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    Ethan
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Noah and Jordan - 32. Chapter Thirty-Two

*** JORDAN ***

She has to be wrong. This makes no sense. He was okay. He was getting better. He was fine. He was … I sink deeper into the chair. “I don’t understand …”

“Beth says the doctors tried everything they could,” my mom says kneeling beside me, “but they couldn’t save him. I’m so sorry. Are you okay?”

“I don’t know.”

I don’t know how to express myself. I feel a range of emotions. I wasn’t really close to him. He wasn’t part of my life anymore. In many ways I feel like I lost him a long time ago when he walked out the door. But still, he was my father. My mind goes back to our last conversation, the one we had at his house on Christmas Day.

“I'm going home,” I said to him.

This is your home,” he responded.

This will never be my home. I was so angry.

Jordan, I said I am sorry. I don't know what more you want from me.

I don't want anything from you, not now or ever. I've lived most of my life without you and I am totally fine living the rest without you as well.

Fine, be irrational, you're just like your mother.

I AM just like my mother and you know what, I am proud of that. Thank God I didn't turn out anything like you.

That was the last thing I said to my dad. ‘Thank God I didn’t turn out anything like you’. Those were the last words he heard from his son. The last memory he had of me. The thought makes me feel awful inside. I’m a horrible person.

Even though its late at night we decide to leave now. Neither of us is going to be able to sleep. During the car ride I text Aiden, but he doesn’t respond. I also message Brody. He responds right away offering his condolences. As soon as I think of Brody, I remember Noah. He is the only person, besides my mom, who knows how torn I feel right now. I could use his support. But I shouldn’t. He’s not part of my life anymore.

“I still don’t fully believe it,” I say to my mom. I still don’t. The thought just seems ludicrous.

“It does seem unreal,” she says to me.

“The idea of him not being here anymore … my brain just doesn’t seem to understand that.”

“It takes time.”

“I always thought that maybe one day … somehow … he would …” I don’t even know how to finish the sentence. But my mom knows what I mean.

“He did care for you,” she says.

“It’s hard to believe you.”

“I know, but it’s the truth.”

We arrive in town around midnight. After checking into a nearby hotel we walk to the hospital. Aunt Beth meets us in the lobby.

“Jordan,” my Aunt Beth says taking me into her arms.

“Hi, Aunt Beth. I’m so sorry for your loss.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” she says crying. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I say patting her back. “There is nothing you could have done.”

She takes us to the room where they’re keeping my dad’s body. When I see my dad, I take a step back. I place a hand on my chest to steady myself. I’m not prepared for what I see in front of me. His skin is so pale. He doesn’t look like the person I once knew. Seeing his body makes it real. He’s actually gone.

“Can I have a moment alone?” I ask my aunt and mom.

“Sure. We’ll just be outside. Let us know if you need anything.”

I nod slightly. I move closer to him. I take my fingers and touch his hand. His skin is cold.

“Hi, Dad,” I say in a low voice. “I came to see you. And … and to say …” Its getting harder to breathe. “Don’t go … Please. Please wake up.” I can’t help but cry.

I stand there for a few seconds staring at him. This is too hard. I walk back outside and find my aunt and mom. My aunt says there are people I need to speak to at the hospital. I’m technically his next of kin. I tell her to ask my uncles to take care of it. I’m not in the right state of mind to make any decisions right now.

I want to go back to the hotel, but my mom says I have to see my uncles to pay my respects. It wouldn’t be right to leave. Unfortunately, she’s right. She tells us to go ahead. She just needs to use the washroom first.

My aunt and I walk over to the waiting area where my cousins and uncles are gathered. I’ve always had a rather rocky relationship with my uncles. I never really spoke to any of them growing up. I don’t like most of them because they don’t like my mom. We have seen each other a few times, and they are all always civil, well, except for one. He’s just an ass. I can’t stand him.

As I make my way through the group, offering condolences, one of my cousins asks where my mom is. But before I can answer the rude uncle responds. “She’s probably at home backing a cake to celebrate right now.”

“Fuck you,” I say rather loudly. I know I should be polite, but screw it. I’m angry. At him, the world. Everyone.

“Jordan,” my aunt says, “calm down. And you,” she says pointing to my uncle, “apologize.”

“Why? It’s the truth,” he says. “I’m surprised he even bothered showing up. Never cared about his dad when he was alive. Now he’s here to pretend like he cared.”

“I never cared? Who the hell do you think you are judging me? Why don’t you go ask him,” I say pointing towards the room where my dad’s body is being kept, “why he never cared? Why don’t you ask him why he never showed up? Or better yet, why don’t you tell me why you didn’t care? How often did you call, or check up on me? You’re my uncle, after all. Some uncle you turned out to be. And you blame my mom. Go judge yourself first.”

“Jordan, please,” my aunt says. “This isn’t the time or the place.”

It’s not. She’s right. I start to walk away. I can’t be here right now, or I might just punch someone. But before I can leave my mom shows up.

“Where are you going?” she asks.

“I’m leaving,” I say angrily.

“Jordan, what happened?”

But before I can answer another uncle of mine arrives.

“The funeral arrangements have been finalized. The funeral home will pick up the body tomorrow morning. We’ll have the funeral a day later.”

