"The future is for those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"

One Life

by Ryan Keith

Epilogue - Eternal Memories

The grand auditorium held over five thousand guests for an event so large that it was all over the newspaper. Thousands of voices shouted out and cheered after the performance. Two talented girls took their bow and left the stage as the curtains closed, preceding the introduction of the next competitor.

       As the cheers started to die down, a man in his mid twenties entered the auditorium. A few around who noticed his entrance gave him shy smiles and little waves. The man felt some eyes on him, a few even belonging to guys. He scanned the area around him, impressed with the setup and breathing hard. He noticed that most of the guests were teens. The adults were perhaps family members of the contestants.

       The man leaned back against the wall near the doors where he had entered. His medium-built body was tired from all the work he had accomplished that day. He had made it just in time. Still feeling the stares, he turned his green eyes to meet some of them. A few turned away timidly, but he did catch one boy holding his stare longer than the others. He smiled as the boy looked away quickly. The man watched as the boy turned back towards him, slowly and hesitantly. As soon as they made eye contact again the man grinned, causing the boy to blush furiously.

       Tyler enjoyed the spirit of youths. It hadn't been so long ago that he was the age of the teens he saw before him. He wasn't old. In fact, many of his co-workers thought he was an intern in the engineering society. Tyler took it as a compliment when people assumed he was younger than he actually was. At the age of twenty-five he looked as if he were twenty. He wondered what his lost love, Jaylin, would look like at the age of twenty-five. Tyler smiled from the joy of thinking about his departed husband. No longer did he mourn Jaylin's death; instead, he remembered what they had shared, and he remembered their endless love.

       A hush fell over the crowd as the lights dimmed and the curtains opened. Tyler cursed inwardly at having been so caught up in his thoughts that he had missed the announcer's introduction of the next contestant. He didn't even know what song was about to be sung.

       All thoughts vanished as he spotted a very attractive female at center stage. He was transfixed by the young lady who stood gracefully on a single spot of light, her eyes closed, head down, holding a microphone closely to her chest. Her outfit was stunning. She wore a long white dress, cut on the side. A thin, light blue short sweater covered the two shoulder straps of the dress. A blue ribbon held the ends of her long golden hair. The ribbon was so long that it sprawled to the floor, a current of air shifting it slowly.

       If Tyler were ever to see an angel, he knew it wouldn't come close to the angelic lady who stood silently on stage. He let out a deep sigh. During the last six years, Jaylin's sister, Leah, had grown into a fine eighteen-year-old woman. As gay as Tyler was, he knew she was very well proportioned. The guy who won her heart would be the happiest man in the world. Tyler knew that only the best of guys would ever get close to Leah. He and Leah's brother Dwayne would make sure of that.

       "This song is dedicated to my brothers. Tyler, that includes you," the gentle girl said. Tyler felt himself chuckle as a surge of pride pumped through his veins.

       "Your sister?" a voice beside him asked.

       Not turning, Tyler answered proudly, "Yeah."

       "This song means a lot to me. I cannot describe the feelings that I can express through this song. Feelings for two people in particular, who showed the world what true love is. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be singing here right now."

       Tyler held his tears. He had just heard Leah whisper her dead brother's name. His husband's name. Noticing that he had been holding his breath, he relaxed a bit as the song began.

       Leah looked up and smiled. The crowd was silent, the image of a goddess becoming embedded in their minds. Extending her hand towards the crowd, Leah sang softly yet soulfully into the microphone, "I know that you're hiding things... Using gentle words to shelter me." She brought her hand towards her heart and folded it into a small fist. "Your words were like a dream... But dreams can never fool me... Not that easily..."

       Tyler was caught up in something he couldn't describe. Leah's voice was more beautiful than he remembered. It was a bit deeper, yet still gentle and embracing, as if her child's voice had matured.

       Her eyes closed once more as she sang her feelings. "I acted so distant then, didn't say goodbye before you left." She smiled sadly again, a look that tore Tyler in half. He knew she was thinking of her dear brother. "But I was listening... You'll fight your battles far from me. Far too easily."

       The song continued as Leah stepped forward.

"'Save your tears, 'cause I'll come back'

I could hear what you whispered as you walked through that door

But still I swore

To hide the pain when I turned back the pages

Shouting might have been the answer

What if I'd cried my eyes out and begged you not to depart?

But now I'm not afraid to say what's in my heart!"

Memories flooded back to Tyler.


       "Babe? You still awake?" Jaylin asked.

       "Yeah..." Tyler mumbled.

       Jaylin spooned his boyfriend with his arms and rested his head on the boy's back.

       "What do you think of my family?"

