Hannah, and Kendall, who looked just as mystified as me. I looked back at Julie, "I don't even trust you."
"I know." Julie said, "You think I'll do something stupid, but I swear I won't."
I sighed, "Fine." She leaned in for a hug but I recoiled, "You do one thing and I swear I'll club you with a tire iron and hide you in a bricked over basement."
"You have such a dark side." Julie said.
"We've got to go." Hope said, "We have that thing with Davis."
"We're going to show Brad what's up." Peter frowned.
"We've got to go too, if we're going to make it to the memorial." Kendall said, "Are you sure you won't come?"
"Well, I hope you come." Christina said hugging me, "You deserve to let go of that day too."
I watched as they left. Well, most of them. The only people who were left were Marco, Kya, Eric, and Mom. I took a deep breath before looking to my family again. My mother looked worried. Eric and Kya were playing with Noel. I walked to my mother and stopped, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"Mom...I'm going to be alright." I said.
"Marriage is hard." Lillian frowned, "I don't know if you're stable enough for something like this. Either of you."
"Ms. Lawrence, don't you think this is a long time coming?" Marco asked, "You were happy about us being together. Or I thought you were."
"I am! You're happiest together. I know that." Lillian said, "I just don't want you two to end up—"
"Like you?" I asked.
This caught the attention of my siblings.
"You think Marco's going to cheat on me? That he's going to have a ba...by." I tried not to look at Noel, but did quickly before looking back at mom, "He's not dad. And I'm not you!"
"Aed..." Marco said softly.
"No! It took us a long time to get here. And you want us to be together, but you don't want us to get married?" I asked.
"I'm sorry, I just don't want you to get hurt." Lillian said quickly.
"Really, cause you're doing a really good job of doing that yourself." I frowned.
"This anger...you're not having this towards me." Lillian said sadly, "This is about your father."
"Don't!" I shouted. I calmed myself, "Don't you dare bring him into this. This is about you thinking that I'm too fragile to be a good husband. This is about you thinking that any marriage is going to fail like yours did!"
There was silence from everyone in the room, even Noel. For a second, I wasn't sure what I really said. I wasn't sure how I felt about what I said. It just angered me so much that she doubted my marriage before it even got started. It took us so long to come to this point; it felt like she was pissing on everything we'd been through.
"Dude, watch your freakin mouth!" Eric said angrily.
"He's right, this is your mom." Marco said calmly.
"I didn't mean to hurt or offend you. I'm sorry that you think my marriage was a complete failure. I never thought that." She said, leaving.
"You were out of line." Kya said, trailing behind her.
"What's your problem?" Eric asked walking over, "Why would you talk to her like that? She's just worried about you. You're such a jerk sometimes."
Marco wedged himself between us, "Look, he was upset. They both said some hurtful things." He said sternly.
"But she wasn't being malicious." Eric growled.
"What would you call it?" I asked.
"Dude, I would be lying if I didn't say I wasn't a little worried. I'm happy for you, but worried." Eric said quickly, "Why don't we call this what it really is? You took out your anger and fear of failure and compared it to mom and dad."
"I wish everyone would stop talking about him! He doesn't exist. He was a myth." I frowned, "He didn't just cheat on her, he cheated on all of us! To compare Marco to him—"
"Sorry, and no offense Mark, but weren't you getting married a few months ago?" Eric asked.
I stared at Marco, who looked absolutely floored, and then at Eric, "You know what, you don't have to come. You, mom, Kya, dad, hope...it doesn't matter. You don't have to come. As a matter of fact, don't come and get out of my house."
"You're not serious." Eric said with disbelief.
Marco looked from Eric to me, "Babe, think about what you're saying. This is your family." He said quickly.
"Yeah, he is. And he should leave now." I folded my arms across my chest and watched him walk to the door. He turned to me and I quickly asked, "What?"
"You're like him, you know. All the times you left town, all the times you run away from your problems and come back with something else, the way you can just walk away from any and everything. Marco, this is who you're marrying. The reason you hate dad so much is because you're just like him." He said leaving.
