Alexa Chapter 15: As One Door Closes….

Alexa Chapter 15: As One Door Closes….

“Alexa..”

“What’s up Kate” I say as I look up at my ‘sister’ who is standing there staring at her phone. “she looks up at me with a look of confusion. She looked she was trying to hold back a smile, because she knew it was out of place. She just sat there and stared at me. “What is it, who was on the phone?” My eagerness was starting to get the best of me. Katie walked over to me and sat down next to Jenny and I on the couch. I eased Jenny to the side, waking her as I did and looked over at Katie as she sat down. Jenny propped herself up wiping the sleep from her eyes.

“That was your mom. She wanted, um she asked. It’s.” Confusion had turned into nervousness it seemed as Katie was looking for the words.

“Why was my mother calling you?” I sneered at the thought of my mother, who other than a few odd text messages had only attempted to call me once and that was about two weeks after Dick’s rant. I urged Katie to spit it out.

Katie looks down, taking a deep breath at the same time. She looks back up at me with a new emotion. Sympathy. “Your mother called me to tell you your father is dead.” I just stare at Katie. I have no words. The man who has caused me more pain in my life than all other people on this planet is dead? It doesn’t make sense. I feel Jenny wrap her arms around me, but I don’t feel this is a time for sympathy. Is it? My emotions are all over the board. As much as I want to yell out “Good” at the top of my lungs, part me is falling apart. My dad is dead. The man who taught me to throw a football. Who taught me to skate. Who took me all over the United States on family vacations is no longer part of this earth. I wiggle free from Jenny and begin pacing the room. That’s not the right term, wandering maybe a better term because I had no direction. I felt numb. I look over and I see Jenny and Katie exchanging looks. I don’t think either of them knows how to react. I stop at one point and look at Katie and just utter one word.

“How?”

“Accident. Wrapped his truck around a tree out at Cedar Lake.” Katie tells me. “They think that alcohol was probably involved.”

“He was probably sitting out at the ice house sucking down beer. Bastard. How many times has he been told not to do that. He never listened and just did things his way.” My anger towards my father was building.

“You should call your mom Lex.” Jenny advised

“I’m not calling her. She didn’t even want to tell me my father was dead. She had to call Katie and have her tell me.”

Katie speaks up trying to defend my mother. “She figured you would just hang up on her. Plus, she thought you should be told face to face and not over the phone.”

That’s bullshit” I scream out.

“You don’t know that babe” Jenny says. I can hear sadness in her voice as she tries to convince me my mother was just trying to make it easy. I continue my wandering around the room, as I listen to my girlfriend and sister urge me to call my mother. I finally announced I needed to be alone and head back to the bedroom and shut the door. I lay back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. I know I should call my mom, I know I should feel sad but I can’t. Yes, he was my father, but I hated the man. He had belittled me for so many years for not being a man that it hurt. And then as I was coming to terms with who I was he again goes on the attack. Not only that he kicked me out of the family. And as I have all these feelings in my head I can’t help but think about the good times we had together. Viking games, Gopher games. The week-long vacations up to various resorts up north. Sure, they were so he and my brothers could go fishing, but they were still a happier time. I look over at the dresser and see one of those other times. It was the trip to Disney World when I was four. The picture that had been moved back into our bedroom showed a little boy hugging his father. Both had huge smiles on their faces. It was at that point that it hit me.

I collapsed back onto the bed and began crying. Over what I am still not sure. How could I be crying over a man who was so angry at me over my wanting to be me. How could I be crying over a man I thought was going to beat me right there in the hallway? How could I be crying over a man who had disowned me? My head was a mess. I heard a knock at the door. The door opens a little and Jenny pokes her head in and looks at me. “Can I come in?” she asks in the sweetest most caring voice. I just nod as she comes to my side and holds me while I burry my head into her shoulder. I cry for a while, still trying to figure out my own emotions to this news. I finally pull myself together and look up at my angel sitting there smiling at me. “Thanks” I say

“For what?” She asks. I begin to ramble on about being there for me and things like that. For loving me so unconditionally, for being not only my girlfriend but my best friend. She just keeps smiling and says “We’re soul mates. We will always be there for each other. You know that.” I hug her as I realize she has just uttered the words I was thinking the day prior. Finally, one of us had said it. We we’re soul mates. We belong together. The way she had stood up for me at both Como and to her mother last night proved to me this was who I was supposed to be with. I hugged her deeply and say “We are aren’t we. How else can you explain this?” She laughed at that and we just held each other. I started to feel a little better. Enough where I could at least smile as we sat there I noticed the mascara streaks on Jenny’s shoulder’s. I looked her in the eye again.

“There’s one other thing I need to thank you for” I say. Jenny just looks at me with a questioning look. “Thanks for being a human Kleenex.” The two of us begin giggling.

“Now that is getting old. You know how many different blouses and tops you have wrecked young lady?” Jenny asks with the twinkle returning to her eye. Starting to feel better I look at her and ask.

“As many as you have of mine by tearing them off me?” Jenny quickly pulls me down to the bed giggling away as we accuse each other of the destruction of clothing. We lay there for a while, just holding each other.

“It will be OK babe. We’ll make it through this. And remember I am here for you in whatever you need. I love you. Don’t ever forget that.” We hug one more time and pull ourselves off the bed. I make a quick stop in the bathroom to clean myself up. As I am leaving the bathroom Katie happens to be coming back. I quickly wrap her in a hug and thank her for being there for me. She tells me not to worry about it. That’s what family is for.” I return to the living room where I cuddle up with Jenny as I try to bring my feelings in check. I think both girls know I just need some time to think, but that I want to be with them.

Soon it is time for the channel 5 news. If I felt nervous before, I was in sheer panic now, as I waited for Megan Walker to start her report. Just after they teased the story, the station went to commercial. I couldn’t stand it anymore and got up and started pacing. Katie gently chided me about becoming a big star which I replied to with a one finger salute. Jenny told me not to worry about anything. She had been there and knew it all went fine. I was scared that I would come off as some crazy attention seeking whore, which I wasn’t. I just wanted to end this thing. I plop down on the couch just as the story was about to start. I gripped Jenny’s hand so hard she cried out for me to stop. My knees were knocking I was so nervous. I had always thought that was an expression until now. As Megan Walker begins her report, I open my eyes as wide as I can to watch the whole thing. There was another little preamble about the coffee shop before it turned to a picture of me in the conference room with Jenny by my side. Katie lets out that we both look good before she is quickly shushed as we try to take in every bit of the story. Four minutes later, the report is over with Megan announcing that our lawyers and Java Express’ lawyers would be meeting tomorrow to continue discussions. But if there was no resolution there was a court date set for February 13th in U.S District Court.

