NightSwimming (A Love Story)
I was almost 13 when we moved into the new house. It was a summer filled with joy and change. It was also the summer I fell in love for the first time.
Packing and moving was not the ideal way I wanted to spend my summer vacation. However, I was looking forward to living in the new house and having my own room. My 10-year-old brother and I have shared a bedroom for as long as I can remember. I thought about how wonderful it would be to have my own space. I don't really mind having Carley for a brother. He's actually pretty cool. But I was looking forward to a little more privacy. Carley and I had always shared a bed while growing up. We would lie awake at night and try to make each other laugh and talk about boy stuff. We would often sleep snuggled up to each other spoon-style. I guess you could say we get along okay.
Mom decided to move out of the apartment following the divorce. She wanted to buy a house so my brother and I would actually have a yard in which to play. When the moving day finally arrived, all of our worldly belongings were loaded into boxes and put into a big U-Haul.
After arriving at our new home, we unloaded the truck and began the tedious job of unpacking. Mom and Carley were down stairs while I busied myself in my new bedroom. From one of the boxes I pulled out a picture of me and my brother which was taken this past Christmas. Looking at the photo, I realized why people always say we look alike. We both have short blond hair, light-brown eyes, a slender build and a face full of freckles. I placed the picture on the dresser near the window seat ... and that's when I saw him!
There was this amazing looking boy swimming in his backyard pool. As it happens, our backyard meets the rear of another house directly behind us. From my upstairs viewpoint, I could see over the wooden privacy fence separating our properties. He mesmerized me. The boy had dark hair and a tanned, swimmer's body. He looked to be about my age, perhaps a bit older. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. I stared at him for what seemed like hours. The spell was finally broken when my mother called my name from downstairs. She wanted me to help her move something. On my way downstairs, I wondered to myself, "Why am I so fascinated with that boy?" I mean, "Was it normal..?" Many things went though my mind, but I thought about him for the rest of the day.
That evening, I was dead-tired as I prepared for bed. I dried off from my shower and slipped into a fresh pair of boxers. I then sat on the window seat and looked out into the darkness below. I could see the lights of the swimming boy's pool from my window. I wondered who he was and what he was doing now. I decided then that I would try to meet him and at least learn his name.
The following day, Carley and I were in our backyard tossing a football around. During the night, I had devised a plan to "accidentally" heave our football into the swimming boy's backyard then go over and ask for it back. A perfect plan. All I had to do is wait for the boy to come out for a swim. Carley, who had no clue about my plan, managed to kick the ball over the fence ... and into the pool! We peered through the boards of the fence. There floated our ball ... and no boy in sight. Carley wanted to climb over and retrieve the ball. I told him I had a better idea.
I explained what had happened to Mom and suggested she go with us to the neighbors' house to ask for our ball. I asked her to come along because my mom is a real "talker". I knew I would be able to spend more time over there if she came with us.
We rang the doorbell and waited. I actually had butterflies-in-my-stomach in anticipation of meeting the boy who had kept me awake half the night with thoughts of his tan body. The door opened and a woman looked at us like we were selling something. Mom introduced us and explained the reason for our visit. Before you know it, Mom and the woman were having coffee and talking away. Like I said, Mom is a talker. My brother and I sat quietly with our damp football while they yapped.
The house was nice. Lots of plants and pictures. One of the pictures near me was of him! It looked to be a recent school photo. His dark hair had a "bowl" cut and he had beautiful blue-green eyes. The woman, his mother, told us about her kids. She had a daughter, Jamie, who was 10 and a 14-year-old son, Jacob, my swimmer. Both of whom were gone having their piano lessons. I was disappointed about not meeting him then. Little did I know...the best was yet to come!
We were invited to a cookout/pool party that evening. I could hardly wait. I couldn't understand why I needed to meet Jacob so desperately. I had not been attracted to any other boys before. But I knew I wanted to be his friend. And soon I would get to see that body up close and in-person.
