ROOMING WITH MY BEST FRIEND: THE FINALE
“I’m cold,” Corey eked out in his weak voice while I lay next to him in our bed.
“I’ll get ya a blanket,” I said and walked over to grab some one from our large closet. “Here you go.”
“Love you,” he said clutching the blanket over his weak body.
“I love you too and I’ll see you in the morning,” I said putting the blanket over him. Corey had been sick for the past several months after battling for four years with cancer. Now days, it was very curable but he waited until the last moment to see a specialist.
I leaned over and kissed his cheek before leaving him since it was only seven o’clock at night here in early May. Tomorrow would mark the forty fourth anniversary of our college graduation with our forty third wedding anniversary approaching at the end of the month.
After going to the living room in our spacious nice house that we had built twelve years ago, I sat in our great room with a glass of white wine. Looking out across our pool, I began reflecting on all the great years that we had spent together and truly what a great life that I had. The only regret in our lives was not having any children to call our own. It was one heartbreak after another with adopting until Corey and I stopped trying. Corey and I had traveled the world and seen all the great sights that the world had to offer which were in a safe locale.
While I was sitting and watching the sun set over our pool and the lake behind it, I heard someone at the door knocking softly. I went over and answered it but knew it would be Kris. He lived about five miles away and had lost Melissa just as we were building our house, so we saw a lot of him when he wasn’t being entertained by his three kids or four grandchildren or vice versa.
“How’s Corey doing today?” Kris asked.
“About the same, I guess. He did eat something at lunch but he wouldn’t touch a thing for supper,” I replied with Kris walking inside.
“I would have called earlier but I went to see Nate’s game,” Kris said about his oldest grandson who was a junior in high school.
“That’s fine,” I said. “How’d he do?”
“He played like shit for most of the game,” Kris replied. “He scored in the seventieth minute to tie the game up.”
“He’s been on a little tear lately,” I said.
“He has been,” Kris stated. “He wants his great uncles to come see him and did ask me after the game how Corey was doing.”
“I miss going to his games. Corey really enjoys seeing him play,” I said.
“Nate really looks up to you two. You’re his role models since he told everyone that he was gay.”
“I know he does. I just wish he could have seen us in our younger days,” I laughed.
“We have all those pictures that he looks at. He can’t believe it when I tell him how hard gay people had it back and the trouble you and Corey went to just to get hitched.”
“I’m glad things have come that far. I’m even happier that he doesn’t have to put with some of the shit gay people did back then. I say some because Corey and I avoided nearly all of it thanks to you and Colt.”
“Matt, I miss Colt. It’s like he’s disappeared off the face of the earth. I swear it’s been… well it was when Melissa died was the very last time that I’ve seen him. You’d think that he’d call or visit,” Kris said.
“Kris, some things and friends change in life…”
“Not us,” Kris stated.
“I’m thankful for that. You were there when all three of my kids were born and changed a vacation when Jessica was born,” Kris said. Jessica was his middle child and the only girl. His last son was named Raymond Matthew after me since it was evident that we weren’t going to have any children.
We sat and chatted like we usually did. I heard Corey buzz me so we walked back to our bedroom.
“Bro, you need to get your ass out bed soon,” Kris joked with Corey.
“I’m trying,” Corey weakly said. “Matt, I need some water.”
“I’ll get some for you,” I said and left to get him some in his glass where he could drink through a straw. I returned with Kris sitting on the edge of the bed and talking to Corey. Kris kissed him on the cheek before we left.
Kris walked out and had tears streaming down his face. He didn’t need to say a word for we both sensed what was near. We returned and watched TV.
“Matt, I’ll just stay in my room. He really doesn’t look very good and reminded me of Melissa before she passed. You may need me during the night,” Kris said.
“I appreciate that very much,” I said. “I changed your sheets this morning for you.”
“There’s something that I need to do at my house,” Kris said.
Kris stayed with us whenever he wanted and didn’t have his grandkids. He had retired from teaching and coaching five years ago. Corey and I had retired together at the age of 60 and expected to enjoy many years of retirement until he got sick. He recovered from the first round but he had been weak and sick for the past three months. He’d been in and out of the hospital but now I cared for him.
About 10, Kris and I said good night and went our separate ways. I crawled into bed and grabbed my sleeping husband and wondered how much sleep I’d get before he woke me up needing something like help going to the bathroom. Just holding him was a treat as he had done so many times over the years. Over the years, our sex life remained strong until he became sick. It no longer mattered that we showed our love to each other sexually and found other avenues to do so during this time.