The three of us just sit there as the report ends. “You looked great babe!” Jenny squeals as she gives me a big hug. Katie tells us that we both looked good and came off even better. “This will show them” Katie says. ‘You will have a settlement tomorrow.” I reach over and give Katie a hug “Yeah thanks to you.” I state as once again Katie denies any involvement. It didn’t take long for the giggling blonde next to me to pull me away and wrap me in a huge hug. As we compliment each other on how well we looked and came off. Phones start going off all over the place. Jenny’s father is on her phone and Katie is fielding text messages and checking out her Twitter account. My phone rings and I get a little nervous. The two girls stop what they are doing as I look at the phone. I check the caller ID and let out a sigh of relief. It’s Dr. Burke. “Hi Debbie” I say into the phone.

“I just saw the report Alexa. You were terrific! You came off so poised and confident. As your counselor, I was more than proud. Jenny came off wonderful as well. If I didn’t know better, I would say you two were in love.” Debbie chuckles at her own joke, however my laugh is less than enthusiastic. Debbie picks up on this right away. “Alexa, something is wrong. What is it? Is it Jenny?” I do chuckle at that question as I look over at Jenny who is busy typing a way on her phone.

“No, she is the same beautiful blonde that who thinks she knows it all.” I tell my counselor which earns a tongue being stuck out at me followed by a quick air kiss. I have to tell Deb the truth so I take a deep breath. ‘It’s my father Deb.” I say

“Did he lose his temper over the article today?” She asks.

“No. He’s dead.” I state calmly then wait for Deb’s reaction.

‘Did you just say your father is dead? How?”

“Evidently, he wrapped his truck around a tree today. The sheriff thinks that alcohol was involved.” I relay to my doctor. She asks how I know all this and explain how my mother had called Katie, so Katie could tell me face to face. I also go on to tell her that my mother was afraid I would hang up on her before she could tell me.

“Have you tried to talk to her since?” Debbie asks. I tell her I had not. I also tell her I was hurt that she called Katie and not me. Debbie told me to suck up my pride and call her. She tells me that I should be the bigger person here. It would not only help her to hear from me, but that it would also help me as I moved along in my transition. I tell her that is what Jenny and Katie had told me. “They are pretty smart young women. You should listen to them.” Debbie says forcefully. I agree and tell her I will. ‘I want a full report when you come in tomorrow. Do you understand!”

‘Yes ma’am” I reply to her. ‘I understand”

“And don’t ma’am me young lady. I am only 35 years old.” Debbie says returning to a little more playful mode. We exchange goodbyes and I hang up the phone. I notice that I have several text messages. Most are positive, including one from Dannii who still works at the coffee shop as well as several other friends from around campus. And there were a few from people I worked with at the coffee shop that were extremely mean. I made sure to save those for future reference. It is the last one I see that makes me catch my breath. I walk over and sit next to Jenny. Before I open it up I get her attention. We both look at each other nervously as I open it.

‘I am so proud of you! You came off wonderfully. Please call as soon as you can-Mom’ the text reads.

I slump a little because I know that it is the right thing to do, but I don’t want to do it. Jenny gives me a hug. “You know you have to” she tells me. I nod in resignation. I know I must, I have waited long enough but I was still scared to talk to the woman I hadn’t talked to in over a month. I hit the speed dial number for my parents’ house and wait. As I listen to the phone ring, I realize it is no longer my parents’ house, but my mother’s house. Another thing that has changed in less than 24 hours. Finally, I hear a male voice answer ‘Hello?”

‘Hi Adam” I say. Before I can get anything out he lets loose with a torrent.

‘What the fuck do you want you little fairy! You know this is all your fault you little queer!” and he hangs up the phone. I just stare at my phone for a moment before I lose it completely. I let the phone fall to the floor and collapse into Jenny’s arms. “I knew I shouldn’t call.” I say between sobs as I cling tighter to Jenny than I have in a long time. “They want nothing to do with me.” Rather than be a complete push over, Jenny props me up and looks me in the eye. “That’s a crock of shit Lex and you know it” Jenny tells me somewhat forcefully. ‘Your mother loves you and is concerned. She just complimented you. Call her back.” I bury my head deeper into Jenny hoping it will all go away. Before I can let go, I hear the specialized ring for my parent’s home. Jenny grabs the phone before I can react.

‘Charlotte? It’s Jenny” A pause, and then Jenny begins to speak again. “She was great wasn’t she! Thanks for that too. Yeah, she is right here, hold on.” Jenny pulls me up and urges me with her eyes to take the phone. Resigned to fate, I grab the phone from her hand.

“Mom?” I say From the other line I can hear my mother begin to cry a bit.

“Alexa. You were wonderful on TV tonight, as was Jenny. I am so proud of you” I hear through the cracking voice of my mother. To hear my mother not only say she was proud of me, but to call me Alexa started to break the ice a little.

“Thanks mom.” I say before moving on to the more important item. “How about you? Are you doing OK.”

“I’m fine” she tells me before breaking down into to tears over the phone. My heart was breaking at that point because I could hear the sorrow in her voice. It was what she said next. “I’m so sorry. It should never have come to this.”

“Mom I’ll be okay. What happened with dad?” I ask. My mother refuses to tell me what happened. But remembering what my brother had said to me just a few minutes prior and my mother’s reaction, I couldn’t help but begin to feel it really is my fault that my father is dead. I asked if dad had been out at the ice house all night, and she says no. I asked if he was on a bender and she said no. When I asked if they had gotten into a fight I could hear a little hesitation in her voice and she said no. It was when I asked if dad had seen the article in the paper about me that she began crying harder than ever. So, that was it, that is why Adam had said what he had. Dad must have reacted bad to the article. I couldn’t be certain, but now I did feel responsible for my father’s death. I couldn’t cry. My time for shedding tears over this man were over. But the guilt I began to feel began to weigh me down. “Mom I gotta go” I say.

“Wait!” She yells. “Don’t go! I already lost one member of this family today, I can’t lose two!” The wailing from my mother begins in earnest. I can’t handle this right now. I begin to speak again, with a little sadness in my voice. It wasn’t a sadness over his death. It was a sadness for my mother. My feelings over the whole family had been pretty well decided by this point. “Mom I was never part of this family. Alex was. Alexa was never allowed. Dad pretty much decided that at Christmas. I still love you mom but I gotta go.” I say and hit the end button. The whole time I can hear my mother wailing like a banshee. I just stare at the phone for a moment. Both Jenny and Katie are sitting there and had heard the brief conversation. Jenny just looks at me, starts balling and runs off to our room. Katie looks at me with contempt.

“I can’t believe you just said that to Char. What were you thinking?” Katie snarls at me. I proceed to get defensive. I ask her what she means. “That woman lost her husband today. Yes, he was a complete prick and yes, he treated the dog better than he treated you, but she still loved the man. Then you go and shit all over her!” I was taken aback by Katie’s comments. I had tried to console her but I just kept getting the feeling it was my fault I tell her. Katie just snorts in disgust and heads to her room where I can hear her slam the door. I look around trying to figure out what happened. I get off the couch and begin shutting down for the night as I make my way back to the bedroom where I can still hear Jenny crying. I open the door and change for bed. As I I try and wrap my arms round Jen, she just pulls away. I ask her what is wrong. At first, she says nothing and then tells me she is disappointed in how I acted. “You didn’t hear everything that went on” I try to tell her, she just says no, I don’t want to hear it. She does roll over and look at me enough to tell me. “Can you just go sleep in the other room. I just need to be alone.” I am shocked. Since Christmas, we had not slept apart. Hell, since October I could count on one hand the number of nights we had spent apart. I tried to say something but she just said not to say anything. She rolled away again turning her back to me. The feeling of helplessness returned. Not knowing what to do I go to ‘Jenny’s’ room and after throwing some clothes back on the rack I crawl under the covers and try to sleep. But it is difficult. The feeling that what I had done had led to my father’s death overtakes me. I cry myself to sleep thinking that I had done this. Now my actions had killed someone.

