following story is a fictional account involving gay teenage boys and girls who
are trying to cope with love and homophobia in the American Midwest. Although
no sexual activity takes place in this story, there are references to gay sex
and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it.
All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely
coincidental. Although the story takes place in actual locations and
establishments, the author takes full responsibility for all events described
and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities of real
individuals or religious establishments nor school or corporate policies. The
author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these
Please note that this 2009 Summer
Anthology entry is the twentieth in a series of short stories known
collectively as Naptown Tales. The
series of stories can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown
Tales Page at Awesome Dude.
Slightly modified versions of some of these stories that are suitable for
younger teens can also be found on the Altimexis Page at Codey's World. Please see the Introduction for important background on the series.
The loneliness I felt when I
decided to break up with Debbie was nothing compared to the loneliness I felt now, and even that didn't compare to the sense of utter despair that had consumed
my life in recent months. I knew I should have been happy - my parents were
back in my life and soon I'd be giving them something they'd always wanted - a
grandson - but all of my hopes and dreams had been crushed. The love of my life
wouldn't even speak to me, not that I'd let her if she tried, the father of my
child had washed his hands of me as soon as I told him I intended to keep the
baby, and my parents acted like it was my fault he wouldn't marry me.
Ending up pregnant was so
stupid! When Debbie's and my parents found out about us, I really thought we
could make it on our own . . . but the way we had to live was too much for me.
I just couldn't take having people know about us, and living in that horrible
apartment on Westlane Road, next to that bickering couple with the screaming
kid. And I just couldn't stand being away from my parents, and losing their
love . . . so I made that painful decision. It was a horrible choice, to give
up on the four years of love I'd shared with my girlfriend, but I had to
reclaim the nearly eighteen years of
love my parents had given me . . . I just had to . . . but there was a catch -
I had to deny who I was. I had to date boys. I, Cathy Andrews, who'd known she
was a lesbian since the age of eleven, had to date boys.
The trouble was, I'd been
sexually active with Debbie for four years, and once that stopped, I became
horny as hell. Well, after the breakup, there was no way I could go back to
Debbie begging for sex, and I sure couldn't go out with other girls while under my parents' watchful eyes,
and after a while, I became . . . desperate. When the boys I dated made out
with me, I became less and less resistant to their advances and even started to
Brad Simmons and I started to
become pretty serious, and that included pretty regular sex. We always started
out using a condom, but he only carried one, and we often didn't stop at one
time. What could I say? . . . We both liked what we were doing. I may be a
lesbian, but sex feels good and Brad was a lot of fun to be around, and he was
my only sexual outlet.
When I was late for my
period, I panicked, but then I came to my senses and went to the school nurse.
As I suspected, the test came back positive - I was pregnant. As it turned out
I had choices. Under state law, I'd need a parent's signature to have an
abortion if I were a minor, but I'd be turning eighteen next month and this
would still be soon enough and yet be legal. This presented a dilemma. All my
life I had been raised to believe that abortion is a grave sin. If I had one,
no one else besides me would have to know. It would just be between me . . .
and God . . . and that was why I couldn't bring myself to go through with it,
no matter how much simpler it would make things. I knew the risks, and I chose
to take them anyway.
In the end, I decided I only
had one choice - I was going to go through with the pregnancy . . . I could
never live with myself if I did otherwise. More than a baby, there was love
growing inside me.
Of course adoption was also
an option, but I knew that wasn't for me, either. Why would I want to give away
my own child? That thought made me feel like I'd be giving away my soul. Sure,
there might be someone who would be in a better position to care for my baby
financially, but no one could love it more than I could. I'd always regret
giving my child away, and for that reason, I just couldn't do it.
Yes, I was going to keep my
Of course my parents expected Brad and me to get
married, but Brad didn't see things that way. When I told him I was pregnant, and
of my decision, not only did he tell me in no uncertain terms that he thought I
was making the wrong decision, but he made it clear he wanted to have nothing
to do with the child. It wasn't that he didn't care or that he was heartless,
but he just wasn't ready to be a
father, and he wasn't about to be tied down because of my carelessness. That stunned me! MY CARELESSNESS! He was in charge
of the condoms.
Needless to say, I didn't
even bring up the subject of
marriage. My parents sure did, however, and when they threatened to sue Brad's
parents for child support, it took me threatening to move back in with Debbie
to get them to settle down.
But since then, they've just
been blaming me all around . . . for being a lesbian, for getting pregnant out
of wedlock, for not marrying the boy who knocked me up . . . I just couldn't
win. Mentally, I tried to stay above all of the negativity, for the health of
my baby, as I also knew how insidious depression could be.
"We still love you, you
know," my mother said to me, bringing me out of my reverie as she handed me the
"Who is it?" I asked.
"It's Larry," she answered.
Larry was a good friend. Back when Debbie and I were in the closet, we used to
double date with Larry and his best friend, Tim. Only later did Larry and Tim
confide to us that they themselves were in the closet and using us for cover,
too. The day Larry turned eighteen and gained full control of his college trust
fund from his homophobic grandfather, both boys came out, in the middle of the
high school cafeteria, and proudly served detention after school for violating
the school's policy on public displays of affection. They did go a bit overboard.
Of course, my parents were
shocked by the news - they had always thought Tim and Larry were fine
`Christian' boys. I put my foot down when it came to associating with them.
They could hardly say much of anything against it, now that I was a sinner
myself - a lesbian and pregnant.
Taking the phone, I answered,
"Hey, Larry, how's it going?"
"Goin' great, Cathy. Couldn't
"Listen," he continued, "The
reason I'm calling is that Tim and I got offered some tickets to the big race.
The company my dad works for's sponsoring one of the drivers this year . . .
it's our first time . . . and they want to make a good showing, so they bought
a large corporate box and they gotta fill it. They have a lotta tickets left
over that they're just giving away. I've got one that has your name on it, if
you'd like to go."
"Wow!" I replied.
"Would you believe I grew up in this city, and yet I've never been . . . not
"Really?" Larry asked. "We go
just about every year, but this'll be Trevor's and Kurt's first time. Sammy's
never been, either, but then you'd kind of expect that in his case."
Continuing, Larry went on, "I
asked David if he and Jeremy wanted to join us, and he laughed and said that
Jeremy's parents have VIP tickets for them that make ours look like crap. Their
brothers'll be there, too. Said they also got VIP season tickets to all the
Colts and Pacers games." He sighed and said, "Must be nice."
"I'm willing to bet David
said that none of that means anything if he doesn't have Jeremy," I responded.
"That's exactly what David said," Larry confirmed. "Man, besides Tim and
me, and Randy and Altaf, you won't find a tighter gay couple around . . . I
would have said the same about you and Debbie once . . . I'm sorry to even
bring it up. I know it still hurts."
"There's no sense in ignoring
it forever, Larry. It was my fault we split in the first place. Everything was
fine when we were in the closet. Coming out was fine for you and Tim, but your parents were supportive. I just couldn't
manage without my parents' love, but look where that got me."
"It's not too late, Cathy. I
know you still love each other."
"Let's not rehash that now.
I'm just not ready, yet. So if I do agree to go to the race with you, who all's going to be there?" I asked.
"Well," Larry began, "a lot
of the guys from the GSA will be there for sure. Randy and Altaf will be there.
