Leaving

Sometimes being an editor is the best job in the world. In this case, DuWayne Brayton sent me something that just doesn’t fit on his blog, because it’s fiction. Only fiction isn’t quite the right way to describe this either. You’re just going to have to read it, and it’s my privilege to tell you to do so. I suppose I should also mention that there is a small amount of explicit content, but you won’t mind. Trust me. –SZ

My dearest love, my absolute dearest love, I am sorry. I am sorry for abandoning you, sorry that these last weeks have been wrought with anger and focused on my selfishness. You are right of course; I am totally being selfish. But you were wrong about my feelings, Alex. You have always been my everything: my lover, my closest friend, the family who would never abandon me. And now I am abandoning you. I am so desperately sorry, darling.

The only thing I am afraid of now is that you will assume I didn’t love you with the depth and passion that I have always felt for you. I am terrified that my leaving now means just that. It hurts me. It literally hurts me, my stomach clenched, my mouth dry. It hurts more than the loss of my parents and brother when they cut me out of their lives. You have cared for me and loved me in ways I never imagined possible, and I have always loved you with every little bit of myself. I am afraid that every bit of me is simply not enough.

I am sure you are thinking that if I really felt this way I would be with you right now, that I wouldn’t have left you alone. I am sorry that I am so weak, my body so broken. I am sorry that I cannot take anymore. I am dying too slowly, poisoned so painfully by these drugs that could keep me alive indefinitely. It is humiliating, no matter your claims that cleaning me up with painstaking care is an honor, when I can’t even move my head to that goddamned bucket.

My darling Alex, I cannot, have never been able to express my frustration to you. I guess I feel too guilty, too selfish. Here you are taking such very good care of me, ignoring your own illness. You don’t even stop when you get sick yourself. But I am frustrated. I can hardly think anymore. I can’t really work anymore. It has taken me nearly three weeks just to write this letter. The other day, when I was thinking about my hateful fucking brother, I was horrified to realize that I couldn’t remember his goddamned name.

My body has betrayed me, my mind has betrayed me, and I am tired, ever so tired. I have tried to accept it, tried to accept your need to care for me no matter how bad it gets. I have tried and failed. It isn’t really the failure of my body. I could deal with the pain for you; I am almost certain I could. But I don’t want to forget any more. My memories are too precious to lose.

I keep thinking about the evening we first met. Poor dear Steven, he knew you two were over the moment he introduced us. He has always been such a wonderful friend, and it was never so evident than that moment, when with his characteristic good nature he smiled at us and told you it was wonderful while it lasted and then walked away. I keep thinking about talking with you until well into the next morning, when we were too exhausted to continue, and waking up in the afternoon to your kisses. That first week, pent up in my house, was so incredible. I almost decided to break a contract for the script I was supposed to be writing, because I never wanted it to end.

I hope that you know that you are the sort of man I used to wished I could be. You are so big and powerful, even as HIV and the HIV drugs ravage your body. I remember the first time you picked me up and carried me to bed, after I fell asleep in front of the television. I woke up to the feeling of being enveloped in your arms, pressed hard against your body as you carried me as though I was merely a child. I was aroused. I remember the tightness of my cock constricted by my pants. But what I remember most clearly was feeling that I was safe. For the first time since my parents and then my brother disowned me, I felt secure and cared for.

I love how you were so tender with me as I started to cry, afraid you had hurt me. You were unbelievably beautiful as I looked into your eyes through my tears. The love reflected in them when I whispered, “I love you” with awe was almost too much. I was overwhelmed by the increasing intensity of my feelings. I felt at first like I could never love more intensely than that, but I did, so much so that it was actually painful. It’s funny, but the pain I feel now is eased a little, as I think about lying there with you. I remember that we tried to make love, our bodies mistaking our emotions for arousal. But just holding you there, completely enveloped by your arms and your body was better than any sex could ever be.

As I sit here eleven years later, I am amazed as I have always been that I love you even more now than I did that night. I shudder to think what it might be like, were we to have another eleven years, or thirty or more. I couldn’t comprehend loving you any more deeply then, and I cannot imagine it now. I am desperately sorry that we will never find out. Yet for all we might have had, given more time, what we have had already was more than I ever imagined possible, more still than my most wondrous dreams.