I must have fallen asleep at some point because I dream of my father. I first picture him screaming at me. This time I am not in the hall way, but I am back in the family room at home. Seated on the couch where I had remembered being lectured so many times as a child. “You did this!” Dick-head screams at me. “You destroyed this family” In the background I can see my mother and my brothers. They all have duffle bags in their hands. Adam flips me off and turns and walks out the front door. Soon Danny is walking between my father and me. He stops at the sliding glass door. He looks at me and shakes his head and walks out. The next to leave is my mother who gives me a sad smile and carries her bag into the garage. Finally, all that is left is father and me. He is just standing there growling at me. “This is all your fault you little freak” is all he says and turns and heads down into the basement. I am left alone in the family room as the walls of the house start to fall. I do nothing but sit and cry. I look down and notice I am in a dress, but not any dress but the shirt dress that I had worn that first night as Alexa.

I awake crying from the dream. The dram was so vivid. The sight of my father is burned into my mind. I can’t hold back the tears. I curl up in a little ball, balling my eyes out. That is when I fell a slender arm wrap around me from behind and soon I can feel Jenny’s body pressed up against mine. I feel her give me a kiss on the cheek and lie back down next to me. Nothing is said, but Jenny just holds me.

When I awake the next day, it takes me a moment to realize I am sleeping in the extra bedroom which we have affectionately called the closet. It is 6 AM and still dark outside but I know I must get moving soon. The one thing I feel is the arm of Jenny still wrapped around me. I try and move in closer to the feeling and am greeted with first a moan of satisfaction and then a kiss on the cheek. I roll over and look Jenny in the eye. The smile on her face is like coming home. For all the hell I have gone through with my work and my family, Jenny has been there for me. And last night for the first time I felt I betrayed her. Rather than the typical ‘Good morning” I simply say “I’m sorry” A look of sympathy washes over my girlfriend.

“I’m the one who should be sorry for kicking you out of the room last night” Jenny says. Our discussion’ over who should be the one who apologizes follows, soon to be ended by a slow. passionate make up ‘discussion’. When all was said and done, I looked at Jenny and asked. “Did we have our first argument?” This elicits giggles from the beautiful blonde resting on me. Jokingly she says that we might need to argue more often which pulls us back to each other. Nothing more than some deep kissing and heavy petting follows before Jenny pulls back. “You know who you need to apologize to right?” I nod as I prepare to get out of bed. “I hate this part” I tell Jenny. She looks confused as I state this. “I hate telling her she is right.” I move out into the hallway. I heard the alarm go off so I know she is semi awake. I knock lightly on the door. A bear growls from the other side “What?”

I poke my head in and ask “Kate may I come in?” Katie doesn’t say anything so I invite myself in and crawl up on the bed next to her. “Katie” I begin trying to find some strength. “I’m sorry you had to hear me talk to my mother like that. I was wrong, you were right.” I say feeling ashamed as I say this. Katie rolls over and sits up and faces me. ‘That had to be hard to admit Lex, but you know I am always right.” Katie proclaims with a giggle. I try and stare her down.

“I know. You have reminded me for the last 10 years you are always right” My comment earns me first a playful punch in the arm followed by a deep hug. Katie states again that what I just stated had to be hard. I tell her ‘You’ll never know. I guess you are truly the big sister who knows everything.” And she tells me to remember that. Shortly thereafter Jenny pokes her head in the room and comes and joins Katie and I on the bed. I thank them both again for putting up with me. “Adam just pisses me off” I say, relaying the conversation my brother and I had. Jenny begins the sympathy again but Katie gets a little indignant.

“Fuck Adam, he is a dickless little prick.” Jenny and I both giggle at Katie’s brashness. Soon Katie is joining us. Of course, I HAVE to comment on Katie’s observation.

‘What is it with you Fahey’s and saying bad things about the Quinn men’s privates?” remembering Barb’s comment at lunch a few weeks back. Katie just giggles. “We know what we are talking about! Great minds think alike.” My giggle turns into a full-throated laugh as we all share one more hug before we get out of bed and start the rest of the day. Katie jumps into the shower first while Jenny and I get the coffee going. As we sit down Jenny looks at me and asks.

“Are you going to call your Mom?” I nod, knowing I have to. I just don’t want to talk to my brothers. Thinking about it I know now is a good time so I pick up my phone and call the house. My mother answers and seems I have woken her up. After a groggy “Hello?” I say the only thing I can think off.

“I’m sorry Mom.” And break down in tears. Jenny is instantly by my side as I lose it. The wild part is I can hear my mother on the other end trying to console me! She is the one that just lost her husband!

“Alex, I mean Alexa. It’s OK. I understand. We weren’t the best parents through this. I feel terrible about that.”

“I know. But I feel like I caused this, especially after what Adam said.” I relay to my mother through the tears. My mother tells me not to worry about what my older brother said, she had already talked to him about his outburst. ‘But Mom, I did cause it.” I plead. My mother assures me that I didn’t. She then tells me she wants me to come home, telling me I should be around family. My next comment might have broken her heart. I tell her I am with family I have Katie here and the most important thing in the world to me, Jenny. My mother still pleads with me.

“Please come home” she practically begs. I tell her I don’t know. I tell her I don’t know if I am ready for the Quinn and O’Hara clans. She says she understands. She then says she will see me at the funeral. The funeral. I hadn’t even though about that. There is no way I can go and I tell my mother that. I reply, “It’s hard to pay last respects to someone that you had no respect for Mom. I love you but I don’t think I can be there.” I hear my mother begin to weep over my comment, but it is true. I had no respect for my father when he died. He had berated me worse in the hall that day than all the times he had when I was growing up put together times 10. I can tell that this is not what my mother wants to hear, so I tell her I have to get to class and I tell her I will call her after my appointment with Debbie. She never says good bye just hangs up the phone. I hear her crying the whole time. Jenny gives me a big hug as I hit the end button on my phone.

“It was a start babe” Jenny tells me as she gives me a kiss on the cheek. I turn and hug her. After a minute, I grab her hand and lead her back to the bedroom. She tries to protest, saying she has class, but I ask her not to go. “Can you please just stay until I have to go see Debbie? This is not an invitation for a session of sex, I just need you this morning OK?” I attempt to give Jenny the infamous pouty look I have been working on. Jen just rolls her eyes and follows me. The only thing she says is that it’s getting better as we collapse into our bed and just hold each other. Tears are shed and kisses are exchanged, but nothing more. It was just nice to be able to hold Jenny and have her hold me for a while.

