Note to readers: This is the second part of our re-working, inserting three days worth of events that did not appear in the original story. We've had a fair amount of feedback from a small group of friends that we've shown this to and the reviews from all have been great. It's good for our ego if nothing else, especially Joe's. I've fallen in love with Joe all over again, and have fallen big time for Chris.

Chris & Joe - Part 5

Tuesday -- so soon. It felt like I'd been asleep mere moments, not five or so hours. My room was dark since the sun was not quite up yet. I sat up and put my feet on the cool floor. Chris stretched. I walked over to his bed and sat down beside him for a moment. I held his face in my right hand and touched his chest with my left. We kissed for a few moments.

"Now there's a nice way to start my day. Jeez Joe, you could spoil me. Will you do that forever?"

"Hope so my bud, I hope so. I'd love to spoil you. You'd never look at another man after me."

"I haven't since I met you, bud. There is no one else. It's you I love and only you that I adore with my heart. If you ever doubt it, just ask."

"Jeez, now who's being spoiled. Keep that up and you'll have me blubbering in your arms. I knew I loved you, but you just doubled it. I could sit here all day and make love to your sweet lips. There is no way I'd ever be a whole person without you."

"I love you so much, Joe. You always say just the right thing. To be the object of your love is like nothing else in the world. I cannot imagine not having you to share my life."

We got dressed, and went downstairs to breakfast. Eggs were collected, manure was shoveled and swept, hay bales were broken down and spread about. Cows were attached to the milkers and feed was spread for the chickens. I brought the tractor in to the shop so my dad could do quarterly maintenance on it today. I told him to leave the oil change for me. I wasn't good mechanically, at all, but I could change the oil on all the farm equipment and our cars. Chris and I moved fresh hay bales into the loft. We jumped, well I jumped and then had to encourage Mr. City Boy, from the loft to the barn floor using a rope that hung nearby. I showed him twice how to do it. After he did it, he stood in the middle of the floor like a little kid and giggled until he nearly pissed his pants. He went to the loft and did it twice more. Chris had very few fears. Sharing something that simple with him was enough to make me smile all day. We we adventurous together, bringing out the best in each other.

Around 10:00 we drove north to one of two nearby lakes that we had seen yesterday from the rock formations outside of town. Even in July the water would be cold, but we'd swim for a bit, lay in the sun, listen to the radio, and fly a kite on the gentle uplift of the breeze. The sky was brilliantly bright, not a cloud to be seen. A hawk flew overhead and glided forever on just a few beats of its wings. All variety of animal sounds came out of the forest at the edge of the lake. A powerboat racing across the wide expanse occasionally broke the silence. The lake was eight miles wide and nearly as long.

We swam for as long as we could take the chill water and then floated on inner tubes for the better part of two hours, dozing in the sun. Chris floated close enough to me so he could take my hand in his for a few moments at a time without raising eyebrows of others. We liked being private in our affection for each other, so we did not show off in public. We had a discussion a couple months back about "pride". I shook my head, not in disgust or with high morality; but I just couldn't see what the shouting was all about in proclaiming one's sexual orientation to the public. I'm gay -- period. I neither proud nor ashamed; I just am. So what's to be proud of? I'd rather be proud that I can be a great friend to someone, or that my dad appreciates that I'll still work on his farm on holidays and vacations. Out and proud? No, not me ... I'm a private person whose love life is private and no one's business. Chris agreed -- our life and passions were between us; not meant to be shoved down someone's throat in recognition of rights.

In the afternoon, we decided to do some hiking in the forest. I didn't know these woods too well, having always played at the edge of them. With Chris, I was now exploring my own back yard in utter fascination. I felt an urgency to live my life, not to merely exist. My eyes were being opened, in gratitude. We put our stuff in the car and put on backpacks that had lunch, film, a camera, and a change of socks.

We saw deer, a moose, rabbits, all flavor of small wildlife, and birds of most variety. We listened to the sounds of the forest, picking out things we wouldn't hear again in a long time. These sounds didn't exist closer to the city where we went to school. The pine smelled incredible and the needles made a soft carpet for us to walk on. I stood on a soft bed of needles and bounced. We climbed over rocks and up and down trees. We swung from mighty branches or just sat in the bend of a large limb and listened to hear all that we could hear. We hid from view and kissed deeply like young teenagers sneaking away to make out. He held my hand and stroked my face. I touched his chest and held him by his shoulders. I extended my arms around his back and pulled him close. I smelled the scent of his hair, inhaling deeply. I can still remember today what he smelled like; fresh and manly. I looked deeply into his eyes so I would never forget what he looked like today. He smiled at me and kissed me on the cheek, holding me close and whispering into my ear.