They decide to bury my dad in the same city where my mom and I live. He grew up there, and both of my grandparents are buried there too. He will be buried next to them.

——— 

We don’t stay long at the hospital. Everyone is civil with my mom. Except the rude uncle. He just gets up and leaves. Good. I didn’t really want to see his stupid face. But even with him gone, I still can’t stand being there. I feel like I can’t breathe. I need to calm down. After walking my mom back to the hotel, I decide to go for a walk. I need some air.

As I go up and down the empty streets, I reach into my pocket and look at my phone. I notice a missed called from Aiden and a message. He tells me to give him a call when I get the chance.

“Hey,” he says picking up the phone.

“Hey, Aiden.”

“I’m so sorry to hear about your dad.”

“Thanks.” I have very little energy in my voice. I sound deflated.

“What happened? I thought you said he was doing okay?”

“I thought so too. Turns out he wasn’t taking his meds, or exercising and … he had another heart attack. But this time he …” I still find it difficult so finish that sentence.

“How are you doing?”

“I’m okay. It’s just a lot to take in. I just saw his body. It feels so unreal still.”

“I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m sorry I’m not there for you.”

“You called. That alone means a lot.” It truly does.

“Hows your mom doing?”

“She’s okay. She’s a strong woman.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” he asks.

“No, we’re fine. But thanks for offering.”

“When is the funeral?”

“Two days from now.”

“That’s fast,” he says.

“Yeah, it is, but it’s better that way I think.”

“Are you sure you’re okay, buddy? I know you had a rocky relationship with your dad.”

“I’ll be fine, Aiden. It’ll just take some time, but I’ll be okay.”

“If you need anything, Jordan, honestly please let me know.”

“I will. Listen, I have to get back to the hotel. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

“Sure. Take care, man.”

It was nice talking to Aiden, he cares. But I don’t know what to say to him exactly. I still haven’t really figured out how I feel about all of this. Every moment I feel something different. There are times when I’m sad or angry, but then at times I’m okay. Sometimes I’m somewhere in the middle. There is only one person I really want to talk to. How I wish he were here by my side right now.

 

*** NOAH ***

Like most days, today I decide to take the kids to the park. I like taking them. It’s nice to get out, get some fresh air, and enjoy the scenery. Plus, I think my brother and sister-in-law enjoy having some private time together. They don’t really get time to themselves because of the kids. This way I feel like I am at least contributing somewhat. They’ve done a lot for me; it’s the least I can do.

Besides, there isn’t much to do in this sleepy town. Yesterday I spent most of the day walking all over town, handing out resumes. Though, I know no one is going to hire me for just a few weeks. At night, we watched a children’s movie, “Frozen”, for the millionth time. My niece really likes that movie. If I hear ‘Let It Go’ one more time … I might just go crazy. But I have nothing else to do, so why not.

In terms of my parents, nothing has changed. My brother tried talking to my mom, and so did my sister, but she won’t listen. She says I’m only allowed to come back if I change and agree to go to church and see a therapist. I’ve told my siblings to tell her repeatedly that I will not do either of those things. My dad hasn’t said much at all. I honestly don’t know how he feels. As each day passes, I care less and less. The pain slowly gets duller and duller. They have to take me the way I am, otherwise, I don’t care if I lose them forever. I know I say that rather easily, and to a degree it isn’t true, I do still care, and a part of me always will. But I’m getting closer and closer to the idea of not having them in my life.

I’m sitting on a bench, watching the kids go up and down the slide when my phone buzzes. Its a message from Aiden. That’s odd. I haven’t spoken to him since I broke up with Jordan.

“Hey, Noah. It’s Aiden. Hope you’re well. I don’t mean to bother you. I wanted to tell you that Jordan’s dad died. He had a heart attack.”

Oh, no! No. Shit. Poor, Jordan. He must be so …. My heart sinks for him.

I notice Aiden is still typing because of those three annoying dots, but I quickly text him back. “How? When? How is Jordan?” I feel so bad for him. He always had a difficult relationship with his dad. But I know just how much he meant to him, and how much he wanted to patch things up. This is probably tearing him apart inside.

Not too long ago. I spoke to him then, and again just now. He’s quite upset. But he keeps saying he’s okay. He won’t really talk to me about it.”

Poor guy. I feel so bad for him. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

That’s why I messaged you actually. I think there might be. I think you should call him.”

Call him? I’ve longed to hear Jordan’s voice for months now. Several times I had to stop myself from dialing his number, because I knew it wasn’t a good idea. Will a call now from me be a kind gesture or a cruel reminder? “I’m not sure he wants to hear my voice right now. I don’t want to cause him more pain.”

“I’ve thought about it a lot. I know you two didn’t leave off on a good note, but he still does care about you. You two had a special connection. You understand him. I think talking to you will help.”

I don’t know. We had a connection. I ruined it.

“I’m not sure, Aiden. I don’t know if he told you this, but I suggested we stay friends. He rejected the idea. He was adamant that could never happen.”

“He did tell me that. He was really pissed when you suggested it. But this is different. Worst case scenario, he hangs up on you, but I don’t think he will. And if he is angry, he will be angry with me. I’ll take full responsibility for this.”