I must have drifted off because soon my phone alarm is going off, telling me it is 11:30 and that I need to get ready. Jenny is nowhere to be found, but I do hear the shower running. Knowing that there is nothing I can do, I lay back and wait. Sure, I could have joined her, but we had come to the agreement that there would be no showers during the week unless after class. Since Jenny had a 1PM lecture on Psychology of developing nations, I wait my turn. She soon appears back in our room and gives me a kiss and tells me to get my sexy little butt in the shower. I oblige her. A little over an hour later we are leaving the apartment with Jenny on her way to class and me on my way to see Debbie. I know that this will be one of the tougher sessions that I will have had with Deborah V. Burke MD, PhD. The highs from the media had been quickly dashed over the news of my father. Debbie was going to be all over me today and for once I almost felt like not going. But soon I am standing in the lobby of Debbie’s office, waiting to be sent back. The wait isn’t long as I quickly find myself sitting in front of the one woman that has helped me as much as Jenny and Katie. Being that Debbie and I have grown much closer her first comment to me does not phase me.

‘Pardon me for saying this Alexa, but you look like hell.” I simply sigh as I try to get comfortable on the couch. I look up at Debbie and agree with her. “I am not surprised if I do. It has been a hell of a few days that’s for sure” Debbie urges me to go on about my opinion over everything. “I don’t even know where to begin. I mean Saturday I went through the whole interview thing. I wasn’t just nervous, I was terrified.” Debbie pulls out the ever-ready notebook as I began to go over the tale of the weekend starting at the panic attack I had as we entered the law office to the actual interview. As soon as I mention this I see Debbie grow more concerned, but I try and relay to her that I thought it was more just being interviewed than the fact that I was coming out so publicly that caused the attack. We then talked about Jenny’s parents and the reaction of her mother. I admitted that I thought the woman was a complete bitch. “She told me not to teach Jenny how to cook? Can you believe that? She claimed I was trying to turn Jenny into a housewife! Can you believe that? I mean I love Jen but trying to turn her into a housewife? She can barely wash dishes!” I say all of this with a chuckle and Debbie jokes that she will have to tell Jenny all about what I said.

We move on to the actual newspaper article and television report. I tell her that I thought I was treated well in the newspaper. I thought both Jenny and I came off well. The reporter was fair and honest I thought. She didn’t embellish anything, which I was afraid of. I didn’t think it put anyone in a bad light. When Debbie asked if I thought it put my parents in a bad light I had to think about that. I asked her what she thought. She thought I was fair, “maybe a little harsh at times but you didn’t directly attack them, even though after what your father did you could have.” Debbie stated to me. “But you took the high road for the most part. The man did verbally abuse you in the hall that day.” I nodded as the thought of my father came. I took a moment as I thought about him.

When I looked up I could see where Debbie’s mind was headed. I started to get a little nervous. “So, Alexa. How are you doing with your father’s death?” There it was the question that I knew that was going to be the focal point of this meeting.

“I don’t know what to say about it. My thoughts are all over the board to be completely honest. One minute I am remembering the good times when I was little. You know things like going to a Gopher game or going camping, but then the memories of all the verbal beatings I took from the man take over and I hate him all over again. The name calling and the belittling that I put up with. Those feelings of failure basically come flooding back.” I sigh a little as I tell her this. “The man was a grade A prick Deb. When he yelled at me in the hall. I was crushed. I couldn’t understand how a person could treat their own child that way. He might have claimed to have kicked me out of the family, but after I had Jenny back I realized I didn’t need his shit anymore.” As I am telling Debbie this I can feel the anger rise in me. I wanted to cheer at the top of my lungs that the King was dead! But then I think back to sitting on a blanket with my parents and my brothers on the Fourth of July and watching the fireworks being shot off. My emotions about Dick-head were all over the place and Debbie picked up on that. “You are conflicted over his death, aren’t you? You want to celebrate one minute and cry the next isn’t that right?” I drop my head as I agree with the very perceptive British woman who was seated across from me. “I can understand the high point. The anger you have is very real, but what is the point where you are so saddened by his death?”

I look up at Deb and repeat the words that my brother had said. With tears streaming down my face a say “That it’s my fault”

Dr. Burke is at a loss for words. Four months of meetings, twice a week and I finally stumped her. She just sat there and starred at me for a moment not knowing what to say. After adjusting her blazer for a second, she looks at me “Wow. I did not expect that response. Why do you say that?” I went on to explain the events as I knew them, explaining both how my brother had treated me and the conversation I had with my mother over the incident. How she would answer other questions when I asked them, but not when I asked her if he had seen the article and his reaction. When she wouldn’t answer, I figured out it was the article that led to him leaving the house. That and my mother’s reaction to my questioning.

Debbie waits until I am done speaking and then puts her notebook down. “I am going to say something to you and I want you to remember that I really care about you. Pull your head out of your arse. You did not cause your father’s death. The only person to blame for it is him. He is the one who couldn’t handle what is happening with you. He is the one who chose to drink so much and he is the one who decided to get behind the wheel of that truck. You did none of those things. You, Alexa Quinn, are not to blame.” The look on Debbie’s face was one of satisfaction as she finished her speech. And she was right. I sat up a little straighter. I know that Jenny and Katie had been telling me the same thing, but hearing it from Deb drove it home. I looked over at my counselor and took note of the satisfied look she had. Being me I had to say something.

“Did that feel good?” Deb broke out into laughter over my question and then told me to politely keep quiet. She regained her faculties and moved on to the next subject which was the funeral. When I told her I wasn’t going, she took it in stride but asked why. I explained to her that while I had come out in a public way, I wasn’t ready to deal with all my family staring at me. I think Deb understood this. When I repeated the line about not wanting to go that I had told my mother, Debbie stopped me. “You do realize that funerals aren’t for just remembering the dead but it is to also show support the survivors.” I tell her I know that, but I just can’t do it. We continue to talk and soon my session is up. I walk up to Debbie and give her a hug. While we have grown close, this is the first time we have ever had any contact and thankfully she does not see the move as inappropriate. I thank her for the support she has given me. “You’re my angel Debbie. I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for you Dr. Burke.” Debbie turns her head a bit and tells me I should go. I grab my purse and head for the door. I take a quick peek and see Debbie wipe away a tear which causes me to giggle. Debbie pulls herself together and tells me to get out of here playfully. I thank her again and move off.

The next few days are a blur. I have talked to Paul Edwards a couple of times. It seemed considering all the recent publicity, the meeting set for Monday was cut short and a final session was rescheduled for Thursday and that my presence might be needed. I tell Paul to keep me informed as to the whether I would be needed and continue about with life. I try and use class and the girls as ways to forget about my family. I also talk to my mother a few times. Only talking to either of my brothers once, and it was Danny and not Adam. Danny was a little better than Adam, but I could still feel some resentment. In talking with my mother I was told that the funeral was Thursday at 11:00 at St. Vincent’s. I told her I still wasn’t coming, that I had to meet with the lawyers that day and that I just wasn’t ready to deal with everyone. I could tell my mother was extremely hurt by this, but claimed she understood. I felt terrible about how I had made her feel, but I knew this was the right decision.