I made Mom take us out to buy new swimsuits. My old pair was in pretty sad shape. We arrived at the cookout wearing T-shirts, our new trunks and bearing potato salad. Suddenly, there he was! He greeted us at the door wearing only shorts and a big grin. I was speechless and must have looked like an idiot. After everyone was introduced, we headed out to the deck where hamburgers were grilling and the music was playing.
Jacob was the nicest boy I think I had ever met. I liked the way he addressed Mom as, "Ma'am" and said, "pardon" instead of, "what." Up close, he was so beautiful. His face was almost sculpted and his teeth were perfect. I was still forced to wear a retainer all the time. Carley and Jamie became fast friends, which left Jacob (a.k.a. Jake) and I alone together. We swam around in the pool and tried to impress each other diving from the board.
The party went on until dark. After everyone began leaving, Jake and I sat by the pool with our feet in the water and talked about nothing and everything. We talked about school, friends, music, etc. I loved listening to his voice. He had a slight European accent. His father was in the military and they had lived in England many years ago. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was falling in love Jake.
Over the next few weeks, Jake and I spent quite a lot of time together. I thought about him all the time. When we were apart I missed him terribly. When we were together nothing else mattered but us. I wondered if he felt the same about me? I longed to be with him -- to hold him -- to kiss him. Was this normal to feel this way about your friend? All of the feelings I was having for Jake were new to me. I wanted to talk to him about it but I wasn't sure he'd understand. I wasn't sure anyone would understand.
For my 13th birthday, Jake surprised me with a little necklace that read, "ST END." It was half of another necklace he was wearing which read, "BE FRI." Placed together, it read, "BEST FRIEND." I thought it was the perfect gift. I gave him a hug to thank him for the gift and he hugged me back. That was, for me, a moment of perfection. It was also the first time I had ever hugged Jake, which I had been dying to do all summer.
Jake and I had started a little tradition of taking a swim each evening before parting ways until the next day. One night, a few days before school was to start for the fall, we sat under the stars and talked about the coming school year. We sat side-by-side with our feet in the water. As we talked, the only thing I kept thinking about was his bare thigh touching mine. At some point the conversation died and we just sat there together listening to a breeze rustling through the trees. I turned to look at his face. In the light from the pool, his eyes were so beautiful to me. He turned, looked at me and smiled. I started to say something to break the silence when leaned forward and kissed me. Yes! Not just a little peck on the cheek...it was a square-on-the-mouth, long-lasting kiss. When it was over, I didn't know what to say. Neither did he, so I kissed him back (even longer this time)! I had no idea he had felt this way about me and I didn't think he knew how I felt. But there we were: two teenage boys making out by the pool.
I spent that night over at Jake's house as I had done on several occasions throughout the summer. However, this time we slept in each other's arms behind a closed door. Although we didn't have sex that night, I felt complete and very happy for the first in my life. The last thing that was said before we both drifted off to sleep was, "I love you." And, "I love you too." Listening to his soft breathing and feeling his warmth, I still didn't know if it was "normal" to feel this way, but it no longer mattered to me. I knew it felt right.
It felt ... perfect.
Spending the night with Jake was like a dream come true. I woke just as the sun was beginning to rise from its resting-place. The house was still quiet and I found myself still in his arms. Without disturbing Jake, I carefully changed position and laid my head on his hairless chest. I listened to the slow, rhythmic beating of his heart and watched his chest rise and fall as he was peacefully breathing. I carefully lifted my head so I could see his beautiful face. Jake has the most perfect (almost pouty) lips and I yearned to kiss them. His skin was completely smooth with the exception of a couple of tiny, adolescent blemishes. The thing I found most appealing about his face is his cute, button nose that wrinkles when he laughs. He looked like an angel sleeping and appeared much younger than his 14 years.
As I watched Jake sleep, I knew -- deep in my heart -- that I loved him. It was hard for me to believe that I was in love with my best friend because nothing like this had ever happened to me before. For the first time in my 13 years of life I knew true love. The heart-felt emotions I had for Jake wrapped itself around my soul like a warm blanket on a cold, winter morning. It drew me to him and completed me. Realizing this was as if I had been underwater my entire life and were now taking in a breath of fresh air.
