The following is a true story of a "lifelong" friendship. I still cherish it, to this day, from it's beginnings 24 years ago this year. I hope you all enjoy the story and I definitely would like to hear what you think about it.
Admittedly the subject matter of this series is different than that of what we usually read in the Nifty Archive. I don't know if what I'm going to write is going to please those who have taken to my style, but I'll try hard to keep you faithful to me.
The story is already written, so I'm now the storyteller; and whether you think I'm doing the story justice or not, I want to hear from you. Keep in mind though, that this is not fiction, and my control over non-fiction is the same as yours.
I called him Christopher only occasionally. He preferred Chris. His mom called him Christopher David when she was mad at him. I've never been mad at him. In fact, we'd hit it off from the day we'd met.
Chris was my college roommate. We met in late August, at about 2:30 in the afternoon, on a small New England college campus, tucked away about 60 miles from Boston. Small. Intimate. We'd learn more over the next four years than either of us had bargained for.
I was a likeable guy; easy going, even tempered, kinda Clark Kent-style. Those who tried to ruffle my feathers rarely succeeded. Those who ever did usually regretted it. I don't make a good enemy. I do make a terrific friend. I was 18 plus when I arrived at college. I felt right at home. My hair was dark brown and combed over from the left. I kept it short and neat. Long hair had not been a turn-on for me. Neither was facial hair. My eyes were hazel to gray-blue, depending on what I was wearing. My body was lean, about 180 pounds, and firm. Working on a farm all my life kept me in shape. I loved bluejeans, button-down shirts, and sneakers, Nikes as a matter of fact. I was a country boy, but not really a hick, unless I played up to that. I liked Star Trek, pizza, basketball, and running. In the winter I liked cross-country skiing. I was a computer science major.
Chris -- perfect, in a word. Nobody was perfect. Except Chris. Love at first sight? No, not love, nor even lust. I hadn't explored those feelings much. I like girls, of course, but I didn't have a girlfriend as I went into my freshman year. Chris didn't either. What he did have was killer good looks. He would be 18 in December. Dark blond hair, short and neat, deep blue shining striking gorgeous eyes, trim, athletic body, and also a lover of bluejeans, but with work boots. He too loved Star Trek, pizza, basketball, and running. He downhill skied every possible chance. He was a business administration major, with a minor in math. Bright as the sun, too, but not showy or above anyone else. Likeable.
I had arrived on campus around noon and made it to my dorm by 2:00. He was about a half hour behind me. I had left the door open as I unpacked and put my things on the left side of the room. Guys were in and out all afternoon, quick "Hi, how are you, where are you from, I'm so-and-so". Music of all varieties, mostly loud, could be heard. The windows were all open as well since it was nearly 90 degrees on a Sunday afternoon. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, frat guys and gals, administration, parents . . . chaos.
Chris, like me, arrived sans parents. Mine were three hours away, north, working on my dad's farm. Chris' were two and a half hours west, probably doing household chores like laundry and mowing the lawn. I was one of four children, two boys, and two girls. He was one of two boys. He and his family got along very well. My family and I were almost like the Waltons, but I always knew where home was.
Chris shook my hand firmly, smiled at me, and said he was glad to meet me. I helped him unpack after he helped me finish up. We talked non-stop about everything, not realizing that we had four years to talk about stuff. College life was going to be different. I went down to the lounge and brought us back some cold soda. After awhile, the music got to us so we closed the door. He'd brought a stereo receiver, turntable, and two decent sized speakers which we placed strategically after listening to them for hours from different angles. By 10:30 we were organized. After a shower each, we settled into bed and continued to get acquainted, talking until we were too tired to any more.
I woke at 6:30, my first morning of not getting up at 5:00 a.m. in 18 years. I wanted to run. I tried to be quiet so as not to wake Chris, but he woke on his own a few minutes after me, early for him by about 90 minutes. I was doing warm-up exercises so I could run. He caught up and we left together.
"How far?" he asked.
"Twelve miles, typically, but I don't know the terrain yet."
"Okay, if you can do it I can."
"Why, what's your usual?"
I picked up my pace. He kept up. We were going to be just fine together.
