Wednesday, August 20, 2003

This is the worst entry that I have ever had to write.

This will also be the last entry I write at HCL.

On August 13th, the day before my 34th birthday - HERO ended his life.

As I slept, my dog Hope cuddling by my side, sickly-sweet smells of carbon monoxide filled my home. On the other side of my house, my black BMW sat idling in the dark pushing lethal gas into the garage and through an entry door to the house that wasn't up to code.

I keep wondering where the start of this story is: Was it the day I met HERO ? Was it the fight we had that night, standing outside my bedroom, just hours before? Or was it when HERO was five and after his Father left his Mother and she in turn took her own life in the same manner ?

The night before had been great - just last Tuesday. We had gathered at T's house with the boys to watch the Bravo line-up and pig out on snacks and desserts. Before hand I had hit the gym and while I showered, he groomed and we bantered back and forth. We were listening to Lucinda Williams and when I compared her to Bonnie Riatt, he commented how he had listened to her song "I Can't Make You Love Me" every day for the past two weeks. I let the comment pass - I was in a great mood. I've listened to that song probably 20 times since yesterday and the lyrics send a chill through my heart everytime. We had picked up a few bottles of wine and a white-chocolate cheesecake and a peanut-butter pie at AJ's before the shows. We had chided each other and spoken to a homeless woman in need of water. I teased him how easily he made new friends. I teased him in general, because I adored him and he was leaving to go back to college in a week for his last semester - and I didn't know how to say I loved him and I would miss him. He had been like a Mini-Dish-Water-Blond-Blue-Eyed-21-Year-Old-Tornado in my life these past three months - leaving my home in a constant revolving state of disarray and boyish home-making. I knew I yearned to have my house to myself again - but I knew it would seem half as big and twice as quiet as it seemed when he stood laughing in a room.

Something happened to me this summer, I found a relationship I had never forged before, what had started as a lover had become a little brother, even a son. He had become my family and I thought he was here to stay. I felt the type of love for him that I reserved for those that would become the strongest threads that I would weave into the tapestry of my life. Even after we broke up two weeks ago - I knew I loved him more than I could as a boyfriend. I was his protector. I wanted to protect him from everything bad - I never knew that I should have protected him from himself.

HERO had the tendency - as we all do - to be greatly affected by the excess consumption of alcohol. This night was not an exception, instead it was a clear example. It had appeared that, though quietly and respectfully, we had both moved on with our romantic lives. He had already had his first over-nighter - but regreted it badly the next day. He was still living in my house until school started, but he seemed ok - busily helping my friends plan for my birthday party and spending his days with Hope while I was work. He seemed like HERO. I never thought...I never knew. I had been holding back from him emotionally out of fear of confusing him with attention he might consider romantic. I hugged him rarely and had moved to just mussing his hair and half-hugs when I wanted him to know I still cared. I would kill to bear hug him now - I would squeeze and squeeze til he begged to be let go.. I kept any details about dates on the back-burner. When he asked questions, I gave information sparingly, hoping to avoid hurting him in any way. I would later realize, it was this lack of sharing - my confused sense of decency, that hurt him even worse. In the confines of my house, it was difficult - if not impossible - to have secrets.

As we drove home - he talked about our feelings - or more accurately he brought up that he didn't feel I was really comfortable around him anymore - that he had become a burden. I was taken aback. I tried to explain a poorly, executable logic - that when I really feel that close to another person - beyond a boyfriend - to the point of family - I found it difficult to show them constant physical affection - that I locked up. I went on to say I loved him very much, that I wanted to know him for the rest of my life. I should have said more. I should have told him how I looked forward to his graduation day, how I envisioned him bringing his boyfriends back down looking for my brotherly approval, how he would call me when needed advice or a laugh - I saw a future and he was part of it. I was attempting to shield him from post-break-up confusion - I had and would be even more so, unsuccessful.

I had made a phone call as we entered the house - BK, he and I talked and flirted and laughed, both a little drunk. As I circled my room telling BK stories about the evening I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Half hidden by the doorway, sitting in the dark - in my office, sat HERO on the floor. Listening. It was close to midnight when I ended my call, HERO came to my door and asked questions about BK, he asked questions about Me. I asked him why he considered it appropriate to eavesdrop on my conversations - I was feeling tinged with anger. He became upset, his voice stressed "I want to know you - your cutting me off - you don't let me in - you don't really love me". I explained I did, it was impossible to me to believe he didn't know that - why would I take him to San Diego, why would I still let him live in my home, why couldn't he believe it when I said it ? I was taking off my clothes to go to bed and he wouldn't budge. He began to disrobe - I asked him to stop. Please just hold me, he said - I need you - I need you to love me - I LOVE YOU - it's not going away - I don't know what to do. He began to cry and I told him I loved him, that we weren't meant to be, I hadn't wanted to hurt him - that I had known weeks before - we weren't meant to be. He said it would be easier for him if I hated him - he could get through this. I told him I would never hate him - he told me he would find a way to make me hate him, he kept saying he would find a way. It's hard to let go of certain words in the aftermath.