We sat on top of a rock in a clearing, the sun shining on us and warming us up as we ate sandwiches for lunch. We looked in each other's eyes and said nothing. Chris and I could hold long conversations without ever saying a word. By now we knew each other inside and out. We didn't fight, except where his life mattered. We could talk about anything and everything. We reveled in each other's joy. There were times when he'd wake and night and be terrified, thinking the cancer was going to overrun him. I would sit with him for as long as it took to make him okay again. When he fell asleep, I did shortly afterward, knowing all was right with the world again.

A sound, quiet as could be, drew my attention. I stared intently at a spot about 50 feet away. Chris looked but didn't see it. He started to talk but I put my index finger up to my lips and pointed oh so subtly to a deer standing their watching ups, grazing carefully while making sure we were going to keep our distance. I tried to take its picture but my movement spooked it. Well, it's not like I don't have any deer photos, but I would have liked that one since he/she thought it was being very quiet and I spied it anyway.

We continued north after lunch and found a small stream with a huge fallen tree hanging over it. We walked on the tree like high wire artists, holding our arms straight out to our sides as we teetered back and forth across the whole length. Following the stream, we came upon a pond and watched mallards swim lazily in the sun. My mom had given us each a slice of homemade blueberry pie, my second favorite next to strawberry rhubarb. I'd forgotten to pack forks, so Chris and I ate with out hands. I think the blueberry stains on our faces would still be there when we got home. At least mom would know we liked her pie. Chris leaned forward and licked off what he could from my lips and let me do the same to him. Actually, he just wanted to finish desert with a little desert. We were alone as near as we could figure. In a moment he reached inside his jeans and pulled out a fine looking erection.

"For me, bud? Jeez, I dunno, I just finished dessert. Now I'm supposed to have meat again?"

"You want it, so don't give me that. The day you pass up my dick is the day I send your ashes out to sea. Besides, you need some milk to help wash down that pie."

What, me refuse? NOT! I leaned forward and sucked his cock to the hilt, licking around the base with my wagging tongue. It took little time for him to adjust his ass so that he could put it deeper in my mouth. I swallowed all he gave me. He lay back on his elbows, his legs spread, me laying between them and holding his balls with my right hand while I played with his nipples with my left. He moaned and pumped his cock into my mouth several times. In a few minutes I tasted his sweet salty cream. I looked up at him while I swallowed, seeing his head thrown back and his eyes closed tightly. The man loved coming in my mouth, and up my ass for that matter. I loved letting him do it, anytime he wanted to. Speaking of asses, I wanted his and told him so. He didn't refuse me either. I put a little spit on my dick, put his legs over my shoulder, entered his hot ass and fucked him until I spilled my own load less than ten minutes later. He was hard again by the time I pulled out.

"Damn man! Are you going to be fucking horny forever? You just came fifteen minutes ago!!"

"Yeah, I am. Remember, I'm horny for your soul, not just your ass. Sex is just sex, but your body and mine together are a natural."

I lay back and wrapped my legs around his back. He entered me in one thrust, slow and easy. Making love in the outdoors had to be the coolest place to do it. He was right, we were a natural together. He knew how to fuck me and please me as well as to please himself. We fucked like it was our first and last time. He was soon bucking his hips, driving his cock deeper into my ass. I spread my legs further and let him inside me. He came in another couple minutes, shivering as I held his dick tightly inside my ass. He pulled out and lay on his back, not putting himself together yet.

"Okay my bud, I'm not horny any more. I might not be able to say that in five minutes, but for now I'm satisfied."

"Five minutes? Jeez, what's the matter, you don't love me anymore? Five minute??"

"Don't worry, Joe, I love you enough to thoroughly miss those five minutes, but you filled me up and I'm good to go for awhile longer."