I had hoped that the routine of normality would help, but I found that to be a little difficult. I attempted to go to class, but found my heart wasn’t in it. My professors were pretty understanding when they found out my father had died. When not in class, I was dealing with pressure from both Katie and Jenny about going to the funeral. Katie had taken the big sister approach, almost bullying me into going while Jenny tried to sweet talk me. I tried to ignore their arguments, but it became difficult. At night, I could hardly sleep and it was on Wednesday morning that I finally agreed to Jenny’s attempt to manipulate me into going. But I did lay down some rules. Both Jenny and Katie were going with me. We would not be seated with the rest of the mourners, rather we would sit behind in the choir loft. Maybe, just maybe I would agree to visit my mother after all was said and done. When Jenny told Katie of the plan, she agreed to it. Little did I know what would happen.

I awoke Thursday morning with a sense of dread. I sat up in bed and just stared off into space. Jenny cuddled up next to me. ‘It’s going to be OK Lex. We will get through today. We will all be together.” I nod and pull myself out of bed and head for the shower. I feel like I am going through the motions. I return to our room where I begin to get dressed as Jenny takes over in the shower. I pull on a black bra and thong set as well as a pair of translucent white panty hose. After inserting my forms, I begin drying my hair and applying a light layer of makeup. As each minute passes, I begin to get a little more nervous. I am eventually replaced by Jenny at the vanity as she begins going through the same procedures as me. I put on the black sweater dress with three quarter sleeves trimmed with white at the cuffs that Jenny and I had chosen the night before. Jenny had chosen a solid black sheath dress with three quarter sleeves. As the two of us stand there in front of the mirror as we always do, Jenny attempts to cheer me up by giving me a smile which I can only return with a halfhearted one. We put on our shoes and head out to the kitchen to wait for Katie. Katie appears as the coffee is finished. She is wearing a solid black flair skirted dress with short sleeves. Trying to lighten the mood, Jenny gently chides her that she will be cold with those sleeves. Of course, Katie gives the chiding back telling Jenny that it was a funeral and not a fashion show we were going to. I recognized that this little tiff was for my benefit, as a way to put me a better mood. And as much fun as it was to watch, it did little to lighten my mood. I continued to go through the motions as we waited to head to one of the longest days of my life.

We arrived at the church a few minutes before 11 and waited in the car until it appeared all the mourners had arrived. I led the girls in a side door and up the back stairs to the choir loft. Having been an altar boy for three years, I had learned every nook and cranny in the church. Soon the three of us were in the choir loft looking down on the gathered mourners. The assembled crowd is smaller than I had expected. There are a few of the guys that worked for my dad as well as a couple of teachers from my mother’s school. Of course, all my aunts and uncles are there along with most of my cousins. A few people from around town, such as my father’s friends from bowling and the bar show up. And other than my immediate family and Adam’s girlfriend, that is it. Katie did see her mother amongst the assembled crowd but really no one else. Maybe forty-fifty people total. I was kind of surprised. It just drove home the point that for all his bluster, my father was not that well liked. I participate as much as I can with the rites of the church, as does Katie. Having grown up Catholic, some things that have always been part of your life become so ingrained they become habit. As the mass ends and the procession of the body and mourners heads back up the center aisle to the front door, the three of us hide in the shadows. I know this is not the right way, but it is the way I needed it to be.

After the funeral party leaves, we head back downstairs and make our way to Jenny’s car. Katie decides we need to get something to eat, so we headed out to a diner by the highway. We sit mostly in silence as we wait. I tell the girls I want to stop at the grave site to say a final goodbye. Katie was surprised that I wanted to give him any respect but I explain that I must do it. It was a sense of duty to visit it. We try and enjoy the meal. I have always liked this little diner and once again the food is excellent. After the 45-minute lunch, the three of us load back into the car and head to the cemetery. Jenny eases the car in as close as she can and we get out. Taking Jenny’s hand, we walk up to the already covered gravesite. The site sits next to my grandparents and near the rest of the Quinn’s. I can see there is no head stone on the plot, but who expected that one of my parents would be gone so soon. As we stand there, Jenny reaches into her jacket and produces a single red rose. I stand in shock as Jenny hands it to me and gives me another sympathetic smile. Where did she get that? Then I remembered she went to the bathroom at one point during lunch. How did I get so lucky to be with her? I pull her in and give her light kiss and step forward and place the rose on the grave of my father. I step back and place my head on Jenny’s shoulder and begin crying. I am not crying for him, but crying because I realize part of my childhood has just ended. Katie steps up from the other side. Katie makes a joke as the three of us hold each other “Damn. I only came out here because I was hoping to see you piss on the grave.” I was laughing through the tears as I squeeze Katie a little harder over her joke. The crying and the laughter must have over taken our senses, Suddenly I hear a voice from behind me.

“Alexa”

The voice I have known my whole life lets itself be known. I turn and standing there is my mother. The two of us collapse into each other holding one another and crying. I don’t know how long we were standing there, but soon I feel a crying blonde coming up and joining my mother and me. The hugs from the two women comfort me and make me feel whole again. It wasn’t log before Katie joins us as well. Eventually we break and my mother just takes in the image of the three of us. My hand never leaves Jenny’s and I look over at her and we share another of our many smiles. “Alexa, you are beautiful” My mother says as she leans in for another hug the I accept wholeheartedly. My mother finally regains a degree of control and thanks Jenny and Katie for binging me down. Katie shrugs it off, but Jenny tells her it was not a problem at all. Jenny states she knew it is what I needed and pulls me in for a little hug.

As the situation returns to a little more normalcy, I notice my brother Danny standing a few feet behind my mother. When I realize he is there I grip Jenny’s hand tighter. I decide to make the first move, ‘Ah, hi Danny.” I was shaking as I spoke to my brother face to face for the first time since Thanksgiving. I could see the confusion in his expression as he tries to figure out what to say to his new sister. “Um, Hi Alex.” My brother mumbles out. My mother spun around quickly and chastised my brother. “Her name is Alexa, not Alex, Daniel” The fury that came out of my mother shocked me even more than the scene that had played out a few minutes ago, my mother had just stuck up for me! Jenny and I exchanged a look of shock while Katie laughed. My mother spun back around and attempted to apologize. I still couldn’t speak while the girls laughed it off. My mother started speaking again. She invited, more like ordered us back to the house. I told her we couldn’t, we had to get back. I could see my mother was upset by this, not sad but more mad. I could see the tight jaw that would scare me when I was younger.