I lay there looking at my angel for an eternity. My mind was brought back to the real world by the sounds of voices in the house. Jake's family had begun stirring and going through their morning rituals. I woke him with a kiss. We both smiled. When he was fully awake he hugged me and it felt as if our souls had merged into one. We dressed slowly and talked about what had happened last night. We then made plans to spend the rest of the day together.
After that morning, my life was changed ... and would never be the same again.
School began a few days later without much commotion or fan-fare. I was entering my freshman year of high school while Jake was a year ahead. As I was new to the school, everything seemed strange and a bit disorienting to me. The hallways were full of students and the buzz of conversation was constant. I must have looked like a lost puppy. But Jake was there. He was my anchor. We walked together through the corridors and he made sure I knew where all of my classes were. He introduced me to many of his friends and never once appeared embarrassed or ashamed to have me tag along with him. He was always smiling when told people how we met this summer. I could tell that Jake was well liked here. He seemed to be very popular with almost everyone.
When it came time for us to part ways and go to our classes, Jake smiled to me and gave me a little squeeze on the back of my neck. With his cute almost-hidden accent he said, "I know you're going to love it here as much as I love having you here." I smiled and said, "I love being here with you. I'll see you after school."
After arriving to my first class, I took a seat near the front then opened my backpack to retrieve a pen and a notebook. Upon opening the backpack, I noticed a letter had been dropped inside. It was a note from Jake that read,
"I know things may be a little weird for you right now but don't worry, you'll get used to this place. Be nice and play well with the other children. Thank you for coming into my life. What took you so long? Love always, --BE FRI."
I smiled to myself and a tear came to my eye as I was once again reminded that I loved Jake with all my heart and he loved me. I wish life could have remained that simple. Mom always says, "Life is what happens while we're making other plans." I never really understood what she meant by that, but I was about to find out.
I had heard the terms "gay" and "fag" almost my entire life and never had I associated myself with them. But in the past two months since Jake and I had become boyfriends, those words took on new meaning for me. We did not make the true nature of our relationship public although we had talked on several occasions about doing so. I wanted everyone to know that I was in love and that Jake was my knight-in-shining-armor. But we both knew that our families and friends might not understand our affection for each other as we did. Jake especially felt that his father would not allow him to be in an openly gay relationship. His father was extremely conservative about some topics such as abortion, religion, and homosexuality. I could not have cared less about what my father thought about me being gay. Since the divorce, he had not called or visited my brother, Carley, and I once. So, it goes without saying that Dad and I are not very close. But Mom was a different story. I did care what she thought about me. I was uncertain how she would react to the news of having a gay son. There were several occasions over the past months that I wanted to tell her, but something held me back. That was all about to change...
One evening while I was finishing up some homework and preparing for bed, Mom came into my room to chat a bit. This wasn't unusual because we would often talk about things around bedtime. However, I was growing a little uncomfortable with my mother seeing me in my boxers these days. It's hard to explain, but guess it was all part of growing up. She sat on my bed and we discussed different topics. We used to talk about Dad and the divorce but we don't seem to discuss it very often now. At some point in the conversation, Mom produced a letter and handed it to me. I recognized it as a love note that Jake had given me recently. I must have started blushing right away. I looked at Mom and she was smiling like a schoolgirl.
"I found it in your jeans when I was doing laundry. Why didn't you tell me you were in love?" she said.
I must admit, I was a little confused. Mom had read the note from my boyfriend and was actually happy?
"I didn't think you'd understand," I muttered.
"Understand? Of course I understand! I think it's wonderful that my little boy is growing up and in love. What would make you think otherwise?"
Now, at this point I was under the impression that she knew the object of my affection was literally the boy-next-door. It did not dawn on me that Jake had signed the note, "BE FRI" and she assumed it to be from some girl I knew.