Marco turned to me, "Aed..."
I clasped my hand over my mouth and walked away from him. I walked to the door, picking up my keys.
"Babe, where are you going?" Marco asked.
"I need to drive." I said, leaving.
Somehow I had no idea where I was going but I ended up in the place where I never wanted to be. I was in a different town now. I'd driven about fifty two miles in less than forty-five minutes. My mind was awash with these chaotic events. This started out as a happy thing. I'm engaged and happy. I'm happy. So why wasn't I happy? Was my family right? Was I like my dad? Was it inevitable that I turn into him? He turned his back on his whole family and got a whole new family. I thought Mom had been talking about Marco cheating, but now I see that she was worried that I'd screw up my marriage. Maybe she was right. I didn't have a good track record with guys. I always ran away. As I pulled into the drive-way of the brown two-story house, I found myself annoyed. The range rover and the sports car in the drive-way just pissed me off even more. I sat in the car for a few minutes, looking up at the lighted porch. When I finally got out of the car, I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell. As I waited, the anticipation became a little too much. I wanted to turn and walk away, but stayed.
When the door opened, my father was talking to his new wife, "Don't feed Ash any cookies until I co—" he paused at the sight of me before speaking again, "Adaen? What—"
"Nice house." I said quickly, averting my eyes.
"Is everything okay? Is your mother—"
"Do you really care?" I asked.
"Of course I care." Dad said with offense, "I love your mother. I love all of you."
"Really? Is that why you don't write, you don't call?" I chuckled angrily, "I'm not sure why I'm here. Maybe it's because I'm searching for something. Maybe it's because I'm getting married and I'm nervous. I don't know."
"You're getting married?" Dad asked.
"When you and mom found out I was gay, it brought our family together. You said forever. You said—"
"Our family is forever." Dad said, "Come in."
"No! No to both. You broke our family. You broke us! You said you would never leave, that you'd always be my dad no matter what and you lied. You lied to mom, you lied to me and I wish you had never said any of it!" I said angrily, "And what's worse is I inherited the `run-away' gene from you. My mom just questioned my marriage because of what you did to her."
"And you know the best part? She made me question it too." I said, "And I come here for some reason unknown to me and find you having dinner with your new wife and your new kid and your new family and the only thing I can feel..." I paused.
"I'm sorry you see it all this way. I'm sorry that you're hurt. I'm sorry for everything I did to you, your mom and your brother and sister. But I can't change it. It's not going to be the same, but it can be better." Dad said.
"I don't think it can." I said sadly, "You should go in and have a lovely dinner with your wife and child. You should go about your life like you have been. Don't write, don't call...don't even think about us."
"I think about you all the time! Just come in and we'll talk—"
"Bye daddy." I said, walking away from the porch. I walked back to my car amidst him calling my name.
After accosting my father, I found myself parked outside town hall in Hargrove. I'd come to the conclusion that I did run a lot. I handled a lot of things wrong. I know. But I handled a lot of things right too. There was one thing I'd shied away because I guess it scared me. I quickly exited the car and walked into the meeting that was already going on. I took a seat beside Davis, who didn't acknowledge me. Brad was onstage spewing his venom Hope and Peter were sitting on the other side of Davis and waved to me. I smiled to them and looked to Davis. He wouldn't look at me.
I leaned over and whispered, "Did I miss the good stuff? Your speech?" I asked.
"I mean, I really wanted to hear it."
Davis looked at me for the first time before whispering, "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be preparing for your wedding?" he asked.
"Stop. Please. I've had the day from Hell—"
"What? Did the guy you love break the news that he's getting married?"
"You said that even if I chose him we'd still be friends." I said quickly, "I don't need a jealous ex, I need a friend."
Davis looked ahead.
"You can do better." I smiled.
"I hope I'm not the cause of your bad day?" Davis sighed.
"Didn't help." I chuckled, "You aren't the only one who has reservations about my marriage."