Classes, work for me; two part time jobs and a work-study job as a tutor, and basketball practice. Classes, work-study in the library for him, and basketball practice. We ran together four days a week on a mapped-out twelve mile route. We studied together since we were in two of the same classes. He hadn't developed a knack for computers yet, but I was an instant wizard. We made friends quickly, some of the friendships lasting even now, 24 years later.
For Thanksgiving, I was invited to his house in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. I'd met his folks in October for Parent's weekend. They took to me right away, as did his brother, Eric. My folks didn't mind that I wouldn't be home for the holiday since I'd be home for Christmas for three weeks.
On December 5th, his birthday, we made love to each other for the first time. In all the talking we'd done for months, we grew to realize we shared an extraordinary amount in our likes and dislikes. We were like brothers, but we also grew to love each other deeply, our minds guiding us along until we ended up in each others arms for the first time. Other than a deep sense of caring, nothing really said "Tonight is the night". We didn't burn for each other, but we wanted to be held by the other.
I looked into his eyes as he lay beside me on my bed. We were naked and it was 11:30 in the evening. The dorm was relatively quiet. We were both quite hard as he pressed his warm crotch against mine. We took our time. There was no lust, only love and a desire to please each other, to release what had been building up slowly over the past months.
This was our first time with a male. Nothing about it felt wrong. We weren't clumsy together. We just knew what it was going to take to make the other happy. His lips were wet and soft as he kissed mine. I was kissing my best friend. Kissing a guy. Oh, it was so sweet. Surely I was dreaming. His touch told me that I was not. His touch reassured me that this was okay, that it was right, that we wanted me and that I wanted him. After several long minutes of soft kissing, his tongue parted my lips and explored my mouth. He shifted from being beside me to laying on top of me. His body was light and firm, melting into me as our lips and tongues worked together. He stopped for a moment, moved his head back, and he stared deeply into my eyes. He didn't speak. He watched my face for approval and saw it immediately. He smiled and I lifted my head off my pillow to touch his lips to mine.
He put me on the bottom and then very deftly entered my ass as he continued to kiss me. My ass was virgin, unexplored. By the time he was done with me, I bet he knew more about my insides that I ever would. He didn't hurt me, intentionally or unintentionally. His cock was about seven or seven and a half inches. Cut.
"Geez, you feel so warm," he said as he slid slowly into me. "I never expected it to feel like this."
"I can feel the heat of your dick matching the heat of my ass. It's like you're meant to be in me. This feels so amazing."
"Yeah, it does. I don't think I ever want to stop."
He pushed in to the hilt, I grabbed his dick with my tight ass-fist, and he pulled most of the way out, leaving just the head inside me. The he slid forward, slowly and I pushed my ass up to meet his cock. He managed to fuck me for a good ten minutes, but then he couldn't hold it any longer. He let his load fly, filling my virgin ass with his cream. I had come at the same time, without laying a hand on my dick. My load was rubbed between our skin as he lay on top of me, letting his softening dick slip out of my ass. He fell asleep a few minutes later, holding each other close.
I woke in the morning before Chris, still holding him. I didn't want to let go. I also hoped that when he woke he wouldn't pull away. I kissed him gently on his neck. He woke a little while later and saw me staring into his eyes. He smiled, kissed me deeply, and let his hand roam over my body.
"Wanna run this morning?" he asked.
"Nope. I wanna make love to you."
He wasn't disappointed that we stayed in. He lay on his stomach and told me that I could do whatever I wanted to to his ass. I started by kissing his cheeks and messaging them. His ass was firm and tight. I spread his cheeks and licked along the crack, down to his asshole. He put his hands on his cheeks and spread them wider as I ate him out, letting my tongue make his hole nice and wet. After a few minutes I lay on top of him and then pushed my eight-inch cock into his asshole. It sucked me in and swallowed me whole.
"Geez, Chris, no wonder you didn't want to stop last night. You ate my whole cock in one gulp."
He smiled and told me to give it to him slow, like he had done to me. I got up on the balls of my feet and eased in and out, slowly, almost the full length, and then pushed back in. He pushed up with his ass to meet my thrusts. The sex was effortless and hot. He moaned softly as I fucked him, sucking my cock with his ass, drawing my juice out of my balls. In fifteen minutes time I was shooting the biggest load of my life to date. (You've heard "This is not your father's Oldsmobile"? Well, this was not your high school buddy jacking off with you either). I pushed my cock to the hilt as I shot one after another, filling his insides. The cum lubed my cock and I still felt so hot and hard that I just kept fucking him. I turned him over on his back without taking my dick out of his ass, and fucked him for another ten minutes before an impossible load found its way to my cock head and into his already cum-moist hole.
