As all this tragedy was unfolding, there was little to nothing we could do to stop it from happening and make things better. At the time, all you can think about is why me, why us, how could God allow these horrible things to happen to our family; at least I, couldn’t help but feel this way. Not only was my sister dying but at the same time my family was falling apart. Was God punishing us because my mother had an affair, or because I might be a homosexual? Does God actually punish us and the people we love when we disappoint him? It had to be something, there had to be a reason. This was all so random and unfair. God, in all his infinite glory, could not be so cruel and vindictive. I needed to understand God. I needed to reach out to him and let him know I was serious about my prayers. It was at this time that I seriously started a close and personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ through prayer. My prayers had become so much more than just asking for a new bike or getting good grades in school. I knew that God was the only one I could talk to about all my problems and my confusion and helplessness and my hopes and dreams.
I prayed with all my heart for God to do something to help my sister and heal my family. I needed a sign that God had a plan and a darn good reason for what he was doing. Unless all the miracles I had heard about in the Bible were just fantasy and folklore, then I had faith that God would come through. We had such a great family and such a good thing going so why was this happening to us? The one thing I had going for me that gave me the confidence to confront God in such an aggressive manner is that I believed in him without a doubt. I knew without a doubt that God existed and that everything in life happens for a certain reason because of him. I am not exaggerating when I say that I had the perfect childhood. Aside from the teasing I received in school which actually is a growing/learning experience, I could not have asked for a better childhood. We weren’t rich, privileged or even extraordinary, but merely, simply and completely happy. We loved each other and enjoyed each other’s company. We loved and fought and made up. And all this happiness was thanks to God. And through prayer, I could share all my immature and irrational thoughts from the bottom of my naïve heart. I wanted my perfect life back.
From the time I was a young child until I was about fourteen years old, I believed everything about the Mormon religion without a doubt. I never questioned anything I learned at church. I had faith that this was the right religion and God would hear my voice and answer my prayers. This is why I could not understand how I could have so much love and faith in God, and still have so many obstacles to deal with that I seemed to have no control over. I wanted rewards not obstacles. It seemed unfair at the time but when you have a chance to look back on your life as I have, you realize that what does not kill you just makes you stronger. By being teased and picked on, it gave me the chance to see a side of life I was protected from by my family and religion. Negative and hurtful statements and actions come from a dark, angry and confused and abusive place. Not everyone out there has the love, support and respect of a caring and nurturing family. The love I had from and for my parents and siblings started from the very beginning of my life. We put the fun in family. I had my own obstacles and problems to deal with and prayer was just about the only thing that gave me hope that there was a light at the end of the tunnel because I knew God could hear me and even though my motives may have been somewhat selfish, this was bigger than just me.
I always had so much fun when my family would take Sunday drives or go on family outings and those moments are greatly missed but now those memories are priceless. I did not know this at the time which explains why I was so dense, ignorant, immature and desperate.
Even though things had changed so drastically in our lives, we still tried our best to have as much fun as possible when Becky came to visit. My father, Becky, Michael and I went to Yosemite for a week. My mother didn't go with us because my parents were in the middle of divorce proceedings. On the drive to Yosemite I remember listening to the resignation of Richard Nixon on the radio. Becky must have gotten a second wind, because we couldn't keep up with her. She was having the time of her life, taking advantage of every opportunity Yosemite had to offer…enjoying the animals and wildlife and just being filled with fascination and joy from the experience and the special circumstances. There was a Stone Bridge over a river that people were jumping from and Becky was the only one of us who had the nerve to jump.
We camped out, hiked, climbed rocks, fed squirrels, took pictures and cherished every second of our time together. Nobody wanted our vacation to end but of course, it was all over way too soon. Don’t get the wrong idea. We weren’t skipping around all the time and singing campfire songs. There was an underlying tension between Becky and my father and Mike and I. It seemed that everyone except Becky and my mother wanted to get the family back together. We were all going through some very tough times and we were doing the best that we could under the circumstances. Becky must have known that my brother and I were helpless and confused and scared, because she had a way of making life not so gloomy. She had an insight into life and death that we could not understand, but somehow she was able to share it with us in her own way. Her spirit was shining through and touched us. I regret that our circumstances kept us apart so often, but ultimately it was probably for the best. It gave us a chance to get used to the fact that soon we would not see each other again in this lifetime. In a way we were preparing for things to come whether we or at least I realized it at the time.
My father, my brother and I were trying to get on with our lives the best that we could, and having Grandma Morton around the house helped ease the pain a little. Jeremy, Corina’s little brother, who must have been about four years old at the time, would come over to the house just to play with Grandma Morton. She had a special way with children and would spend many years working with disadvantaged and mentally and physically challenged children. My grandmother was particularly affected by my sister’s illness and would go out of her way to make Becky feel loved and special when she came to visit. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that my Grandmother Morton was as torn up about this mess as I was or even more. Every member of my family including my aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandparents were experiencing their own agony about Becky as well. I just happen to be the first member of my family to write about it.