At seven, I was up and left Corey sleeping. I went out with Kris sitting out on the patio with a cup of coffee and nude. I was nude as well knowing Kris would be after sleeping in my shorts in case of an emergency during the night. Kris and I were still in pretty good shape for older men.
“This never gets old,” Kris said and took a sip.
“Never does to me either. Corey wanted a place by a lake so I’m glad that we did it,” I said.
We sat there for a while talking and watching the birds flying overheard and in the trees. It was going to be a very nice day but maybe a little warm. It would be great for a swim later in our pool. I got up and headed to make breakfast for us. It would be just toast and cereal for Corey while Kris and I had eggs, bacon and wheat toast.
I had Corey’s ready and headed back with his plate. I opened the door and didn’t hear any snoring or heavy breathing. Fear ran through my body at that moment. I sat down his plate and went over to him. My husband, lover, best friend and the greatest guy in the world was gone. I held his hand and felt it was getting cold. With tears streaming down my face, I leaned over, hugged him and kissed him. “Corey, I will always love you… and… know…”
I wiped my eyes and couldn’t continue. I summoned up enough voice and yelled, “Kris!”
Footsteps came down the hall and the door opened. Kris came in and knew without saying a word that Corey was gone. Kris reached for me and gave me a hug. We stood there crying but I was ever so thankful that Kris was here and I wasn’t alone. It took a little while before we regained our composure. We did dress but even that was hard with Corey’s body still in our bed.
I had the numbers to call including the coroner. It was hard calling Mom and telling her as well. She was 90 and really was in decent health. I was barely able to speak but did ask her to call VJ and let him know. VJ lived in the area and had been married and divorced twice with two girls. My next call was to Corey’s half-brother Eli who lived about three hours away. I asked that he call his sister Ruth.
Kris was on his phone and called Scott and Brennan. They lived about twenty miles away and didn’t have any children or want any either.
I went down to the next person Ted. He was the last of us to get married and did so after a very successful career in football. Now he was selling real estate to stay busy, more or less. He said he’d call Luke who had just retired from coaching and lived about two hours away whereas Ted lived less than an hour away.
We called and texted other people in our lives until the coroner arrived. I had to step outside when they wheeled Corey’s body away. It had been previously planned that he would be cremated with a nice memorial service afterwards.
Scott and Brennan were the first to arrive. They had done well in life with Brennan still working whereas Scott had retired. It was so hard seeing them with tears bursting forth from all four of us. Corey was only the third of our close friends to pass away. Myles passed away about twenty years ago in a horrible accident with Jordy leaving us six years ago after a long illness. We were quite fortunate in that regard as far as our close friends go.
Mom was the next to arrive. I disliked that fact that she was still driving but there was little that I could do other than take her keys away. She made me cry some more but I knew there would be lots of tears shed for quite some time. Kris’s parents were now gone with Walt being the first and Jenny three years ago.
“Matt, just remember all the good times that you and Corey shared. That’s how I did when Vince passed away,” Mom said.
“We had lots of those,” I said and wiped my eyes.
We sat in our living room with Kris telling of Corey’s passing. It was nice that he went peacefully after suffering. It was comforting to know that he was no longer in pain.
We were sitting around and sharing various stories when we heard a knock at the door. Kris went to answer it. Hearing the booming voice, I knew it was Ted. He and I shared a big hug and tears.
“We lost one of the greats today,” Ted said. “Reese took it really hard since you two were a big inspiration to him from day one. He said he’d be there for the memorial service. There’s no telling how many people Corey influenced over the years just by being himself.”
“Thank you. I appreciate that,” I said.
“Sadly, one of the greatest love stories has ended,” Brennan said. “Scott and I have tried to mimic them through the years.”
“Thanks,” I said. “We were just who we were…”
“And so in love,” Mom said. “I’ve always been so proud of them. They never let one thing stand in the way.”
“Hell, Matt wouldn’t let it,” Kris laughed.
Next to arrive were Cale and Daniel. We had grown very close to them over the years and went on many trips with them. Daniel was really torn up over Corey’s passing since he and Corey were really close as were Cale and I.
It was so comforting to have all my friends here in my time of need. As soon as school was over, Nate and his boyfriend Josh came by. Nate was a very handsome young man and looked like a younger Kris but thinner. He done well and had a boyfriend that matched his looks. VJ and his daughters came by later and just in time so one of them could drive Mom home or else I was going to have her stay the night.