I said, "I was afraid you would think it wrong for us to be dating."
"I must admit, I was a little concerned that you might be too young," she said, "but after giving it some thought, I believe that love has no boundaries and I won't stand in your way of being happy."
I started to cry because I was so happy that she understood the feelings I had for Jake. We hugged and she began crying too. But that all came to an end when I said, "Jake and I wanted to tell you and his parents when we first fell in love this summer--"
My mother looked at me through teary eyes as though I'd just grown a second head.
"What are you talking about?"
"Me and Jake", I said then suddenly realized what she must have been thinking.
"Are you saying the letter is from Jake?" She asked confused.
All I could mumble was, "Yes, it is."
Throughout my entire life, I've never known my mother to yell or get angry about anything I'd ever said to her. This time was no different. Even thought she didn't say it, I could tell what must have been going on in her mind. We didn't talk much longer that evening. Mom said she wanted to think this through.
I phoned Jake before going to bed and told him what had happened. He was curious to know if Mom was planning on telling his parents about us. I wasn't sure. Mom was a little hard to figure out about some things. We'd just have to wait.
The following morning I woke a bit earlier than normal. Carley usually gets up before I do then comes in to wake me. This morning he was still fast asleep while I was making myself breakfast. Mom came downstairs a little later, poured herself a cup of coffee and joined me at the kitchen counter where I was munching on cereal.
"I thought about what we talked about last night," she began. "You know that I love you very much." I told her I knew. She continued, "The last thing I want for you is to get hurt or be unhappy. Last night I said I wouldn't stand in your way of being happy. Well, that's still true. I did, however, think we were discussing a girlfriend but that is beside the point." She looked at me very seriously and asked, "Do you really love Jake?"
I was somewhat embarrassed by the question but I wanted Mom to know how I felt and how much Jake meant to me.
"I do, Mom. I really do," I said. "He means the world to me and I think about him all the time. I know that I love him and he loves me."
Mom put her hand through my hair like she has always done, smiled and said, "I believe you. I can tell by the way he behaves around you and from reading his note that he cares about you very much. I may not understand the whole thing yet, but I won't stop you two from being together."
I was so happy I jumped up and hugged her. She hugged back and asked, "Are you going to tell Jake's folks about all this?"
I told her I didn't know and she agreed to let us decide whom we informed about our relationship. Is she a great mom or what?
Carley and most of our friends took the news about Jake and I pretty well. Some of our mutual friends from school "guessed" that we were boyfriends since we were always together. We lost a few friends and gained others because of our love for one another. I had no idea that there were so many gay kids around. Some would hear about Jake and I or see us holding hands while talking and come up and introduce themselves and say things like, "I wish I could be out like you two." I could say we were completely open and unashamed of our feelings for each other, but it wasn't true. We still hadn't told Jake's parents about us. Mom seemed to be more comfortable with the idea since she found out. She even let us share the same bed when Jake stayed at our house. But his mom and dad would be a tougher pair to win over.
Occasionally, while at Jake's house, we would bring up gay topics just to hear their reaction to the conversation. His parents' comments were never positive. They used words like "sin" and "unnatural" whenever we'd talk about such things. So, we felt it was better to tell them about us later rather than sooner. Unfortunately, that's not how it turned out.
All but a few autumn leaves remained on the trees as winter was quickly approaching. The weather had turned cool. It was almost too cold for our traditional evening swim at Jake's house. Luckily the pool was heated so we still managed to spend some time in the water almost every night. One particular Friday evening, Jake and I were alone at his house. His parents and sister, Jamie, had gone to out for dinner. It was rare that we were able to be alone together because of our families. Following our swim, we headed up to his bedroom to slip out of our wet trunks and to dry off. Once the trunks were off, without saying a word, we started kissing and really making out. Jake's body still amazed me. All of the swimming had made us both pretty tone, but Jake had begun to develop a slight muscular build that I would not achieve for almost a full year. We hugged and kissed and ended up (still wet) on his bed.