Trevor and Kurt will, too, and of course I couldn't ask Kurt without asking
Kurt's foster brother, Sammy, and Sammy's best friend, Paul. Jamie Wilson and
Will and Barry Smith will be there, as will Barry's latest girlfriend, Cindy
Lancaster. Lyle Hernden and Carrie Dunnington will be there, too."
I couldn't resist asking, "Do
you think there's any truth to the rumor that Carrie's really a guy and Lyle's
"Cathy, that's such an dumb
rumor . . ." Larry started to say, "I don't know how it got started, but I
think Lyle and Carrie have taken the right approach in not even dignifying it
with an answer. Personally, I don't care what the truth is. If there turns out
to be any truth to it at all, God knows that's their business and theirs alone. Lyle's going to go all the way to
the NBA and as long as the NBA and its fans are filled with homophobic jocks,
Lyle has every reason to stay in the closet if he's really gay, and that's all
I'm gonna say about it."
"I hadn't thought of that," I
admitted. "Either way, who cares . . . they make a nice couple and I wish them
the best of luck," I agreed.
Continuing, I asked, "Is
anyone else gonna be there?"
"A few others. Paul, Sam and
Lance are back in town for the summer, and they'll all be there. Scott, Brian,
Jan, Lynn and Kate gave me a tentative `yes'. Oh, and there's a couple of
eighth graders . . . Rick and Billy . . . who plan to join the GSA next year .
. . they'll be there, too."
With a noticeable tremor in
my voice, I asked what was really on my mind. "Will Debbie be there?"
"Tim invited her, and the
first thing she asked is if you'd be
there. She hasn't given us her answer yet, but why let that rule your life?"
Larry asked. "A lot of your friends will be there, too, and if she's there,
it's up to the two of you whether or not you choose to spend the time together
or not. You'll have a good time, regardless.
"Say `yes', please?"
"But there's so much going on
then, between finals, and AP tests, the prom, and Commencement . . ."
"You're going to the prom?"
Larry interrupted me.
"Well, no, certainly not in
my condition," I admitted.
"Cathy, quit making excuses.
Finals will be over by Memorial Day, and a day at the race won't get in the way
of the AP exams anyway. You need a
break. You need to come out of your shell."
Realizing there was no way
Larry was going to let me off the hook, I said, "OK, Larry. What's one day?"
"YES!" he shouted, causing me to practically drop the phone.
I had to laugh at his
enthusiasm, causing him to laugh in return. Larry was a great friend . . . my best friend.
Between finals and my AP
exams, there wasn't much time to think about the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
Before I knew it, I'd taken my last final and for all intents and purposes, I'd
finished high school and had only commencement to look forward to. I'd decided
to skip the Senior Dinner, so that would be it for my senior year.
WOW! It was finally starting
to hit me. I was eighteen and legally an adult, and soon I would be a mother.
The last vestige of my childhood was rapidly drawing to a close.
On the Friday before the
Memorial Day weekend, Larry called me and asked if I'd like to go to the parade
with him. This was a big deal. He was originally planning to take Tim, but at
the last minute Tim had to go to the funeral of an aunt up in Muncie. Had she
died a day later, Tim would have missed the race, too. Larry had grandstand
tickets, so we'd have seats, which was critical for me in my condition. The 500
Festival Parade, held the day before the race, was one of the most watched parades
on TV, up with the Tournament of Roses and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades,
so it was really an honor to be able to see it live. How could I say `no' to
such an offer?
Because of my situation, we
took advantage of a shuttle bus the city was running from Castleton Square Mall
to Downtown, avoiding the hassle of trying to find parking and then having to
walk for perhaps miles - something I could have never done. The bus let us off
less than a block from the grandstand, and in no time at all, we were seated.
There were portable potties nearby, and I wasn't embarrassed at all to say that
they were my salvation.
It was so cool to see all the
celebrities marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, which was covered with black and
white checkered carpeting to match the festivities of the race. When I saw what
the horses did to the carpet, I was glad I wasn't the one to have to wash all
that carpeting afterwards! Anyway, I knew our city wasn't all that dinky, but
we didn't often get so many celebrities at one time, you know? And at the end
of the parade, all of the racecar drivers who were going to be in the race rode
by atop pace cars, so everyone could see them in the flesh. You could see that
they were all real people . . . they might have famous names, but they looked
I was really glad I went to
the parade with Larry, and I thanked him for it when we got back to the mall. I
had the best time with him. We went for burgers and ice cream at Farrell's
afterwards, before he took me home. I knew Larry was someone who'd be a
The next day, Larry picked me
up in his parents' minivan. My heart skipped a beat when I saw that Debbie was
seated in the back with Tim. Larry opened the front passenger door and had me
sit up front with him, recognizing that I wouldn't want to sit with Debbie. In
the middle row were a couple of very cute, young African American boys whom I
"Cathy," Larry said, "I'd
like you to meet a couple of guys who will be joining the GSA next year when
they start ninth grade." As I turned around to shake hands with them, he
continued, "On your left is Billy and on your right is Rick."
Talk about contrasts! Billy
was your typical young teenage black boy - short-cropped, kinky black hair,
dark brown eyes, and muscular with broad shoulders in a black wife beater that
showed off his muscles nicely. He looked like he could easily be a football
player. Rick, on the other hand, had to be one of the most effeminate-looking
boys I'd ever met. He was fairly light-skinned and had long, shoulder-length
bleached auburn hair; he wore eye shadow, lip-gloss and clear nail polish on
his fingernails and toenails, which were visible in his sandals. Instead of a
shirt, he wore a sleeveless vest without any buttons that left his entire chest
and stomach exposed.
If he'd had any muscles, I
suppose the outfit might have looked sexy, but he just wasn't. Perhaps he
looked sexy to Billy, I surmised. In any case his handshake was far more limp
than even mine, and even his voice sounded effeminate. Our school had a
nondiscrimination policy and was more accepting than most, but we were in the Midwest, and I had a feeling
these boys were in for a rough time. I could only imagine what they must have
gone through in middle school.
When you got down to it, however,
Debbie was on the butch side, and I was very much the kind of girly girl that
all the boys tended to drool over, so I was definitely not the one to talk. We'd managed to divert suspicions until
our senior year, so maybe these boys had, too. And then maybe I was being
presumptuous to even assume they were a couple, so I let my curiosity get the
better of me and decided to ask.
"Please tell me if I'm being
too nosey, guys, but are you two a couple?" I asked.
Billy giggled - he actually
giggled, and said, "Everyone at our middle school knows about us. Well, with
Rick being the way he is, it's pretty hard to hide it."
"You tried to," Rick countered.
"Yeah, I was a real jerk at
first," Billy admitted with a sigh. "I mean, we grew up next door to each
other, and Rick was always getting picked on by the other kids. At first I just
wanted to be like the other guys and I picked on him, too, but when I saw him
crying, I couldn't do it any more. I was a lot bigger than he was, and I felt
like I had to protect him. He was just this sweet, innocent, kind boy who was a
lot of fun to be around. We became best friends.
"When we got to fifth grade
and we turned eleven, things started to change again. Other boys were starting
to talk about girls. I didn't exactly understand what was going on, but I liked
Rick like he was more than my best friend, and it was scaring the crap outta
me. But above all else, Rick was still my best friend, so when Jason Wilkins
called him a faggot, I beat the living shit out of him. I got a week's worth of
detention for that stunt, but I wasn't sorry . . . not one bit."
