Continuing Down The Long Road chapter 13

Jay looked out over the mass of people attending the funeral and was, for some strange reason, not surprised to see Doctor Foster there. Jay locked eyes the man who helped him and Kyle so much through the worst times of their lives, grateful for his presence. Perhaps he could talk with him later about what’s going on inside him. “How can you sum up the life of the most wonderful person in the world in just a few minutes?” Jay began the eulogy. “Kyle David Matthews-Williams was the most caring, sensitive, loving, wonderful person I ever had the honor and privilege of knowing. He was a gifted musician and artist. He was passionate about teaching and very dedicated to his students, going way above and beyond to help any student who came to him. When he was awarded his Doctorate in Quantum Physics, his professors all said that he needed to be working for NASA or some research facility making an obscene salary. In fact, several of them offered him positions that came with six-figure salaries. He turned every one of them down and continued to teach. Why, do you ask? I had wondered that myself so I asked him one day. He told me that if he quit teaching, then he wouldn’t be making a difference in people’s lives. That’s what mattered to him the most – helping people. In the aftermath of nine-eleven, he busted his butt organizing blood, food, clothing, pharmaceutical, toy, baby needs and personal hygiene product drives for the families of the victims and the families of the rescue workers who lost their lives in the aftermath. He worked so hard, giving up practically everything in his life temporarily, including his own needs, sometimes working around the clock until he collapsed from exhaustion and malnutrition. That’s the kind of person he was. He never failed to put his own needs and life on hold to assist others in need. He was a true humanitarian. And what did he ask in return? Not a thing. The mayor wanted to give him a special plaque and the key to the city, but he refused. He never wanted any form of acknowledgement, compensation or reward of any type. His reward was the knowledge that he was making a difference. No matter how big or small, it didn’t matter to him. Only that he made a difference. He was the proverbial guiding light, but now that light is forever extinguished.” With that statement, the tears came hard as it finally dawned on him that Kyle was not just gone, he was gone forever. Suddenly, he ran out of the church and out into the street. Doctor Foster went after him, Kim only a few steps behind. As he pulled Jay out of the way of oncoming traffic and onto the sidewalk, Jay started beating him with his fists. Doctor Foster just held on tight until he wound down and collapsed against him, exhausted.

Later at the gravesite…

“I wish I could pick a single memory of Kyle that stands out. There were so many. If I had to pick one, I’d say it was the Christmas when I gave him a bunch of art supplies.” He sent a grateful grin in Karin’s direction. “I can’t describe what it was like to watch him paint. He would be so intense, yet so at peace at the same time.” His voice broke. “I would sit there and watch him for hours. It was so beautiful it made me cry on more than one occasion.” He grabbed two big handfuls of dirt and let it flow gently from his hands onto the coffin. “Let that memory…” He couldn’t continue due to the brokenhearted sobs that took over his body.

“I’ve always known that he loved me. But I never really understood how much until a many years ago when I met my biological mother and brother. He was willing to do whatever it took to protect me from being forced to return to my biological family, including breaking the law.” He tossed the dirt onto the coffin. “Let that memory lighten grief.”

“I remember the day of our high school graduation during which Adam had asked me to marry him and I had accepted. I was so nervous afterwards, I didn’t know what to expect from his parents, who didn’t know he was going to propose to me during commencement. He walked right up to me, put his arms around me and said “It is with great pleasure, and deep honor that I welcome you into our family, I wish you and Adam an eternity full of unending bliss.” She tossed a handful of dirt onto the coffin. “Let that memory lighten grief.”

“I wish I could have known him longer. K-Dad was a wonderful person who wanted me when my parents no longer did. Shortly before I came to live with him and Jay he found out that I only had the clothes on my back. When my parents threw me out, they took all of my possessions, what little I had, and threw them away, refusing to allow me to come and get them. He made sure that I went shopping and must have spent several thousands of dollars on new clothing, furniture and stuff, not to mention what it cost him and J-Dad to remodel the house so that I could move in with them. Previously, all of my clothing came from Goodwill and thrift stores. I never had any new clothes until that day. He cared more for me than my own parents did, and for that I will always love him. Let that memory lighten grief.”