Once again, our playtime came to an end. Why did the day move so fast? We followed the stream south again, coming out to the edge of the lake an hour later. We packed up the car, took one last look at the wide expanse of nature, and drove back to the farm. The chore of the afternoon was in the garden. We had a vegetable garden that spread over six acres. Name it, and if it could be grown in rocky New England soil, we did. Mom froze things and canned things, making our reliance on the supermarket quite minimal. While a lot of families had grocery bills of $200+ a week, ours barely hit $100 in two weeks. We weren't rich by any stretch, but dad supported us well enough. I paid for college since there was no way for dad to support the cost and raise two more children and keep the farm going. I'd known that ever since I wanted to go away to school. I went away to college as much for an adventure away from home as I did for education. It was also a way to know if I could be self-reliant. With three full years of school under my belt already, I knew I could be. I was still reluctant to give up my childhood, though. I decided some time ago that I never would fully give over my youth, no matter how long I lived. And I refused to become skeptical with the world. I would take what I could get and give what I could give, equally. Chris called me idealistic, meaning to say that one should always look out for the brighter future. If you expect sadness, you'll get it.

We had homemade macaroni and cheese with hot dogs and broccoli for dinner. More fresh bread, too, which my mom made daily. Brad, Chris and I drank nearly a full gallon of milk with our meal. Brad and I alone could go through four gallons each a week. Ah, the joys of being sons of a dairy farmer. The supply seemed endless. Even at school the guys joked that I'd rather have a tall glass of cold milk than a beer. Yeah, any day.

After dinner Chris and I walked out to the ridge of the summer pasture. The view from the top looked out over the valley. In the distance to the south was a lighted church steeple. The glow of lights downtown shone into the sky, washing out the stars in that part of the sky. We looked directly overhead and could almost touch the Milky Way. The full moon was beginning to wane. The "man in the moon" wasn't quite so distinct tonight. There was a cool breeze blowing up from the river, adding a chill to the night.

Chris stood behind me. He put his hands in my pockets and laid his head on my back. On chilly nights he usually did that. Touch and warmth; two things he craved. I wrapped my arms behind me, holding on to his ass cheeks with both hands. He nuzzled into my neck and we watched the daily freight train snake southward. I felt his lips caress my neck gently for a moment, feeling his warm breath next to my ear. He turned me around and wrapped both arms around me, pulling me tightly to his body. He kissed me deeply with so much passion that a tear rolled down my cheek. We put our heads on each other's shoulders, standing in the moonlight while the heavens revolved around us, holding each other in the night.

We had stayed out all evening and it was now midnight, which meant getting up at five was going to be so hard. But how can you put a time limit on the love you feel for your buddy? If we watched the clock constantly, we'd be denying each other the free spirit we wanted. We watched the clock at school and were driven by schedules. Here on vacation, we would live on our own time, within reason of my dad's needs.

Chris & Joe - Part 6

Wednesday -- Just past midnight. We were only a little tired, so we sat on a rock and held each other. I touched his cheek and ran my fingers through his hair. He played with my ear and kissed my cheek and then my lips. The scent of his hair was the last thing I remember before sleep swallowed me. We slept for a few brief hours under the stars.

At 4:30, we were in the barn. The eggs were already on the kitchen counter. The manure was already cleaned up and the hay already spread. When dad arrived, he looked around in surprise. We were ready to milk the cows. Yesterday's hay bales were set aside and ready to put into the loft. I had only dad's car left to do an oil change. All the farm equipment was ready for the rest of the summer. Brad would help 'winterize' it in October, and would continue with the quarterly maintenance duties while I was in school.

By 10:00, we were done with the weeding in the garden. Chris and I went to the house, changed into shorts and sneakers, and headed downtown with my basketball. We'd been invited to play this afternoon with a few of my high school friends. First we did some one-on-one, then played "horse". The rains came, as forecasted, so we went to the gym to play our game.

We ran up and down the court, sweat, slipped on the wet floor on occasion, struggled for control of the ball, and for the chance to shoot. Chris hit a three-point shot that impressed us all. Over the course of the game, he shot 23 points while I shot 18. My average in high school had been 16 per game, across four years. My best night brought home 27 points.

In the shower after the game, the guys looked with admiration at his naked body. I too looked, but only at him; the bodies of my friends were nothing new to me. Chris looked only at me, not even aware of the other guys. He smiled because we both knew many things that the guys did not and it was fun having our secret. Being gay was not accepted behavior, especially when you hung out with naked guys in the locker room. However, most of us had our fair share of jacking off with one or two buddies after school.

It was still raining when we got home so any outside activity was going to be minimal. On second thought ...

"Let's take a walk," he says.

"It's pouring out there," I protested, mildly.

The protest was mild because when I was a kid, the rain did not drive Brad or me inside, to my mom's chagrin.

"It's a warm rain. Who cares?"

We told mom we'd be going out to check the fence to see what needed to be patched before the end of summer.