After making love, we laid together naked without talking. We simply communicated with our souls. Using only our eyes and smiles we seemed to be able to speak volumes without saying a single word. The bond we shared was strong. I could not imagine being this close to another person for as long as I lived. In the past few months I felt like I had lived and loved a lifetime with Jake -- my lover -- my angel. If I had to die right then, it would have been fine with me. Because I was happy ... and I loved him and he loved me. I put my head on his chest (my favorite position) and listened to his heart. We must have lain there for quite some time...because both of us fell asleep.
Jake's mother awakened us. She was, need I say, very upset about finding her son and his friend naked in bed together. We both jumped out of bed and rushed to get some clothes on. But the damage was done. Jake's father really blew his top when he learned what had happened. I had never been so scared in all my life! I thought he was going to throw us both out of a window. He ordered me out of his house. It was killing me to leave Jake there but I had no choice. His dad was angry with me but I'm certain he was ten times more upset with my beloved Jake. I prayed nothing bad would happen to him.
By the time I reached my house my eyes were full of tears. Mom asked what had happened and I managed to tell the whole story between sobs. She was immediately concerned about Jake and called his house to make sure he was o.k. I could hear his dad screaming at my mom over the phone.
The next two days were pure hell for me (and I'm sure for Jake as well) as I was not allowed to communicated with him in any way. This was the longest period of time we had spent apart since we'd met. I missed him so much I thought I was going to die. If I were not to see him again I knew I would die because I couldn't live without him being in my life. I needed his smiles, his hugs, and his kisses as a fish needs water or a baby needs milk. He is my everything: my all.
It was not until the following Monday morning that I saw him again at school. He was waiting for me by my locker. As soon as I saw him, I dropped my backpack and rushed into his arms. We hugged each other for and eternity. Other students stared and whistled but it didn't matter to us, not any more. We had no more secrets to hide. Jake loved me and I loved Jake. I wanted the world to know it!
A few days before the holiday break, Jake celebrated his 15th birthday. Since his parents had "discovered" our love, I was only able to see him at school. Some friends and I had a little party for him during lunch. We had balloons, cake, and ice cream. As a gift I gave Jake a poem I'd written for him. I read it aloud and everyone said it was beautiful. Jake really liked it. He started to tear up a bit after the reading. I also gave him a book about meditation because he had been complaining about getting stress-headaches over the past few months. Sometimes they were so bad he'd have to leave school for a day. I told him to try to relax more and not to worry about life so much. Little did I know how sick he really was.
The holidays came and went. I was happy when the break was over because I couldn't spend it with my boyfriend. Mom, Carley, and I had left town for a week to spend Christmas with my grandparents. It was good to see them again and they were happy to have a visit from their grandsons, but I longed to be with Jake the whole time. We did get to speak to each other over the phone several times but it wasn't the same as seeing his smile or holding him close.
Life is kind of strange. A year ago, I would not have thought it possible to need to be with someone as much as I needed him. Life is strange indeed.
Winter slowly turn to spring and before I knew it, summer was quickly approaching. As soon as the weather had warmed enough, Jake and I resumed our evening swims in his family's backyard pool. Since his parents still objected to us being together as boyfriends, we kept our nocturnal activities secret. It was actually more fun that way. The risk of being discovered was constant which made us feel more daring. We usually swam late in the evening after his family had gone to bed. A few times we even swam naked. That was us: a couple of daredevils!
Since school was out for the summer, our time together was limited. Evenings were when we spent the most time together. We wouldn't always swim; sometimes we would sit under the stars and talk or cuddle quietly. We would simply just BE together. I loved lying with him in the fresh-cut grass on a clear night with my head resting on his chest. We loved each other so much that life seemed perfect -- too perfect.