We dozed off again, me on top of him, his arm around my back and his other holding my ass. When we woke again, we headed for the showers and out to the student union for breakfast. He had to work in the library in the afternoon and I had to work at the restaurant at 5:30. I went to the library in the meantime and sat so that I could watch him at the front counter. He knew I was there and it turned him on to be watched.
I got home at 12:30 a.m. He was in bed, sleeping. Thankfully he was not a light sleeper. A small night light in the corner let me see to undress without turning on a light. I slipped quietly into bed behind Chris, holding him close to my body, spoons-style, my right hand settling onto his flaccid cock and low-hanging balls. I kissed him lightly on his neck and fell asleep moments later.
We awoke each morning after spending each evening in each others arms. He woke me with a kiss or I woke him with a kiss. He warmed up and then went for our run. Between morning and afternoon classes, we lay on either his bed or mine, holding each other while we read assignments.
"I love you," he said to me on December 7th.
"I know. And I love you, too, Chris. You're in my heart even when we're separated during the day."
"And you in mine. I'm glad that we are friends. I can't ever imagine it not being this way, can you?"
"No. I'd dread us ever being separated, for any reason. I want you in my life always." Sealed with a kiss.
January rolled around and we returned to school. We had gone home for Christmas holiday to our respective home towns. He arrived within mere minutes of each other, meeting up in the parking lot and thinking it funny. We were constantly amazed at the things we had in common, our timing, and our nearly identical natures. We thought that the saying went "opposites attract" but you couldn't prove it by us. We considered that maybe we were really brothers, separated at birth. We discussed incest and it turned us on. As if we needed a reason to be naked in bed, holding each other close.
The school ritual was fairly routine. We ran each morning at 6:30, showered, kissed, and went to 8:00 classes. He worked five days a week from 10:00 to 1:00 and 3:00 to 5:00. I worked at a local gas station from 10:00 to 2:00, five days a week and on Saturdays from 8:00 to 4:00. He had a 2:00 class and I had 3:00 class. I tutored from 4:30 to 5:00 five days a week. I came back to the dorm, changed for work, and kissed him until the last possible moment. I worked in a local moderately upscale restaurant across town, from 6:00 until midnight, six nights a week. We also squeezed in basketball practice and planned on playing soccer. Our friends, especially whose parents were paying their way, thought we were insane. Our attitude was that life is not to be wasted. Enjoy it with every breath.
Fitting in study time was hard, but we were both B-students, occasionally rewarded with an "A" when the class was especially interesting. On the weekends when we weren't working, we had sex. We'd quickly taken to sucking each other off in a 69, either on our beds or on the floor. Seems we couldn't get enough of the other's cock. I swallowed his load as he swallowed mine, and we still wanted more.
In March, the ritual changed. Chris became ill and within a week we found out that he had Hodgkin's Disease. He was scared silly. Neither of us were afraid of dying; we were afraid of dying prematurely, before our time was really spent. He got onto a routine of chemo and radiation, but it devastated his system. He had no desire to leave school, especially since classes ended in six weeks. We did whatever it took to keep him current, even on the days when he could not go to classes.
Some nights I held his head in the bathroom, putting a cold wet washcloth to his face as he puked endlessly into the toilet. Then I'd walk him back to our room, leave a light on at the corner of my desk, and hold him.
"Never, ever be afraid that this will change us. I love you because you're you, not because of anything else. I'm not afraid of your cancer. And I'll hold you like I've done for months. Okay?"
He cried. I let him, either wiping away or kissing away the anxiety and the fear that he had. His attitude improved and he became a little stronger. He seemed to thrive on my love. The drugs were helping, of course, but they weren't going to help him alone. I wasn't smug enough to think I would be enough alone either, so I worked in combination with his treatment routine.