"In this rain? Glory, I never understood your fascination for being wet!"

'I could think of a couple reasons,' I thought to myself as I winked at Chris. He winked back, fully knowing. We'd made love in a torrential downpour back at the end of April, before our semester had ended. The rain had made a beautiful lubricant for our intercourse.

When we were out of the view of the farmhouse and barn, we reached simultaneously for the other's hand. I was an inch taller than Chris's 5'10" frame, so he usually took a higher point on the land when we'd turn to each other to kiss. Sometimes he'd get on his knees and I'd bend all the way down to touch his body while I kissed him. The inch was of little consequence except in how we used it to make our love making interesting.

By now the warm summer rain already soaked us, our hair slicked to our heads. His was a little darker when it was wet, and mine was a deep brown. I pulled his back over his head and kissed his forehead. The rain touched our lips as we kissed, making them wet and soft. I lifted Chris' shirt and sucked his nipples, one at a time, as he massaged my shoulders. He pulled my rain-soaked shirt off and ran his hands over my smooth chest. He turned me around, put his crotch against my ass, and licked my back. His tongue caressed my shoulders and traveled down my spine. He hit the base of my spine, just above the waist of my jeans. I shuddered tremendously. He'd known a long time that it was a wonderful sweet spot for me. He lingered there, licking lightly at my skin, causing goose bumps all over. He messaged my crotch at the same time, feeling my stiff dick through the wet fabric.

I moaned, bucked, and filled my jeans with a hot cream load.

"Jeez, bud, you made me shoot my wad."

"Really? Cool, lemme see."

I turned around for him. He unbuttoned my jeans and ran the zipper down. He licked at my cum before the rain could wash it away, There was plenty there for him to eat. He put my cock in his mouth and washed it clean as well, then licked my balls. When I was clean, he zipped and buttoned my jeans again. When he kissed me, he passed me a taste of my cream with his tongue.

"You taste so good, Joe. I'm never going to get tired of eating your juice."

I dropped to my knees, massaged his ass cheeks through his jeans, and probed into his belly button and across his lean stomach. He pushed his crotch into my shoulder as I ate his stomach with my lips and tongue. In little more than ten minutes, he was moaning. He threw his head back and let out a groan. I touched his hard crotch with my hand as he ground his cum load into his jeans. I smiled up at him as he shuddered and dropped his head forward.

As I unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, his cock fell forward, right into my mouth. I sucked it and cleaned off his cream. I followed the shaft back to his bush of pubic hair, down to his balls, and finally up to his lower belly, licking every inch clean. His gobs of white cream tasted so good. I stood, kissed him while I put his jeans back together, and returned creamy drops of his load to his mouth.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking hand in hand and examining the fence, as we had said we would, for patching in the fall. When we came in, we told dad of all the spots along the three-mile section of fence between the stream edge and the upper pasture. We then went up stairs, showered quickly, and changed into dry clothing.

Chris lay on Brad's bed and I stretched out on mine.

"Your family is so cool. Even with working more than twelve hours a day, they don't show stress and strain. Your mom obviously likes me a lot. Your brother and sister have both taken to me. I like them all. I hope you know you're lucky."

"Yeah, I do. We get along great, with minor arguments now and then, but no big battles. They respect my few wishes and encourage me greatly. Dad was a little surprised I'd do so well in school these past three years. But he's pleased."

"No, he's proud. Both your folks are tremendously proud of you. It shows too Joe. Your family loves you as well as mine do me, and you know that's a lot."

I drifted off to nap with that thought in my head. It was a warm feeling that enveloped me and let me sleep for an hour or so until we heard my mom calling us for supper.

"That'll teach you boys to be out all night," she said with a small smile as we ambled down stairs.

There was very little my mother did not know. My brother and I had never been able to fool her, and not for lack of trying either. We were convinced there were hidden cameras all over the farm. Mom didn't preach, and never had. She taught her children simple lessons. To run a farm, you could not be up until past midnight, sleep a couple hours, and work a full day. While other parents and children fought constantly, I took heed of the simple lessons and let them guide me through my life. Some day my parents would both be gone and I would have no one to learn from, at least anyone so patient and so caring.

We took our plates to the sink, rinsed them off, stacked them on the counter and cleared the rest of the table. Mom protested.

"No, sit and relax. We're going to clean up and do the dishes. You could use a night off. I'll make you a cup of tea."

She sat back and smiled at me. I was unpredictable as the day was long.