She started in “Alexa.” And then she stopped and a puzzled look came over her face. She leaned over and whispered to Jenny “Does she have a middle name?” Jenny couldn’t stop laughing as she told my mother that it was Marie. My mother smiled and tried to get back into the angry mood. I couldn’t help but laugh because I realized my mother was about to ‘middle name’ me. “Alexa Marie Quinn, you will come home now.” She said as mean as she could, given the changed mood of the group from just seconds ago. “Please?” She pleaded with a grin on her face. Both my sister and girlfriend look at me with smiles on their faces telling me I couldn’t hide behind them. I reluctantly agreed and soon the 5 of us were headed out of the cemetery. It felt real odd to be holding hands with two people as I walked. Jenny on one side and my mother holding the other. My head went on a swivel as I couldn’t break away from the two women who kept looking at me and smiling. When we got to the cars, mom practically begged to get in the minivan with her. I begged off saying I wanted to ride with Jenny. She seemed disappointed by my answer, but I think the hug I gave her made up for it.

As we got in the car, I couldn’t speak. Shock had overtaken my body as I rewound the encounter that had just ended. Jenny was as giddy as a school girl in the passenger seat, bouncing up and down giggling away. Katie, as usual had the line of the day “Well that could’ve gone better.” She said. We all stopped and burst out into laughter. I looked at Katie. “Was that Charlotte Quinn or did aliens take over?” I couldn’t believe what had happened. Katie laughs and asked, “Did Char just middle name Alexa?” I shook my head as I put the car into drive and head for the house I had been exiled from since Christmas. On the ride over, Katie called her mother and filled her in on what just happened and urged her to come out to my parents’ house Jenny was just beaming the whole time. I was used to seeing her this happy, but not over something like this. “This is so great Lex! I had no idea that your mother would just fall all over you like that. It was amazing.” She reached over and hugged my shoulders we exchanged a quick kiss but were warned by Katie to knock it off and keep our eyes on the road, not each other. I obeyed but Jenny did not. I thought she was going to start crying she was so happy.

We pulled into the driveway and were greeted with a few various cars parked around the yard. Mom had hoped out of the minivan and was waiting for me. Jenny pulled me in again for a kiss. The giddiness had lessened but the happiness was still there. “Ready for the family to meet Alexa?” she asked. My mouth went dry as I realized that was what was about to happen. For the first time in her life, Alexa Quinn was going home. I could only nod at my girlfriend who assured me she would not leave my side. Katie rubbed my shoulders from the back. “I’ll be here too Alexa. If it gets too bad, we can leave OK?”

We get out of the car and head towards my mother, who seems absolutely giddy that I am home. She is beaming as I walk up the drive way hand-in-hand with Jenny and with Katie on my other side. “Welcome home Alexa” my mother says to me and gives me another big hug. Who is this woman I think. In all my years she was never like this. What happened? Had the passing of my father changed her that much or was she really that happy that I was back? I had to ask her when we got a moment. However, the happy homecoming moment was interrupted.

“What the fuck is that fairy doing here?” I hear my brother Adam scream out in rage. “Get him the fuck out of here!”

The happiness that my mother was feeling disappeared. The mother who was so mad at me when I had broken her grandmother’s vase when I was 11 came back in full fury. She turned and looked at Adam with fire in her eyes. “Adam Richard Quinn. You will not talk to your sister that way. Especially in my home!” At first I could see that Adam was completely stunned by my mother’s reaction. Like she had with my father, my mother never rose her voice at my oldest brother, but something changed. For Adam it had to be jarring. But not jarring enough.

“I do not have a sister! I have 2 brothers and one of the is a fairy who caused my father’s death!” Adam snarled at me. I could feel Jenny’s hand tighten around mine. My mother looked back at me with sympathetic eyes before turning back towards my brother.

“Alexa had nothing to do with your father’s death. He did a stupid, stupid thing and paid for it with his life. If you cannot accept that fact or the fact that you have a sister, you can leave. I will not allow you to repeat the sins of your father! I know you know the Bible, think of this as the prodigal son, but with a daughter. But unlike the prodigal son, the daughter has returned. And unlike the Prodigal Son, she had been thrown out and not left on her own. At least the other son didn’t act hostile to their returning sibling.” I was in shock. And so was Adam. I had just witnessed my mother not only standup for me but also stand up to my brother and used the Bible to defend me. And the fact that she had completely shot down Adam’s argument with the truth about my father had to irk him, because he instantly went back into the house. My mother turned and gave me another hug and apologized. She then turned and went into the house, dragging me along. Katie, being Katie came up behind me and began mimicking the “Twilight Zone” theme in my ear. All I could do was turn and look at Katie and say “no shit”

We walked in the front door of the house. All talking stopped amongst my relatives as I walked in. All talking except for my mother and brother arguing in the kitchen. The looks I received from my various aunts, uncles and cousins ranged from outright hatred to indifference. I had really wanted this to be a low-key thing but now I was the center of attention. Feeling nervous I made the mistake of ducking into the kitchen dragging Jenny along with me. The argument between my brother and my mother had moved into a full-scale riot. A riot which I am sure that could be heard in the next room.

“I don’t understand why he needs to be here” Adam screamed at my mother.

“SHE needs to be here because SHE is part of this family. I will not have ANYONE in this family bad mouth her in my presence. If you are too narrow minded, like your father, to accept that you now have a sister rather than a brother, you can go.” My brother was absolutely stunned by my mother’s words. So was I. The fact that my mother was starting a feud over me was not something I felt good about. I leaned in and said to my mother that we should probably go this was all too upsetting for the family. ‘You will not leave this house young man, I mean young woman” She snarled at me.

Speaking up again, Adam launched into his attack “Mom I just don’t get it. You have hardly shed a tear for dad but you welcome this, this thing into our house! I just don’t get it. He stands completely against everything our family has ever stood for. He rejected us, he rejected you with this dressing up as some chick!”

Mom stood there for a second. I started wondering if Adam’s words had started to sink in. Maybe Adam was right, I had rejected this family. But why wouldn’t I have? I had a father who hated me, a mother who looked the other way during his verbal beat downs and two brothers who could barely tolerate me. Only one brother who could barely tolerate me, my other brother thought I was weird person and always had been. I could feel Jenny release my hand. For a second, I felt I had lost her. This was going to be it. Everyone who I had cared about was going to reject me. But I should have known better as Jenny slowly wrapped her arm around my waist. It was the pronouncement by one of the other important women in my life that buoyed me.

“Alexa didn’t reject us. We always just wanted you all to be happy. That’s it. Sure, I can throw in all the other things about hard work, doing on to others, etc., etc. When I read that article, and watched that interview I realized she was not happy as Alex. Do I understand it, no I do not, but as the lord as my witness this person here, is my child.” She paused and looked back at me with a sympathetic, but loving smile. “My daughter.” Turning back around she looked straight at Adam. “You never accepted Alex as your brother, why is it so hard for you to accept Alexa as your sister?”

‘What do you mean I never accepted Alex? He was my little brother. I treated him like all little brothers.” Adam replied to my mother’s inquiry.

I couldn’t hold back “You treated me like a punching bag! You picked on me, you ...” Before I could get out another word my mother turned and gave me the ‘look’. The look that meant ‘shut your mouth.’