“I remember the day, so many years ago, that he called me and told me that Jay had agreed to move in with him. He was so excited and happy to have finally found his soul mate. I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy for him.” She tossed a handful of dirt onto the coffin. “Let that memory lighten grief.”

“I remember the day four months before Christmas when Kyle came to me with the idea of converting the attic of his house into a photography studio. We planned everything out with a contractor friend of mine then went shopping for all of the equipment. He was so excited and bouncing around you could have sworn he was a five-year-old on Christmas morning who got everything he ever wanted. It was an incredible amount of fun.” He tossed a handful of dirt onto the coffin. “Let that memory lighten grief.”

One day when I was eight or nine years old, Uncle Kyle stopped by to see if Chris, Dad and I wanted to go with him to a ball game. Uncle Jay was working an undercover case somewhere and Mom was working the evening shift at the hospital. While Dad took a shower, he sat with us while we watched one of our favorite comedy shows. Just as I took a bite of my apple I started laughing at a joke and suddenly started choking. Uncle Kyle grabbed me and did the Heimlich maneuver on me. I don’t think I would be alive today if it hadn’t been for him. Let that memory lighten grief.” He grabbed a handful of dirt and let it trickle through his fingers on to the coffin.

“I had a pet turtle when I was growing up that died when I was ten. I was really upset and cried for like three days straight. A week later, Uncle Kyle showed up with a bunch of boxes and told me to open them. He gave me a couple of hamsters and one of those cages that had a bunch of tunnels connecting different things so the hamsters could run around. He spent the day with me putting it together and showing me how to take care of them, feed them and clean out their cage. Let that memory lighten grief.” He tossed a handful of dirt on the coffin.

“I remember the day Kyle called me and told me about falling head-over-heels in love with his soul mate.” Tommy locked eyes with Jay briefly. “He was so excited he couldn’t wait for me to meet him. It was about a year after he broke up with a guy who constantly cheated on him. When we met up later that day, he was like a totally different Kyle, a completely new Kyle. I’d never seen him happier. Just when I thought he couldn’t get any happier, Jayson joined us. He became totally giddy. The love been the two of them was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Let that memory lighten grief.” He tossed two handfuls of dirt on the coffin.

“When Tommy and I first got together and I learned how close he and Kyle were I expected Kyle to feel that his friendship with Tommy would be threatened and would try to come between Tommy and me. When we finally met, I was totally amazed and completely unprepared for the way he reacted to me. He gave me a huge hug and made me feel welcome into their circle of friends. I had anticipated some jealousy, but it never appeared. As we got to know each other better, I learned from him the true meaning of friendship. He was always there whenever I needed someone to talk to and I couldn’t reach Tommy. He was a class act and we could all learn a few things from him, if we haven’t already. Let that memory lighten grief.”

“One of the most difficult and frightening things I ever had to do in my life was come out to my family. They were strict Catholics, and to call them homophobes would be the understatement of the millennium. Kyle came out to his family when he was sixteen, and my parents refused to have anything more to do with Kyle or his family. I knew that if I came out, they would drop me like a bad habit. When I confided in him, he made me see that I am who God made me, and if my parents couldn’t accept that, then it was their problem. He was there to support me when I finally did come out to my parents, and was there for me when they chose to cut me out of their lives. I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t been for him. Let that memory lighten grief.” She grabbed two big handfuls of dirt and tossed them onto the coffin.