It was hard getting in bed alone. I cried and cried until I couldn’t cry any more. I knew Corey would want me to continue but I was not quite ready to release him like I thought I was.
The next day, Thursday, would probably just as hard. Kris and I went to make the final arrangements for Corey’s memorial service. The night before we had decided Saturday would be a great day to honor Corey. We came back to the house with Scott and Brennan there with food for us.
Just as we had finished eating, there was someone at the door. I went over and saw a grey bearded man. I burst into tears realizing it was Colt. We were hugging when Kris walked over to join us.
“Matt, Tabor called me…” Colt said.
“Bro, we thought you’d dropped off the face of the earth,” Kris said.
“I thought so too,” Colt said. “When Faith left me, I really went into deep depression. I’m sorry!”
“I’m so glad to see you,” I said and wiped my eyes with Kris and Colt embracing and sobbing. “Damn, I’m just about tired of crying.”
“Where do you even live?” Kris asked after wiping his eyes.
“Oh I live just outside of my old home place,” Colt replied.
“For God’s sake, let someone know,” Kris said.
“I know… I know. Now is a great time to see everyone. I’ve been waiting for the right moment and hate that it is a moment like this,” Colt said and was greeted by Scott and Brennan.
“I tried calling you,” Scott said.
“Honestly, I’ve been a recluse. I don’t see many people at all. I have kept in contact with Chase but that’s about it,” Colt said. “Matt, you’ve out done yourself again. This is one nice home that you have.”
“Thanks. It was Corey’s dream,” I said.
“So what happened?” Colt asked.
“If your ass had been around, you’d know,” Kris replied.
Colt held up his hands. “To each and every one of you, I’m sorry. Shit just happens. I can leave.”
“I was just kidding and really glad to see you again. I think of you every day,” Kris said.
“I think of all of you every day and it could be the very reason I’m still living. I think I’m past that phase and ready to live again while I have the chance. Now what happened if you don’t mind?”
We collaborated and filled in the blanks over the years. Again Cale and Daniel came over with some great food. Just after they arrived, I went to the door again. It was Shawn and his second wife Jill. He was retired from the fire department after making it to captain. He was forced to retire when he was stricken with cancer but had recovered very well but was thin.
Everyone was excited to see Colt at this sad time. It was such a bright spot for me. I wondered if he would know or even care. He cared much more than I imagined and had been in a really rough patch in his life.
That night, we had a few visitors. They were some new friends, neighbors and old coworkers of Corey’s. Kris’s oldest son, Nathan dropped by with Nate. Nathan was the opposite of Kris and was rather reserved but looked just like Kris. Nate was more like his grandfather and was rather outgoing. Kris said Ray and Jessica would be at the memorial service since both lived out of town and were working.
My goal for the night was to pick out pictures for Corey’s service. I had lots to choose from. Naturally our wedding picture would be included as well as one with all of us at our wedding, Kris’s wedding and Colt’s wedding. Also there was one when we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Almost all of our friends were there at our 25th anniversary so we recreated our wedding picture. There were lots of special ones like from our trip to Paris, Rome, London and Spain.
After everyone was gone, it was me, Kris and Colt. Colt had brought his things and was planning on staying with me or Kris until after the service or at least for the weekend.
“We should honor Corey and go out for a nice swim,” Kris said.
“We’ve been honoring him all night by enjoying some fine brews,” Colt said.
“Bro, we need to lose these damn clothes and enjoy it just as Matt and Corey did,” Kris said.
“No one wants to see my fat ass,” Colt stated.
“It’s not about seeing your fat ass, Colt. It’s about being free and enjoying it. You don’t have to if you don’t want to. We’re far too old to make you,” I said.
“Alright then,” Colt said. “Kris, I know I’m fat.”
We began shedding clothes with Colt having a hairy body and a gut that was well earned. We headed to enjoy the nice night as Corey and I had done so many times. It was hard in doing so.
We dove into the water and swam around for a little while until getting out and sitting on our patio.
“See that wasn’t so bad,” Kris said.
“It wasn’t at all. Thanks for everything and not holding a grudge against me. It means a lot to me…”
“Hell, you’re still the same Colt as always,” Kris said and leaned over and kissed his cheek.
“It is sad. Now when I look in the mirror and see this old tattoo,” Colt said.
Tears began flooding my eyes. Kris put his hand over his tattoo. “Bro, we really miss you… fuck bro, you should be here with… us.” Tears were streaming down Kris and Colt’s face now.
Colt held his hand over his tattoo. “Corey, you were such a great friend. Sorry I missed some of the best years. Please forgive me.”