Shit. What do I do? “I still care for him. I just don’t want to cause him more pain, that’s all.”

“I’m not saying you guys will be best friends again. But I think he still could use your support. Maybe Im wrong. But something tells me I’m right.”

“I’ll think about it.”

Poor Jordan. If only I could give him a hug right now.

 

*** JORDAN ***

The next morning, my mom and I drive back home. It’s good to be back. But my solitude is quickly destroyed. The news has spread and people start to come over to pay their respects. I also start to get calls from my friends, Brody, Jenn, John, Caleb. I know they mean well, but I can’t handle it. Everyone keeps asking me the same questions. What happened? I thought he was getting better? How are you? And the same advice, about how it may be difficult now, but life will go on, etc. I know theyre trying to be nice, but it’s too much. I step outside onto the back deck. I need to be alone.

Tomorrow I’ll have to say goodbye to my dad. My aunt asked if I wanted to speak at the service, but I said no. What would I say? I don’t have any stories of us to share. But before we bury him, I have to talk to him one last time. I just don’t know what to say. I feel like I could rip my hair out. I feel so alone right now. I miss Noah.

I pick up my phone and go to the contacts list. I scroll down to the N’ section. I look at his name. I sit there with the phone in my hands thinking. Should I do it? Would he even answer?

I almost jump when the phone starts to ring. I don’t believe my eyes at first. That can’t be right. I look at the display again. It’s Noah.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Jordan,” he says in his sweet soft voice.

It’s him. My heart starts beating faster. “Noah …” I’m at a loss for words.

“I heard about your father. I’m so sorry, Jordan.”

“Thanks,” is all I can muster. It’s been so long since I’ve heard his voice. It reminds me just how much I’ve missed him all this time.

“I thought I would call to see how you’re doing. I’m sorry if I overstepped any boundaries. I don’t want to upset you further. I’ll hang up if you wish.” I can sense the hesitation in his voice. And also, some guilt.

I know we didn’t leave off on a good note, but that’s behind us now. He called to check on me. The gesture actually makes me feel a bit better. Hearing his voice gives me comfort. “You don’t have to apologize. I’m glad to hear your voice. It’s been a really long time.”

“It has. How are you doing?”

“I’m okay. How are you?”

“I’m fine. But I’m more concerned about you.”

“It’s been a rough few days … but I’ll pull through.” I want to tell him everything, but I feel there is this wall between us now. I don’t know how to break it down.

“I know it’s not the same between us anymore … but if you want you can still talk to me. I’m still the same guy, and I’m here for you if you need my help.”

I desperately want to talk to him, yet something inside of me is telling me I shouldn’t. Talking to him won’t change anything. “Thank you, Noah, I appreciate that. It means a lot. But I honestly am okay.”

Okay. I’ll let you go then. But before I do, I just want to say one thing. You’re an amazing son. I know you don’t think so right now. You’re probably beating yourself up because of the way things ended with your dad. You probably hate yourself for not spending more time with him, for leaving on Christmas Day. For what you said to him on Christmas Day. But you have nothing to be sorry about. You are an amazing man, with one of the biggest hearts I have ever seen. Any father would be proud to see just how far you’ve come, how many obstacles you’ve jumped over on your own. You went to him even though he left you. You put aside your pride to spend time with him during the summer. You have nothing to regret. Nothing. You did all you could. He was lucky to have you as a son. Again, if you need anything Jordan please let me know. I truly do hope you’re okay.”

He stills gets me. After all this time nothing has actually changed. He is still the same guy. I was wrong, there is no wall. “The last thing I said to my dad was: ‘Thank God I didn't turn out anything like you.’ That’s what I yelled at him before I shut the door on his face and walked out of his life. What kind of son says that to his dad? Those were my last words. The last words he ever heard from me. And I can’t take them back.”

“You were angry. I’m sure he knew you didn’t mean them.”

“But I did,” I say with tears now rolling down my face. “I did. That’s the worst part, Noah. I’m glad I didn’t turn out anything like him. All my life I wanted him to be there for me, I wanted him to care, to show he loved me. But he never was and he never did. Every single time he disappointed me. And now … now he’s leaving me for good. And I’ll never get the opportunity to make it right. I’ll never have the chance to have my father. Tomorrow I have to say goodbye to him for good … but I don’t know how. How do I say goodbye to a man I barely knew, a man who disappointed me all my life?”

“Speak from your heart, and tell him the truth. Tell him how you feel.”

“Tell him he was a lousy father?”

“Yes. And tell him that regardless, you still loved him.”

“I’m not sure I did,” I respond.

“Jordan, we both know you loved him. I know it’s not the same kind of love you feel for your mom, or … at one time you did for me … but a different one. Even though he treated you and your mom so poorly, and even though he wasn’t there for you when you needed him, you still loved him. Sure, you were angry with him, and that was completely justified, but you still tried, you still went to him. I know in my heart from what I’ve seen from you that your heart is pure. Like I said, you are a good son, no, a fantastic son, one anyone would be proud to have.”

“How is that after all this time apart, you still get me? You understand me better than I understand myself.”

“It isn’t something one forgets,” he says. “Something I don’t want to forget.”

Indeed, it’s not. “Thank you. You’re a good guy, Noah.”