I remember the day that Kyle came into my bank to invest in a certificate of deposit. He had a check for a considerable sum of money from American Music Service. As he was filling out the paperwork I asked him what it was like to work for a record company. He told me that he didn’t, that this was royalties from his CD. I said something to the effect that I never knew a recording artist and would most definitely be interested in hearing his CD. He told me that he was going to be singing at a benefit for some cause or another, I can’t remember which. Naturally I attended the benefit and he was awesome, but not as awesome as the girl singing backup and playing keyboards. One look at her and I was totally gone. After the performance which was beyond awesome, I approached him and told him how much I enjoyed it and would most definitely be buying the CD. He then introduced me to Karin, the backup singer, and we’ve been together ever since.” She placed a rose on the coffin. “Thank you, Kyle. If it hadn’t been for you, I would probably have never found the love of my life.” She tossed a handful of dirt onto the coffin, being careful not to hit the rose. “Let that memory lighten grief.”

“It was a Friday night. The karaoke competition was in full swing when I saw this new guy up on the stage. He started singing the theme from Star Trek:  Enterprise. He was incredible. He sounded so familiar. I could have sworn it was Kyle Matthews, but I thought to myself ‘there’s no way he would be here in my club’ especially since I never expected him to be gay. Naturally, he won the competition. He had signed up as ‘Kyle Matthews-Williams’, which convinced me even more that he wasn’t who I thought he was. Even when he introduced Jay, I didn’t make the connection. It was too inconceivable to me that my favorite recording artist would show up out of the blue. A customer who had watched him win ‘You Can Be the Next Music Superstar’ came up to me and told me that it was actually him. I couldn’t believe it. When I asked him for his autograph he was really sweet, not the conceited, arrogant jerk I had anticipated. I started crying he was so nice. He gave me a huge hug and because of him and Jay, my club has flourished like never before.” He tossed the ritual handful of dirt on the coffin. “Let that memory lighten grief.”

“I fell in love with Kyle’s music the first time I heard it. I had always dreamed of being able to meet him, but I knew the odds against it were astronomical. The night he sang at the club I was astounded. I couldn’t believe my favorite singer was performing in my club. He totally surprised me when I asked him to autograph my CDs for me. I expected him to be a total jerk like so many others I’ve read about, but he was really sweet. In a way, I expected that to be a ‘show face’. Turns out I was dead wrong, as I discovered when I got to know him and learned that despite the success of his CDs, he remained a genuine, caring, sweet, kind individual. He was so special in so many ways. I’ll never forget him.” The dirt was tossed. “Let that memory lighten grief.”

Doctor Foster
“When I was helping Kyle deal with his abduction and rape, I was turned on to this really fun card game, Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot. I remember discussing with him one day how crazy the game was and I told him how much my family had enjoyed playing it. We started getting together once a week for family game night, which is something we hadn’t done since the kids became teenagers. The next day he presented me with a hand-drawn ‘Doctor Foster’ card which had a congenial bunny wearing a lab coat and stethoscope around his neck and ‘Doctor Foster’ embroidered on the coat. That card has been sealed in plastic and sits on my desk. Let that memory lighten grief.” Another handful of dirt was tossed onto the coffin.

“Many years ago, I was asked to go to Kyle’s house to find out if he wanted to press charges against his ex-lover who had assaulted him. When I was finished talking with him, I asked if he would like to go out and have a beer with me. He thought I was hitting on him, but what I really wanted was a friend to hang out with and just be myself. I explained to him that I was only looking for a friend and throughout the course of our conversation I told him that I was still pretty much in the closet because of my precinct commander, who wrote the book on homophobia. He called the Deputy Mayor who came over to talk with me, and we ended up together. Next to my husband Dave, I owe Kyle my happiness. I’ll never forget him. Let that memory lighten grief.” He gently laid a handful of dirt on the coffin.

“I remember getting a call from Kyle telling me that there was a young gay officer who was having a very hard time in his precinct.” He locked eyes with Greg briefly. “I talked with this young officer briefly on the phone and basically got nowhere. I could tell that he was afraid to talk about it, so I used my position as Deputy Mayor and pulled rank on him, ordering him to stay where he was. I went over there and was able to figure out what his problem was. He was about to break down so I pulled him into my arms, then after he settled down I kissed him. If it hadn’t been for Kyle, I wouldn’t have the man of my dreams. Instead of having a DJ play the song ‘Everything I do’ by Bryan Adams at our wedding reception, Kyle sang it for us. It was so beautiful I cried the whole time. Every time I hear that song I can’t help thinking about Kyle’s wonderful rendition of it.” Dave looked up into the sky. “Next to Greg, I owe you my happiness, Kyle. Thank you.” Tears flowed down his cheeks as he grabbed a double-handful of dirt which he dropped onto the coffin. “Let that memory lighten grief.”