He managed to make it through finals okay and then I helped him get home to the Berkshires. I spent two days and then went home for the summer to my family. Chris and I talked every other day. By July the cancer was gone. I worked in the fields on my dad's farm. He'd worked in a hardware store, even when he was going through chemo. His family cared for him deeply and his friends kept him occupied so his mind wasn't spent worrying.
We returned to school in late August, rooming together on campus again in a newer dorm. We picked up where we left off. I fucked him with great joy and passion. He fucked me equally. His load was as sweet as ever in my mouth and up my ass. The ritual of the last school year was repeated, nearly hour for hour, so the time we had together, alone, was welcomed and fulfilling. Every day was important.
In early November the cancer appeared again. He knew a little more this time around, so the treatments didn't bother him so much. I was with him daily to take him to and from the local hospital. Our friends were not quite so antsy this time about how to treat him. Some suspected that Chris and I were in love. We neither confirmed nor denied their notions.
Thanksgiving was again spent at his house. His folks treated me so well and I honestly cared for them the way I did my own parents. They marveled at my ability to talk to Chris and to stand by him, even when some of the other friends at school were shy of him. Chris would have done the same for me if necessary, so it was a no-brainer.
We returned to school in time to get ready for finals. Christmas vacation was three weeks spent apart, but also spent in calling each other every other day. Chris had been close to remission again and knew that he was at least a bit ahead of the cancer.
"You make me fulfilled in our friendship, not just in the sex. I sometimes look at you in amazement of how strong you are. How come you've never even flinched at my disease?"
"Because you are a friend and I've never taken that word lightly. A friendship is a deep commitment to the spirit. Nothing should ever be so bad that you couldn't depend on me to be right at your side. I'll be here anytime, at any hour, for any reason as long as we live."
He held me. No kissing this time. He just wanted to be held and to suck up my strength and my morals. I held his hand, kissed it, and was very content to let him take from me. By the end of January, the cancer had once again vacated his system.
By the end of our third school year, we'd already decided that he'd spend a week on our farm in New Hampshire. My folks treated him like their other four children, including getting him up at 5:00 to help with the chores. He loved it and it made him appreciate me all the more.
On a warm sunny July afternoon, we made love under a shady tree, hidden somewhere on the 500 acres of our farm.
August once again brought us to school. Except for the holidays and summer vacation, we slept in each others arms. It felt so good to be in his arms again on this cool late summer night. We snuggled together as the cool breeze drifted in, the slightly chill air helping us to sleep soundly.
The Berkshires Thanksgiving annual holiday came and went too quickly. This was our last holiday as college student. Christmas found us in our respective hometowns once again, and January again found us in each other's arms, sleeping contentedly.
In March we began our job searches, wondering where we would end up. Luck, or just the desire not to separated, helped us both find jobs in Boston, albeit for two different companies. Both our parents hated the idea we'd be working in "the big city", but felt better that we could room together and take care of each other.
We found a two bedroom apartment on Boston's South Shore, near the subway line. We met for lunch each day at Boston Common and ate out on Friday's. Friday evening, at the end of our first full work week, we lay on the sofa, naked. On Saturday morning we slept in until about 10:00. During the week we were up at 6:00, as usual, running. We decided not to run on the weekends, settling for sleep instead.
Two years after the disappearance of his cancer, it made a vengeful comeback. He was in the hospital for two weeks this time. I went to see him every lunch hour and every night after work until they kicked me out of his room. Even he was amazed at my total devotion to him, no matter the circumstances.
"What'd I do to deserve you?"
"You don't deserve me. You need me. And I need you. So what was the question again?"
"Never mind. I know better than to ask such a silly question."
Any time he said "I love you" I always said "I love you, too." Never "Yeah, I know". Always say what you mean. I had no problem ever telling him I loved him. Anytime I said "I love you", he'd say "Yeah, and I love you as much." Neither one of us loved the other more than the other. We weren't in competition here, we were best friends and lovers. Evenness. Single-minded caring.
I helped him to stay strong and to fight off the cancer. I didn't treat him any differently from one day to the other, ill or healthy, we kept a strong friendship and a loving relationship. I slept with him even when he was at his worst from chemo. He needed a steady loving hand and I gave it, unquestionably and eagerly. The sex was terrific when we could manage, but the love was 100% and without fail.
