Chapter Three

"A funeral is a private event, Carys. They can exclude whoever they want to exclude. If a bunch of us showed up, they'd probably call the police."

"I know that, Zoe. So I suppose we should have a memorial service of our own. The high school GSA is going to have their own private moment of silence at their last meeting this year, in April. That will tie into the National Day of Silence. But they can't do anything public. Damn. I wish I could take out an ad in the school paper and give some people a piece of my mind."

Carys could hear Zoe sigh over her cell phone. "People have been sued for libel for a lot less, Carys. Her parents would likely be all over you in an instant."

"But it's their fault! And I can't touch them."

"That's the situation."


"Carys, I know you're angry. But are you after justice, or vengeance?"

Carys was silent.

"I'm not saying we should do nothing. We have Kathy's posts in the online community, with some of the poetry she wrote, and we have our memories of her. We can use those to inspire us in our search for ways to help kids like Kathy. But we need to be careful we don't do more harm than good. That wouldn't be fair to her, either."

"Okay, Zoe. I hear what you're saying. You're right. I guess we'll do some kind of memorial service now, and think more about this after the break?"

"I think that would be best. We do need some closure now, but everyone's involved in finals and holidays and family stuff. After the break we can talk about what we can do to help people like Kathy. It hurts me, too, that we couldn't do more for her."

"Yeh, that makes sense. At the group meeting? Or separate?"

"Separate, I think," said Zoe, "so people can choose to attend or not, and bring people who aren't in the group, like from the GSA at the high school. We can try to schedule it for after group, so those who are going from there can go together."

"You have any idea for where?"

"I can find a space on campus. Considering the circumstances, I think it'd be best to avoid a church, even one of the accepting ones."

"Right," said Carys. "Some of us are a little off on any kind of religion right at the moment."

"Okay, I'll get on that immediately and let you know as soon as I have something. Then we'll get the word out. You work on a ceremony."


"You're a performer, Carys, and you knew Kathy. It doesn't have to be elaborate, you just need to know what you're going to do. Ask Crystal to sing."


"I know she has kind of a goth punk vibe, but she also plays acoustic guitar and sings. She knew Kathy pretty well, too, I gather."

"Okay. I'll do it. Talk to you again soon. Bye, Zoe."

"Bye, Carys."

She'd gone into the kitchen to talk on her cell with Zoe so she wouldn't disturb Jami. Now she went back into the bedroom. Jami looked up from her laptop and moved over on the window seat to give Carys room to sit.

"It's cold by the window, Jami. Why don't you sit on the bed?"

"I don't want to fall asleep, and I wanted to be able to see you."

Carys leaned over to kiss Jami's nose. "Zoe's going to find a space on campus for a memorial service after group. She wants me to do the ceremony. I can't think of anything but giving each person a chance to speak a memory or thought, then having a moment of silence. She suggested I ask Crystal to sing."

"That should be enough," said Jami.

"Maybe I should read something from someone who has lost a friend or child or lover to hate crime?"

Jami was quiet for a moment, then said, "I think it might be better to keep it low key. This is for closure and peace, not to rile people up, right?"

Carys sighed. "Right. It'll be emotional enough."

"So maybe something that is about healing the rift between religion and queer people? There are some welcoming and accepting clergy. Some of them must have written appropriate thoughts for an occasion such as this."

"Hmm, yes. That reminds me of something Kathy talked to me about once. I'll look it up. And I can read one of Kathy's poems. Or try to. It's going to be hard to talk and not break down in tears at this."

"Speaking of that..." Jami closed her laptop, leaning on it to look at Carys.


"I may not go."

"Why?" Carys was surprised.

"I don't know if I could make it through something like that without falling apart. There will be people there I don't know, right?"

"There probably will be, yes."

"And you'll be officiating or whatever."


"So I'd be alone, anyway. I think I'd rather be alone with myself." She started to chew on her lip.

Carys put out a finger to stop Jami. "Don't gnaw on yourself, hon. If that's what you want, of course stay here. But I'm sure other people from the group will go. Tam will probably go. You two get along well together."

"It's just that I'm feeling very, I don't know, fragile is a good word for it. Almost everything about my life has changed in the past year. Maybe I'm just not settled into it yet."

"But you've been talking about being more visible."

"I know. I think that's part of it. People keep mistaking me for someone I recognize less and less. I need to figure out who I am and make it public. Then I'll feel better about being in public. Does that make sense?"