"I was," Rick said in his
gentle voice, taking over the story. "I knew down deep that it was true, and I
felt horrible that after all those years, Billy was still having to fight my battles for me.
"So that afternoon after
school, I went next door to his house. His mother was so pissed that he'd
gotten into yet another fight and I begged her not to blame him, but to blame
me instead. I told her it wasn't his fault . . . that I deserved to be called a faggot, because I was one. And you know what Billy said? He said that . . ."
"I said that he shouldn't
call himself that," Billy interrupted, "because that meant he was calling me
one, too, and then I told him I loved him, right there in front of my mom."
"I can't begin to imagine doing that at eleven," I interjected.
"Actually, my mom was pretty
cool about the whole thing," Billy said. "She told us she'd figured for a while
that we might be gay, and even had some literature from PFLAG, so she was
prepared . . . she just wasn't expecting us to come out so young, but all of
our parents were really supportive. So when I went back to school, knowing we
had our parents' support, Rick and I decided to come out as boyfriends . . . in
the fifth grade."
"And you've been out, all
through middle school?" I asked.
"Not that everyone's been
accepting or anything," Billy answered, "but everyone knows we're not the least
bit apologetic about who or what we are, and everyone knows that not only can I
kick anyone's butt if I'm attacked,
but that no one will attack my Ricky
and live to see another day."
"I still hate it that you
have to protect me," Rick sighed.
"I know that," Billy said as
he squeezed his boyfriend's shoulder, "which is why I've been teaching you
self-defense, and in a perfect world, I wouldn't have to, but we don't live in
a perfect world. I hear things will be better in high school and much better in college," he said with a
By now we were stuck in
bumper-to-bumper traffic and were barely crawling our way to the Speedway, but
this was to be expected on the morning of the day of the race. It would likely
be another hour before we got to our seats at least, which would still leave us
an hour to spare before the one o'clock start time. Larry's company was
supposedly providing lunch, so at least that wouldn't be a problem.
Spending another hour in a
minivan with Debbie, on the other hand, would be especially difficult, as I was
running out of things to say to my new acquaintances. I was also coming to
realize that if we didn't arrive soon, I might end up peeing in my pants.
As if he were reading my
mind, Larry asked, "How's your bladder holding up, Cathy?"
"Not great," I admitted.
"If we have to, we can drive
on the shoulder and exit at 38th street," he suggested.
"I think I can make it until
we get there, but I'll have to make a beeline for the restrooms as soon as we
"Fair enough," Larry agreed.
Our progress in the traffic
was agonizingly slow, and Larry and I passed the time by discussing our plans
for the future, such as they were. Unfortunately, my plans were pretty much on
hold since my due date was in September, just after the beginning of the fall
semester at most universities. There was no way I could begin college under the
circumstances, not knowing when I'd need to take off to deliver my child.
Before I became pregnant, I'd
applied to several architecture schools and been accepted by some of the top
schools in the nation. I'd since decided that architecture was pretty much out
of the question. The architecture curriculum was known to be one of the most
grueling and, as a career, architecture was not known to be one that was
particularly amenable to the `mommy track'. Perhaps with Debbie in my life,
with her studying Interior Design, we could have found a way to build up our
own business, but that certainly wasn't going to happen now, but I couldn't
tell Larry that at the moment.
What I told Larry was that I
planned to start school locally in January. There was a small private
university nearby that offered a varied curriculum that suited me well. I
wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do now, and this way I could go a number
of different ways, ranging from social work to engineering to education. I'd
already been accepted, and I had the option of living on campus and taking
advantage of available daycare, or living with my parents at home. It would be
an ideal fit.
Larry and Tim were both going
to Northwestern University in Evanston, just north of Chicago. They
had their sights set on getting MBA's, but were starting to get worried about
the future, given the current economic climate. I told them that I thought just
about everyone in our class was worried about the future, given the state of
I was sure glad when we
arrived at the Speedway, and as soon as we arrived, I headed straight for the
restrooms. There was a very long line at the ladies room, as there always
seemed to be, and I sure as hell couldn't wait. Desperate times demanded
desperate measures, so I stood outside the men's room and shouted as loudly as
I could, "I'm a pregnant woman and I can't wait in line any longer. This is
your two-minute warning. Two minutes, and I'm coming in!" This was followed by
a whole symphony of flushes, and then a bunch of men exited the men's room. It
was funny, but a whole bunch of women followed me inside. I guess I wasn't the
only woman who was desperate!
When I got to the corporate
box where our seats were reserved, there was one seat being held for me - next
to Debbie. It was a great seat, right in the front row of the box, but the last thing I wanted to do was sit next
to Debbie right then, and yet I knew somehow that I needed to.
"Cathy," she said, "if you
don't want to sit next to me, I'll trade with someone else, but I hope you'll
let me stay. It's been a long time since we've talked and I really think we
need to. We've a lot of catching up to do and I'll only be in town for the
summer, then off to school in Providence and maybe we won't see each other
Hearing Debbie say that hit
me like a ton of bricks. She was always going to study Interior Design, and the
Rhode Island School of Design was always near the top of her list of places to
go to school. We'd always worried that she might end up there and I might end
up in an architecture school nowhere near there, and we might face being
separated for as long as five years. Hearing that she was going to Providence
made it seem so final. I wasn't going
to let this last opportunity pass by for us to talk.
"You're right, Debbie, it's
been far too long . . . and we've a lot to talk about. . . . So I take it you
got into RISD?" I asked.
"Yeah. I know I should be
excited . . . it's what I always wanted, but without you studying architecture
alongside me, it won't be the same. I'm not even sure what I really want anymore. Sometimes I feel like I'm just going
through the motions, you know? Somehow, my heart's not in it like it was when .
. . I'd already applied to these art schools before we parted ways and I'm just kind of following through with
it," she said.
Looking her squarely in the
eyes, I said, "Debbie, I can't tell you what to do, but if it's still your
dream, you should still follow it." I patted my stomach with a smile, "I'm in
no position to pursue architecture anymore, but if art and interior design was
your passion when we were together, then there's no reason it shouldn't be your
passion, now. Your passions and your dreams shouldn't be dependent on any other
person . . . not even on the love of your life. If you don't truly love your
work when your love is gone, then how can you be sure you would love it in the
long run, for better or for worse and all?"
"That's a very interesting
perspective," Debbie admitted, seemingly lost in thought. "It's a lot to think
"If you love art, pursue that
dream," I continued, "with or without the person you love. If you're not in
love with your professional choice, then pursue something else."
"Please don't take this the
wrong way, Cathy, but I'm beginning to remember why I fell in love with you."
Wow, this was awkward, but I
knew exactly what she meant, because
I was feeling it too. She was still very much the Debbie I fell in love with
nearly five years ago.
"So when is the baby due?"
she asked. Well that sure broke the mood!
"September, not long after
school would've begun for me."
"Would have begun?" she
"Yeah." I then explained as I
had to Larry how I was postponing my education until January, and how I'd be
attending a local college, and changing my course of study.
"You know," Debbie said, "it
really sounds like you've got your act together. You may not know what you want
to do now, yet you've chosen a smart course of action . . . a mature course of action."