“You’re not too bad yourself,” he says. I can hear the smile in his voice.

“I’ve been told I’m fantastic, actually, I say with a smile. It’s probably the first time I’ve smiled since I heard the news of my dad.

“Really? I wouldn’t trust whoever said that. Theyre probably on drugs.”

“Probably …” I don’t want to let him go. Talking to him gives me some peace after so many hours of hardship. “So, what have you been up to all these days?

“I’m actually just visiting my brother right now, spending time with the kids.”

“They’re still monsters?” I ask.

“That they are. What about you?”

“Nothing much, well, before all this happened. I’m working at a medical clinic during the day and a restaurant at night. Just trying to make as much money as I can before going back to school. Otherwise, the most exciting part of my summer, I built a deck.” I don’t want to tell him about Brody. I don’t think it’s appropriate.

“I didn’t know you were a builder.”

“Neither did I! I just needed a project to distract me …” Crap, can’t say distract me from him. “I mean, I always wanted to try, and so I did. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I’m standing on it right now. It turned out a lot better than I expected.”

“That’s awesome. I’m probably the worst handyman ever.”

“I’m sure you’re not that bad. You built that room for me.” Again I say too much. I regret those words as soon as they come out of my mouth.

“I took apart a desk, put up a curtain, and inflated a bed. I don’t think that counts as building,” he says laughing. It’s good he isn’t taking this seriously.

“True.”

“Oh, I almost forgot,” he says. “You won’t believe who I ran into while I was still at school.”

“Who?” He better not say Sebastian.

Carter.”

“I’m sorry, who?”

“That was my reaction too! Carter from our English class.”

“Ooh. Of course …” I have no idea who that is.

“You have no idea who I’m talking about, do you?” Noah asks.

“Not a clue.”

The brat.”

“Oh! His name is Carter?”

“Yes!”

“I thought it was like Kyle, or something like that. I had no idea.”

“Neither did I,” he says. “I didn’t recognize him at all. He was wearing normal human clothes. He looked like a completely different person.”

“Really? Wow, I’m curious to see what he looks like. Did you take a picture?”

“Of course I didn’t take a picture! I’m not a creepy stalker.”

“Well, you say that,” I say with a laugh. The way we’re talking, it’s like we were never apart. It’s still just as easy to have a conversation with Noah. I’ve missed all of this so much.

“And actually, there’s more. Turns out he’s gay and has a boyfriend.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Good for him.”

“And he had the hots for you.”

“Really? He told you all this?”

“Well, he implied it. He said he wished he had worked with you.”

“Hey, that could be because I’m an awesome guy,” I say. “No, a fantastic guy, or so I’ve been told.”

“You’re not going to let that go, are you?” he asks laughing.

“Nope.”

“Well, I’ll reserve judgment then.”

“Managed to get you, didn’t I?” Just as the words escape my mouth, I realize I shouldn’t have said them. Shit.

“You did,” he says, the playfulness gone from his voice.

And the conversation seems to stop there. Neither of us says anything.

“Thank you,” I say after a few seconds.

“For what?”

“For calling. For distracting me for a while. It was good to hear from you.”

“It was good to hear from you too. Again, let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

“You’ve already done a lot. That you called means a lot,” I say. “I really appreciate it.”

“Okay. I do mean it though, if there is anything, let me know.”

There is one thing. I know I shouldn’t say it, it’s not smart, that I’m being impulsive, but I just can’t help myself. I’m driven by emotion, and not logic.

“Well, tomorrow will be rough. It’s um … it’s too bad you’re so far … and I know it’s not feasible or realistic … but yeah ... if you were closer it would … you know … it would have been nice … that maybe you were –”

A voice cuts me off. “Hey, Jordan.”

I turn around to see Brody. Where the hell did he just come from?

I wave to him and gesture to give me a moment. Maybe that was fate telling me not to finish that sentence.

“Hey, sorry,” I say to Noah, I have to go, people are over to offer condolences. But thank you for calling,” I say.

Okay. No worries. Please call if you need anything,” Noah says.

“I will. Take care.”

“You too. Bye, Jordan.”

I was going to say it would have been nice if he were here, even though I know that’s asking a lot, and not that smart. It could open up old wounds. But I could also use his support. Even after all this time, after all we’ve been through, the thought of having him beside me brings me peace. That’s because what he said earlier was wrong. I still to this day feel some of that love for him. It’s not gone. I tried to remove him from my heart. But I don’t if I’ll ever be fully able to erase those feelings. Or if I truly even want to.

 

*** NOAH ***

If would be nice that what? What was Jordan going to say? If I was there? Was he going to ask me to come to the funeral? It sounded like that. But I don’t know. He’s the one who said we could never be friends ...

I sit carelessly flipping my phone in my hands, staring into space. Frozen like a rock, unaware of my surroundings. I can still hear the sound of his voice in my ears, that deep, soft, reassuring voice. The voice I fell in love with. The voice I’m still in love with. That hasn’t changed. Rather, somehow, I feel it’s even grown stronger than before. What I wouldn’t do to just hold him right now, to give him a hug, and just tell him everything is going to be okay. He deserves to know he is loved, and I hope one day, he can find that. If not with me, then someone else. Perhaps then I won’t feel so guilty for leaving him.

