October 6, 2018
I stood looking out the door across the courtyard as droves of rain poured down. You had left the access door to the garage open in your haste to leave with the dogs. The smell of your cologne, which you had sprayed on to cover up the scent of cigarettes that lingered on your clothing, still hung in the air. I watched as the you backed your car out of the garage through the sheets of rain. It took every ounce of inner grace not to flip you off as one last sign of independence. Instead, I shut the door and a heaving, “Fuck!” escaped from the depths of my being.
October 6, 2000
The rain had not let up and we had to accept the fact that our plans for an outdoor ceremony in a grove of pine trees was not going to happen. Instead, we surrendered to nature’s flow and notified those who were attending that we had moved the ceremony inside at the church. We would still go on with the plans of a private pre-ceremony foot-washing and communion (that you insisted on to honor your religious heritage) with the pastor and his partner along with two of the sweetest souls on earth who have acted as pseudo-parents to an untold number of LGBTQ people, Mark and Patty.
As we were preparing to get dressed for the evening, you were fidgety so I asked if everything was okay. You looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “If the Lord convicts me of this relationship, I hope you will understand if I have to leave it.” I was shocked! We were a few hours from standing before our community and making vows to each other. Somehow, I managed to say, “Maybe we should each go pray separately to make sure this is the right thing to do.” You went into the bedroom and I stayed in the in the living room and knelt at the couch.
I was 32 years old. Just recently divorced with three kids and still on active duty with the Air Force. You were 37 and had never lived with anyone in your adult life. To say I was a little nervous about how you would be able to handle a full-time relationship with part-time kids would be an understatement. Although I had serious doubts, I decided that the potential with you outweighed the risk. You, too, emerged from your bedroom with the same resolve.
We drove to the church through the light, gentle rain. We participated in the private ordinances before any guests arrived and enjoyed the intimacy of the moment with those few folks special to us. Then the moment came to make promises in front of all the guests, which was followed by a warm reception filled with gifts, bubbly, and love. It was as if the gentle rain was nourishing the moment as we began our journey together.
October 6, 2018
The heavy downpour continued as I sat on the floor of the darkened living room with tears in my eyes. I thought of that ceremony so many years ago and how young and naïve I was. I could almost feel the pride again of being a newly out, gay man who was pursuing a permanent relationship. I remembered the promises: those kept and those broken—and, oh, how the broken ones hurt. I thought of the irony of receiving gifts on that day and today you were taking the last of your stuff, including the dogs. I thought of the community of friends that surrounded us that day and how I was pushing my way through this day alone. So, I just sat on the floor, mourned, and listened to the rain on the exact day it had rained 18 years ago at nearly the same time…except this time, it was a cleansing rain.