"I don't know . . .," I
answered. "Getting myself knocked up was definitely the dumbest thing I've ever
done. Or maybe the second dumbest. Leaving you was probably the dumbest, but I
felt so trapped in that tiny apartment, and I just couldn't make it without my
parents back then."
"And what about now?" Debbie
"Now . . . I don't know," I
admitted. "So much has happened, I don't know if I can ever go back to the way
things were. I've changed . . . this little guy inside me has seen to that. I
guess it's the hormones. I'm just not the same person I was back in November."
"Sadly, I'd have to say the
same thing about myself," Debbie agreed. I could've cried to hear that, but it
was true in both our cases. Although I'd thought that she was still very much
the Debbie I fell in love with, our break-up had changed us. We really weren't
the same people anymore, and reclaiming our lost relationship just wasn't
possible, even if we wanted to. Our lives had carried on.
Just then, Larry came around
and took our lunch orders, and a short while later, Debbie had a box lunch with
a roast beef and Swiss sandwich on sour dough and I had a humongous Chef's
Shortly after we'd started
eating, it was time for the race to start. With much fanfare, a bunch of pace
cars drove out onto the racetrack. At just after one o'clock, the famous words
were spoken, "Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!" The sound was
deafening. A lone pace car inched forward, followed by all the racecars as they
made their way around the racetrack. Soon, the pace car had pulled in and, with
the wave of the green flag, the race was on!
To make things more
interesting, Larry passed around a baseball hat with the names of all
thirty-three racecar drivers in it, and we drew names so that we could all have
someone to root for. That was better than choosing the names ourselves - it was
random and we all had an equal chance of picking an Andretti, or picking a
total rookie. The driver I picked was someone I'd never heard of before, but
Larry assured me he was a veteran driver who'd actually won the Grand Prix. Go
Ours weren't the best seats
in the house - the top celebrities, VIP's and corporate sponsors had the best
views, with seats between turn four and the finish line, where most of the
last-minute passing took place, but we were still in the grandstand and the
view was absolutely great. Across the way, inside the racetrack, you could see
all the people crammed into the infield who didn't even have seats. Yeah, we were watching the race in style.
Typically, the race would last
a little over two hours, assuming it didn't rain, and God willing that there
weren't any major accidents resulting in the race being stopped. Thanks to
modern technology, fatalities were rare, but serious injuries did happen from
time-to-time and I prayed we wouldn't see one this year.
It would have been a lie to
say that conversation wasn't strained between Debbie and me, but we managed to
have a decent time of it in spite of our tension, and we caught up on a lot of
what had been going on in our lives in the few months since our break-up. I
think we both came to realize that, at least to some degree, we were still a
little in love with each other, and that her going away to school would be hard
on both of us.
During the race I noticed
that both Billy and Rick had taken their shirts off and they had their arms
around each other and were cuddling together. How did they do that? Didn't they realize they were out in public? Didn't they
realize this was the Midwest . . . the Bible Belt? Did they have a death wish
or something? Were they really that comfortable with themselves that they were
willing to take a chance on flaunting their sexuality out in public? Obviously
the answer to all of the above was that they were, but they did have a couple
of things in their favor - even I had to admit that Billy was drop-dead
gorgeous, and for a fourteen-year-old, he had muscles that would intimidate
anyone. It was so obvious they were in love . . . every bit as much as Debbie
and I once were.
Partway through the race, Altaf
came up to us and handed us each an envelope. Smiling, he said, "I know this
will be particularly difficult for you, Cathy, but Randy and I would like both
of you to come to our wedding."
"You're getting married?" I asked.
"Well, it is no secret that
we have been engaged since last September, and we had always planned to get
married as soon as we finished high school. The only question was as to where
to tie the knot. Ever since we were both accepted to Yale, and since gay
marriage became legal in Connecticut, we pretty much have been planning on
getting married there. The big question had been a matter of timing.
"We would like to go on a
honeymoon before starting school, but classes start right after my eighteenth
birthday. Ammi has to sign off on the license if I marry before my birthday,
and she is more than happy to do that. She loves Randy . . . he is like another son to her. We also know how difficult it would
be for our friends to attend if the wedding is too close to the start of
school. Everyone, it seems, is going
to be around for the Fourth of July, so we have decided to charter a plane and
fly everyone out to New Haven for the wedding, over the Fourth of July
"You chartered a whole
airplane?" I asked incredulously.
"Well of course," Altaf
replied, "and we have booked a block of rooms in town at the Omni Hotel, at our
expense, of course. It is traditional for the `bride's family' to pay for the
whole thing, but these days, most families split the costs. Randy would have
picked up the whole cost but abbu . . ." Altaf started to tear up at this
point, "my father . . . he left money for ammi, my sister's family and I in a
Swiss bank account, just before he died. There is more than enough for my
wedding, and for my education. Of course I would give all of that up if he
could be here to see Randy and I take our vows."
It was evident how much Altaf
loved and missed his father.
"As important as that event
is in your life, Altaf, I'll be sure to be there," Debbie said. "I wouldn't
miss it for anything."
"There's always the
possibility I may have to cancel due to the pregnancy," I warned, "but I'll be
there, too," I added.
"That is wonderful, Cathy,"
Altaf said as he clasped his hands together. "I will make sure you get a seat
up front, in first class along with the family, so that you have more room to
stretch out in your condition. You will also be closer to the lavatory, and I
know how important that is."
Turning to Debbie, and then
back to me, he said, "I have a favor to ask of the two of you, however, and do
not hesitate to say `no' if you cannot do it, but there are only so many rooms
and only so many women attending. . . . Would the two of you be willing to
share a room?"
What a loaded question!
Beyond a doubt, I still loved Debbie . . . very much . . . and although I
couldn't put a voice to the words, dare I share a room with her? Might we do
something intimate . . . and later regret it? Did she, on the other hand, feel
the same way about me? I'd be seven months pregnant, so it was doubtful we even could do anything intimate if we wanted to, and I certainly would be
anything but sexy, and I could probably use a little help at that point from an
understanding friend. The last thing I wanted was to be in a room by myself for
the weekend. If nothing else, Debbie was a good friend. She had always been a good friend and it had
been wrong of me to shut her out for the past half-year. The afternoon at the
race had only proven just how much I'd missed her friendship even more than her
Turning to my former lover, I
said, "Debbie, I'm willing if you are. I'll be seven months pregnant, so it's
not like anything's going to happen anyway."
Giggling, Debbie answered, "I
just got this vision of the two of us really going at it with your pregnant
belly in the middle. How romantic . . . NOT. It'll be a great time for us to do
what we should have done long ago, which is talk."
"I couldn't agree more," I
"Then it is settled." Altaf
beamed with that wonderful, warm smile that I think we both found so endearing.
As he walked away, I said,
"Randy is so lucky to have found him . . . he's such a kind boy."
"They're both lucky to have found each other," Debbie agreed.
"A Muslim and a Jew . . . who
would have ever thought it possible?" I continued.
"Love knows no boundaries,"
Debbie added, and she was right.
The race droned on as we all
got a little sunburned in spite of the sun block we'd all applied. Actually, I
was surprised at how exciting it was. I was expecting it to be boring as cars
merely went around the racetrack, but there was a constant shuffling back and
forth among the top spots as drivers tried and sometimes succeeded in
overtaking each other, and sometimes failed. Sometimes there were accidents and
cars hit the retaining wall, sending car parts flying, causing a temporary
interruption in the action . . . usually just in the form of a yellow flag as
debris was cleaned up.