Business trips occasionally kept us apart for up to a month at a time. The telephone was a good companion on the "lonely" nights. We vacationed at my dad's farm or at his folks house for a week each. Neither of us saw other men, except as friends for scenic touring, concerts, and general companionship, just as any straight man has a buddy to hang out with. Our friends knew we were a monogamous couple and even envied our commitment to each other. We just plain felt blessed.
December 24th. We were driving home from a Christmas dinner with friends outside of Boston. We've been the very best of friends for 11 years now. We were as close as ever, appreciating each day that we had, enjoying our lives fully.
July. I woke to find myself in the hospital. A new journey . . .
He held me close and looking into my eyes. He loved watching my eyes. We could have full conversations with our eyes alone. He smiled, creating another unspoken conversation. His face was youthful and so handsome that it made me ache sometimes. His body was naked, lean, firm, and athletic. His cock hung past his balls. His public hair was light. I smelled the manliness of his flesh as it rushed up my nose. The sweat was musky and pleasant, adding to the arousal of my sex and my senses.
There was a seven month gap in my memory. I had been listening to my surroundings for a few days. I knew I was in the hospital, and I knew it was July. Other than that, I was a mere child. No memories, no individual thought process, and awareness of only two others close to me drawing me out. I could not see, either.
Drawing me out? Out of what? And why was it July instead of December? Chris, are you here, bud?
"Yes, my friend. I am here."
"Hold me. I'm afraid."
"There isn't anything to be afraid of. I'm here anytime you need me."
He put his lips on mine. The anxiety I'd felt fled immediately. His lips were soft, so beautifully soft and so caring. He lay on top of my body, naked and firm. He parted my lips and explored my mouth. His breath tasted of my cock. It was salty, like my cum. Heat rose inside me as I probed his mouth. I felt his hair, touched his face, licked his ears and felt him shudder in my arms. There was never, ever any better compliment than making my man shiver under my touch. It made me complete, knowing that his pleasure need was being met.
He touched my body and sucked my Adam's Apple, licked my neck and slid slowly over to my ear lobe. He bit it oh so gently, working it with his tongue and his teeth. He knew my hot spots, in love and in sex. He slid down and moved his lips over my hairless chest, to my nipples, down to my navel, over to my hip, and then back to my crotch where he sucked each of my balls into his mouth. He licked the tender underside of my balls, and down to my asshole. He spread my cheeks as he tongued my hole, eating me deeply, prepping me for the treasure I wanted most inside of me.
He probed at my insides with a finger and then two. In a few minutes, he replaced the fingers with his hard cock, hitting every nerve ending in my ass. His cut cock, seven and a half full inches, just the right thickness, poked my slippery ass, sliding fully in and then pulling back so just the swollen purple head was inside me. He slid in and out in the slow and steady rhythm that we both loved so much. He always asked me if it was okay, if he was pleasing me enough. My demands were not high. He always made me feel good. His skill at making love to me had developed over the period of about 11 years. In a few minutes, the sweat beaded up on his face as he tried to hold off his orgasm. I pushed my ass into his cock, gripped it firmly with my muscle ring and pulled his cum out of his balls. I didn't want him to hold off any longer; I wanted his juice inside of me. The moist heat filled me, my reward for my passion with this man. I would love him forever, and I had no hesitation or worry that I would ever not be loved by him.
Without touching myself, I shot an incredibly hot load of cream on to my stomach as he drew his now softening cock from my ass.
"Huh? Who's there?"
Eric? Chris' brother, Eric? I instantly recognized him as one of the two people who had been close to me for these past few days (months?).
"I'm here, too, Joe."
The second presence that I had felt. My brother was a tremendous part of my life, and had been since we were little boys. He was 18 months younger than me.
"I can't see anything, but I know my eyes are open."
"Yes, Joe, your eyes are open. You are in the hospital. Because of an accident. We are hoping the blindness is temporary."
"Okay. Yeah, I hope so, too. I'm tired. I need to sleep some more."
Two hands, one first then another, touched my face gently. I heard my brother say "Sleep peacefully. We'll be here when you wake again." I heard Eric say "Peace, friend. We're not going anywhere."
"Where'd you go?"
"Nowhere, my friend. I'm right here. Sleep now. I'll sleep along side you."