It’s funny how I was trying to convince Jordan that his father was proud of him, that he was a good son. Yet my own father isn’t proud of me. I’ve done so much for my family, but I turned into a disappointment. The irony.

I decide to call Jenn; she messaged me earlier in the day to tell me about Jordan’s dad.

“Hey, Noah.”

“Hi, Jenn.”

“Did you see my message about Jordan’s dad?”

“I did. I actually just spoke with Jordan.”

“You called him?” she asks surprised.

“Yeah. Aiden actually asked me to.”

“Really? I didn’t know you still spoke to Aiden.”

I don’t. He messaged me earlier. He thought I could help.”

“Did Aiden say anything else?”

No, that was it. Why?

Nothing. So, how did Jordan react when he heard your voice?”

“He was surprised. He didn’t say much at first. I thought he wasn’t going to talk at all. I thought maybe he was angry that I called. But then we started talking … and before I knew it … it was like old times again. I think I was able to get through to him. It felt like it used to be. For a moment it was like we never fought.”

“That’s good. Are you going to talk to him again?” she asks.

“I offered. I don’t know if he’ll call back. Even if he does, I know this is only temporary, and I don’t mind. It’s the least I can do for him.”

“When did you speak with him? I spoke with Jordan earlier today, but he didn’t mention talking to you.”

Like ten minutes ago,” I say.

“Oh, okay. I called in the morning. I’m assuming you didn’t tell him that you came out?”

“No. We didn’t talk for long, and it didn’t seem right. The conversation was about him, not me.”

“If he calls back, will you tell him?”

“I want to, but I’m not sure it’ll change anything.”

“You never know. I feel really bad that I can’t make it to the funeral. He needs his friends right now. If I had a bit more notice I could have made it. But there is no way I can make it there by tomorrow. I told Jordan, and he understood.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing,” I say. Do I count as a friend?

Anyway, I have to run. I’ll call you later?”

“Sure. Talk later.”

I can barely function. All I think about is Jordan, and how I want to give him a hug. And whether I should go. I look up tickets. It’s crazy expensive. Flying in this country is ridiculous! I also message Aiden to tell him I called Jordan. He thanks me and says he’s sure it helped. It’s good to know I was able to do something for Jordan. I know it doesn’t redeem my behaviour from before, but it’s still something.

I keep my phone with me at all times. I don’t want it out of sight, just in case Jordan calls back. I doubt he will. But still. One can hope, right? Eventually it rings. I almost jump off the sofa. But it’s not Jordan. It’s my dad. I haven’t spoken to him since the night I came out.

“Hello?” I say.

“Hi, Noah.”

“Hi, Dad.”

“How are you, son?”

“I’m fine,” I say coldly.

“I called because … I’ve been thinking a lot these past few days about that night, and what you said to us, and what I said to you.”

“You called me a disappointment.”

“No, I said I was disappointed.”

“That sounds the same to me.”

“You have to understand, Noah, this is difficult for me. I raised you with certain hopes and dreams and expectations. And, when you told us, I thought all those dreams were going to shatter.” He doesn’t sound angry or disappointed. He sounds conciliatory, in a way.

This is not easy for me either. I’m still the same son you raised. I thought my happiness is what mattered.”

“I know that, and it does. As I’ve said, I’ve been thinking a lot about that night and I realized I was wrong. Those dreams, those expectations aren’t gone. You’re still my son. I should have been more supportive. Im sorry for the way I acted.”

His words catch me off-guard. He just apologized. I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t even know what to say. “Are you saying you’re okay with me being gay?”

“I’ll be honest, Im not fully okay with it right now, but what I’m saying is, I will learn to be okay with it. It will take me time, but with your help and your patience I know I can get there. I don’t want to lose you. I want you in my life.”

Wow. I’m thrown completely off balance. That is more than I ever expected from him. “And you won’t pressure me to change?”

“No, I won’t. I want you to be happy. What you said about being miserable, about wanting to hurt yourself and doubting your own self-worth, that really stuck with me. I never want you to doubt your self-worth. Having you as a son has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. I never want you to think you’re not worthy. I loved you from the moment I first held you in my hands, and I will love you until the day I die.

I am on the verge of crying. My father is not the most affectionate person. That has to be the nicest thing he has ever said to me in my entire life. “Thank you, Dad. That means a lot to me. I know this isn’t easy for you guys either. It’s just this is who I am.”

“I know, son, and I was a fool not to see that at first. I’m sorry. I truly am. And I hope one day you can forgive me. It’s just that I’m scared for you. This life isn’t easy. People will judge you, or they may hurt you.”

“I know that, Dad. But I’m okay with it. Society has come a long way. People are more accepting now.”

“I know. But there are still many people who don’t accept gay people.”

You mean like Mom. She still hates me doesn’t she?”

“She doesn’t hate you, Noah.”

“She said some really hurtful things, Dad. She said she wouldn’t have a fag living in her house, and that I am now dead to her.”

“Your mom is still struggling with this. Our religion says homosexuality is a sin, and she is worried about you in the afterlife. But I’ve been reading a lot and what I’ve learned is that our religion also says family is important. You are my son and that’s all that matters. I know your mom will see that soon too.”