My driver was eliminated
about three-quarters of the way through. There was a lot of smoke coming from
his car when he went into the pits. Oh well . . .
Before I knew it, the race
was over and the winner was drinking the celebratory glass of milk. The time
had gone so fast, and I'd had a blast! I hadn't even had time for a potty
It took forever to make our way out of the grandstand, and when we reached
the restrooms, even the men's rooms had long lines. Sensing my predicament,
Larry went up to the head of the line at the ladies' restroom and shouted, "I
have a pregnant woman, here. Could someone please let her cut in line?"
A sympathetic woman who'd
obviously been there, let me cut in front of her while several people behind
her gave us dirty looks. `Just wait 'til they're in my shoes,' I thought to
It seemed to take as long to
get home as to run the race! This time, I sat in back, with Debbie. It was . .
Commencement took place later
that week at the State Fair Grounds in the Coliseum - an ancient behemoth of a
yellow brick structure that looked like it was built around the turn of the last century. With a thousand of us in
our class, it took forever for us to
march across the stage and receive the blank sheet of paper they gave us in
place of our diplomas.
A lot of the students still
had the Senior Dinner to look forward to, but since Debbie and I had split up, I'd
long ago let the deadline pass to purchase tickets. For me, this was it - the
end of my senior year and the end of high school. My parents took me out to
dinner afterwards at the top of the AUL building downtown with its spectacular
views of the city. For a short while, we managed put our differences aside.
By the time the Fourth of
July weekend rolled around, I was no longer just a `little bit pregnant' or
barely beginning to show. In fact, I looked like I was ready to deliver any
time now. I couldn't believe I still had two months to go! I wanted this
pregnancy over with, and now!
One thing was certain; I was
sure looking forward to Randy and Altaf's wedding. Debbie's parents were kind
enough to take us to the airport, which was brand new, having just opened last
December. Yeah, after decades of adding on and adding on until you couldn't
find your way from one airline to the next, they finally decided to scrap the
old airport and start over. With two million people, we needed a new airport. This was my first
time seeing the new terminal. It was sleek and modern, and a lot more compact
than the old one.
It turned out once we got
there, however, that we had to go to a whole different building anyway because
we were taking a charter. Go figure! So we packed back up and went where we
were told. I thought we'd probably be taking one of those tiny regional jets,
but it ended up we were taking a 767, which is a big airplane. Just about
everyone I knew from school was going to be on that plane - it was really
amazing - Randy and Altaf had so many friends.
It wasn't long before
everyone had arrived and the charter company had us loaded on board and ready
to take off. Apparently there was a time constraint - although most of Randy
and Altaf's family were not very religious, a few were traditional when it came
to not riding in any sort of motorized vehicle on the Sabbath. For them we had
to allow for any possible flight delays and have them at the hotel before
sunset. Because it was not long after the summer solstice, we had quite a bit
of leeway, but we needed to be in the air by six PM to be certain. We were
airborne by 4:30, leaving us plenty of time to spare.
As promised, Randy and Altaf
had arranged for a seat up front for me in first class, right up with his and
Randy's family members. They let Debbie sit up front with me, too. It was . . .
nice. I hadn't realized that Altaf's mother is a pediatric nurse. She sat
across the aisle from me. She's very well educated and it was reassuring to
have her right there, in case something went wrong with the baby. Of course
Randy's father was a cardiothoracic surgeon, but somehow having a nurse right
next to me was even more comforting.
After we landed we were all
loaded onto a series of buses and taken to the Omni Hotel. Randy and Altaf
really went all out in making sure everyone felt welcome and that we didn't
feel like we were on some sort of large tour or something. Our keycards were
delivered to us on the bus on the way to the hotel, so we didn't have to wait
in any lines or anything and we were able to go straight to our rooms. That was
a really nice touch - I didn't know they could do that. They even arranged for
our luggage to be delivered directly to our rooms, too.
When Cathy and I got to our
room, there was a basket of fruit waiting, along with a printed itinerary and a
map of the hotel facilities, explaining where all events would be taking place.
That evening there would be a brief combined Muslim and Jewish prayer service
for all who wished to attend, followed by a rehearsal dinner for all the
wedding guests. Being a bit curious, we decided to attend the prayer service
after we had freshened up. As the itinerary explained, although traditional
Muslim and Jewish services require men and women to pray separately, both the
imam and the rabbi had agreed to abide by Randy and Altaf's wishes that men and
women be treated as equals and be allowed to pray together. There was, after
all, little tradition to dictate what was proper for a gay wedding.
We went down at 8:00 and were
surprised to find that most of our friends were there, too. I guess we weren't
the only ones who were curious. The service was held in a large room with
chairs - I knew that Muslims prayed standing or kneeling on a floor on prayer
mats, so I assumed the chairs were a nod to Judeo-Christian traditions. Up
front there was a large podium surrounded with numerous religious artifacts . .
. and not a cross in sight. I recognized the arc of the covenant, with several
scrolls of the sacred Hebrew Torah inside. I also saw a similar structure with
ornate gold Arabic writing on it that I surmised to be the Muslim equivalent,
perhaps housing sacred Islamic texts - perhaps the Quran.
Looking around the room, I
couldn't help but think about the absurdity of the situation. Turning to
Debbie, I said, "Here we all are, having flown in from the conservative Midwest
to attend a gay wedding. Why is it that Randy and Altaf have to marry here?
It's just so wrong that they can't
marry back in our home state."
"It won't be this way
forever, Cathy," responded David Reynolds, who was sitting behind us. "Mark my
words, but it will change if I have
anything to do with it. Some day I'm going to be the governor of our state.
It'll be tough as a gay man getting elected, I know, but if anyone can shift
the focus off my being gay and onto the issues,
I'm the one who can."
"You want to be the governor?" Jeremy, his boyfriend, asked. "In our state?"
"Yeah, I've been thinking
about what Paul said over Spring Break," David answered. "Why not start as
governor. Hey, I got elected Class President twice . . . yeah, I could be
"You sound serious about
going into politics," Debbie commented.
"Oh, he's serious alright,"
Jeremy agreed. "You know, we're doing internships at the White House this
summer. That's why we weren't on the flight with you guys. We took the train up
from D.C. this afternoon."*
"Yeah, and we're serving as
pages in the Senate," Kurt DeWitt, who was sitting next to Jeremy, said.
Kurt's boyfriend, Trevor
Austin, added, "Kinda sucks that we're missing all the Fourth of July
festivities in Washington this weekend but, man, I wouldn't miss this wedding
for anything." I could tell by the looks on all four boys' faces how sincerely
they felt about being there.
Jeremy practically teared up,
however, as he continued, "I just don't like the other thing Paul said."
"Paul Levine?" I asked.
Shaking his head, "Paul Manning, Trevor's foster brother's best
friend," Jeremy clarified. "He has Down's Syndrome and who knows, but he had a
pretty wild premonition during our trip to Washington during the Spring Break.
Out of the blue, he said . . ." Jeremy started to weep, "he said David would be
buried in Arlington Cemetery."
"Just because Paul had this
premonition," David countered, putting his arm around Jeremy, "doesn't mean
it's gonna happen. And besides, that's way in the future. A lot could happen before then. Didn't he imply we'd be together
all that time? That's way longer than most couples are together."