I felt his body behind me, spoons-style, pressing his crotch into my bare ass, wrapping his right arm across my body and placing his hand firmly on my chest. He kissed my neck and we slept.
"No, Eric. Rob's eating breakfast. He'll be back shortly."
"I feel you close. Why now?"
"Actually I've always been close, since you first came home for that first Thanksgiving. You still amaze me, just as you did almost 12 years ago."
"We did seem to get along well from the beginning, didn't we?"
"Yeah, and I'm thankful for that, and for everything you have been to our family."
"Can you tell me about the accident?"
"I'll try. You were hit by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve. We were not sure you were going to make it."
"Tell me the truth, I was supposed to die."
"Well, I don't know if 'supposed to' is right. But you nearly did. Something brought you back to us."
"I've heard something in my ear for awhile, but I don't know how long. It was a very strong presence, pushing me out of the darkness. Then I suddenly felt Rob and you pulling from the other side of that same darkness. I guess I didn't belong there."
I felt a kiss on my cheek.
"What was that for?"
"A connection, but it's hard to explain until you understand more."
"What will make me understand?"
"Okay. I guess."
I didn't understand at all, but I liked Eric and trusted what he said. What was missing though? He mentioned a connection. I had a connection too, but I didn't know to what.
He took my hand. It was soft and gentle, but manly. It was so familiar, but I didn't know from where.
"Why are you so sad?" I said.
"It's a long story. You can feel that in me?"
"Yeah, I can. And from Rob, too. Sometimes it seems like a wave pushing me back, and then you two change and then seem to start pulling me forward again. How long have I been here?"
"Since the accident. Seven months almost. It's mid July."
He kissed my neck. He reached from behind and put a hand in my crotch, playing with my dick until it was fully hard. He messaged my balls in his fingers, cupping them in his hand. His own hardness pressed against my ass. He rubbed his cock over my ass and then entered me in one push. The love we made was steady, rhythmic, unhurried and fulfilling. Even my barest of needs was always taken care of. He loved being inside me, making me horny and then taking it away because he was so good at what he did to me . He quickly brought us both to an unstoppable orgasm, making me shoot so hard and so far that I didn't see where all of it ended up. I know that his load filled me full. He stayed inside me as long as he could.
"I love you, Joe. Don't every worry."
"I love you, Chris. There will never be anyone else like you."
"He's gone, isn't he?" I asked, to whoever was there.
"Yes, Joe, he's gone." Eric's voice.
"But he loved you," Rob answered.
The emptiness was complete. If I fell into it, I'll fall forever because it was so deep. I swallowed to choke back the feeling as it rose in my throat, threatening to gag me and drag me down into its depths.
For a few days I turned my back to the world. I couldn't move much, but I could close my eyes and shut them all out.
"Don't shut them out. It's not their fault. Don't hate the world because of one man, too drunk to know what he did."
Rob sat beside me. It was the end of September and I could see enough to know that my brother was there beside me. Eric stood at the head of my bed.
There were no tears. I couldn't find any. I'd suspected a couple days ago that Chris was the missing connection. The memory came from nowhere, but it left no doubt that I now was alone.
"Rob, please go home to your family now. Your son needs you more than I do here. I love you, but you can't help me any more. Your job is done."
My brother had been away from his family, nearly full time, for the past nine months. He had a two year old son and a wife who understood his need to be with me. She supported his wishes and encouraged him from four hours away. But now it was time to let him go.
Eric, newly married but with no family yet, wanted to stay. He lived outside of Boston. Even though he'd been here with my brother for nine months, he'd at least gone home every couple of days. His wife was also supportive and understanding.
Eric sat on my bed, holding my hand. He too was younger than Chris, by about two years. They had a lot of things in common; strong handsome faces, deep blue eyes, sandy blond hair, a smile that was so infectious you had to return it, and a heart made from the purest of gold.
"I'm sorry for you. I know what you feel, because I do too. And I know he loved you, not just as a friend, but as a lover as well. The two were so closely tied, and so natural--"
"Did he ever tell you?"
"What did you think?"
"I thought nothing. I loved him. I didn't care if he was gay. Being gay was private and did not make him who he was. It was a part of him, but he did not flaunt it nor did he feel he should not be gay. He had you to love. You never rob a person of the love he has, even if you do not totally understand it."