       Turning around so he was facing his love, Tyler smiled. "I love them. Your mom... she's so alive! Your dad is so cool and there's this protective sense I get from him for you, Dwayne and Leah. Dwayne is like the brother I've always wished I had. He seems really cool, and Leah... wow; don't even let me get started. Let's just say she sings better than any girl I've ever heard."

       Jaylin chuckled as he brought Tyler closer to his body. They shared each other's warmth under the comforter. They were both nude, for easy access when either of them awoke early in the morning.

       "You know, Leah started singing because of me. I was mopping the floor in the kitchen and she heard me singing. When I went to call her for lunch she was trying to sing along with the very same song, from my CD."

       Tyler smiled at the great relationship Jaylin had with his siblings.

       "She told me she wanted to sing because I looked happy doing it. When I asked her to sing for me, she did, and I heard her beautiful voice truly come alive. She was only six. I told my parents about it, and they encouraged her to develop a skill. They suggested piano or guitar. They didn't try to force her into anything; they just gave her options. They thought she wanted to sing, but I guess they wanted to know if that was what she really wanted. It was, and now her beautiful voice will be heard by more and more people."

       "You really love her a lot, don't you?"

       "I love my bro a lot, too. But I don't have to watch out for Dwayne. He does things his own way and makes it. I'm overprotective of Leah sometimes, and Dwayne has to pull me back so she can do things on her own."

       "She's not the only one with a great voice. Your voice was amazing when you sang."

       "I sang that song for you," he whispered.

       "I know."

       "I love you," he whispered again.

       "I know." I smiled.

       Our talk was silenced by a gentle and loving kiss.


       Tyler shed tears as he watched Leah go through the same emotions he was going through. On stage, her tears fell like drops from heaven. Emotions were so strong among the audience that he could hear people around him start to cry.

       Leah held the microphone and raised her voice, the sound still pure, undisturbed by her tears. "'Cause a thousand words, call out through the ages. They'll fly to you, even though we can't see, I know they're reaching you... Suspended on silver wings!" She held her hand high as if reaching for heaven, the same way Jaylin had done during his song so many years ago.  "Oh, a thousand words, a thousand embraces will cradle you, making all of your weary days seem far away... They'll hold you forever!"

       As the instrumentals kicked in, Leah briefly wiped her tears. Tyler could almost sense everyone in the auditorium doing the same thing.

       "I miss you, Jaylin..." Tyler heard her whisper as the sound of the instruments faded.

       "Oh, a thousand words have never been spoken. They'll fly to you, they'll carry you home and back into my arms...Suspended on silver wings, ohhhhhh!" Her voice was full of power and beauty. Pure emotions were shouted into the auditorium for all to hear. "And a thousand words! Called out through the ages! They'll cradle you!"  She sang each line with her hand held close to her heart, her eyes closed.

       "Turning all of the lonely years into only days... They'll hold you forever!!!"

       She turned her head to the side as the instruments finished up the song. Before the instruments had finished, thousands of people stood up and cheered. Every person Tyler turned to was shouting and cheering. Every girl in tears, every guy with his head held high. Leah smiled through her tears, took a bow and waited for the curtains to close. After they did, the cheering continued for five minutes.

       Tyler wasn't the loudest one there, but he was the proudest.

       Tyler stood in the guest area silently waiting for Leah. She came not a moment later, but so did the crowd. Mostly everyone in the room was related to a contestant in the show. They were in a room large enough to hold two hundred people.

       When Leah saw Tyler, the happiest smile was displayed for all to see. She ran through the crowd and hugged Tyler as he swung her around once and lowered her back down.

       "You made it!" she said enthusiastically.

       "Of course. I wouldn't miss it for the world."

       "Sam made it sound like you were too busy to do anything."

       "I try to stay busy to keep my mind off other things."

       The smile disappeared from Leah's face. "I'm so sorry, Tyler... I didn't mean..."

       Tyler lifted her chin with his fingers. "Hey, don't be sorry. It's the truth, and it's all right. I'm okay now."

       Leah hugged her brother-in-law tightly, as if she were afraid he would disappear.

       "Let's get out of here," she whispered.

       "Gladly. I don't know how long I can stand being stared at."

       The young lady released herself from Tyler's grip and looked around. Sure enough, people were staring at them; guys with cold eyes, girls with envious eyes.

       Leah stammered, her face blushing a light pink, "N- no, you guys have it all wrong. He's my brother's husband!"

       That produced a reaction Leah was going for, and people turned to each other with shocked expressions.

       Tyler let out a chuckle and escorted the girl he knew as Little Lady. "Come on, girl, the car is waiting."