“Corey, you’ll… always and forever…” I couldn’t continue.
We stood and cried some more.
“Bros, I don’t which one is harder. Losing Melissa or losing Corey.”
“Melissa,” I said. “She meant the world to you.”
“Still does,” Kris said. “This is just about as hard. It just tears me up seeing you like this.”
That night, Kris slept with me. He knew that I had a tough night and wanted to be there for me. For the first time in over forty years, we had a nightly chat until I feel asleep due to taking a few pills earlier.
Friday stared out very slow. Mom came over for a little while and saw that I was in very good hands. Scott had brought food along with a nice neighbor. As we were eating, we had a visitor like normal. Kris went to the door and began yelling for me.
I walked into the entry way and saw JJ and Teague standing there. I tried not to cry but did once they started. Teague lived out of state so JJ had just picked him up at the airport. Since my house had four bedrooms, there was ample room for them. JJ had been a very good friend and seen Corey quite often after he was sick. Teague had seen him last year as well and knew Corey wasn’t doing well. It was still a shock and sad for them as well.
It was a fun night with the five of us reminiscing about Corey’s life. I was able to laugh often and loved hearing all the old stories that now sounded better than ever.
Saturday, I was up earlier after enjoying some great times and memories with everyone. Mentally, I wanted to be strong for Corey but knew it was going to one very rough day. The service would be held at the funeral home with everyone dressed in jeans or whatever at Corey’s request.
With Kris and Mom at my side, I entered early to view everything and saw all the wonderful flowers that people had sent. I loved the big picture of our wedding gracing the front. They had made a great slide show that included so many great memories. There were a lot from our college years since I wanted to include that meant a lot to both of us.
The service began as the small room filled to capacity. Eli stepped forward and gave eulogy of his brother. Over the years Corey had done a nice job of forging a good relationship with him, his sister and Corey’s biological Dad. Eli spoke well and really did a wonderful job of setting the tone just as Corey would want. The next speaker was a shock and surprise to me. It was Kris with a tissue in hand. Kris spoke with a lump in his throat but added his unique style. It was a true memorial with lots of good laughs and memories.
I made it through the service and exited with lots of people wanting to speak to me. It was pretty much a blur at that point. I know most of our college friends were in attendance. Kris’s three kids were there as were his grandkids. Chase, Tabor and Levi were there along with Hunter and his two girls. Jess, Juan and Bryson had made it and were big but welcome surprises to me. It was nice seeing Luke as well as Ted, Reese and Reese’s husband.
After the service, we had a nice sit down dinner with those who wanted to come and enjoy the food. Most came to eat as I had requested. The stories continued to flow in every direction along with everyone’s condolences for my loss.
I made it through the day without a real break down. The service did some nice healing but there would forever be a hole in my heart and my life.
With Kris gone to his house to be with his family, it was me and Colt at my house with JJ and Teague heading back as well. We went out to enjoy the early evening and have a drink by the pool.
“Corey would have been very proud of that today,” Colt stated.
“That was my hope and plan. I wanted to honor him and for everyone to remember him,” I said looking across the pool.
“After all these years, Kris hasn’t changed a bit,” Colt chuckled.
“No he hasn’t nor would we want him to change either.”
“Ummm… I don’t know how to put where it will sound right but… I’m glad I’m here,” Colt said and reached to grab my hand. “I regret that it took something like this to bring my sorry ass around. I even debated on whether I should come or not. It has been the best thing to happen to me in probably twenty years or so. I really wasn’t sure how you and Kris would feel for me showing up for this.”
“Colt, I think we said friends forever…”
“We did and you meant it. I’m the one that broke that bond that we had. I was always chasing better things and ended up losing everything in the end. I blamed Faith for not trying harder to keep our marriage together but I was the main cause of our divorce. It wasn’t like I fucked around or anything like that. I stopped being her husband and treating like I should have been. I really envied you more than Kris as far as a good marriage goes.”
“Ah, we had our trouble too over the years,” I said.
“We all do but you stayed together like I knew you would. These few days have been the best rehab of my life. I feel like I have been given a new beginning. I plan to make the most of it.”
“I’m glad to hear that. We missed you being around. I know Corey really did,” I said.
“I heard that he was ill but thought that strong sucker would recover and continue on…”
“Me too. He did recover for a while but then he got sick again. I knew then he wouldn’t be here that long. I took him home and cared for him here the best I could…” I said and wiped my eyes.