Adam jumped to his own defense. ‘I did what every older brother was supposed to do. I was trying to make a man out of you. I guess I failed at that as you are sitting here in a dress.” The look of disgust that Adam just flashed made me think for a second. Was he disgusted with the way I was dressed or was he disgusted with himself for failing? Either way I knew that there was no way that this argument was going to end soon. Adam seemed to have had enough of this, he turned to his girlfriend “Grab your shit Bethany. We’re out of here.” And with that the battle had ended, but I am sure not the war.

My mother turned to my brother Danny, who was standing in the corner of the kitchen, not saying a word. “You got anything to add.” My brother just shook his head.

“I’ll say anything that won’t get me in trouble.” I let out a little chuckle at that. ‘Typical’ was my comment to my brother, who turned and looked at me and said “Shut Up” which I returned in kind. But as I said it, I realized that my brother’s response contained no ill will, no anger. It was just normal siblings bickering with each other. I saw Jenny, mom and Katie all smile at what had just transpired. I knew why they were smiling but of course the meathead didn’t. Jenny wrapped her arm tighter around me

Just as this was ending, my Aunt Laura came into the kitchen. “Char, I think you need to quiet down in here. People are getting a little anxious.”

“Let them be anxious.” My mother replied to her younger sister. My mother looked at me and Jenny standing there and attempted to apologize. We told her not to worry about it. Taking my free hand my mother led me through the door into the dining room and then into the living room where my extended family had gathered. Standing there, my mother cleared her throat and began speaking. “Thank you all for coming. Your support at this time has been appreciated. But something good, at least as far as I am concerned, has occurred because of Dick’s foolish decision.” Reaching back, my mother pulled me forward. “I want all of you to meet my daughter Alexa. Not Alex, but Alexa. I understand some of you may have find it difficult accepting who she is, but she is my daughter and if you respect me you will respect her.” With that my mother gave me her hundredth hug of the day. I began to tear up again, but fought them back. I could hear Jenny off to the side failing to hold back. Soon the moment was over and my mother went into mingle with the family.

At that point I wasn’t sure what to do. Jenny and I just stared at each other for a minute while Katie went to talk to a couple of my cousins she knew. Before we could even ask each other a question, I was practically mauled by my Aunt Barbara. Barb was a production designer for a theater company in Seattle and I didn’t get to see her very much. We had always been close when she was younger, but time and distance had eroded the closeness a little. “ Hi Barb” I said as I endured the hug. Barb for her part was practically overflowing in enthusiasm. In voice that was heard by everyone, she squealed out “How is my new niece!” I was surprised at her reaction even though I knew that out of all my relatives she was the most likely to accept Alexa. I told her I was fine and went on to introduce Jenny to her. “Wow” Barb said “Looks like you won the lottery Alexa” I could only smile and agree with her. Barb maneuvered us over to a love seat and began grilling the two of us on when we met, how we met, how long we had been together, etc.

And while Barb’s reaction was expected, even a little over the top, the reception I was receiving from the other side of the family was also expected. My Dad was the oldest of five boys. Almost all of them just like my father. My Uncle Ken was the next in age, followed by Frank, John and Bob. Both Ken and Bob were almost duplicates of my father and John was close. Frank was the middle child who was often picked on and ignored. I could see all four of them eyeing me up as I surveyed the room. I could see my mother talking to Ken’s wife, Peggy and I could see Ken, Bob and John colluding in a corner of the room. All of my cousins except my cousin Tom were in attendance. Tom was currently stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on his second tour with the Marines. I could see my cousins whispering amongst themselves as well. I was getting a little nervous being under such intense scrutiny, so I excused Jenny and I from Barb and headed back into the dining room under the excuse of getting something to drink.

Jenny, always with the keen eye, spun me around as we entered the dining room. The blue eyes stared back at me, melting away my fears. “You doing OK?” She asked.

“Yes I’m fine babe.” I say. ‘It’s just a little weird. I don’t get my mother. The other morons I expected their reaction and I knew my Aunt Barb would be over the top, but Char?” I pull Jenny in for a hug, just because and sneak in a quick kiss before anyone sees us, unfortunately we were busted. Fortunately it was Katie.

“OK you two. I understand, but the KKK of Faribault might come in here and see you, so break it up.” Katie tells us. Then she asks “You two doing OK? I mean it is a crazy situation out there. And Alexa, what’s with Char?” I tell her I have no clue and the three of us decide to sit at the table for a moment. Our moment of bliss is broken by a raised voice in the Living Room. We rush from our chairs to find my mother screaming at my Uncle Ken.

“I don’t come into your home and belittle your children. If you can’t afford me the same respect get the hell out of my house.” Turning and looking at the rest of the assembled Quinn’s, she continued. “All four of you! That is my daughter! I will not have her torn to pieces by her family in my home!” The emotion instantly left my mother as she collapsed back into the chair that was nearby, crying away. My Aunt Laura was instantly at her side, closely followed by my Aunt Lisa. The scene that played out on the other side of the family was interesting. My Uncle John, who was divorced stormed out of the house followed closely by my Uncle Ken and Uncle Bob. The reactions of Ken and Bob’s wives proved to be interesting. My Aunt Karen just stood there for a moment before trying to get her children together and out the door. My Aunt Peggy looked embarrassed by the performance that had taken place. She came over and attempted to comfort my mother, only to be met with the dirty looks of my two aunts. She slipped slowly away from her. She stopped in front of the three of us roommates and apologized before rushing off to join her husband. That left my Uncle Frank standing there. My father always thought Frank was weak and often compared me to him. Frank must have realized that he was the only one left, he dropped his head and sulked away, waving for his wife and kids to follow.

I went over to my mother and attempted to comfort her. Surprisingly she looked up and said she was fine and apologized to everyone for her outburst. ‘I just couldn’t take it anymore.” She explained. “All of them were just mean. I’m sorry Alexa. I didn’t think they would be as bad as they were.” I leaned over and hugged my mother once again.

“Mom don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I have Jenny and Katie. I am worried about you” I explained to my mother. She smiled up at me through her fading tears. I backed off and asked her if she needed anything. “No, I’m fine.” She replied and pausing before stating “God I could use a drink” My Aunts started giggling and I went and got my mother a glass of wine. Jenny followed me and stopped me as we got into the kitchen.

“You know I have told you I loved you so many times, that it just may sound like words.” Jenny says. “But what you just did makes me love you even more, if that is possible.” With that she wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me in for another kiss. We lost track of the task at hand and soon we were interrupted by my brother Danny.

“Hey where the hell, Oh Christ.” Danny says as he finds Jenny and I in the kitchen. We both start giggling over my brother’s sudden appearance. “Um, Mom’s looking for her wine.” Danny mumbles and heads back out. I brake the kiss and get my mother her wine. As we head back out I see Danny just staring at the two of us with a dumbfounded look on his face. I grab Katie and whisper in her ear to go talk to Danny because he had just walked in on the two of us in the kitchen. If figured if anyone could give counseling to people who have walked in on me and Jenny, it would be Katie. Katie rolls her eyes and heads over to talk to my brother.