He followed me from room to room. My anger swelled. I began to lose my cool, I asked him how could I want to be with him when he pushed like this - harder and harder. I hate those words now, I hate the condescending tone I used. I begged him to let me sleep - he wanted this out now, and I wanted it over. I pushed him to the bedroom door and said goodnight, I want you to leave me alone now, I said - shutting the bedroom door.

I would have never thought of that moment; argumentative, but loving, insignificant - then unbearable - as the last time I would ever see HERO alive again. The police would later tell me that shutting the bedroom door had probably saved my life - and pulling my dog on to the bed instead of letting her sleep on the floor probably saved hers.

I don't remember if I dreamed that night. HOPE had woken me more then once and grogily I had fallen right back asleep. She was restless, she kept nudging me - I ignored her - I wanted to teach her to sleep through the night. The detective told me that her acute sense of smell was alarming her, she had been reacting nervously to something she didn't understand, something she smelled. I finally subcumbed to her nudging and got up at 5:45am to take her outside to pee.

Disoriented and half awake I pulled on only underwear and shuffled down the hall lit only by the grey-blue light of pre-dawn. I didn't have my contacts in, or my glasses on and the shape of the white comforter on the couch was enough to convince me that it was HERO sleeping there. I cut through the kitchen so HOPE wouldn't wake him. My head was pounding and I was very sleepy. As I opened the door to the backyard I remember wondering why HERO was doing laundry at such and odd hour - I had mistaken the drone of the engine for the rattle of the washer. I stood outside, dawn - not dark, not light surrounding me. Hope did number one and number two, I clapped half-heartedly as I felt I might fall back asleep - eyes closed while on my feet. When we came back in the house I noticed little things - my alarm clock had gone off (it must be 6am I thought) HERO's pillow was laying on the floor in the TV room, and the washer sounded funny. As I raced back to shut off my alarm clock I noticed the white comforter on the beige couch was empty - no sleeping HERO, just pillows and air. I felt nervous. Had he taken off over our fight ? I grabbed my glasses. I thought of my car - that sound, it's my car - what is he doing?

I got to the door that enters to the garage. A hold out from when the house must of had just a carport in the 50's, a white, wooden door with a window. It hadn't been to code the house inspector had said. I barely ever really thought of replacing it. There are some things that will stay with you forever, when I reached the door, when I say him lying just on the other side - I found one of those things. Panic rushed up, trying to pass the disorienting fugue brought on by the fumes - had he fallen? Ridiculously I actually thought for a moment - had he falling while doing laundry. I grabbed the unlocked door knob, but when I pushed it only went a few inches. Lying face down on the cement, garage floor, head akwardly to the side, his arm pinned under him - his feet were blocking the door. Hysteria rushed in. Logic rushed out.

I began to scream, I began to yell as far as the yell would travel..................NO, NO, NO.

I shoved and threw myself against the door. Tears streaming down my cheeks - my heart was pounding - the weak aortic valve was ripping - my heart was going to come undone. I lifted the window and smashed out the screen - waves of gas surrounded me. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed my phone. I climbed through the window and fell on HERO. He didn't move - he didn't scream, he did nothing. I hit the garage door opener. The fumes were making me dizzy, nauseous. Sunlight mixed with fumes. The garage was hot, oppressively hot. I grabbed the keys and turned of the ignition - dialing 911 at the same time. I was screaming - I hadn't stop screaming. The operator attempted to calm me down asking for my address - is he cold he said ?. I answered, NO - not thinking - he was hot, he had been baking. The operator asked me to roll him on his back. When I did I saw his eyes. Those beautiful grey-blue eyes - were nothing but a hazy white grey. I had passed to somewhere else by this point - somewhere outside of myself - maybe just a string connecting me and reality.

I attempted CPR.

I tried to hold on to that string.

I tried to save him.

I failed.

I yelled profanities. I cursed a god I don't believe in. I cursed HERO.

Why? WHY? Why ?