Davis looked at me, but quickly looked ahead again, "Who could possibly share my view? Julie?"
"Oddly enough, no." I said, "My own mom. And brother."
Davis looked at me with surprise, "I thought—"
"They loved you. They love Marco." I whispered, "They don't have faith in me. Seems I inherited traits from my father."
"You didn't go to see him, did you?" Davis asked.
I was silent.
"Adaen." Davis sighed.
"I made an ass of myself to every family member I have except for Hope." I frowned, "So, you can see why I need a friend."
"Why me?" Davis asked, "You have to know how hard this is for me."
"There are things about me that you know and no one else knows." I said slowly.
"I guess none of that explains why you're here." Davis said quickly.
"So, in closing, I say we need to deal with this gay problem. It's taking over our whole town. It's taking over the world! We have to stop it, to save the ones we love from being corrupted by this. It's not right." Brad said, "Thank you." He said, leaving the stage to applause.
I groaned as the Mayor Piper took the stage. He was a thin, blond man with wavy hair and a doctored smile. He quickly took the stage and thanked Davis and Brad for their speeches.
"Is there anyone else that would like to speak?" Mayor Piper asked.
I stood and told him I'd like to say something. There was a collective murmur as well as the surprised looks on Davis, Hope, Peter, and Brad's faces. I then noticed Rocco sitting at the back, staring at the back of Peter's head. I took the stage nervously and looked out at the people. They seemed to be waiting for this speech.
"Hi. I'm Adaen Lawrence. I'm not going to take long. I'm not even going to give a speech. Not the conventional kind. I mean...if you haven't noticed I'm gay. Some of you have made up your minds already and that's fine. What am I saying, that's not fine." I paused, looking out again, "When you're little, you want to be an astronaut or a prince or a dinosaur, Hell, I just wanted to be tall."
There was intermittent laughter.
"No one wants to be gay, at least not at first. Nobody understands you when you're gay. Not straight people or your parents or your priest and sometimes you don't even know yourself. There's slogans like `It gets better' and NO H8, but it doesn't seem to stop hate. Don't get me wrong, it's moved gay rights forward, but gay teens are still dying. They're dying from suicide, they're from AIDS, and they're being beat to death because of ignorance. Ignorance like Brad Wells has been spewing. The sad thing is, he believes it. He believes that we're abominations; that we're somehow inferior. People like him, or more precisely, him was the reason I dreaded going to school some days. This stuff might sound disjointed and chaotic but it leads somewhere. Most of the people here are Christians. Or Catholics. And they use God to combat something that he made. They use his name in hate. They defile his name. God doesn't hate. And what you're saying if you keep letting Brad and his ass-backwards group spew this all over is that we should be someone we're not, think of the message you're sending. I was afraid to get up here. I'm writer and I was afraid to say what was on my mind because politics isn't my area of interest. It's depressing. I was afraid to stand up, to rock the boat, because rocking the boat would mean putting myself in the spotlight. What I didn't know, is that I've always been in the spotlight. Davis Marchall had the balls to come out on TV. A guy in this audience had the courage to come out at an earlier age than even I did. And stupid me...I've been dragging my feet in the hope that people would overlook me, but it's time to speak out. Kids are dying for who they are. But it's not who they are. It's orientation. Gay people are so much more than their orientation. They're more than promiscuity. We are more than statistics and AIDS patients and...we're human. We're your brother and your sister and your mother or father and your uncle or aunt. I knew a boy once who tried committing suicide because he was bullied. He survived. He became that out guy. He is about to graduate high school. There can be life. There can be generous, unforgiving love. But if we never give it a try, if we let people like Brad tell us that just being yourself is an abomination, we lose. We lose ourselves, we lose others. We lose the ones we love. So, I'm asking you: Are you ready to lose your son or daughter? Are you willing to do the wrong thing because someone says its right? He's not God. He hates. God Loves. I'm not asking you to condone or agree, but I am asking you not to forsake anyone just because of their orientation because you never know who you'll love."