"I guess you're right," Jeremy
said, just before planting a quick peck on David's lips. There was another gay
couple that was incredibly tight. Randy and Altaf, Larry and Tim, David and
Jeremy, and even Paul Levine and Sam Arnold had decided to transfer to the
University of Rochester after spending the past year apart, as they'd been
miserable in their separation. I wondered if Debbie and I could ever get back
to what we'd once had - different, more mature, but together.
Two men presided jointly over
the prayer service, an imam and a rabbi. The service was in Hebrew, Arabic and
English, and the imam and rabbi took the time to explain the significance of
each part of the service so that we could understand the similarities and the
differences. They explained the significance of facing east while praying,
toward Mecca for Muslims and toward Jerusalem for Jews. Many parts of the
service were identical, for example, the lighting of candles and the blessing.
Then there was the blessing and the drinking of the wine - a sacred act in the Jewish
faith, much as it is a sacrament in Christianity, but a sin in Islam.
The most important theme,
however, was the constant talk of the one god . . . be his name Allah or Adonai
. . . they are one and the same. I liked that. Sometimes that message gets lost
in all the rhetoric. Sometimes the message gets subverted, or even turned
around and misused.
Toward the end of the
service, the imam and the rabbi called Randy and Altaf up to the pulpit to
bless them and their union. Imagine that . . . a Muslim imam and a Jewish rabbi
blessing a gay marriage between a Muslim boy and a Jewish boy. I cried . . . I
couldn't help it. Debbie did, too. Had this been a purely Muslim marriage, the
wedding itself would have been held this night, but in Judaism, the wedding could
not be held on the Jewish Sabbath, which began at sundown and would not end
until sundown tomorrow. Hence, a blessing was given this night, and the wedding
itself would take place on Sunday.
Dinner was held in another
large room nearby. It was excellent! I couldn't believe this was just the rehearsal dinner - it was a four-course
meal, with a Caesar salad, corn chowder, a smoked whitefish appetizer, and
salmon main course.
After the dinner, there was a
traditional `Oneg Shabbat' . . . a welcome reception for the Sabbath, with
drinks and desserts, and that was on top of all the food we'd already had for
dinner. Of course, I skipped the alcohol, even though I was well past the point
of doing any major harm to my baby . . . I just wasn't going to take any chances.
Debbie and I went to bed, absolutely stuffed. The room had two double beds. We
looked at each other longingly for a minute after we undressed, and then each
got into our own separate beds.
In the morning, there was a
traditional morning Muslim prayer service, followed by a brunch for all the
wedding guests, and then a Jewish Sabbath prayer service for all who wished to
attend. Debbie and I had ordered a wakeup call in time for the Muslim service,
but when the call came, we both agreed that we were too tired, and still too
full to attend. We asked for another wakeup call and barely made it in time to
eat. We were far from the only ones to arrive late for brunch. Needless to say,
we didn't make the Jewish prayer service, either, as we were still eating when
Guests were free to partake
of the hotel amenities for the afternoon, including the extensive health club,
or to explore the area. There was a nice shopping boutique nearby and Debbie
and I decided to spend the afternoon there as well as exploring downtown New
Haven with some of our friends.
That evening there was a
traditional Fourth of July picnic, held in a nearby park along the waterfront.
The food consisted of barbecued chicken, hamburgers and all beef hot dogs.
Afterwards, there was a traditional end-of-Sabbath Havdalah service at sunset,
which was kind of nice, and then we all watched the spectacular fireworks,
which were put on by the city of New Haven.
The next morning there was a
traditional Sunday brunch, followed by a non-denominational church service that
Debbie and I both attended. Then it was time for the wedding itself, which was
held in the largest conference room on the top floor, with large windows
overlooking the entire city. The light streaming in almost gave the feel of an
outdoor wedding. Chairs were set up on both sides of the aisle, and in front
was a large white canopy - the traditional Jewish wedding adornment. The imam
and rabbi were both present, but Randy and Altaf were nowhere to be seen.
Indeed, it dawned on me that I hadn't seen them at the brunch, either.
At the appointed moment,
Randy entered, wearing a white tuxedo . . . he looked so handsome . . . and
walked down the aisle on his mother's arm. When he was standing at the front,
facing the imam, a white veil was dropped down behind him, hiding him from
view. Next Altaf entered the room from the back. He was also wearing a white
tuxedo and he was just as handsome as he walked down the aisle on his mother's
arm. When he was facing the rabbi, the veil was moved around so that it
separated Randy and Altaf from each other so they could not see each other, but
so that we could all see both of them.
It was the imam who spoke
first. "Marriage is one of the most sacred of acts. It was one of God's first
commandments when he spoke to Moses, the first prophet, on Mount Sinai."
The rabbi then added, "and
the great rabbi Hillel reduced all of the commandments of the Torah down to
these three . . . the study of Torah, marriage, and the doing of good deeds.
When you hear the vows these young men have chosen, you will understand how
much they embody that which Hillel taught."
"Many times I have
participated in the marriage of a Muslim to someone outside the faith," the
imam continued, "but this is the first time I have been asked to wed a Muslim
to a Jew. As you will witness from this ceremony, there are far more
similarities than there are differences between our peoples, and I welcome such
a union, but never in my lifetime did I expect to be asked to perform a union
between two men.
"As you probably know, the
Quran is not equivocal when it comes to homosexuality. The interpretation of
Islam's intent, however, has come under recent scrutiny, much as has been the
case in Judaism and Christianity. The scientific community is certainly not
equivocal when it comes to whether or not homosexuality is a choice. Although
many still choose to be critical of what they do not understand, how can anyone
turn their backs on love when it manifests itself in a form so pure as it does
The rabbi then continued
with, "This is a set of firsts for me, too . . . the first interfaith marriage
involving a Muslim and a Jew, and the first gay marriage. At first I was
skeptical when contacted by Randy, and I insisted on meeting with both the partners
before I would agree to participate in the ceremony, particularly between two
who are so young . . . but they insisted on meeting me as well, before agreeing
to engage my services. My initial concerns vanished the moment I met them. The
love they share is as clear as any I have seen on the faces of other couples I
"The elements of the wedding
ceremony you witness today should be familiar to all here. They are derived
from the ancient Hebrew wedding ceremony and have been adapted over the years
by modern Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. The rings that will be exchanged
here today are a symbol as old as marriage itself. The traditional wedding vows
are as old as the Jewish people. The marriage contract, or Ketubah, which Randy
and Altaf signed last night and which is on display in the lobby for all to
see, likewise dates back to the very beginnings of the practice of marriage."
"The veil you see," the imam
interjected, "is unique to Islamic traditions, and an adaptation of Buddhist
and Hindu customs, but it is in many ways in keeping with the ancient custom of
not allowing the groom to see the bride on the wedding day. Here, the veil
serves to keep Randy and Altaf from seeing each other until they have both accepted each other as their lifelong
"Three complete sets of vows
will be avowed today," the rabbi continued to explain. "One complete
traditional set in Hebrew, one in Urdu, and a final set written by each groom
in English. During the reciting of the vows, the respective groom will place a
gold ring on the other's middle finger through a hole in the veil and then after the vows are complete, the
ring will be slipped onto the ring finger where, God willing, it will remain
for all eternity."