After the graveside service, everyone piled into the van and headed towards the club. They were a block away from the club when they noticed huge crowds lining the streets. The police had erected barricades around the club and were hard-pressed to hold back the crowd of people trying to get to the two billboard-sized sympathy cards, one for Jayson and one for Kyle’s family. They took a side street and pulled in behind the club and waited for Tony who let them in the back door and led them up to the Kyle and Jayson Matthews-Williams suite where additional furnishings had been brought in and a huge buffet had been set up for the family. Leaving the grieving family alone to eat and relax, Tony went back downstairs and surveyed the club, making sure that the place was ready for the mob that waited outside. Billy was busy behind the bar checking on supplies, stocking what was needed with the help of the bartenders, all of which were brought in, as well as the entire kitchen staff. He sighed. It already was a long day and was about to get longer.

Assured that everything was ready in the food and beverage department, he went into the DJ booth and flipped a switch that lowered a massive projection screen down the wall behind the karaoke stage. He put a disk into the DVD player then climbed onto the stage. He signaled the bouncers to open the doors. Here we go. He thought sadly. In a matter of minutes, the club was filled to capacity. Not surprisingly, there remained a huge crowd of people outside. “Hello, everybody. Thank you for coming. I’m sure your support means a very great deal to Jayson and Kyle’s family.” He glanced up at the booth and smiled a sad smile. “I know many of you wanted to attend the memorial service. The family was gracious enough to allow me to make a video of the service, which I will play for you now. He nodded towards Dawn, the DJ, who started the video. He noticed that the shades on the booth window had been closed. He wasn’t surprised. He was sure the booth speakers were turned off as well. He wished he didn’t have to go through it all again, but for the sake of Kyle’s fans, he would.

As the video played, Tony noticed the cocktail waiters and waitresses moving from table to table, distributing boxes of tissues. Leave it to Billy to cover all the bases. I never thought of that. After the video finished playing he took the stage again. “For those of you who feel the need, the grief counselors at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Community Services Center are making themselves available today to help anyone who needs it.” He stopped to wipe the tears from his eyes as a photograph of Kyle appeared on the screen behind him. With a great deal of difficulty and a voice choked with emotion, he continued. “Today is truly a very sad day for everyone who was touched by this extraordinary man. I feel very blessed to have known him and had the privilege of calling him a friend.” The DJ started playing ‘One Man’s Dream’ by Yanni. “It has always been my dream to not only have a successful nightclub, but to also own an independent recording studio to make it possible for the many talented people out there to cut demos. Kyle helped make that dream come true.” Billy rushed up on stage to hug Tony as he broke down. One of the bouncers help him off stage and back into the office.

Billy took up where Tony left off. “Kyle was truly an exceptional man, and even though I hadn’t known him for as long as I wished I could have, I know that he would not want us to be sad. His family, who is here with us today, decided not to have a wake, but to have a celebration of his life. Everyone was given a voucher when they came in. That voucher is good for two free drinks and a free buffet which will be open shortly. The family has requested that if anyone wants to make a donation, they be made to the newly-established not-for-profit Kyle Matthews-Williams Foundation. The goal of the Foundation is to help stop drunk driving and to help families who have lost loved ones to a drunk driver cope with their loss.”

Someone yelled from the back of the room. “How do I make a donation?”

“Checks are to be made out to the Kyle Matthews-Williams Foundation. These, along with any cash donations, can be given to either Tony or me. You will be given a receipt for your donation as all donations are tax-deductible.”