Adaen: Now and then, I look at myself in the mirror. I'm hoping to see something new. Something I hadn't seen before. I hoped to see a side of me I hadn't seen before. I hoped to see something I never thought would happen. Because nothing is better than the surprise you never knew you'd ever get.
The doorbell rang as Ryan Lawrence walked to the door, he was hesitant. Last time someone had rang his doorbell, it was his broken and enraged son. That wasn't easy to see. It wasn't easy to see at all. He'd known that he hurt his family, which is why he stayed away, but he didn't know it would hurt worse. When he opened the door, he was shocked yet again.
"Lillian?" Ryan asked.
"We need to talk. He needs you." Lillian Lawrence said, "Can I come in?"
Adaen: Now and then, I look at myself in the mirror. I'm hoping to see something true. Something I've never heard before. I hoped to see a difference in something I'd do. I hoped to see a change in something that wasn't right the first time. Because nothing is better than knowing the truth when pain keeps changing you.
Marco, Hannah, Harry, Christina, Kendall, Ballard, Davis and Julie stood with the rest of their schoolmates. The seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshman from the day of the school shooting had gathered outside the school, before the memorial. Everything seemed far away and there was a deafening depression on the campus. They were each holding candles and silently praying. When they were done, they all looked to each other.
"So, he's not going to come?" Christina asked.
"I guess not." Marco said, "Some things happened after you guys left—"
"You two fought? After you announced you were getting married?" Kendall asked.
Christina sighed, "Oh crap, you're not breaking up, are you?" she frowned.
"No. Him and his family. It was pretty bad." Marco frowned.
"Must be why Eric was so mad." Julie said quickly.
"Where is he? Maybe he needs to talk." Hannah said with worry.
Marco shrugged, "I don't know." He frowned, "I've been calling him, but he's not answering."
"And you're just telling us now? Shouldn't we be doing something?" Ballard asked.
"Well, I saw him at the town meeting." Davis said, "He looked fine."
"You've seen him?" Marco asked suspiciously.
Davis nodded, "He made a speech."
"He did what?" Hannah asked, "Was it good?"
"Great, actually. It helped us win over the people." Davis smiled, "They are banning Brad from campus and from spreading hate beyond his own private meetings."
"That's great!" Kendall smiled. They all agreed and she turned from her friends, having the feeling of being watched. It took her a minute to pinpoint exactly who was looking at her. It wasn't until he was upon her that she really saw him, "Jack?"
"I was afraid I was going to get here too late." Jack Jerman smiled, "Did I miss anything?"
"A speech. A prayer." She said, "What are you doing here?"
"Listen, can we go somewhere and talk?" Jack said, "I think we really need to talk."
Back at the group, they watched her and smiled on as they watched her walk away.
"Wow...that's unexpected." Ballard said.
"Is it really? It's love." Christina said.
They all looked at her, especially Ballard.
"Oh shut up, it's sweet." Christina smiled.
The gang turned to see me smiling at them. I'd been watching them from across the quad. Well, that wasn't entirely true. I'd been standing there for a while, thinking about this day so many years ago and what it meant to me now. Why I had rarely come to these things and why I didn't want to remember. This was the first time my life changed. It was the most significant change. Every change is, though.
"Are you okay?" Hannah asked.
"I'm fine. Listen, I hate to say this but I can't put together a wedding in two weeks." I said.
"What—" Marco began.
"That's why I need your help." I said, "I'm formally asking for help."
They all looked at each other.
"You got us." Davis smiled.
I smiled to them as Marco pulled me a few feet away, "You scared me...I didn't know where you were and if you were—"
I quickly kissed him.
"I'm not letting you off that easy." Marco said quickly.
I smiled at him, "We can talk about it tomorrow. Right now, I just need to think about this. This life change. What happened here." I said.
Marco nodded and put his arm around me as we looked to the memorial. I had been erratic this whole day but I was calm now.