As we come over to bring my mother her glass of wine, something strange seemed to come over her. First, she looked at me and Jenny. “Where have you to been?” she asked. But it was not a normal question. There was fire in her eyes. ‘What did you have to go stomp the grapes?” I was taken aback by her sudden outburst. She then turned to Danny “And I thought I told you to go figure out what happened to them? Jeez, what did you get lost?” My brother and I looked at each other confused over what was going on and why my mother had just had such an emotional outburst. Thankfully my mother’s only brother, my Uncle Peter, told her to calm down.

“Christ Charlotte, would you calm down. I ‘m sure Alex, I mean Alexa and his friend took a moment to talk. They weren’t gone that long and why are you yelling at Danny?” Peter was the youngest of the O’Hara clan. He was an accountant in Chicago and I hadn’t seen him some time but I was thankful he was here. His common sense approach always seemed to put people back on course. As he said this to my mother, a look of shock came over her. She instantly apologized and broke down in tears. My Aunt Lisa, Peter’s wife, gave him a look of approval as she moved over to comfort my mother.

My mother began apologizing to everyone. ‘I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.” She looked up at me and looked for forgiveness. I just came over and gave her another hug. She than asked Danny for forgiveness. As typical my brother just shrugged it off. Maybe he understood the grief process better than we thought. Soon we were all sitting around my mother again.

The next few hours are spent with my mother and her family. Telling stories, sharing laughs. Some were the typical family stories and some were stories about my father, during the good times. Jenny never left my side as we sat their listening to several stories I had never heard. At times, I noticed my mother get a little sad, but another story would come out and the laughter would begin again. Of course, Jenny and I had to go through the normal questioning by the remainder of my family of how we met and how long we had been seeing other. Other questions came up about the reaction people had about my transitioning, at least people outside the family. My mother’s siblings seemed pretty accepting of me. Jenny and I just sat there holding hands answering all the questions. Nothing was said, no reaction given. I felt accepted by my extended family. The hardest part was trying to deal with the two women to my right who would not stop smiling at me. Both showed love in their eyes as they looked at me. It got to be a little much and I excused myself to go to the bathroom. When I came out, Danny was standing there waiting.

‘Uh hi” he said, trying not to make direct eye contact. I knew I needed him to answer some questions. Not about me, but about my mother.

“So, how has she been holding up?” I asked as nonchalantly as I could even though I was shaking from the nerves of being alone with my brother. Danny just shrugged his shoulders, but he did finally look me in the eye.

“I don’t know. Good I guess. The crying stopped about Tuesday. It was hard on her. Hard on all of us.”

Whispering I said “yeah I know.” And just as I was about to say more, Danny’s normal personality took control. He looked up at me.

‘Hey quit being a typical chick that hogs the bathroom. I got see a man about a horse” he said with a grin as he pushed past me and closed the door. Most women would think my brother was being vulgar. For me it was the sign of a start. The start of acceptance. His using a typical phrase used by my brothers and I when we were younger showed he was trying. I must have had a huge smile on face as I returned to the living room, because as I sat down Jenny seemed a little surprised. She leaned in and in a hushed voice asked me what put the smile on my face. I told her I would tell her later.

As the day wore on, various people from around town stopped by the house to call on my mother. As is usual there was always food and conversation, maybe a drink. I saw several people I had not seen in sometime. Some were accepting, some tolerated my presence and some avoided me completely. At least no one was out right hostile towards me. The best visitor of the day was Katie’s mom. Jenny, Katie and I happened to be in the kitchen as she arrived. Before she even went to talk to my mom, Barb saw the three of us and rushed into the kitchen giving me a big hug. ‘You were great Alexa!” she said. Then catching herself that she might have been a bit loud she lowered her voice. ‘The article was great and the two of you looked so good on TV. Now I have three of you to be jealous of!” Barb said teasing the three of us. Barb gave me another hug as I thanked her and then she shared hugs with Jenny and Katie. The three of us lead Barb out to see my mother. While the two knew each other fairly well, they had never been close. But I think the change in my life might have signaled a change in their friendship. My mother got up from the chair and the two mothers shared a hug. Barb passed on her condolences to my mother, who thanked her. They broke their hug and the two turned and looked at the three of us standing there.

“What do you think of our girls Char?’ Katie’s mom asked my mom.

‘I think we have the three greatest girls in the world Barb” The three of us began to blush a little but soon came closer to the mothers, and created a group hug. As we broke up I could see a little sadness in Jenny’s eyes. I pulled her aside. I just looked at her and asked “Marilynn?” She just nods her head. I pull her in for a hug and share a brief kiss with her. We are soon admonished by someone for the first time, but I am hoping not the last.

“Would you stop that you two. There are guests here.” My mother says. We giggle at my mother’s comment and turn around. Standing there are my mom and Katie’s mom shaking their heads at us. The third person in the group we are staring at opens their mouth. “Just be lucky you don’t live with them.” After her announcement. Katie stands there with a satisfied grin like she knew she had gotten Jenny and I into more trouble. My girlfriend and I just blush as my mother gives us a look like she is ashamed of us. Slowly a smile creeps across my mother’s face as she turns and returns to her chair. Barb just laughed the whole time.

Soon, me, Jenny and Katie decided we should head back. When we went to say good bye to my mother, she got a little possessive. “You can’t go” she practically pleads as she grabs my hand. I tell her I have a busy day tomorrow with the lawyers that I had blown off today and my appointment with Debbie. She keeps pleading for us to stay but we continue to tell her we need to leave. We finally get her to stop when I tell that I will be back down Saturday morning. As soon as I said this, I hear Jenny speak up “We both will be down” I look over at my girlfriend who just grins widely and give me a little nod. Reason #97 that I love this woman. This seems to satisfy my mom. We each share a hug with my mother as we put on our coats. As I turn around I see my brother standing there, his hands shoved in his pockets. I walk over and tell him to keep an eye on mom and that we will be back on Saturday. He nods his head and continues to look down at the floor. I make a slow move to give my brother a hug as we are leaving. He backs off. ‘You’re not going to kiss me, are you?” He says, eyeing me rather nervously. Quickly I come up with a perfect response, I think.

“Eeew no. Ick. Boy germs!” I tell my brother. It does bring a little grin to his face. As I turn around, I see my mother standing there with a tear forming in her eye. Unlike the tears from earlier, these were tears of joy. My mother and I share one more hug before the three of us roommates head out the door waving good bye. Jenny and I walk hand in hand to the car. The day that I thought would be an emotional disaster turned out pretty well. Sure, my brother had stormed out of the house as had my father’s side of the family, but I had been accepted. Much more than I had thought by my other brother and especially my mother. The drive home was a happy one. Katie and Jenny were especially happy. Jenny seemed the happiest person around and was practically gushing. Katie was in a good mood as well. For myself I felt something different, loved. I leaned over while driving, and gave Jenny a kiss.

“What was that for?” she asks.

“For everything. For being there for me. For putting up with me but the biggest reason is just for loving me.” I tell my soul mate.

“That’s what love is Lex. Being there for each other and I do love you Alexa Marie.”



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