"After the vows have been
taken," the imam said, "I will ask one last time in Urdu if each groom takes
the other to be his husband and only then will the veil be removed."
"Finally," the rabbi said,
"they will each take a sip of wine from a glass and then break the glass so
that no lips can ever drink from the same glass again."
I really liked the way the
imam and the rabbi were taking the time to explain everything. It made
everything so much more meaningful. When they were ready, Randy's cute
pre-teenage brother, serving as the ring bearer, stepped forward. He offered a
ring to his brother, and then one to Altaf.
It was interesting to hear
the Hebrew and Urdu wedding vows spoken, even though I didn't know what they
meant, but it was their personal vows that were just so touching. It really
choked me up when Randy said, "Altaf, when we first met, I knew you were a
Muslim, but that didn't matter to me. We met, and I knew you were someone
special. As I got to know you, I knew we would be lifelong friends, but when
you told me your story, I fell in love with you.
"I know I am not your first
love, and there will always be room in your heart for Fareed, too. We cannot do
anything about what was, but you and I together can do something about what
will be, and so I vow to love, honor and cherish you so long as I draw breath,
and to open a place in my heart for all gay children in need, and with your
help, we will make a home for as many of them as we are able. That is the gift
that Fareed has given you and me."
After sliding a gold ring
onto Randy's middle finger, Altaf recited his vows . . . first the traditional
Urdu wedding vows, and then the traditional Hebrew vows, and then those he had
written for the occasion in English. "Randy, when we first met, I did not know
you were a Jew, and when I found out, at first I was afraid, but then I decided
to give our friendship a chance. It was the best decision I ever made. I
learned that the imam in my village was very wrong when it came to his
knowledge of Jews, and that hatred has no place in my heart. I, too, fell in
love with you, even as I have always loved Fareed. I vow to love, honor, and
cherish you so long as I draw breath, and to open a place in my heart for all
gay children in need, and with your help, we will make a home for as many as we
are able. That is the gift that Fareed has given us . . . the gift we will
share for the rest of our lives."
After Randy had slid a gold
ring onto Altaf's middle finger, the imam asked each of them in Urdu in words I
didn't understand what I surmised to be the question of whether they chose to
take each other to be their husband, and each answered, "Qubool Hai."
As the veils were quickly
removed, Altaf's mother shouted out, "Everyone, repeat after me, `Mubaarak ho,
niqah qubool hai'." She said it again very slowly as we attempted to muddle
through it, and then repeated it in English, so we could all understand,
"Congratulations, the vows have been accepted!"
Randy and Altaf then each moved their husband's rings to the ring finger,
took a sip of wine, and took turns stomping on the glass as there were
shouts of "Mazel Tov!" from the guests.
The wedding reception started
with a meal that made the rehearsal dinner seem like it was catered by Burger
King. I was pretty full by the time we got to the third course, but there were
six more. I wasn't sure how any of us had the energy to get up and dance when
the music started, but dance we did. I danced with Larry, I danced with Tim, I
danced with Trevor and Kurt, and of course I danced with Randy and with Altaf.
Finally, I got up the courage to dance with Debbie. It was a slow dance and as
I held her in my arms, it just felt so right. All the months just melted away
and I suddenly realized what a fool I'd been, and I started to cry.
Debbie pulled away and looked
at me, and asked, "What's wrong, honey?"
`Honey' . . . how I loved that
"It's not what's wrong," I
answered, "it's what's right."
Suddenly, someone behind me
practically shouted, "Cathy, what's that on your dress?"
Debbie looked down at me and
said, "Oh my God! Cathy, you're bleeding!"
I looked down and saw that,
not only was my dress stained with blood, but there was blood running down my
legs and pooling at my feet. It was then that I realized I felt light-headed.
Debbie helped me into a chair
nearby and before I even knew what was happening, Altaf's mother was by my
side, checking my pulse and having me drink water. Turning to her son, she
asked, "How close are we to the medical center?"
"It's only about three blocks
away," he answered.
"We need to get her there,
now. She almost certainly has a placental abruption. We don't have time to call
an ambulance," his mother explained.
"I understand. I know exactly
where to take her," Altaf assured his mother. "I'll drive."
"You can't leave your own
wedding," I protested.
"It could make the difference
between life and death for your baby . . . and maybe even for you. I chose to
go into Medicine. This is one of those times when the patient's life comes
before my own," Altaf said with a reassuring smile. What a wonderful doctor
he'd make some day.
When we arrived at Emergency,
they took one look at me and wheeled me straight back while Debbie took care of
having me checked in. I was literally feeling fainter by the second. They asked
me if I'd had anything to eat recently and I laughed . . . just the way I was
dressed should have been a dead giveaway.
They took me straight to an
operating room and got me ready for surgery. The anesthesiologist told me I
couldn't have general anesthesia because of my full stomach, and there wasn't
time for an epidural, so the only choice was a spinal block and, man, did that
hurt. It also left me feeling dead from the navel down. They also got an IV in
me and started giving me a blood transfusion, which made me feel a lot better. However, I didn't like it
when they stuck a tube into my nose, making me swallow it down my throat and
into my stomach . . . I didn't like it one bit.
Finally, Debbie came in - she
looked so cute in a hospital gown, cap and mask. I was so relieved to see her. At least I wouldn't have to go through this
alone. I realized then and there just how much I needed her . . . how much I loved her.
There were lots of people in
the room . . . I wasn't quite sure who all of them were . . . some of them were
probably even medical students, but I was just glad I had a team of experts trying
to save my baby's life. One young man, who looked like he couldn't be more than
twenty-five, said, "Fetal heart rate's down to eighty. We gotta get this kid
The anesthesiologist, who
looked to be about as young, said, "I'm ready on my end."
One of the guys in what I
took to be surgical scrubs, with a heavy gown, thick gloves and a plastic face
shield said, "Alright, then, let's do it."
I heard him calling out for
each instrument as he needed it - scalpel, suction, suture, cautery . . . man,
smelling my own flesh being cooked was weird . . . almost nauseating, but
nothing prepared me for the sound and smell of my own body fluids gushing out
when they entered my womb. Debbie smiled at me as I caught a glimpse of them
carrying a small pink bundle over to a separate area to work on my baby, while
the primary team continued to work on me.
I got excited as I heard a
tiny cry. There was actually a cheer from the team of doctors and nurses in
that corner. Someone shouted out, "Apgars are great for a 32 week preemie. The
kid's gonna make it!"
In the meantime, the surgeon
and anesthesiologist working on me were still going at it furiously. Something
didn't seem right. Finally, the surgeon, or gynecologist, I guess, said,
"Cathy, sometimes in cases like these, we just can't control the bleeding.
We've tried using medications and we've tried scraping out all remaining fetal
remnants from your uterus, and you're still bleeding like crazy. We can't just
keep transfusing you forever. Cathy, I'm afraid we're left with only one
choice. It's not a very good choice, but if we don't remove your uterus, you'll
bleed to death."
Tears came to my eyes as I
realized what he was telling me. I'd never be able to have another child, but
if I didn't have a hysterectomy, my new baby would grow up without a
mother. I looked at Debbie, she
had a slight smile.
"Cathy, there's a lot of kids
being born today that won't have their moms . . . don't let that happen to this
little guy. " Debbie squeezed my hand and touched my cheek with her other hand.
Right at the right time, she knew what I needed to hear.