“Is the Foundation hiring?” Another person yelled out.

“With the exception of the professional staff, the Foundation will be staffed completely by volunteers. Even the Executive Director is a volunteer, and the professional staff won’t be drawing a salary, but a small stipend.”

“How do we volunteer?”

“I’ll put volunteer applications by the door. There will be a box on the table next to the applications for completed applications. Applicants will be contacted for interviews at a later date.” He held up his hands to forestall any further questions. “In the not-too-distant future, Kyle’s record label will be releasing a tribute CD and one-hundred percent of the proceeds from the sales of this CD will be going directly to the Foundation. As soon as we know when the CD will be released, we’ll post it on our website. Now, if anyone would like to share a special memory of Kyle, the stage is open.” He stepped off the stage.

After the video of the service was over, one of the waiters knocked on the door of the booth to let the family know that it was over. The booth shades were opened and the booth speakers were turned on. Jay told everyone to follow him. He led them down the stairs and once Billy had finished, led them onto the stage. Everyone held out their arms to the family as if giving them hugs. “Hey, everybody. I’d like to introduce you to Kyle’s and my family. “This is Kyle’s sister Kim and her husband Bryan and their two kids, Jon and Chris. This is our son Adam and his wife Kelly. This is our daughter Janita and her girlfriend Janine. This is Kyle’s cousin Karin and her wife Denise. These are our best friends Tommy, his husband Andy, Dave and his husband Greg. Last, but certainly not least, this is Doctor Foster, who help Kyle and myself put our lives back together after we were both abducted and repeatedly raped. ” That statement drew shocked looks and even more tears from the crowd. “On behalf of all of us thank you for coming and sharing your memories of Kyle. I would ask one thing of you. To honor Kyle’s memory, I ask each and everyone one of you to not drink any alcohol today. Tony and Billy have come up with a long list of non-alcoholic beverages and have non-alcoholic beer.” Jay suddenly dropped to his knees, tears pouring down his cheeks. “I beg of you, don’t drink any alcohol today.” Everyone on stage fell to their knees. They looked out over the assembled crowd and saw a wave of nodding heads. Jay got back on his feet and stretched out his arms. “We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.” The family stood up and left the stage to a thunderous ovation. A video presentation of various pictures of Kyle swimming, painting, teaching, goofing around and just doing everything that made him who he was started showing on the big screen, accompanied by his music. Despite the somberness of the occasion, everyone relaxed. The family later found out that not one drop of alcohol had been consumed that day. While everyone felt heart-warmed, nobody was surprised.

What did surprise them was the sheer volume of applications to volunteer at the Foundation, which was over a thousand. Sadly, there just wasn’t a lot for any of them to do just yet. A couple of volunteers were Paralegals which gave Tony the idea of having free legal services made available. He just needed to get a lawyer to oversee it.

The donations to the Foundation totaled over ten-thousand dollars. It’s off to a good start. Tony said to himself. Suddenly overcome by a wave of guilt, he turned his eyes upward. “I’m sorry, Kyle. I should have thought of this sooner. If I had, then perhaps you would still be with us.”

There was no way you could have foreseen it happening, Tony, so don’t blame yourself. I don’t. You’ve started a good thing going here and it will make a difference. You and Billy watch over Jay for me. I love you guys.

Tony was startled as Kyle’s words floated into his head. In a hoarse whisper he said. “I will, Kyle. I give you my solemn word on that. We love you and miss you. Hang loose and be at peace my brother.”

Hours turned into days, day into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. Jay retired from both the FBI and Honolulu Happenings to devote all of his time and energies to the Foundation throwing himself into it with a vengeance. Proceeds from the incredibly successful tribute CD came pouring in. Honolulu Happenings released a special tribute edition, donating one-hundred percent of the sales to the foundation. He still missed Kyle tremendously, and after a year of counseling was able to return to the club, spend time with his friends playing games, relaxing and just having fun, rejoining the human race. Whether we want it to or not, life does go on.

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