As they were driving, Leah and Tyler talked about the past few years. Tyler had graduated two years before and had moved to Toronto for a job. The industry for his major gave him a hot pick between NASA and CSA, Canadian Space Agency, and he had decided to stay Canadian. He had been in the lab when he received messages from mostly everyone from back home. His mom, Sam, Dwayne, Dave, Jem and the elder Staffords called, informing him that Leah would be performing in Toronto. There really weren't any prizes or winners in the event. It was mostly for fundraising and providing a way for young artists to be noticed. Tyler was sure Leah would get some phone calls in the next few days.

"While you're here, feel free to take this car out, but just make sure you're with a friend or something," Tyler said, playing the role of the responsible adult.

       "I'm not going anywhere without you," she replied in a matter-of-fact tone. "I want to spend some time with you before I head home. I graduate next week and you need to be there. You're presenting the award, remember?"

       Tyler had forgotten. He had forgotten about Leah's upcoming graduation and entry into adulthood. He had also forgotten about the award.

       "It'll be a good time to see everyone. I planned on going home sometime soon."

       "Liar!" Leah accused with a smile. "I can't believe you forgot!"

       "I've been busy!"

       "Well, I'm dragging your ass home. Quit staring at me like I'm an angel. God, Tyler, I'm eighteen. You'd think I'd learn how to swear by now," she said, blushing a bit.

       A bit surprised by her language, Tyler joked, "You've been hanging around Lindsey, haven't you?"

       "I work for her, remember?"

       "Ahh, of course," Tyler said smoothly.

       "Oh my God, I can't believe you forgot!" 

       Trying to change the subject, Tyler mentioned the song Leah had sung. "So, where is that song from? I never heard it before."

       Leah stared out the window, quiet for a moment. Tyler was about to ask again but she suddenly answered, "It's from a game, a couple years back... Final Fantasy X-II."

       Tyler took a deep breath. "I played the first one with Jaylin. Never got around to playing the sequel, though. In the first one the two lovers get separated, right?"

       "Yeah..." Leah said, unsure.

       "So, does she find him?" Tyler asked, in a voice too serious for discussing a game.

       Leah sighed. "It depends. There are different endings. In one she finds her love and they live happily ever after. In the other one she continues looking, but living life to the fullest and realizing the importance of friends. She doesn't give up, and continues to search."

       Tyler was in deep thought for the rest of the drive home. Leah knew he had things to figure out still, so she was patient.

As Tyler pulled up to the front of his condominium, Leah gasped with excitement as she noticed how open and rich the area was.

"Wow, how can you afford all this?"

"Someone watches over me," Tyler replied.

When Jaylin died, Tyler inherited all his possessions, including all of his investments. Mr. Stafford had made investment plans for all his children. The man invested a lot for all three, enough so they would be able to go through university and have a ten-year start in their lives when they graduated. Jaylin's investments proved to be more valuable than imagined. He wouldn't have had to work at all after he graduated, had he lived to make the choice. All of Jaylin's investments went to his spouse, Tyler.

Leah nodded. "I understand. I was impressed with my stuff, too. Dad didn't say anything until I turned eighteen, but I guess he did the right thing. I might have become really arrogant and spoiled if I had had that money all through high school."

"It's for your future. You should be proud of your father."

"I am! I love him so much, but I was much closer to Jaylin."

"Let's get you settled in. I'll call a friend who can get me a seat on your Saturday flight," Tyler said, opening the car door. He walked around the car and opened Leah's door, taking her hand.

A man came by and greeted Tyler before taking the car and parking it in the appropriate section.

"Wow, valet parking," Leah whispered.

"Hey, Leah, would you mind being my date for a company dinner?" Tyler asked in the elevator.

"What? I thought you were gay. Are you changing sides?" she asked, amused.

A young couple looked at him uneasily, but he tried his best not to notice. He felt embarrassed that Leah had outted him to strangers, but he knew she hadn't meant to.

"Of course not, but I thought you might enjoy the atmosphere. It's a dinner for my section. A couple of the more important engineers were invited and I really don't want to go by myself."

"Well, I'll go, but haven't you met any friends at your new job?" Leah asked, concerned.

The young couple stepped out at their floor, leaving Tyler and Leah alone in the elevator.

"I talk to some people, but talking to people is part of my job."

"Tyler, you need to move on. You need to find friends. Maybe you'll find someone else you like."

"That's what I'm afraid of."

"Don't be. Jaylin would want you to love again. He wants you to live. To live fully is the real battle in life."

       Tyler was silent for a moment as he reflected on Leah's words. He knew she was right. So many times Jaylin had invaded his dreams, telling him to find another love. Yet it was hard for Tyler to listen, let alone follow through.

