After the memorial service and all the funerals, things in town slowly returned to normal, at least for most people. I lost all my anger towards Jed when he did the thing with Jack's chair. He didn't know any more about what was going to happen at that service than I did. It was a completely spontaneous act. Yet it was just so perfect, so beautiful. Jed and I had always been friendly, except for that school year, but we got to be good friends. He would sit with me and listen to me yammer on about Jack forever. He regretted not getting to know him, but a lot of that was really because of Jack's own nature.
We did have an assembly at school. Jed stood there on the stage and gave a tremendous speech about love and tolerance, admitting everything he'd done to make life miserable for me and Jack. He said we'd shown one type of courage for just putting up with it. That most people had some of that type of courage - facing adversity and all. But what we'd shown, he and everyone else in the school had lacked. The courage to stand up to their friends when they knew damned well what they were doing was wrong and destructive. He said he'd come to learn that being gay was just about loving, and what could possibly be wrong with love? After all, it was Jack's love for me that had saved some lives on that terrible night.
I was just sitting there listening. I hadn't actually cried since I was on that bus, but hearing Jed speak, the words he was saying I suddenly had tears running down my face. As he went on, I got worse. I began to cry out loud. For Jack. For me. For what might have been, what should have been. I heard other people sobbing, but I soon felt hands on me. Hands on my shoulders, hands gently taking my own hands, hands on my knees, hands in my hair. Everybody near me was touching me. Telling me they knew. They believed. They cared.
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