"It's not even my birthday."

"Nope. But doesn't mean we can't take care of you for an evening anyway."

Chris put the teakettle on and I started running hot water into the sink. When the water had boiled, I put a tea bag in a cup and poured the hot water over it.

"Here, you can have this in the den and really relax. We'll take care of the kitchen, so don't give it a second thought. Come on."

I offered my arm and she took it. She sat in the overstuffed chair, put her feet up, and took her needlepoint. I set her tea cup on the side table and flipped on the radio. I closed the door as I left, leaving it slightly ajar.

I washed, Chris wiped, and my sister put away. My brother took the opportunity to go call his buddy since he didn't have to be part of the routine tonight. Dad went out to check the cows and to close up shop. A while later he joined mom in the den and they talked for a couple hours, undisturbed. The kitchen was up to my mom's par by the time we were done.

We sat and watched TV for a couple of hours, Chris in the recliner and me on the sofa, stretched out. The house was very peacefully quiet. The rain enveloped the house as it fell gently on the roof. By 9:30 we went up stairs and slept the rest of the night in the comfort of my family.

Chris & Joe - Part 7

Thursday -- fog wrapped around the valley, blocking the view of even the closest meadow. The rain had ended around dawn. I smelled pancakes from downstairs. I went over to Chris and gently kissed him awake. We showered and went down to breakfast, then out to do our chores.

Farm chores done, we grabbed baseball equipment and made our way to the ball field behind the high school. Only a handful of the guys were there, some a carryover from our basketball game yesterday. I couldn't hit for shit, and one of my better friends couldn't run because of torn ligaments in a recent injury. My strong suite was fielding and running. First time at bat and David connected with the ball. I took off like a bat out of hell for the base, making it well ahead of the first baseman. He stood and shook his head.

"Okay, Flash, some day you'll slow down. Then I'll take great pleasure in tagging you out."

"Nada... no way, bozo. You haven't been able to yet in nine years, why start now?"

"Someday, Flash, someday."

I saw the next ball connect to the batter and again ran like the wind. Second baseman was equally adamant about taking me down, but missed ... by a mile. The next couple batters struck out and I was afraid I wasn't going to make it home. The next got me from second base to home in a beautiful hit to the far outfield, and ended him on second base.

The game progressed all afternoon. I stood and looked at the asses of my friends every chance I got, on the sly of course. I did the same at major league games, and NOT on the sly. God, I loved a man's ass when he was wearing tight jeans or a cool baseball uniform. Staring at Chris' was, of course, the best. He was wearing jeans that hugged his body. I saw one of the other guys giving him a close look, too. He was oblivious, having concentrated on his hitting. He made it to second base before we had our third out. He made it as far as third base through the course of the afternoon.

At games end, we went out for ice cream and gradually dispersed. Some of the guys were, like me, sons of dairy farmers. Others had to go home and get ready for work. Chris and I were home by 4:00, an hour earlier than promised, since we'd been gone all day.

Dinner was mom's specialty -- chicken pie. Homemade crust, fresh chicken, green peas, fresh carrots, a tad of onion, in a homemade sauce. All the guys, dad included, had two helpings. Not one of us was overweight, but from the way my mom cooked, that was an incredible achievement, even with the physical labor. There was fresh blueberry pie for dessert a while later.

Chris and I decided earlier in the day to repeat the cleaning up routine from last night. Mom tried to protest again. We wouldn't let her.

"Hey, we're gone for the next two days, so go away and find something to do."

I heard the water running into the tub upstairs a few minutes later. Hot bubble bath; mom's favorite. It felt good to let her have a couple hours all to herself. Dad closed up shop and then I didn't see him for a long while, until he and mom came out of the bathroom together. He grinned. So did she.

I'd come up stairs to grab our jackets since the night air had cooled down. Chris and I were going to sit on the porch, but decided to walk instead. He still hadn't seen the whole of the farm, so we went to the pasture to the east of the main buildings and then climbed into the tall maple at the edge of a pond. We could see the last remnants of the full moon behind a layer of clouds. An owl in another tree across the pond hooted in chorus with another about a half mile away.

We sat in the huge bend of the maple, our legs overlapping our hips, with our balls pressed right up against each other. I hugged him with my legs and he let his dangle over the tree. We hugged, then kissed briefly. I leaned back into the cradle of the tree and held both his hands. I rubbed my thumbs across his knuckles as he wrapped his fingers around mine.