       "So, I take it you'll come with me to the dinner?" .

       "Sure, I can't imagine anything better to do."


       Tyler had been on a plane only a few times. He still shivered each time he stepped into one. Leah was her usual cheerful self. Tyler wondered if anything frightened her.

       "I can't believe you didn't give that guy a chance," Leah remarked, as they got seated.

       "Leah... I'm not ready yet. I don't know if I'll ever be. I mean..."

       "Come on, Tyler! Live a little. The guy was so hitting on you. He asked you to dance, offered you a drink, and even asked for your phone number. He was really hot, too!"

       A couple of people stared at them but Tyler discouraged them with a challenging stare. Slowly those people went back to their own business.

       "Can we keep it down a bit?"

       "I just can't believe how a great looking guy like you can miss chances like that."

       "What about you? Are you seeing someone?" Tyler asked, trying to take his mind off Jaylin.

       Leah blushed slightly. "Well...yeah...umm... Don't tell Dwayne, okay?"

       Tyler grinned as he discovered the little girl had grown up, "So, what's his name?"

       "Andrew. He's on the hockey team."

       Tyler smiled knowingly. He understood the rewards of being with a hockey guy. Tyler remembered how Jaylin's muscles used to hold his body close to his ripening form. He hungered to be held by his love once again. He often reminisced of the days spent with his lost love; happy thoughts that got him through lonely nights. No longer did memories of Jaylin sadden him.

       As he turned to Leah to ask her about her plans for university, he found a sleeping beauty. She was breathing deeply and was smiling in her sleep, reminding him of how Jaylin used to sleep.

       Reaching forward for earphones, he slipped them on and browsed through the selection of stations. A song caught his attention. He wanted to go past it, but his fingers wouldn't move. He smiled and sat back, enjoying the song. Silent tears fell from his eyes. He loved the song so much, and it meant so much to him. To him the song was a promise between him and his Jaylin.

And maybe, I'll find out
A way to make it back someday
To watch you, to guide you, through the darkest of your days
If a great wave shall fall and fall upon us all
Then I hope there's someone out there
who can bring me back to you

If I could, then I would
I'll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low, I'll go wherever you will go

       Tyler fell into the world of dreams, a place he cherished so strongly. Only there was he able to see his love again. So close that he could almost touch Jaylin, but he felt so far away. He cherished these dreams, yet he hated them as well. Waking up to a life without his love was like dealing all over again with the unbearable pain of losing him. Somehow this dream was different; Jaylin was smiling earnestly at him.


       Leah threw herself on her bed as she stretched her body. She wondered if her brother's husband would ever love again. She found it unfair that her brother was taken at such a young age. Jaylin and Tyler's life together had not even started. Fate ended it prematurely. She wondered if there was anything she could do. Tyler's happy smiles seemed forever gone.

       "So, how did you do?" said the voice by her bedroom door.

       Her brother Dwayne stood leaning against the frame as he smiled at her.

       "It was okay...  Did you see Tyler?"

       "Yeah, but he took off. Sam finally had her baby. Tyler went to go see her and Dave," Dwayne said, walking over beside her bed.

       "Why didn't he tell me? I want to see her too," Leah pouted.

       "It might be best that Tyler went alone. He might need time to think. How was he on the way here?"

       "The same. He's alive, but not living. He still misses Jayse."

       "We all do. He still needs time to heal. It must have been even worse for him than for us. He needs time."

       "I wish he would open up more to us. It's like it's painful for him to be around us." Leah sighed as she lay back down.

       "It must be. I can only imagine."

       "Can't we do something?"

       Dwayne lay beside his sister as they stared at the ceiling. "We can't change his heart. He has to heal himself. It might take a while longer, and we have to be supportive of the path he decides to take."

       Silence filled the room.

       "Life sucks..." Leah whispered.

       "Yeah, it does."


       "Where's my little niece or nephew?" Tyler asked as Dave greeted him.

       Dave was the same guy Tyler always knew, yet there was a distinctive stubble on the man's face.

       "It's a boy!" Dave said enthusiastically as he embraced Tyler in a hug. "How you doing, man?"

       They released each other as Tyler shrugged. "I'm okay."

       Dave tried to hide his concern as he tried to smile. He knew more than anyone how much Tyler loved Jaylin. He also knew how far Tyler would have gone for love.

       "Are you getting by okay? Any problems? You know I'll fly right over any time you need to be with someone, right?" Dave asked worriedly.

       "Dave, calm down. I'm not depressed anymore. I'm getting by fine now. And you're a father now, you gotta settle down," Tyler said as they walked into the hospital.