You were so wonderful to me when my father died. I hated him for abandoning me, for hating me. I hadn’t even spoken to him in more than eighteen years. I was shocked to find myself grieving for this asshole who had promised, promised to love me no matter what and who then proved himself a liar–unable to love or accept a queer son. You were my strength then, as you have been for so much of our time together. You convinced me to see my mother again and were there to support me when we met with her. I think my mother understood then, as you held me while I read the letter my father had left for me, begging me for forgiveness. It wasn’t enough. Her understanding, his letter–they simply weren’t enough. It was too late for forgiveness. And you were there for me, as I finally and truly grieved for the loss of my family.

I thought that I was over it, that I had been over it for years. I didn’t realize until that moment, sitting there with you, my mother and my father’s letter, that eighteen years of rage had blocked my grief. I think that was when I was first able to grieve for my diagnosis, back when AIDS was still a death sentence, for the same reason. You carried me then, like you had carried me to bed that beautiful night, like you had so many times before and have so many times since. I love knowing you will carry me to the end.

I cannot take this, this losing myself. It is like my memories are mostly still there, but everything is jumbled. I could almost tolerate the indignity of losing control of my bodily functions, I could never suffer true humiliation with you. But my memories are getting all mixed up, and I am afraid of what is already being lost in the confusion. I am far more afraid of losing the life we have shared than I am of oblivion. It keeps getting worse. I keep trying to remember what we ate for dinner last night, and I cannot find even a hint. I am also trying to remember what color your tux was when we officiated our relationship, and I can’t fucking remember.

I do remember how I felt though. Knowing that our familial bond was recognized by the state, that our legal rights were protected by law. It wasn’t called marriage, but fuck marriage anyways. What we have is better than most marriages. What mattered most to me, was knowing that if I died before you, you wouldn’t have any problems with the family that abandoned me. You deserve everything I have on the merit of your love for me alone. You also deserve it all because you gave up your career and your other interests to care for me when it started getting bad. You kept claiming that you would eventually have to anyways, but you were infected late enough that the drugs prevented you getting as badly off as me. It isn’t perfect, but you could have continued working indefinitely.

Instead, you gave that all up for me. The least I could do was to make sure that what I have left will care for you for the rest of your life. And it was beautiful, wasn’t it? You and me, Steven and Garry, Kaylee and Mica–all of us standing together, done up like the Beautiful People, while the magistrate took us through the civil commitment. Fuck, why can’t I remember your tux? I remember Mica’s gorgeous dress. I remember Kaylee and Steven’s tuxes. But I can’t remember yours. I do so wish I could let you carry me further, but I cannot live with losing our life.

I remember middle school more clearly than I do portions of our life. How sick is that? I remember being the faggot who got beat up all the time better than I remember much of our time together. I can’t go on like that, knowing that I will forget us before I forget my childhood and those people who abandoned me.

I am sorry you’re so angry with me and I am more sorry that I have been so cruel to you. I keep saying I am not afraid to die. I even think I mean it sometimes. But the truth is that I am a coward, choosing the option that is less terrifying. I don’t want to die, knowing that this is it–that it is most likely that this life is all there is of me. I mean, I will live on in you and my work will probably last even longer. But for me, this is it; this is the end. I am angry that I was so fucking stupid, that you were so fucking stupid. I am angry that we get to have this and only this. I am angry that we won’t grow old together, to discover how much deeper, how much greater this love could grow.

And I am angry that I am losing so much. I will never finish what might have been my best screenplay. I have tried and tried and I just can’t keep it all straight–can’t even keep my goddamned notes straight. I forgot the name of Steven’s current partner. I spent the entire evening they were here last week absolutely mortified and trying to avoid letting on I had forgotten his fucking name. I am angry and terrified of the important things I might have already lost. I am also angry that I can hardly even tell if I need to pee anymore and can barely control it when I am able to notice. I am horrified that I can’t make love to you anymore.

I wish so desperately that I could feel your mouth engulfing me, as I take your cock deep in my throat. I wish that just one more time, I could feel myself enter you–your back pressed against my chest, your body arching as I grow harder just before I explode inside you. I wish ever so badly that we could lay blissfully there in our bed, bodies spent, naked and sweaty. Maybe we will try for one last time tonight, our last chance. I am not sure how my body will react or even if my body even can react. I have been very angry that this has been stolen from us and scared that you would start to resent me and the weakness that has made sex so difficult.