“I don’t know if she will,” I say.

“She will. And I think what will help is if you’re here. I want you to come home,” he says.

Even the thought of returning there makes me feel ill.

“I don’t know, Dad. I can’t. Not if Mom still feels the same way.”

“Don’t worry about her. I’ll deal with her.”

“Does she know you’re okay with who I am, or that you called?” I ask.

He sighs. “Yes. We’ve been fighting about it for the past few days, which is why I didn’t call sooner. But that’s my problem and I’ll deal with it.”

“I don’t want to be a reason why you and Mom fight,” I say.

“You won’t be. And that’s something I’ll figure out. I just want you to come home.”

I’m sorry but I can’t. I can’t be in a house where someone is ashamed of who I am. I don’t want to feel like she is constantly judging me. I can’t go back to that toxic environment. Have you even talked to her about this?”

“Yes.”

“And what did she say?”

“She wasn’t happy. But she’ll have to accept it. It’s also my house. It’s the only way we can move on as a family. Please son, at least think about it, for me.”

He’s trying to make amends. The least I can do is think about it.

Okay. I’ll think about it,” I say.

“Please do, son. I really want you to come back home. It’s not the same without you here.

Okay. I’ll keep an open mind … but there is one thing I need to do first.”

 

*** JORDAN ***

How do I say goodbye? How do I sum up everything I feel in just a few words? This is the last time I will ever get the chance to talk to my dad before his body is buried. This is it. The room is empty; it’s just the two of us. My dad’s body is in his coffin. The funeral starts in an hour. Noah’s words ring in my ear. Tell him the truth, speak from your heart.

“Hi, Dad, it’s me, Jordan. I don’t know if you can hear me, wherever you are … but here goes.” I clear my throat. “All my life, all I wanted was for you to be part of it. I’d go to games, and events, and … my friends would be there with their dads, but you weren’t ever there … You were always away. I grew up feeling like I was missing something. There were so many times I needed you … I needed someone to be there for me. But you never were … I tried my best to find a place for you in my life. I came to you last summer, and again at Christmas, but you didn’t try … Perhaps I was too impatient. Perhaps my expectations were too high. But I never found what I was looking for.

“I always wondered perhaps that you didn’t love me because maybe there was something wrong with me. I thought I was damaged in some way … At first all I wanted was your approval. I was a little boy who just wanted his dad to love him. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough to be loved … Even now I wonder if you would be proud of me. If you would still love me if you knew your son is gay. Yes, that’s right. I’m gay. I’m one of those guys who you didn’t seem to like on television … I’ll never know if you would’ve accepted me. But it’s okay. There came a point in my life when I realized I don’t need your acceptance. I’m happy with who I am. I am happy with who I turned out to be.

“The thing is, somewhere inside of me I always thought someday we’d make amends, that someday I’d get my dad back … I wished so many times that day would come soon. Now I know it never will. Now I know the last thing I said to you was mean and cruel. But that’s not what I want you to remember me by. What I want to tell you and for you to remember is this … I forgive you. I forgive you for everything you ever did, for all the pain, for all the games and birthdays you missed … for everything. I also forgive you for all the things you’re going to miss. My graduation, my wedding … so many things I wish you’d be able to see. Perhaps you’ll get to see them from wherever you are.

“I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me for anything I ever did to hurt you. For what I said on Christmas … For anything else. I know I can never take back the last words I said to you, the last words you heard. But I want these to be my last words instead … I love you. As crazy as that sounds, I do. You are my father, you weren’t perfect, sure, but you were still my dad. You’re the only one I am ever going to get. And that’s fine with me.

“I love you, Dad. I will miss you. Perhaps when we meet in heaven we can make amends and have that relationship I think both of us wanted to have. Until then, sleep well. Goodbye, Dad.”

 

*** NOAH ***

I knew it was a long shot, but I tried my best. Still, I'm here. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so nervous. My heart is racing, my stomach is in knots. I feel queasy. Perhaps this wasn’t the best idea. Perhaps I shouldn’t have come. But it’s too late now. There is no turning back.

I walk along the street looking at the house numbers … 73 … 75 … 77. Here it is. There is no car in the driveway. Perhaps they aren’t home yet. You can do this, Noah. Breathe, buddy, breathe. I walk up to the door and knock. No answer. I knock again. He isn’t home.

I sit down on the front step. I never really thought I would be sitting here. My heart is anxious. I’m nervous as to how he will respond. Will he be happy I’m here, or angry? It almost feels like he wants me here. But I don’t know. Maybe I should go. I’ll call him later and then come back. I’m so deep in thought I don’t even realize that a car has pulled up into the driveway. I can’t really see the driveway; it’s blocked by the garage.

I only realize hes here when I hear his voice as he gets out of the car. The same deep voice I craved to hear for so long. There is also the voice of a woman. His mom I suppose. As I hear his voice approach, my heart starts beating faster. This is it. This is the moment of truth.

I see him when he turns the corner. He is dressed in a black suit, with a matching black tie and a white shirt. His hair is slicked and combed back, clear of his forehead. He looks as beautiful as the first time I saw him. It only takes him a second to realize someone is sitting on the front step. He stops suddenly. His mouth freezes mid-sentence, his eyes widen. He’s completely shocked.