       "Yeah, Sam and I already signed the marriage agreement in City Hall, but the official marriage, church and all, will be this summer.  It's around the time..."

       "Don't think I won't be coming, Dave."

       "But it might be hard for you to..." Dave started.

       Tyler stopped in his tracks and turned to his friend. "Dave, I'm coming. It's you guys' wedding. I'm not going to miss it. Why does everyone treat me like I'm about to break? Fuck, I'm still pissed Dwayne and Rachael got married and never invited me. You all knew, too!"

       Dave looked defeated, so he told Tyler, "Well, we were really worried. We didn't know how you would... You don't really act happy too often. I though it would hurt you to go to another wedding."

       "Dave, everything reminds me of Jaylin. Everything. This hospital, my job, the people I see. I see Jaylin everywhere," Tyler said with a serious tone, "but it no longer makes me sad. His presence is all around, and I feel him. I don't think about his death, but I remember the times we spent together."

       Dave gripped Tyler's shoulder to offer his sympathy. "I'm sorry, Ty. I forgot you deal with this everyday... I really want you to come."

       "I will. And stop acting like Jaylin died yesterday. It's been like six years," Tyler said, annoyed, as they continued walking.

       "So... can you be my best man?" Dave asked.

       "Buddy, I already am, you didn't have to ask." Tyler smiled.

       Dave's huge grin was enough to lighten the mood as they walked into Sam's room.

       Tyler sat front row at Leah's graduation. He was thrilled when Leah sang the song he had heard her sing in Toronto. It was just as beautiful.

Before the ceremony had started, Tyler had met Andrew, Leah's once-secret boyfriend. Tyler held in his laughter as he remembered how he had accidentally let it slip to the Staffords that Leah had a boyfriend. They had probed her with teasing questions as she blushed a deep red. Andrew was everything Tyler had expected. A gentleman, not too rugged-looking, and really polite. His brother was gay, so he was really communicative with Tyler. The Staffords and Tyler agreed that Andrew was a perfect catch for a girl like Leah.

       When the song ended, the principal said a few words and presented many awards. Most of them included bursaries and scholarships, and Tyler was happy for those who won them.

       "And now we would like to ask Mr. Tyler Stafford to present the Stafford award."

       Tyler stood up confidently and made his way to the microphone and the principal.

       "Thanks for doing this, Tyler," the principal whispered.

       "I am honored, sir."

       Tyler cleared his throat before looking at the students and their families who sat before him. As a head engineer in his department, he was used to presenting ideas and projects to the high-ups for approval and funding. Presenting the award was no different.

       "As many of you know, I'm here to present the Stafford award. It's named after my husband, Jaylin Stafford." There were a few murmurs, but Tyler had expected that.

       "I say this to you graduates now, before you go out into the world, whether it be to the work force, college, or university. You will find people who are different from you. You will also find that some people won't really care about your colour, your race, your sexuality... We have come a long way in fighting discrimination. We've come so far that among close friends those things have become a way to tease or joke. I'm sure a lot of you have teased your friends about their race, but in humor, of course. I know this because my friends and I do that, too. It's all right to do so as long as there is no malice."

Tyler noticed a few students who were smiling because they knew well enough that his statements were true of them. "Yet, there are still those who refuse to accept change."

"Jaylin was an exceptional student, not only in academics, but also in athletics. Many of you probably have never heard of him. That's all right. Your teachers and your principal created the Stafford award. This award is in memory of Jaylin Stafford, who passed away about six years ago because of the effects of discrimination and hate."

Silence descended upon the large auditorium. Tyler's last sentence had caught everyone's attention.

       He noticed that a few people were shedding tears, and he, too, was crying. Tyler's husband had been ripped out of his life because Tyler's father had grown up in a society that would not accept their sexuality and their relationship. He would do his best to ensure that others would not suffer the same sadness he felt.

       "You cannot be closed minded," Tyler stressed. "In this age, we need to worry about more important things than sexuality, race and religion. For those of you who know this, happiness will embrace you. Many will criticize you, and many will want to hurt you, but for what? Because you're happy?"

       He noticed people nodding their heads in agreement. He knew his statements were having a big impact on the students, who were soon going to be introduced to the larger world.

       "Those of you who cannot embrace diversity will find closed doors. Everyone is unique. If everyone were exactly like you, our world would have no variety. When you leave these walls, these walls of your youth, you will find a bigger classroom out there."

       "I'm an engineer, not a preacher, but I ask that you take what I'm saying home with you today." Tyler was silent for a moment as his words sank into the minds and hearts of those who sat before him. He could feel the change that was taking place in people's heads. He was satisfied.

