Around a year ago, I had a friend. Actually, at this point he was more of an acquaintance, that had died. We had drifted apart. There was a point that we were close. At least, I considered him quite close. We no longer spoke. We had different moral opinions on what was right and wrong. Oh, how now in hindsight, I wished I had figured out how to just love regardless of not agreeing. At the time, I could not do that. I lacked an open compassion and felt taking a strong stand was important. Important for what, I am not really sure. For his soul I guess. Please read this till the end before you go off on me. A different perspective may foster understanding. It wasn’t like he was going to change his mind according to my stubbornness. He got married. I wanted him to be happy. I thought the best way was to be silent and drift out of his life.
So this boy that lived on a farm in Pennsylvania, or was it Texas or Canada. No matter, where the farm was, it does not matter. What matters is he was only a phone call away. We met at camp. I think it was camp. You know it is hard to recall with all the cool stuff he did like probably chest club, debate team, and school plays. Ok, on with the story.
So I was a quiet girl. Some may say shy but more like selective in who I would be myself around. You know people had to met a list of demands to be a true friend. Kind, genuine, altruistic, funny and honest. He was those things and so much more. He was able to met everyone he knew with a kind of openness that made everyone feel comfortable. I could tell lots of stories about his kindness. Many of them can be found in the hearts of the many people that loved him. They have made their stories a tribute to him on social media throughout the world. Yes, throughout the world. He was a person who truly embodied the phrase, “blessed are those that thirst for justice”. I had even told him that in his lifetime. He always pushed the envelope of acceptance of other peoples religions and nationalities. He suggested books on Muslims that I have never read. He argued with me about being open to people with Mid East backgrounds. Suggesting that not everyone was an extremist. He judged people by their character not by the group that they were a part of. I think that is how we are to be towards others. At least that is who I aspire to be as a Catholic.
He was a doctor. Did I mention that? Very smart. Like maybe he was valedictorian, and/or had nearly perfect scores on standardized tests. Humble about it but yeah, he was smart. That is why he was funny.
Anyhow, at dances, I generally was a wall flower. Maybe a few guys here and there would ask me to dance but he asked me to dance at EVERY dance we both attended together. There was actually quite a few dances if you added up all the camps we went together to among other things. I knew he was gay. He didn’t tell others. His Mom, his brother and me. I liked the idea of thinking I was protecting him from the world. Later I had found out at least two other friends had known. He was very quiet about it. He made me swear not to tell anyone. He didn’t want some family members to find out. He didn’t want it getting out. So I kept his secret. I can not imagine being full of fear that your own family or friends would disown you. Even when later he had come out some of his family wasn’t ecstatic about it. My friends teased me about “turning him gay” I just let them talk. I knew I hadn’t. That I wouldn’t have been able to even if I tried.
The day he came out to me was kind-of awkward. He had told me his deepest secret. His most intimate detail. He said more than just that he was gay but how he was practicing being gay. It wasn’t the third way. His activity wasn’t a very conventional way and I was very concerned, like very, very concerned about it. I was concerned for his safety. I really thought he was going to eventually die that way. I told him so. He didn’t care. I was concerned for his safety. Did I say that already? He reassured me that another knew. I am very certain that this activity he did was a large contributing factor to his early death. At the time, he didn’t talk to me for a couple of days. He told me I was a baby for being concerned and that I didn’t accept him.
Although that is the thing, I did accept him. I knew I wasn’t going to change his same sex attraction. I didn’t want to try to change him. I had this undeniable comfort with him. He was never going to physically or sexually harm me. He didn’t like me that way and never would. He had so much value to me. He let me feel safe and I could be more myself around him. He really was the one man in my life that loved me. That I was never afraid of. He didn’t know that at the time. He just had a compassionate heart that asked me to dance so I wouldn’t feel so left out. So cheek to cheek we would slow dance together. Just dance and for a moment not feel so alone in this world.
This one time at band camp. Ok, not band camp but this one time. He had taken off his shirt and put his arm around me. I said in a very harsh tone, “What are you doing?” Turns out, I think he was flirting with the guy in front of us or just having fun. Later I apologized for it and he just laughed and told me it was no big deal. He knew we were just friends and found my dimeter completely entertaining.
Actually, we had a stronger bond than that. During Christmas we would be at a church together. My favorite part of the holiday service was doing the candle ceremony together. You know where you would pass along the light of Christ. We went to different churches all year round but on Easter and Christmas, I would attend an extra service with extended family in another church and he was home for the holidays.
I like to think that we had a spiritual connection. At his funeral service I perceived his presence there. He was somewhat surprised to see me there. I was crying so hard and he said a few words of encouragement to me before moving on down the isle to comfort family. Afterwards, I prayed for the salvation and resting of his eternal soul. I attended Catholic Mass with that intention.
I know the Catholic Church teaches that each and every person is deserving of God’s love. We are to respect our brothers and sisters regardless of their sins. Lord, I know that well at least on the receiving end. Anyhow, since I am not God I do not know if he would be saved. Actually, I am not reassured of anyone’s certain salvation. I prayed at Mass for him. I so much wanted to see him again in heaven. I prayed every time he crossed my mind. I prayed for his family. Than one day, I just heard or well I guess perceived to hear him say to me, “I beseech thee for you.” No other communication. No more words and there wouldn’t be. I knew the path that was before me was going to be somehow influenced by his leadership.
Now why tell you all this? Cause I think the world has things wrong. Catholics do not hate people with same sex attraction. They hate sin. They hate my sin just as much as they hate your sin. Sin is hated. People are loved. In this world we can’t seem to agree on what sin is but let me reassure you no one hates you. As a matter of a fact, God loves you. He made you. God doesn’t make mistakes. He is almighty. He is Lord and if I am a true follower of Christ I love HIS people.