There really wasn't a choice
"Go ahead doc," I said. "Do
what you have to do so I can live and be a mother to my child."
"I'm sorry," he agreed. "I'll
leave your ovaries in for the time being . . . you're far too young to go
through menopause. They can always be removed later to reduce your risk of
cancer if you wish."
Debbie continued to hold my
hand tightly throughout the procedure. The surgeon asked her to leave, but she
said in no uncertain terms that she wouldn't, and that was that. An hour later,
I was sewn up and on my way to recovery.
It was late in the evening by
the time they took me to my room, and it was already filled with flowers and
balloons - I couldn't believe it. "You sure have a lot of folks who love you,"
the nurse said as she and the orderlies helped me scoot over onto the bed.
I wasn't in my bed but two
minutes before Randy and Altaf stopped by to see how I was doing. "Aren't you
guys supposed to have left on your honeymoon?" I asked.
"We couldn't leave until we
were sure you and the baby are alright," Randy explained. "In fact, the
chartered flight back home was only half full. All our friends wanted to stay
to be sure you're OK. The hotel had to scramble to make sure they had enough
rooms for everyone who wanted to stay, but they were very accommodating under
the circumstances. I imagine a lot of our friends will be stopping by in the
I was really touched. I knew
that anyone staying over was doing so at their own expense. Somehow, I'd have
to make it up to them.
After the newlyweds left,
Debbie got a serious look on her face as she sat in the chair next to me; she
took hold of my hand and then started to tear up as her look was replaced with
one of determination. She said, "Cathy, today . . . we nearly lost you. Maybe
we've both made some mistakes in the last few months, but I'd like to think we
can put that chapter of our lives behind us. I think you know that I've never
stopped loving you, and I hope you've come to realize you've never really
stopped loving me. If you'll let me, I want to love your baby . . . our baby? . . . every bit as much as if
he was my own . . . as much as I love you." I started to tear up.
"Cathy, marry me." Debbie
continued, "We're already in Connecticut. We can apply for a marriage license
and be married before we return home. I called our parents before you went into
surgery, and they should be here any minute. Now would be the perfect time for
a wedding. I know it's rather sudden, but it really isn't. After all, we've
been together for five years. Let's not wait any longer. I love you . . . marry
me, Cathy. Let's spend the rest of our lives together."
"Oh Debbie, I love you too,
but what about RISD?" I asked with tears in my eyes. As much as I wanted to say
`yes', I didn't want to stand in the way of her dreams.
"Cathy, you were right. I was
only following a mirage. Interior Design was never my passion, and it wouldn't
have been right for me, even if you'd gone into Architecture. This may have
actually been the best thing that could have happened to me. I'm going to
withdraw from RISD and take a semester off. I want to have this time to spend
with you and our baby. I'll try to get into the same school you're going to in
the spring and like you, I'll take time to figure out what I want to do with my
life. Maybe we should figure it out together."
Tears were streaming down my
face as I realized that I'd never been happier in my life. Everything was
perfect. I may have lost my uterus, but my life was complete. "Yes, Debbie, I
would love nothing more than to marry you and to spend eternity with you," I
We were in the midst of a
passionate, tearful lip lock when our parents barged into the room. It was my
mother, of course, who shouted, "Oh my God!"
"Mom," I said, "I'd like you
to meet my fiancé. I nearly died today. In fact, if it hadn't been for the fact
that the hotel was so close to a university hospital, I'd have certainly lost
my child, if not my own life.
"I'm not going to pretend to
be something I'm not any longer. I'm going to be the woman God intended me to
be and to be with the one I love. Debbie asked me to marry her and I've
accepted. If we can set it up, we'll be married before we return home. I hope
that you and Daddy will attend."
It was Debbie's mother
instead who made the first move nudging past my mom saying, "That's wonderful news! I'm so happy for both of
you." She then gently hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek, and she hugged
her own daughter in a warm embrace and kissed her on the cheek as well.
Debbie's father followed suite and did the same.
My father sighed, and then
said, "It still goes against everything we believe in, but to think we nearly
lost you. . . . You're an adult, Cathy, and it's your life to live . . . and no
matter what, your mother and I will always love you. We may not always tell you
that, but we'll always feel that way." And then he threw his arms around me and
hugged me as we both cried our hearts out.
The nursing staff was very
nice about letting our parents stay until it was nearly midnight before
pointing out how late it was and finally making them leave. But they told Debbie it was all right for her to stay
if she wanted to . . . not that the recliner in the room was very comfortable,
but neither of us wanted to be apart again.
First thing in the morning,
my nurse arranged to take me down to the neonatal ICU so I could see my son. He
looked so small, but I was assured that even though he wasn't out of the woods
yet, he was very healthy for a seven-month-old preemie, and chances were
excellent that he would make it without any permanent ill effects. That was
such wonderful news!
Shortly after getting back to
my room, the parade of well-wishers began, starting with Larry and Tim. I was
particularly glad to see them. When they asked me what I'd named my baby, I
very proudly told them I'd named him Lawrence Timothy Andrews. Larry looked at
me with his big, beautiful brown eyes that were now filled with tears and he
I answered back, "Of course,
really. I couldn't think of two finer people in the world that I'd want my son
to take after than the two of you. You're my best friends. If he grows up to be
like you, he'll be a fine man . . . someone who'll make a wonderful partner to
a very lucky girl . . . or boy someday."
Larry leaned down and kissed
me on the cheek, and then Tim leaned down and did the same.
Filling out the information
for Little Larry's birth certificate was a special joy. Debbie and I were
It was two more days before I
was released from the hospital, and even then, I was far from ready to fly
home. In the meantime, Debbie and I proceeded to make our wedding plans,
setting the date for Friday. I was surprised at how many of our friends stuck around
for the wedding. Not only did Randy and Altaf delay their honeymoon so they
could attend, but David and Jeremy attended, as did Larry and Tim, Paul and
Sammy and a host of others. We ended up with over fifty people in attendance,
which was a lot for a last-minute affair. We even managed to get a pair of
wedding dresses. I was utterly amazed we managed to pull it all off.
Although our ceremony wasn't
steeped in the Mid-East traditions that were present at Altaf and Randy's
wedding, for Debbie and I, it was just as sweet because our fathers were there
to walk us down the aisle. We were able to hold it in the same conference room
where Altaf and Randy had been married. A difference - Larry and Tim stood at
our sides. Any stranger walking into the room would have thought we were having
a double ceremony, but the minister wasn't confused and that's what mattered.
We spent our honeymoon with
Little Larry because he needed to stay in the hospital another month before he
was deemed stable enough for discharge, by which time he was less than a month
premature and strong enough to be cared for at home. The instructions they
provided us, however, were more extensive than the ones that came with my car,
my computer, and my stereo combined. Sometime in the future, our second
honeymoon, maybe a trip to Disney World, will be so much more full of meaning,
with our son there to enjoy it too.
Yes, Debbie and I are now
legally married - not that the marriage is recognized in our own home state,
but to us it's valid, and that's all that matters.
For us, the future has just
The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope and Colinian in editing and Trab in proofreading, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Codey's World for hosting my stories. A special thanks goes to BeaStKid for assistance with the Pakistani aspects of the wedding ceremony.
*Please check out the companion story, Summer Internship, co-authored with David of Hope.(Back to Story)