I have been so angry, so scared, and I have been taking it out on you. You, in turn, have been angry and scared and have been well within your rights to take it out on me, as my decision has been the entire cause of it. I am most sorry that I didn’t take you to the doctor for my first appointment. I am sorry that I hid it from you, until I asked you to come with me to see the psychologist. I tried, my darling Alex, I truly tried to tell you. I tried to tell you when I had decided it was time. I tried to tell you, to ask you to join me for the first appointments. I even tried to tell you when we were on the way to see the psychologist. I just couldn’t. I knew it would hurt you, and I was afraid of what it would do to us. I think I even knew that not telling you would make it worse, but I just couldn’t get the words to come out.

I wish I could take back the cruel things I have said, every cruel thing I have said to you over the last eleven years. But I especially wish I could take back all of my anger of the last five weeks. It wasn’t you and shouldn’t have been thrown at you. I need you to know that I love you now, more than I have ever loved you. I can barely contain it and wish I could just die of it, if such a thing is even possible. As weak as I have become, I am not so sure it isn’t. I am sorry that I have hurt you so, when I know that my decision alone was cruel enough. Please my love, please don’t remember my anger and fear. Remember the evening we met. Remember the joy you brought into my life and the wonderful times we spent together.

I know that you are still angry and hurt and afraid. I have betrayed you here at the end. I cannot thank you enough for choosing to carry me again, just a few more steps, but what steps they are. I hate myself for putting you through this, but I can’t die alone, and no matter who might be here for me, without you I am alone. It is this need for you that makes me understand how cruel I really am. Yet I will be cruel to the end. I need to feel your arms around me. I need to feel your body as you hold me against you. I need to feel your tears on my cheek. Most of all, I need your face to be the last thing I see, before I slip away forever.

Thank you, my dear, darling Alex,
Nicholas

8 Responses to “Leaving”

  1. August 21st, 2010 at 7:21 am

    anton says:

    My lady and I were so moved . . . and were reminded that we should be truly thankful for the love we have discovered so very late in our lives.

  2. August 24th, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Cindy says:

    I wish at 43 I had somebody to share the rest of my life with to the end, no matter how long or short it would be. I am so glad you shared this, and that you are both together. My son is gay and I still love him and didn’t turn away. I am sorry your family did they missed out on alot.

  3. August 24th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    DuWayne says:

    Thanks Anton, I appreciate it.

    Cindy –

    This was totally a fiction piece that I have been tossing around for months. I woke up last week Monday, realized the vehicle and started writing it. I am actually rather interested in expanding it into a longer story so I can flesh out the characters better.

    I should note that while I am not keen on identifying as straight, I’m not particularly attracted to men (though I do believe in keeping my options open). It is just that a rather large percentage of my friends are, including one who actually moved from LA to Eugene, OR, so he could take advantage of OR’s death with dignity act (he had full blown AIDS by the time the medications developed to the point they can keep people alive – while that often works for people with AIDS as well, quality of life sucks).

    My parents would be less than thrilled if I were actually gay, but they wouldn’t abandon me. My mom, because she is a fundie, my dad, because he lost a brother to AIDS.

  4. August 24th, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Greg Laden says:

    This could be the opening and everything else a febrile flashback.

  5. August 25th, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Adamo says:

    I don’t care if you are gay, straight, or curley-cue. What you wrote is essentially human and universal, capturing the pain and the love and the heartbreak of one part of a loving couple dying ahead of the other. You broke my heart and reaffirmed my faith in humanity at the same time.

  6. August 26th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    DuWayne says:

    Thank you ever so much Adamo, I really appreciate the sentiment. I also appreciate your first sentence, I think from now on I will identify as curly-cue.

    As much as I all too often hate humanity, I am also absolutely in love with humanity. It is hard to express sometimes, but sometimes I think I get it down pretty well. I am really glad you noted an affirmation, along with the sad. It was very much my hope that readers would glean that from this piece.

  7. August 27th, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Pinky says:

    Thank you for the piece, DuWayne. Greg is correct when he wrote “I’m afraid the people who really need to read this are not going to.”

    Parents of JesusLand who ostracize their children are close kindred to those who “honor kill” their children.

  8. August 30th, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    James Hanley says:

    DuWayne,

    Thanks for pointing me to this. I get it. The depth of feeling in it is tremendous, just overwhelming. It’s a beautiful expression of the essential humanness of love.

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