NASTIES – it gives the hint of something horrible and yet they really are something quite beautiful. At the same time, the inverse is just as real. What is quite beautiful can end up being horrible.
The death of a parent is hard on the soul, but it is an expected grief. The death of a child is ten times harder. The ashes I carried were the child to whom I gave the gift of life. Mature children should bury old parents and not the reverse. It goes against the laws of natural order. It makes no difference whether the child is two months old or thirty-four years. The pain and sorrow that burden my spirit are unfathomable. My thoughts on the ride home from the cemetery dealt mainly with whether I should have known it would happen. What could I have done differently that would have changed this outcome? In my mind, I traced his entire life or at least the part where I was most involved with it.
Blaise always identified more strongly with males from as early as he could recall. His teen idols were the singers Fabian, Dion, Frankie Avalon, and Paul Anka. Connie Francis did nothing for him. Neither did Annette, even when she was a Mouseketeer. As a child, the only Mouseketeers that drew his attention were Bobby and Tommy.
In college, Blaise was assigned to off-campus housing with two other guys. Each had his own bedroom, and pretty much went their separate ways. Blaise’s way was finding and making friends with the swishiest guys he could find and getting them into bed. That was how he met Doug. He was as well built as Blaise, pretty straight acting, with a chest covered in sand-colored hair that Blaise loved to caress. It didn’t take long for some of the guys to figure out that they were more than roommates, though, and the hassling began, but this time Blaise fought back. Judo classes paid off and the warning went out not to mess with him, at least not one on one. Of course, there were religious student groups that were anti-homosexual and they had rallies and posted signs on bulletin boards advising that homosexuals should be shunned by God-fearing souls.
Doug and Blaise were together for over four years, and then Blaise came home early one day and there was Doug, in bed with a blond beach bum-type hitchhiker. Well, that blond was dressed and out the door in under five minutes, and Doug was out the next day. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, and you don’t pull Blaise’s chain. After the breakup, Blaise learned that Doug had cheated on him from day two and deceived him about his fidelity from day three. He was a regular denizen of adult bookstores and the bus terminal men’s room. If there was a tearoom within twenty-five miles, he knew about it from personal visits. The only thing amazing about the relationship was that he never contracted or gave Blaise a sexual disease.
It was evident that Blaise was not destined to be single. In a span of a few years, Scotty, then Marty, then Damian, and then Dan became a part of the family get-togethers. We liked all of them except Marty. He seemed to be a domineering personality, and we were rather relieved when the two of them split up. With Damian, both men seemed happy. They were even planning to build a house together. It probably would have been a lasting relationship if Damian’s job had not transferred him to the West Coast.
But life goes on, and Blaise met Dan Stone, a fellow teacher. Dan appeared the first day dressed to do the dirty work of arranging the room, lugging textbooks from storage, and creating initial day bulletin boards. He was wearing filthy Reeboks, old faded blue jeans and a sweatshirt, and he had no wedding band, not that Blaise checked for that on every male he met – only the hot ones.
From the moment they met, Blaise was truly happy again. The two educators enjoyed going to art galleries, theatre, and concerts together. When Blaise directed the high school play, Dan pitched in building the set and helping with the specialized make-up. They were a team, a true partnership in everything, total cooperation and commitment to each other.
It was just after the beginning of the following year when Dan began to complain about severe headaches and that he was getting tired easily. That was the beginning of something no one expected.