Curious neighbors came out to their lawns. The freak show had begun. First one cop car, then another, then another, then another. The cops watched me as they approached. The neighbors stared blankly. I sat in my underwear cradling HERO's dead body in my arms - and I still continued to scream.

Many moments came after that. Racing by, yet freezing for a horrific second to become amazingly clear - and then, racing on again. The cops sat me on my driveway. I sat huddled against a 2 ft brick fence - sobbing. They needed to know what happened, had we argued, what was my relationship to him, how long had he lived with me, were we homosexual, how do they reach his next of kin ? I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think. This wasn't, this couldn't - really be happening. Tomorrow's my fucking birthday , I told one of the nervously pacing police officers - uncomfortable with the disclosure that we had been "more than friends" - HERO would have been 22 in just 6 days from that moment as well. At this moment - almost seeming triumphant - a cop came carrying out of the garage - the suicide note. I called my boss, I called T and C and BK....not able to make out what I was saying. They hopped in cars and raced to my home. The cops sat outside, already sweating at 630AM on a hot, Arizona summer morning while they strung up police line. The neighbors nervously went back to their lives, their sane, normal lives. The police opened all the windows in the house to air the carbon monoxide out of the house - you're lucky you're alive one said. At the moment I didn't feel alive - I felt hollow, sickenly empty and confused. The next hours involved detectives and questions, the arrival of my terrified friends and their tears. Hope ran from the police officers to my friends, unabashedly unaware that we weren't playing 'chase'.

The first days involved shock, crying, grieving, moving me temporarily to BK's, a constant flow, no - parade - of friends. And the phone rang and it rang, call after call, after call. Each call tearing at my soul, leaving me in a pile, unable to speak - unable to tell the full story. Only one thing seemed consistent to each day. The sense of loss, the feeling of hurt and the feeling that life had turned inside out. I came back to my house the next day - my birthday - only to pack his belongings. The next day I came back again to hand those same belongings to his devastated Aunt and Uncle and 8 month pregnant sister. We cancelled all the plans associated with my birthday and it seemingly came and went - except for the occassional painful and akward call from a family member or a friend - cut off half way through the 'birthday song' to be told the heart-breaking news.

The funeral came on Saturday, and then the Wake. I've just moved from one item to another - on the saddest checklist I've ever made. I've been drunk everyday but one. The Horrible Days, give way to Bad Days, and now a week later to just a sense of numbness.

There is so much more to talk about. So much else that has happened, but I'm tired, and I truly can never really remember feeling this tired before. Maybe it was when I read the suicide note asking me to " let him go", maybe it was the moment I found an entry from this site in HERO's car, maybe it's when I found letters written (but never given) to me detailing how he began to read this site against my wishes and had planned to continue to do so, maybe it's when I saw his best friend sobbing hysterically at the funeral - unable to return my gaze, maybe it's the first night I came back to sleep in my own home after 5 days away terrified to be in my home - the place he took his life, maybe it's when his father who abandoned him at 5 (gay himself and a meth addict) called me looking to connect with the man his son loved (yet he didn't even know was gay) - maybe it was any of these moments, none of these moments or ones I have even yet to comprehend - that I realized my life was forever changed.

HCL served a purpose for me at one time. I have grown alot as person sharing and learning about myself and my life here. Maybe after two years and almost 100,000 vistors - I want to live a more private life. I just don't have it in me anymore. There's so much else I need to work on now, so much more important stuff to do. Maybe in a year I'll come back - reinvented - with a softer approach.

Thank you for the times you've read me. Thank you for the emails, the laughs, the friendships, the calls, the pictures. I've made people think, I've made people laugh, I've made people angry and I hope I've made people care. I'll still read and email. I'll still care and learn.

For now though, I want to take care of me. I want to take my grief private and rebuild.

TO HERO (from my testimonial at his funeral):

You were my superhero,
not able to leap tall buildings
or fly through the night air.

But you had superhero powers
though less visible
that were always present...

You could light up a dark place
with your blue eyes and generous smile.
You could discern between "infer" and "imply"
(God knows I never could)

You could convince any world traveler
from any space on this weary earth,
that you had traveled to their country
and visited their sacred monuments,
to only respond, when asked:
Why no I've never been there
- in fact you had never left the country.

I wish you had seen your own smile
and watched it radiate in a room of boys.
I wish you were here to critique these words
and feign horror at my poor grammar.
I wish you had stayed around...
to travel
with your family
and your friends
and me -
to those far off places you knew so well
but had never been
or seen.

I love you and I miss you deeply.