"Yes. He didn't understand as well at first. But we had a lot of time together. He understands now and will tell you so when the time is right. He too loves you and would not feel it right to deny you happiness."
"How long have you known about Chris and me?"
"Probably from the first Spring after you knew each other. There weren't a lot of secrets between us. He didn't brag either, but he told me that you were special to him. Then when he got Hodgkin's, it made me cry to see how you stood by him, no matter how bad it got."
"I'd forgotten about his cancer, until now. There are still some holes in my memory."
"But I can help fill them. And I will, in time. All you have to know now is that Chris' love for you was as unconditional and true as yours was for him. When he told you he loved you, he meant it. And he knew you meant every word to him. You were the universe to him. Even more than me."
"No, don't be, Joe. It's great that you were. I don't envy or hate you for it; it's just the way it was. And I hope it'll see you through. You've got a lot of healing to do, and I don't think it'll be easy. I want to help, though, all I can."
My hand was wrapped in both of his, warmly and with sincerity. I was now his link to the past, as he was mine. There was no feeling of lust for him, as easy as it would have been to have it. But at least there was a fire in my desire, which is probably why Chris' image filled me so vividly.
I slept, finally. Today had been the first day I'd been awake for 16 hours. Ahead of me was more surgery, rehab for my broken bones and torn tissues, and physical therapy to learn how to walk again.
The latter was torture in the extreme. Having been a runner, a basketball player, and a soccer player, not using my legs for months was bad enough. Now learning how to use them again was going to test the limits of what even I would stand for. How could I have encouraged Chris through his cancer yet not believe a word of it now that I was pushed to the edge of my life too?
One day I was standing at the end of the parallel bars, absolutely frustrated and fed up that my legs would not respond to me. All I wanted to do was sit in the wheelchair again and learn how to push myself around in it. I couldn't care less about anything.
"Walk buddy. You can do it."
"No, not even me, my friend."
"Yes, especially you, my love. Here--"
His arms wrapped around my chest and I leaned into him. His right knee pushed against the back of my leg and I took a step forward. His left knee pushed into my other leg and I took a step.
"Only two more each. Then you can rest."
He did not push this time; he made me do it.
"Do it. Move your leg."
And I did.
"Okay, love, now the right one."
So it was.
"Once more only with your left." His left knee gave me the slightest push. "Now the right one, on your own."
"Okay, good man. Now you can rest." The voice was that of my physical therapist, Katherine. The woman was blessed with the ultimate patience.
Eric sat on the sideline and smiled at me. Chris was sitting next to him. I blinked, then he was gone. So the mystery is, who was talking in my ear, Katherine? Or Chris?
An hour later, we resumed right where I'd left off on the parallel bars.
"Six more steps, love, then you're done for the day."
There was a gentle nudging, from behind, on two of the six. Katherine stood in front of me to catch me if I fell. So then who was behind me?
Four weeks later, I could walk while holding the parallel bars. Stairs were next. Stairs made tears run down my eyes. Up two steps, rest, down two steps. Thirty minutes rest, and repeat. This was so hard, so awful, and so painful. I stood and cried like a baby because I could not get back down the steps when I got up them.
"Come on love, ever so carefully now." The strong arm held me and helped me. "One step at a time, don't worry that there are two. Stay focused, love, stay focused and don't worry so far ahead."
"I love you."
"And I love you, Joe. Always, my love, always. Stay focused, now. You can do this."
Two weeks later, four stairs were "easy" (HA!). Well, okay, easy in comparison to the first day. The stationary bike was next. 1/2 mile. And no slacking allowed.
"Come on love, push. You need to work those ligaments." A gentle hand messaged my muscles, now slightly flabby where once they had been hard as steel.
It wasn't the end of the pain-filled tears, but there were fewer as the months wore on .
"I'm here, love. Keep going. You're gonna lick this yet."
Five months into the PT, I could walk up and down the parallel bars without holding on, mostly. I could walk up and down the four steps with little encouragement. I could do a mile on the stationary bike. Eight months into it I could walk, unaided, around a 1/2 mile track. Ten months into it, I was walking almost everywhere, unassisted. 300 days it took; six days a week so that I would not lose my momentum.