Jake was still getting those headaches periodically. His doctor had told him that he suffered from migraines. He had been given some strong medication for his pain but he was reluctant to take it because it made him extremely nauseous. A few times, while talking with him on the phone, we would have to pause our conversation while he ran to the bathroom to vomit. My heart sank whenever that would happen. There were a few nights when his pain returned while we where together. On those occasions Jake would lay his head in my lap while I tried to comfort him with a back rub. Once he even cried while I was holding him because the pain had gotten so bad. I felt so helpless that I could not ease his suffering. Jake was my knight-in-shining-armor and there was nothing I could do to comfort him. I would have gladly taken his pain. Luckily, the migraines where seldom and brief. We were still able to be together almost every evening.
Jake actually spent the night at my house on my 14th birthday. He had told his parents that he was having a sleep over at another friend's house then came to stay with us. Mom had a party for me and invited several of my friends. Jake gave me a very appropriate birthday gift. It was the R.E.M. CD "Automatic For The People" which had the song "Nightswimming" on it. It was a bit of an inside joke between the two of us but I thought it was a great gift. My favorite present was getting to spend the whole night with my boyfriend (Mom had agreed to keep quiet about this to his folks). Having his body close to mine was like heaven to me. Each of his kisses and hugs made my birthday even more special.
That was the last time we would ever sleep together.
A few days before school was due to begin again for the fall; I called Jake's house to chat with him but got no answer. I tried calling again later but got only the answering machine. I left a message for him to call me once he returned. Hours passed and still no call. I began to get worried. It was not like Jake to be gone all day with out letting me know.
When evening came I sat at my window seat and watched the pool for any sign of my beloved Jake. I must have fallen asleep because I woke the following morning still at the window. He had not returned my call during the night and deep down in my heart I knew something terrible had happened. After waking my mom, I asked her to call some of the local hospitals to see if we could locate Jake. The very first hospital she called had a patient there with his name. Mom asked the person on the phone to speak with his parents. After a few minutes his mom was on the phone and told us what had happened. Jake had gone into a coma the previous day and was still unconscious. I felt my stomach drop when I heard the news. I begged Mom to take me to see him. She asked his mother if we could visit him and she said she would have to speak with her husband. After a few moments, which seemed more like hours, she said we could. I ran upstairs to get dressed and to wake my brother. We were still putting on clothes in the car as we sped off to the hospital!
At the hospital we met with Jake's family. There were a few aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents there in the waiting room. His mom told us that Jake's brain had begun to swell and there wasn't much the doctors could do for him but wait. I looked at her with tears in my eyes and asked if I could see him.
She and I walked down the hospital's corridor to the Intensive Care ward where we found Jake, his dad, and his sister. His mom said something quietly to them and they left me alone with my beloved.
I stepped into the little room and the sliding glass doors closed behind me. He was lying in a hospital bed surrounded by flowers and balloons that read, "Get Well Soon". I had expected to find him covered in wires or with a breathing tube in his throat but he was simply lying in bed with his head tuned slightly in my direction. I approached the bed and tried to hold back the tears, but I couldn't. He looked so angelic lying there as he always does when his is sleeping. I wanted to climb into bed and lay with him but instead I held his hand and almost expected him to open him eyes, but he didn't move a muscle. I didn't know what to say to him. I couldn't understand what this was all about or why this was happening to him: the person I cared for the most in the entire world! I wanted him to be well again, to talk to me, to hold me.
I began praying and weeping for him to get better. His mother returned and found me crying beside her son. I think, maybe for the first time, she understood how much Jake meant to me. She put her hand on my shoulder to comfort me. Before leaving the room I leaned over and kissed his lips softly. He still lay there motionless. While walking back to the waiting area, I continued to pray for him.
I haven't spoken to God since.
Jake remained in a coma for three days before his brain could no longer support life. He was put on a respirator on that third day then his family had to decide how long they wanted him to live in this condition. His chances for a meaningful recovery were nonexistent.
They made the decision to disconnect the respirator on the fifth day. I hated them for that. At the same time, I gain respect for them. They were probably the only other people on the planet who loved him as much as I did and they were willing to let him go. But not me. I wanted to be with him as long as I could.