Hi …”

“Hi, Jordan.”

 

This was one of the hardest chapters I remember ever writing - trying to get the emotions just right.
Finding a way for Jordan to say goodbye to his father that felt true to his character.
And a way for Noah to maybe start to repair some of the damage that he caused.
Will it be enough? Or is it too late?
Leave your thoughts below.

Copyright © 2018 Ethan; All Rights Reserved.
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7 minutes ago, FanLit said:

It’s hard to realize when you’re a child that your parents had a life before you came into it, lol.

That life shaped the parent we got, for good and for bad.

It’s hard to realize that our parents have issues they’re still dealing with when they become parents, issues they may never get over and that we unintentionally inherit.  If we are lucky, we can recognize this when we become adults (if not sooner) and understand that “Mommy” or “Daddy” did the best they could, even knowing it wasn’t good enough and forgive them.  Forgiveness is more for the one wronged than the one who did wrong and it sets the one forgiving free.  

With Noah’s help, Jordan took that step so that his children won’t inherit what he did from his dad.  Jordan is going to be an amazing man.  What lucky patients and children await him.

I notice Noah’s baby steps and I know he too is a good guy but those rough spots of his were rough!!  Lol.  

I’m side eyeing his father’s reaching out, I mainly believe he’s sincere but wonder if he’s trying to lead Noah into a trap;  My concern is also that if he’s sincere and Noah comes home, bitch mom will act extremely on her own;  If Noah’s dad really wants to have a real relationship with him, it will need to be on Noah’s terms and from a distance (does he realize who he’s married to?)

I look forward to seeing Jordan’s reaction to Noah on his doorstep.  Is Brody close by? And he has to meet Jordan’s mom, who while an obviously nice lady,  still I’m sure will have something to say to the boy who broke her baby’s heart.

Very good chapter.

I don't know when children realize their parents aren't perfect, that they don't have all the answers. Or when the relationship flips, and you sort of become your parent's parent, in a way, with you looking after them more than they look after you. 

I still remember a time when so many people here were hating on Jordan. He's changed and matured (though not that mature. he's still a clown as you'll see in a bit). 

Interesting observation about Jordan's mom. Her reaction, and how she plays a role in all of this, may or may not surprise you. 

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This is an emotional chapter showing how different fathers and relationships with them can be. On one hand it feels that Jordan’s remorse and guilt is targeted at someone who doesn’t deserve it yet on the other hand I get how you can’t just stop loving someone, especially a parent, no matter how unworthy they may seem of that love. Of course it feels like Jordan’s uncles are cut from the same cloth as their brother and that’s sad especially considering the situation as this is a time when Jordan could use some sympathy rather than insults. Noah’s father showing how much he loves his son is great but he seems a little naive. I mean I understand his intentions yet if Noah gives into his wishes to come back home he’ll likely feel miserable the entire time. Noah is very big hearted and wants to make his father happy so I worry he might go back home for a time despite the negative impact such a toxic environment will have on him. Eh, Jordan did want Noah at the funeral but I expect Brody to walk up any second with him possibly already being at Jordan’s house when Noah showed up so yeah that’s going to be an uncomfortable moment for both Noah & Jordan. Once again I wish Jenn was around because I can’t help feel that her presence would help especially if Noah meets Brody as it’d be great if in that scenario he had an understanding friend to lean on.

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You worked very hard at gauging and presenting the emotions present in all of these situations. This is a really good chapter to show us so much of the emotional baggage Jordan carries with him. Noah takes steps too, to mend his own heart. You paint his father’s outreach well, along with Noah’s justifiably cautious response. His going to Jordan’s house is an even bigger step, though I have no doubt he’s in for more heartbreak when Brody arrives. Perhaps it’s time for some hot new guy to hit on Noah. 

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@travlbug @NimirRaj You're both absolutely right. As I've tried to do in a few chapters, in this one I wanted to show the difference in the relationship each guy has with their fathers and how that shapes who they are. For Jordan, it is about the missed opportunity, and knowing that he'll never get that chance now to make it right with his dad. And for Noah he is, rightfully so, cautious about his dad's request to return home. As for Jenn, she may not be in the city, but she's not far. She's always only a phone call away. 

 

@Parker Owens Brody will be unwelcome news, indeed. Who knows, maybe he'll take a liking to Noah. Did someone say threesome? 🤔

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1 hour ago, starboardtack said:

Powerful, nuanced, authentic

Thank you!

 

1 hour ago, ryan8inch said:

Love this story so far spent the last week reading it. Can’t wait for the next chapter 

Thanks, welcome the story! 

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As someone who lost there father young......there is never a time he is not on my mind in some way......thankfully we were close.  Not being able to have that adult relationship with him is my greatest disappointment.  And sounds like it will be the same for Jordan.

 

I find myself of two minds with this story (besides absolutely being in love with it)....I want Jordan to find his happiness but I am not so sure it is with Noah.........BUT I REALLY WANT IT TO BE!!!!!

 

Cliff hangers ----- they just about do me in each time....

 

Great update.....did you say the next will be in 5 minutes????????