“Matt, your love for him probably extended his life for at least three months. Knowing him like I used to, he didn’t want to leave you alone and wanted to be here for you.”
“You’re right. Colt, if you don’t mind, I rather talk about other stuff.”
We talked about how neither one of us had children and how much we both missed not having them at this stage in our lives. Colt admitted that their inability to conceive really made things stressful on his marriage. We both bragged on Chase and Hunter. Hunter had grown up to be very nice looking man with a very good job like his dad.
Our drinks grew warm in our wrinkled hands. We were enjoying just talking and catching up rather than seeing how much we could consume. The best thing was the old Colt was back and I hoped that he would continue to be back.
After Colt left on Sunday, I was alone for the first time. It was harder than I imagined but there was a deep determination to continue my life. There were lots of things that needed to be done with Corey’s passing that would fill my time and mind. It was hard going to bed alone with Corey’s picture staring at me.
The day of our wedding anniversary was the hardest day on me. The day meant so much to Corey and continued to do so every passing year. He loved surprising me and carrying me away. We did go back to the location of our honeymoon and enjoyed reliving that occasion. Later that night, I made plans for another trip to Europe since Cale and Daniel had wanted to return. This time, I wanted Kris and Colt to join us for a fall trip. Colt had stayed in contact and talked to Kris all the time over the past few weeks.
The summer was actually very good. There was always someone over at my house to fill my time and mind. It was more often than not Kris with Colt coming at least once a month to be with us. Sometimes, Nate, his boyfriend and other friends would come over for a swim and to entertain us. It meant so much to me that they thought that much of me.
That fall, the five of us enjoyed ten wonderful days in Italy and France. That wasn’t easy since someone was missing that enjoyed the trips as much as I did. However, I was continuing my life just like Corey wanted me to.
The next time Colt was around just before Thanksgiving, I sat with him and Kris in my living room.
“Guys, I’ve had time to think about this,” I stated. “I see two others guys that I want to be my roommates again.”
Colt and Kris looked at each other. “Bro, I don’t know about that.”
“I see where this is going but I can’t right now. I love being around you two but I also enjoy being alone now,” Colt stated.
“It was just a thought,” I said.
“Forget him,” Kris said, changing his tone quickly. “I’m for it and have been since the day Melissa died. Colt, what is really holding your ass back?”
“He said he enjoys his time alone. He talked about going hunting last week and the big one that he killed,” I said.
“Thanks Matt. I just can’t do it right now. Maybe one day I can but you two can be a couple.”
I held up my hands. “Sorry but it’s not about that at all. The three of us are alone now and as we get older we’ll need someone to care for us just like I did Corey. If you think it is more than that, you’re mistaken.”
“Bro, we’re past that shit now. In our younger days, we did that but now it’s more for companionship than any sexual reason at all,” Kris stated firmly. “Matt, I’ll put my house up for sale as soon as possible. I love the idea and didn’t want to approach you with it.”
“I know, Kris,” I said.
“I’ll think about it,” Colt said.
“Please do,” I said.
“Bro, in the meantime, it’ll be back to rooming with my best friend. It’ll be the senior citizen version of our freshman year in college,” Kris laughed.
“It will be but in a much bigger place!” I said.
I must say marrying Corey was the best decision of my life. However, next in line would be rooming with my best friend to start college.
THE VERY END!!
After weeks of debate, I've decided now is the time... the time to say goodbye to my friends. I do so with tears in my eyes just as anyone would do saying goodbye. The tears both for what I wrote since they lived inside my head for the past 5 years if not more and because I know how much most people enjoyed the guys and felt if they were their friends as well. I hope it doesn't mean the end to some very nice email relationships that I've formed because of the story.
I'd like to THANK everyone of you who ever read, commented or emailed me about the story. I owe a big thank you to Big D and Andy. Without their support and efforts, there's no way the story would have made it!! THANK YOU GUYS!!!
On October 7, 2010, I posted the first chapter of Rooming on here and Nifty. I do so just to post something but was stuck writing it at the first breakup. I was overwhelmed with responses and thought after the first semester it'd be finished. Then after their senior year, I thought the same. Now, it is finished and wrapped up. I hope you enjoyed how it ended. Some will disappointed with the end in different parts but it is how I see it.
AGAIN, THANK YOU!!! I wish all of you the very best in life. Maybe down the road if the mood hits me and the time comes available, I'll have something for you. Looking back, I don't know how I ever did it.
I will read each comment that is posted and each email. I'll do my best to respond to each one and owe you that.