The day Jake was to be taken off the respirator, I was allowed to be alone with him one last time. I was back in the small room watching my angel breath slowly through the tube connected to a machine on wheels beside the bed. There were no tears this time. However, I did lie down with him in the bed and put my head on his chest as I had done many times in the past year. While laying there listening to his heart beat slowly, I realized that our one-year anniversary together had pasted. I put my arm over him, held him close, and told him how much I loved him. My soul was aching to hold on to him.
After a few minutes I stood, kissed him on the forehead, and put my fingers through his hair as my mom had done to me my entire life. An hour later, Jake was removed from the respirator and died.
Jake's funeral was held the following Saturday. My mom suggested that I should go, but I couldn't. It was too soon for me to say goodbye to him.
My emotional state following his death is a little difficult to put into words. I simply felt ... nothing. It was as if I wasn't "real" anymore. I had expected to feel sad, but I didn't feel anything. I didn't cry. I didn't seem to have much interest in anything. I didn't eat much or worry about things like showers and cleaning my room. I would spend hours in bed but not sleep much. When I did fall asleep I would have bizarre nightmares.
My mother took me to a family counselor after I had spent three entire days in my room but I didn't have much to say to him. He said I was suffering from depression following my friend's death. I wondered how long he had spent in college to learn that.
But he was correct. I was suffering from depression -- severe depression. Without Jake I wanted to die. I even thought about ways I could do it. Every day was torture for me and I didn't want to live like that. I truly wanted to die!
A few days later, I was sitting in my room (in my half-zombie state) and the urge to have a glass of milk became very strong. This seemed a little unusual to me because I hadn't had much of an appetite since Jake had died. I went down stairs wearing only socks, boxers, and a T-shirt. After retrieving a glass from the cupboard I opened the fridge and poured some milk.
I was standing in the middle of the kitchen holding the glass of milk when it hit me. I actually hadn't been thinking about anything in particular at the time but my hand started shaking and I let the glass fall to the floor and shatter. I started to cry. I started crying for the first time since Jake had died. And not just cry, I began sobbing uncontrollably. My mother must have heard me because she came into the room, moved me away from the broken glass, wrapped her arms around me, and we sat on the floor while I wept. She rocked me slowly like she had when I was little and let all of the emotions burst out of me. My soul was wailing as I cried until my body ached.
That night, my brother, Carley, curled up beside me in my bed and we slept together like we used to. I slept more deeply than I had in weeks.
I finally had some peace.
The following morning I awoke with Carley still curled up next to me spoon-style. I was careful not to wake him as I got up and sat at the end of the bed. I watched him sleep for a while. He was a cute, little boy and I wanted to protect him. I couldn't abandon him like our father had after the divorce. He needed me and I needed him. It was then that I decided not to kill myself.
Months had passed but I still thought about Jake everyday. He would come to mind while I was at school, watching TV, or when someone mentioned his name. I would play "Nightswimming" on my CD player for hours and cry for him as I listened. There was also times when I became angry about losing him. My life had changed forever.
Nothing felt the same anymore.
On what would have been Jake's 16th birthday, I visited his grave for the first time. It was a chilly, gray afternoon and the trees in the cemetery where already bare. I was alone and sat Indian-style beside the new headstone.
All was quiet around me when I started speaking to him with my soul. As strange as it may sound, I could "feel" his presence. I knew, wherever he was, he could hear me. That thought made me smile as I often do these days when I remember the good times he and I shared together.
I had brought along the simple, little poem I had written for him a year ago for his last birthday and read it aloud:
I love you and you love me
Seven simply words that make us we,
You came into my life quite unexpectedly
Your love for me remains a mystery,
Together we laugh, love, and cry
Our bond is so strong it will never die,
I'm as happy as I'll ever be,
Because I love you -- and you love me.
This is a true story I wrote a couple of years ago about my very first boyfriend. I still cry each time I read it and when I think of Jake. Thank you for taking the time to share our story. Comments can be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org