My personal prayers soon became desperate pleas for help. At first we expected that Becky only had about three months to live, but more than a year had gone by and now she was in remission and appeared to be healthy. It seemed like God had answered our prayers, at least some of our prayers anyway. I would pray with such intensity, sincerity and honesty that I was sure God could not ignore me. I was serious. Now if only we could get our family back together we could all be happy again.
I honestly and innocently believed that my sexuality, my abomination, was the cause of all this tragedy. That because I was a Homosexual, everything about and around me was tainted. What if God didn’t even listen to the prayers of Homosexuals? I was about fourteen years old now and except for a few close encounters, I had never actually had sex, other than self-gratification, which is often considered just as big of a sin as sex itself. And of course every time I masturbated there was a prayer asking for forgiveness and of course, I would promise to never do it again. Although it appeared to me that the entire world hated Homosexuals, or at least misunderstood them, I knew God had as good a reason for Homosexuality as well as everything else going on in the Universe. I felt that through prayer, God would eventually enlighten me somehow about the reasons for Homosexuality and help me to live a respectable and honorable life. It would have felt blasphemous for me to say that God loves homosexuals at the time and at that time that thought would have never even entered my head. I was scared, humiliated and embarrassed about thinking and realizing I was a homosexual and what that meant to my eternal salvation.
I do not know why I have never had a sexual attraction to women. In my entire life, I have never even had the urge to fantasize about females, even while masturbating. Some of my earliest memories are of being attracted and interested in people of my own sex, even before I knew what sex was. It felt natural but that isn’t how it appeared to be for society or at least the Mormon religion. I even convinced myself that as long as I did not actually have sex I was not officially a homosexual. But in reality it is the attraction not the action that determines your sexuality.
I knew that society, let alone religion, was not very kind or understanding about homosexuality. Complete strangers seemed to have the ability to detect what they considered to be homosexual behavior and "out" you at any given time by displaying a limp wrist and pursed lips and doing an exaggerated imitation of a very flamboyant gay man, in order to humiliate you in public.
In 1974 there were no homosexual role models at all. There were rumors about Rock Hudson’s sexuality and Liberace was the poster boy for effeminate flamboyancy. David Bowie continually flip-flopped from being straight to bisexual to homosexual but that was just a rock and roll stunt to shock and ignite controversy. Hardly role models to look up to, but that is all I had. Rock Hudson represented the closeted homosexual who was relegated to secret rendezvous and back alley romances. Liberace was also "in the closet" but his closet door was covered with sequins and rhinestones. David Bowie represented the sexual freedom and experimentation that came out of the 1960's sexual revolution. I grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s when sex and drugs were as common and controversial as ever. Call it trisexuality, people who will try anything at least once or three times just to be sure. But I was a good Mormon and did not do drugs or drink alcohol or have sex…but I wanted to.
My father slowly sank deeper and deeper into depression. My brother didn't have many, if any friends to talk to and since he was only eleven years old, I don't think he was able to comprehend the full magnitude of what was going on or how to deal with it, which probably made it all the more scary and frightening for him. My brother was so young that he was somewhat left out and ignored as all this turmoil was going on. My brother did not have anyone to turn to and I was so preoccupied with my own problems that I wasn’t there for him. Since my parents had gotten back together once before, I think my brother and I never gave up hope that we could still have a happy ending.
I know I never gave up hope. I was confident that my sister would not die and that my parents would get back together again. I remember on one Sunday, I was chosen to greet and welcome members as they arrived at church. Another young man named David Graff was assisting me when he said, with more than a hint of sarcasm, "Brian, do you have to smile all the time?" I couldn't help it. I had always been an extremely happy person and the full impact of what was happening had not hit me yet. I knew God was going to make everything all right again. And my confidence shone through. At the time I had braces on my teeth and a full face of pimples, but nothing could damper or diminish my inner joy and faith in God. I knew God would answer my prayers.
I kept myself busy with church activities and school projects. I also began spending a lot more time by myself. I started writing short stories, poetry and song lyrics regularly. I still saw Danita, Corina and Shirley occasionally, but they were all walking around in their own state of shock and disbelief. There were so many innocent victims involved in these tragic circumstances involving my sister and my family, and nothing anyone could do to end our suffering and grief and watch our world’s get torn apart. It all seemed so inevitable and out of our hands. The only thing any of us had to work with was prayer. And I had a lot to pray about. My sister, my parents, my sexuality, my pimples, the teasing, etc.