       "Jaylin was kind to everyone. He had no enemies. He was fair, trustworthy, and a true friend. Your teachers may have mentioned him a few times over the course of your years here, because he was a bright student with many interests. He was more people-smart than book-smart. Everyone could approach him, and he accepted everybody. He accepted people for who they were, and he wanted people to accept him for who he was."

"This award is presented to the student who has best exemplified those wonderful traits during his or her four years here.  A student must be nominated by a total of ten teachers in order to be considered for this award.. This award recognizes leadership, trust, faith, and kindness. Last year there were no candidates, but this year, there is one. I sincerely congratulate this person. You should be very proud. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. My husband would surely be proud of you." Tyler looked at the plaque the principal handed him and read the name. He smiled and announced, "Andrew Fordman!"

       The entire crowed exploded from their seats as they gave a standing ovation to Andrew, the guy Leah was currently seeing.

       Tyler sensed in Andrew the leadership quality that Jaylin had held to so strongly. He gave the boy a firm handshake.

       "Thank you, Mr. Stafford," the boy said, as the crowd erupted again. "Leah told me about you and your husband. Please be assured that I will never let the things you spoke of go by me unnoticed. This award is a privilege that I will honor, and it calls for a degree of responsibility that I intend to uphold."

       Tyler was satisfied. The winners of the other awards had said something similar to Andrew's last statement, but Andrew had said it perfectly, and with heart.

       Tyler took his seat. The people he passed were those he knew, the Staffords, Jaylin's teachers, his friends. They smiled at him with understanding and affirmation. Jaylin would live on forever.


       A man in a dark suit walked up the grey path leading to the rows of stone. The wind blew rather strongly for early summer. He walked along the path he already knew, and turned to the stone that honored his love.


Jaylin Derik Stafford

1984 - 2004

A young man who lived life as it should be lived.

 He was a loving son, a best friend, a caring sibling, and a true companion. A young man who lived life to the fullest; a young man who gave it up without regret.

       The man knelt before the plaque that bore the name of his loved one. Placing a white Orchid on the stone, the man got up. A single tear fell from his eye. He didn't attempt to wipe it away.

       "Hey, stud..." Tyler whispered.

       For a few moments he stood silently staring at the stone, the wind wrapping around him. For a brief moment he felt he was in his love's embrace. Suddenly that feeling disappeared.

       "God, I hate you... You always make me cry, you know that?" Tyler said, biting his lip. "Your sister was amazing in Toronto. She sang like the angel she is... A song from the game we promised to play together when it came out. Remember? I need to buy it. I really want to play it, but I wonder if they still sell it. It's a bit old now."

       Tyler smiled. It was as if he was talking to Jaylin, and Jaylin was listening without replying. "Sam had her baby. She asked me if she could...if she could name the boy Jaylin." Tyler breathed deeply. "I told her it was okay."

       Dave and Sam's desire to name their child after his husband had made Tyler proud.

       "Those two are a bunch of idiots." Tyler exhausted a laugh. "I can't believe Dave got her pregnant after their first year out of University. I guess they had their own celebration when they both found jobs. They had told me they wanted to wait a bit before they married. I saw Dave's back one time at the beach; Sam must be really scary in bed, eh?"

       Silenced replied to Tyler, again.

       "I presented the award again in Leah's school...your old high school. She graduated this year. I could see why the boy won it. He has the same personality as you. He's bright, kind, and caring. I saw you in him. Too bad he's straight, huh? I didn't know you were such a respected kid in your school. All your teachers chatted with me, telling me about all of your successes. They also mentioned that little crazy thing you did in grade ten. I had a great laugh at that. They had it recorded on tape, so I asked them to make me a copy. You were really cute when you were a kid."

       Tears streamed down Tyler's face. "I miss you... I still think about you all the time. You still find me in my dreams. I'm happy, but it's not the same. Sometimes I wake up crying, and not knowing why. It's all your fault..." Tyler said with a smile. "Take responsibility for it, asshole..."

       Tyler knelt again and touched the cold stone. "I never thanked you for what you did for me. Thank you, Jaylin. Leah really drilled it into my head on the way back home from Toronto. She thinks I need a new love; something to fill the hole. She might be right, but I'm not looking. I was thinking of starting with making new friends. I've never really opened up in Toronto. I don't know why. But I'm going to change that. I liked the person I was when you were with me. I seem to have retreated into my shell again, but I want to come out. I guess I'll start with that guy who was hitting on me at the dinner Leah and I went to. You saw that, right? You have a television up there that watches my life 24/7, don't you? You probably like the little show late at night. You know which one I'm talking about!" Tyler giggled at his little joke. He truly felt like he was talking with his love. "The one about the gay guy with green eyes who's all alone at home and has nothing better to do than play with himself."