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You did a terrific job with all the dialogue in this chapter! I could really understand how Noah and Jordan were feeling. I need to go back to the beginning and reread.  I can't remember why Jordan's dad left and why the one uncle was so nasty about his mom. I hope Noah showing up can lead to a reconciliation.  Thanks. 

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I am not sure why anyone would want Jordan to get back together with Noah. Noah told Jordan that the love of his family was more important than Jordan’s love. That kind of pain may be forgiven with time but it won’t be forgotten. Not really sure that they have a lot in common. I think Brody is a nice guy and should be given a chance. 

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5 hours ago, jaya1968 said:

As someone who lost there father young......there is never a time he is not on my mind in some way......thankfully we were close.  Not being able to have that adult relationship with him is my greatest disappointment.  And sounds like it will be the same for Jordan.

 

I find myself of two minds with this story (besides absolutely being in love with it)....I want Jordan to find his happiness but I am not so sure it is with Noah.........BUT I REALLY WANT IT TO BE!!!!!

 

Cliff hangers ----- they just about do me in each time....

 

Great update.....did you say the next will be in 5 minutes????????

I'm sorry to hear that about your father. I've also had to deal with unfortunately a lot of death in my family starting at a young age. The death of someone in my immediate family is actually part of the reason why I started writing this story a decade ago. I felt like I needed an outlet to express myself. Here we are almost exactly 10 years later (I started writing Noah and Jordan in February 2009. The first chapter was posted February 19th, 2009!). 

 

Next update will be soon. Aiming for Tuesday. 🙂

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4 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

You did a terrific job with all the dialogue in this chapter! I could really understand how Noah and Jordan were feeling. I need to go back to the beginning and reread.  I can't remember why Jordan's dad left and why the one uncle was so nasty about his mom. I hope Noah showing up can lead to a reconciliation.  Thanks. 

I touch on it only briefly on why Jordan's parents split up, but some of it had to do with his father being reckless with money, a bit irresponsible, and an ass. A few chapters ago (when Jordan goes for Xmas) I explained after the divorce his dad's siblings didn't really talk to his mom. They blamed her for the divorce. Most of them are civil, except this one (who will hear from more in a bit). The only one who stayed friends with Jordan's mom was the one Aunt, Beth.

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54 minutes ago, Badforlad said:

I am not sure why anyone would want Jordan to get back together with Noah. Noah told Jordan that the love of his family was more important than Jordan’s love. That kind of pain may be forgiven with time but it won’t be forgotten. Not really sure that they have a lot in common. I think Brody is a nice guy and should be given a chance. 

 

Obviously, I'm biased so keep that in mind when you read my comment. You're right in that Noah choosing his family over Jordan hurt Jordan, but Jordan also understands the driving factor behind that reason (even though he may not completely agree with it). I think they do have a fair bit in common, but it is their differences that really draw them to one another. In many ways they compliment and complete one another, and they make each other better people. Or at least that is what I'm trying to show with the story 🙃

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1 hour ago, Dirk said:

I'm new here and I just want to say that I like your story.  

Welcome to the mad house that is gay authors! Lots to read, digest and comment about.

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Bloody well written chapter. Every emotion hit exactly the right note.  I had a very anglo-saxon relationship with my father. When he died I too wondered about the unanswered questions , but quickly realised that if they hadnt been answered in the first 50 ish years of my life, there was no reason to suspect they were ever going to be answered. 

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2 hours ago, Dirk said:

I'm new here and I just want to say that I like your story.  

Hi @Dirk, Welcome to GA and to the story! Thanks for reading. 

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1 hour ago, Canuk said:

Bloody well written chapter. Every emotion hit exactly the right note.  I had a very anglo-saxon relationship with my father. When he died I too wondered about the unanswered questions , but quickly realised that if they hadnt been answered in the first 50 ish years of my life, there was no reason to suspect they were ever going to be answered. 

Thank you! As I said in an earlier comment, unfortunately, I've had a bit too much experience with death in the family to be able to draw on some of my own emotions. It's interesting how people deal with it in so many different ways -- and how they are left to reflect on the relationship they had, or the one they wished they had. There are so many things I'd go back and redo, or questions I'd ask, if I had the chance. But unfortunately there is still no rewind button in life! 

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6 hours ago, Ethan said:

Thank you! As I said in an earlier comment, unfortunately, I've had a bit too much experience with death in the family to be able to draw on some of my own emotions. It's interesting how people deal with it in so many different ways -- and how they are left to reflect on the relationship they had, or the one they wished they had. There are so many things I'd go back and redo, or questions I'd ask, if I had the chance. But unfortunately there is still no rewind button in life! 

:hug:

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Ethan, screw you and your cliffhangers with a double sided dildo! You choose the most irritating points to stop.  😋

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32 minutes ago, JBR1977 said:

Ethan, screw you and your cliffhangers with a double sided dildo! You choose the most irritating points to stop.  😋

Or, one could argue, the best points to stop. 😏

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31 minutes ago, Ethan said:

Or, one could argue, the best points to stop. 😏

 

31 minutes ago, Ethan said:

Or, one could argue, the best points to stop. 😏

 

32 minutes ago, Ethan said:

Or, one could argue, the best points to stop. 😏

Yeah, screw cliffhangers

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