His smile was so handsome. His blond hair had been combed neatly in place. His eyes were looking into mine, concentrating on and hearing nothing except the beating of our two hearts and the mating of our two souls.

Guys our age usually thought about little besides sex. Chris and I loved sex, but we used it as a completion for something, not the start of something. We loved to sit and hold hands, staring into each other's eyes, and talking about the world. Tonight we talked about movies and music, books we were reading, a little about politics though neither of us were big on politics or pretended to understand much about it, the end of summer in a month, trips to Boston, basketball, soccer, working, and classes.

We would be returning to college as seniors. Our friendship was nearly four years old. What we shared over these past three years had been extraordinary. We talked about his cancer.

"I've had it twice. What if I have it again?"

"You'll beat it again, just like you did the first two times. As God-awful sick as you were, I know we can deal with it."

"What makes you so sure, bud? What's inside your head that makes you know?"

His eyes were filled with fear, despite the lack of mine.

"It's not what's inside my head, my love. It's what's in here."

I took his hand and put it on my chest, under my shirt, and held it tightly. His eyes were sad, wondering how I could possibly believe, when he doubted.

"What do you feel there, Chris?"

"Your heartbeat. It's strong."


He wanted to say that he felt more. He couldn't, because he didn't know. The cancer was very personal to him. He knew what the pain felt like, what the drugs were like, and the radiation. The puking had wrecked his system for months, leaving him so worn and so tired that he felt he could never physically survive another bout. He bowed his head and shook it slowly.

I put my hand under his shirt. I touched his chest, on top of his heart. I put my left arm around his shoulders and pulled us a little closer. My left hand moved up and held the back of his head and his neck. I didn't say anything, but I closed my eyes for a moment and put my head back slightly. In a few moments, I opened my eyes and looked again at his blue eyes.

"Want to know what I feel?"

"Yes," he said, a loud whisper, a little afraid.

"A strong heartbeat. A heart that beats for me. Endlessly. Forever. I feel strength to fight off a thousand battles with cancer. I feel the warmth and joy of love that I've felt non-stop for two years and eleven months. I feel your courage standing beside this fear. I feel me holding your hand and your head as you puke. I feel me beside you every day. I feel your soul and I feel like I can take away all your pain, or at least share it and ease your burden. Tell me I'm wrong, my love. Tell me that I don't feel any of that."

"No, I cannot, because I know you are sincere."

A tear flowed down his cheek. I wiped it away, and kissed the cheek where it had been. More tears flowed, as if someone had turned on a faucet. He did not sob, or make any sound at all. His lips quivered. I touched them with my fingers, then kissed them lightly. He held my two shoulders with his hands, rubbing them up and down. Both his eyes pooled up and spilled over.

"I will say this once and for all, my friend. Your cancer did not make me feel differently about you. I love you, your heart and soul, your body, your mind. You. Loving you takes all fear out of me, for anything that I ever have to be afraid of. I know you will be by my side to help me when I falter. There will never be a moment, until the day that I die, that you are not in here, and in here."

I pointed to my heart, and then to my head. I repeated it slowly.

"There will never ... be a moment ... until the day that I die ... that you are not in my heart ... and in my mind."

My voice cracked with emotion on the last words.

He sobbed out loud, letting his emotions overtake him. He could not hold back his own doubts, for they were in his tears and his sobs. He could not hold back his love for me because he held me close and hugged me with his strong arms. He kissed my neck as he cried. I held his head with my right hand and his back with my left, rubbing his back to offer comfort. He cried for nearly ten minutes, stopping once but feeling overwhelmed again, unable to stop until he was cried out.

When he stopped crying, he held me a little longer. He finally pulled back, took a deep breath, and smiled at me.

"I am so blessed by you, my love. The day you walked into my life, I was changed forever. No one has ever given me even half what you give me. But I keep taking because you keep giving. I love you so, Joe. I love you as much as I possibly can, and then I love you more."

"I will love you until I can no longer do so, Chris. I don't now what waits for us out there, but we'll walk to it together."

There were no clouds in the sky. It was a moonlit night and the stars sparkled brightly. The reflection on the still pond was like that of the smoothest mirror. The bond between us, as we sat in the huge old maple, reached outward toward the heavens. We sat in the tree for a couple hours, working things out. When he was okay, and knew I meant all I said, we walked back to the house. It was 11:30 by the time he settled into bed. I sat and held him, then I lay down beside him. I didn't move all night as we held each other.

To be continued ...