       Tyler sighed, the tears in his eyes long past dried. "I miss you holding me. I'd be a liar if I said I don't miss the sex...God, I miss the sex..." Tyler smirked. "But most of all, I miss talking with you. I miss hugging you, you telling me random things that don't matter. I miss your voice, your smile, your tears. I miss all of you..."

       The young man got up and smiled at the stone. "I'm still looking for you. I'm not talking about a replacement, so don't be trying too hook me up with other guys. I'm looking for you, Jaylin. Searching... I love you. I love you so much, so much it hurts sometimes..." Tyler trembled silently as a few new tears fell from his eyes. "It's funny, I was in Hallmark looking for a graduation card for Leah, and I saw this one card that shone like a gem. Call it coincidence, but it was in the graduation section."

       Tyler closed his eyes and recited the words that were carved in his mind, "May it comfort you to know that death cannot diminish the important ways your loved one touched your life, that grief cannot take away the happiness you shared, that sorrow will fade in time... but love remains forever."

Tyler knelt once again, kissed his fingers, and touched the stone. "I said this on our wedding day, and I still mean it... You are forever a jewel in my heart... I will always love you."

The man stood up and walked away. He was sad, but he was also happy. He didn't break down as he walked away. He cried, but he cried tears of joy.

Leah is right. I need friends. It's time to become the Tyler Jaylin fell if love with... I should really start living...


About two years later...

"Coming!" Tyler shouted as he wiped his hands on a towel.

He was excited; the package had finally arrived. As he opened the door, a very cute young man stood in front of him. He looked to be about eighteen. Tyler figured he did this for his summer job.

"Hi. Come in, I just need to grab my wallet."

"Great condo you have here, guy," the boy said.

"It has its moments," Tyler smiled.

He let the boy in and ran to his room, returning as the boy was looking at the wall of pictures that enhanced the front of his suite.

"Your boyfriend?" the boy asked with a grin.

"Husband, actually," Tyler said proudly.

"That's so cool!" the boy said excitedly. "You guys look really happy. I hope my boyfriend and I become as happy as you guys."

       "I'm sure you will be. My husband and I are," Tyler replied with a smile. It was the truth. Deep down, he knew Jaylin was happy in heaven, and he had never felt more complete in his life, besides when Jaylin had been a part of it.

       Tyler opened the package as the boy looked on, apparently interested in what a gay adult would have purchased.

       Tyler smiled as he pulled out a packaged version of the game he had sought, Final Fantasy X-II.

       "Oh my God! I love that game!" the boy exclaimed.


       "Seriously, I love it, and there are two endings. One where they find each other again, and one where she doesn't but still searches."

       Why does everyone assume I've already played it? Tyler thought, annoyed. He wasn't angry, but he would rather have played it first.

"I'm still playing through it," Tyler said through his smile. He couldn't wait to pop it into his old PlayStation 2. He had found both on E-bay and was lucky there were still some going around.

       "It's the best game, but my boyfriend doesn't understand why I like it so much."

       "Play it with him, and let him play through it. That's how I got into it," Tyler said.

       "Daddy?" a little voice squeaked.

       Tyler turned around and found a little boy rubbing his eyes, wearing white and black pirate pajamas.

       "Hey, Jordan. You finally up, buddy?" Tyler beamed as the boy walked up to his side to give him a hug.

       "Your son?"

       "Yeah, he's four years old," Tyler said, as he knelt down to give his son a warm hug.

       "Is that a new game?" Jordan asked, his excitement showing in his bright green eyes.

       "Yeah, we'll play it later together, okay? I made you some pancakes. Go get them, tiger!" Tyler smiled happily as he ruffled the boy's hair.

       The little child giggled before running to the table. He got on his knees on the chair and poured way too much syrup over his pancakes. A big grin plastered his face.

       "He's a cute kid. He has your eyes, but he looks a lot like your husband," the young man commented.

       A sudden realization hit Tyler. Jordan did have his eyes, but he resembled Jaylin so closely. Like he really was their child.

       "How did you manage that?"

       "A coincidence, I guess," Tyler said, a bit surprised himself. "He was adopted when he was two."

       "He's got you guys' looks. Be real proud; that one's a keeper." The boy smiled brightly. "So anyways...umm, this is cash on delivery...so..."

       "Oh, shit!" Tyler said. His son covered his mouth with a giggle when his dad swore. "Sorry about that, man. Here you go."

       The boy gave his regards and took off. For a moment Tyler just stared at the door, then turned to the photo of Jaylin and himself at the cottage.

       "It's not just a coincidence, is it, babe?" he whispered. "You had something to do with it, ass..."