At night he held me close. Eric was now spending his evenings at home, coming every other day ever faithfully, to help me and to cheer me on. Rob was talking to me a couple times a week now to cheer me on from home. Little Jeff told me he loved me and I should get better. But my Chris held me at night and talked encouragement into my ear. When I needed him most, he was there.
Two years after the accident, I was released from the hospital. I went home to New Hampshire, courtesy of a friend who came to Boston to pick me up, and stayed until Spring.
On Christmas Eve, Rob and I sat in the barn on the farm on which we'd grown up.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I know. Two years today. It seems shorter, truthfully. I envy you that he loved you so much."
I looked at him. We'd still not talked about Chris and I, intimately.
"No, it doesn't matter to me. It never will. Eric and I talked a lot. You're lucky and blessed to have had love. Some never feel love, at least to the depth you and Chris did. There's nothing wrong with that."
"I miss him. I haven't cried yet, either. Any tears have been frustration or pain, but not because I lost him."
"When or if the time comes you need to, you will. But you are also extraordinarily strong willed. I've learned to be, probably from seeing you lie near death. Six months is a long time to wish you'd come back. But then we didn't consider the fact that you'd be a vegetable if you did wake. This voice in my head wouldn't let me give in though. It was strong and willful, and anytime I was going to give in, it made sure I wouldn't."
The voice. Did we all hear it? It wasn't real, nor were the images of Chris holding me, but sometimes I think we made our own realities, kinda like a safety valve.
"I hear the encouragement, too. I can't say for sure it's Chris doing it, but he's always on my mind and I wouldn't doubt too much that his spirit is with me. But I don't know for sure."
"You'll probably never know. Life's a mystery. But God forbid that you waste it."
"No, I can't possibly ever do that. Chris' life and death would be meaningless if I ever did."
In the Spring I returned to Boston. I didn't go back to work yet. There was still on-going PT. I'd also settled into a deep funk. Nothing seemed to help shake it. I walked along the ocean; sat and watched sunrises and/or sunsets; walked along the Charles River; sat at Boston Common and walked through The Public Gardens; went to the Hancock Tower; listened to the Boston Pops along the Esplanade . . . all the things that Chris and I did together, something familiar. But the sadness was so overwhelming that it threatened to swallow me whole.
The nights were too long and extraordinarily lonely. I often stayed up all night until I was so tired I'd sleep for a whole day at a time. I had no regular routine to fall into. I had nothing to look forward to. Most especially, Chris was gone and I had only memories. They weren't enough. And I couldn't cry to save my soul. No tears. Did that mean I didn't care?
I decided a change of scenery was in order and I arrived a few weeks later in Pennsylvania. A new place to live, a new job, and a place to hide away from the too familiar surroundings that were empty now because my buddy was dead.
My life had been empty and lost for nearly three years. Then I met Andrew . . .
To be continued in the My Buddy Andrew series.
I got an E-mail a few minutes ago (this is Sunday night, March 8, 1998 as I edit this story), asking that Chris not die. I cannot fulfill the request, obviously. The drunk driver killed Chris, not me.
Like I said at the beginning of this story, I am only the storyteller now because the story is already written. I do not, however, want your hate for telling the story. I want your understanding that this is not a story of death. This is a story of a tremendously strong love that began 24 years ago and did NOT end 12 years ago when Chris died. He's still very much a part of my life. He is the reason I am like I am. And his love lives on through Andrew, my best friend for the past nine years. You will find, I hope, some joy out of our relationship. (A gay man loving a straight man is a blessing itself. See "My Buddy Andrew" if you have not yet).
I don't seek pity that Chris died either. My mom died a few years ago and my dad died last year. Death and life are a part of the natural order. We did not fear death when Chris had cancer, only premature death. Or a wasted life.
Some days I miss him so bad I can feel the pain beat in my chest as strongly as my heart does. (Just because I know of death, does not mean I want to accept it totally). Other days I succeed in being a good man and I know it is Chris who made me that way. I live. And I live in honor of my love for the man who loved me more than anything in his entire 29 years. His life was short, but it was not spent in one wasted moment. I consider myself blessed to have had his love even for a fraction of my life. I try to pass what I learned on. Please, guys, accept this as a story of love and as a lesson in how to be grateful for whatever you have. I always will be grateful.