Posts I guess

‘Hey,” I say, with a knock. “You ok?”
“Nn.” Came the reply.
“I’m coming in.”
I step into the bathroom, not knowing what to expect, but I had a ball of dread in the bottom of my stomach. I’m relieved Darren isn’t hurt, but then I see what he had done with the scissors and his hair. “Hey,” I repeat softly. “What are you doing?”
“It’s coming out,” he says quietly.
I sat on the closed toilet. “Your hair?” I ask.
Darren nods, blankly.
“That happens with chemo.”
“I thought I’d shave it off, but you can’t bring electronic shavers in the bath. And so I tried to cut it off but I can’t.” He hugs his knees. “I can’t. And it’s just falling out.” He begins to cry.
I furrow my brow and purse my lips. I’m only a few inches away but it feels like I can’t reach him. I swallow my emotions, stand-up, and begin to take off my clothes. Darren doesn’t look up. “Scoot forward,” I instruct, and he scoots up. I slip in behind him, but can’t fit my long legs folded. I place them on either side of Darren’s body, and then pull him against me. He leans against me, still a hard ball, shaking in the tepid water. I turn on the warm water to a gentle trickle, then tighten my grip on him. He begins to unravel, until he is laying on me. His body shakes softly as he cries.
“Darren?” I whisper.
“Y-yeah?” he hiccups.
“It’s going to be alright.”
“You don’t know that,” he accuses.
“I mean…” I exhale softly. “It doesn’t matter if your hair falls out. Or if you lose weight. Or if you get tired more easily. It doesn’t matter, no one is going to think negatively of you for it. It’s gonna be alright. You got friends. You got me.”
“…I don’t want to die from cancer.”
I squeeze him even tighter and kiss the top of his head. “We all die someday Darren. But you won’t die now. Not soon either.”
He doesn’t answer.
”You know, they say – live each day like it’s your last. But that’s silly, cause you’d do some stupid things or blow all your money right?”
Darren shrugs.
“Well, I think it’s silly. Especially because even if one of our days was the last, I’d still just want to spend it as a normal day with you. Because each day with you in it is a good day.”
Darren sniffles. “You will love me through out this whole thing?”
“With intense, passionate, unlimited love.”
Darren relaxes against me a little. “I love you, but I can’t believe you would give it to me back knowing what we’re up against.”
“I will always love you back,” I answer firmly, hoping he can’t hear my words shaking.
“That makes me happy. Hey, David?”
“Would you shave my head?”
“Yeah. I will. Want me to shave mine?” I asked.
“No,” Darren says, “I like to play with your hair cause it’s long.”
I smile a little. “Ok. Just yours. And no more scissors ok?”
“Ok,” Darren says, “No more scissors.”

I kiss him on the head, and reach back to turn off the water. We sit in the silent bathroom, cuddling in contemplative quiet, until the water becomes cold. Darren falls still.
For a terrifying second, I think he’s actually dead.

No, just asleep. Rattled, I wake him up and help him dry off.

I put him to bed. After he’s tucked in, I go downstairs and turn on the living room light. I take the presents out of the hidden spot behind boxes in the closet and put them under the tree. I stuff the stockings with trinkets. Then, I sit down by the tree, stare up at the pretty twinkling lights, and begin to sob.


It wasn’t my last Christmas with Darren. I got four more wonderful, merry Christmas Eves with Darren. We got a dog. There was a wedding. We bought a house. I let myself be happy.

Then the cancer came back. It didn’t respond to chemo anymore. I shaved Darren’s head again. It never grew back. I lost my Darren on a rainy July evening. I thought by December, that I was recovered enough to handle it. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t OK with the empty tree and the silent house.

My sister, who was worried about my lack of presence on Christmas morning, came to check on me. She found me in the garage. Just in time, the doctors said. But I could see it in their eyes. It was close. Too close. I was mad at first that she had stopped me, but by the time New Years rolled around, I just felt numb. I got therapy. I sold the house. I kept the dog.

A few days into therapy, my therapist told me about a group for gay persons who have lost their spouses. I went, and sat in the back. But I kept going once a month, and fourteen months later, a new person started coming.
“God how California is this that there’s vegan donuts over here?” Judd asked, chuckling.
“The coffee is organic too,” I noted.
“Good lord, this city. When I want to feel pitiful, I just want gas station coffee and shitty donuts made by people who don’t speak English and run a Chinese restaurant next door. Why is that hard?”
I actually laughed. “Now that you mention it, why are there so many Chinese restaurants next to donut places?”
Judd shook his head. “I really wish I knew. Gets me every time. Hm, actually this donut is pretty good..”
“I think you need to apologize to the donut, Judd. I don’t think the donut appreciated you judging it.”
That made him laugh back.

Judd lost his own husband, Mark, three years go. Brain aneurysm. Judd took it harder than me. He had no time to prepare. Woke up next to his husband t to find him dead and stiff. Can you imagine that? Judd, who had a problem with pain killers already, turned to heroin to numb his pain. He was climbing out of his own hole, but sober, and cautiously optimistic.

And quite unexpectedly, I made a friend. And then a close friend. And then, a lover. One day, I caught myself thinking, “if it wasn’t for Darren, I wouldn’t have ever met Judd.” I felt guilt for that. But my therapist said Darren would probably like that he could still make me happy.

At Christmas now, I sit at the sofa and sip coffee while I stare at the mesmerizing beauty of the lights on the tree.
Darren’s favorite ornament hides shyly off the side, keeping Mark’s ornament company too. The tree is even more beautiful now, even though there’s two small children destroying wrapping paper underneath it and screaming over presents. Judd comes and sits next to me on the sofa, and puts a box in my lap. “Merry Christmas,” he says kissing me. I smile and kiss him back. I am happy.
“Merry Christmas, Judd.”

Captions are fictional.


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