       Tyler smiled as he joined his son at the table. Jordan had a look of innocence as he slowly mopped at the spilt orange juice on the table.

       "Uh oh, someone's in trouble," Tyler teased.

       Jordan's grin made Tyler tremble with pride.

       Without a thought, he lifted the boy up as Jordan squealed with delight.

       "Dad, when's grandma coming?" the little tyke asked, as Tyler prepared to get the game started.

       "Whenever she does, little buddy. You love her, don't you?"

       "Yeah, she always gives me candy. Uncle Davey and Sam are coming too, right? And Uncle Jemmy and Aunt Lindsey. Oh, and Uncle Dwayne. Is Leah and her family coming too? Leah's mommy is funny. Sometimes she calls me Jaylin." A curious look fixed itself on Jordan's face. "He's in heaven, right? He's my other daddy like you, right?"

       Watching his son speak well of his husband brought tears to his eyes. "Yes he is, Jordan. And he loves you very, very much. He watches over us, and he's happy."

       "I love him too." Jordan smiled brightly. "He's my second daddy, but you're my first one. Uncle Jemmy said he wants to kidnap me. You won't let him will you? I really like him, but I like you more." Jordan got a worried look on his face like he was afraid he was going to leave his dad.

       Tyler almost laughed loudly at his son's innocence. Jem and Alex had been off and on for years, but recently had finally committed themselves to each other. They were looking forward to raising a little kid themselves.

       "No, I won't let him take you," Tyler said, sitting beside his son on the couch. "He's gotta get through your grandmas, grandpa, and me, to get to you. And I'm not letting you go just yet." Tyler chuckled as he ruffled his son's hair.

       His son looked at him worriedly. "Are you sad? Why are you crying? I'm sorry," he apologized sincerely.

       "These are happy tears, baby," Tyler said, wiping them. "You make me so happy that I want to cry. You're going to be so great when you grow up. You're exactly like your dad. Your other dad, that is. You will be great..."

       Jordan grinned childishly, making Tyler feel so much pride. He couldn't keep himself from grabbing his son in a loving embrace.

"Daaaad..." Jordan whined. He squirmed in his father's arms, typically embarrassed that his dad was showing so much affection.

       He's amazing, Jayse. He is definitely our son. You better be bragging to your friends up there. He's like you but better looking, Tyler joked in his mind as he stared at the ceiling. We'll definitely see each other again, and when we do, I will tell you over and over again how much I love you. That I love you with all my heart... Until my voice gives out.

The End

2004     Ryan Keith

Okay, it's done. Did you guys enjoy it? You all probably hate me for doing what I did. Sorry, it was hard for me too. I really like Jaylin as a character, but that's how this story ends. I hope you're all satisfied. I'm one of those fools who believe in true love. Many people criticize me and say love is over rated.

Maybe I'm being an old romantic when I think about it like that. But people, I'm only nineteen. I do what most guys do; I love my sports (track, swimming and just this year, tennis). I love busting out a twenty-four pack at a social gathering. I love to fish, and I love watching hockey (Go Leafs Go!). Only difference from most guys is that I'm gay. Friends criticize me about my views on love, but I really do believe it. I am in love. And I'm sure many people out there are too. 

A love like that shared by Tyler and Jaylin is so pure, so special, but like every relationship, it has its ups and downs. And it has its problems. Maybe there are perfect couples like them, maybe there aren't. The guy I love isn't perfect, and God knows I'm not either. However, love does exist.

I hope you guys enjoyed this series, it's been a real pleasure writing about these guys, and it has opened a whole new world to me. I feel better after writing it, and I feel more blessed to have the important people in my life. I pray nothing as tragic as what happened to these two ever happens to anyone else. Tragedies do happen, but life will go on. To live is the real battle in life. Sure life is the shit sometimes, but I believe that hope is always there. Believe with me.

Special thanks to Aaron, my man, from www.themailcrew.com. This dude and his kickass buds made this happen. Aaron has taken the rock I gave him and polished it to the gem it is by doing much more than just correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation. It's all thanks to this little dude. More special thanks are extended to Dewey (www.deweywriter.com), a guy who shared with us a story so beautiful, it could only be described as such. This man inspired me to write. He and so many others at his forum helped me form who I am today, and I'm grateful. (Eddie, that includes you bud^^). Extended thanks to the love of my life. He encouraged me to write and brings out the best in me. I hope I didn't forget anyone else, it's three in the morning and I was putting some last touches on this file before I sent it out to Aaron.

Anyways, thanks a lot guys for your support, I look forward to writing more for those who like my work^. Look out for Kayden II, soon to be released near you. (But always first at www.themailcrew.com)