"I think so, Jami. Whatever you do I know I'll still feel some kind of electric shock whenever I look at you.."

"It's that Day-Glo queer paint you put on me. Remember?" Jami smiled.

"No, I felt that the first time I saw you, before you and I became an item."

"You have special powers of observation, Sherlock. Not that I'm complaining. But I'm just starting to feel comfortable in the support group. The memorial thing would be too many people I don't know, in a really emotional situation."

Carys leaned forward to hug Jami's legs and rest her head on her knees. "I understand love. You stay here if that's what you need to do. I won't be away from you for long."

* * *

Jami was quiet during the support group meeting, slipping upstairs as soon as it was over. She caught Carys's eye, but didn't say anything.

"Is this everyone?" asked Zoe. "Where's Jami? She was here a second ago."

"She just went upstairs," said Tam, looking at Carys. "Jami reminds me of a cat sometimes. You know, when she wants to be noticed, you notice her, otherwise she's really quiet."

"You noticed her," smiled Carys.

Tam looked at the floor. "Well, yeah. You two are my friends."

Carys put a hand on Tam's arm. "Jami's not coming to the memorial service. She doesn't think she can handle it emotionally right now."

Tam nodded, then began pulling on her boots. Dang. I was hoping I could sit with Jami. I'm going to feel kind of alone now.

"Okay," said Zoe. "No Jami. So that's me, you, Tam, Sandy, Crystal and her guitar, Kay, who else?"

"I'm in," said Isaac. "I have my car here, so I can take some people."

"Yo," said James. "I didn't know Kathy, but I'd like to stay with the group."

"You, me, uh, Sandy, Crystal and the guitar?" said Isaac.

Zoe nodded. "So that's me, Carys, Tam and Kay. Emiko, are you coming with us, or can I give you a ride to campus?"

"I will come. I also did not know Kathy, but I will come."

The whole group, thought Carys. Everyone but Jami. I'm worried about her. And maybe a bit upset with her.

* * *

They were lucky in finding parking close to the Union. They all followed Zoe inside.

"We're all the way at the top, folks. There should be someone there, but I know how to get a key if necessary. Let's take the elevator, because none of the stairs go all the way to the fourth floor."

Coming out of the elevator they saw the door opposite open on a room full of chairs and sofas, illuminated by table lamps. "For those of you who have never been up here," said Zoe, "this is where the undergrad Queer Alliance has their office and holds their support group meetings. Women's Council lives here, too."

Zoe walked to the door and called out, softly, "Hello?"

A head stuck out of the inner room. "Zoe? Hello!"

"Hey, Carlos. I have pretty much the whole support group here." She gave Carlos a hug.

"Very good. You folks are a little bit early. I'm expecting several more people. You said you sent out a message to your contact list?"

"Yes. It's a busy time of the year. A lot of the high school students may have transportation problems coming to something like this, so we'll see."

"Indeed we shall." Carlos looked around at the group. "Do you have a plan?"

Zoe draped an arm over Carys's shoulder. "Carys is in charge. She's the group's co-facilitator, and actually the originating force behind the group."

Carlos turned to her. "Pleased to meet you, Carys. What do you have in mind?"

"Hi. This is going to be pretty simple. When we start, I'll say a few things about why we are here. I have a passage I want to read, and I have a poem of Kathy's I want to read. Then I'll ask for anyone who wishes to share a memory, or a personal moment of silence, to do so. To finish up, Crystal is going to sing a song or two while we reflect."

"That sounds wonderful," said Carlos.

Crystal had removed her guitar from its case and stood the case in a corner. "Carys, should I play some soft tunes while people arrive?"

"That's a great idea. Please do."

Crystal selected a chair a little apart from the others, tuned her guitar and began to play softly.

"Carys," said Carlos, "why don't you choose a place to sit, close to one of the lamps, so you can see to read. I'm going to go down one floor and watch for folks who don't realize that the main stairways stop on the third floor."

Carys took her notes from her coat pocket, hung her coat on the pegs by the door, and chose a seat next to an end table. She nervously looked over her notes. Zoe remained by the door to greet the people who were beginning to arrive.

After about fifteen minutes, Carlos came back from the third floor, looked around, and said, "Do you think we should start? Does anyone know of others who definitely are coming?"

There were no affirmative nods, so Carlos motioned to Carys, then closed the door and took a seat.

Carys stood up, nervous. I wish Jami was here. I feel alone without her. She scanned the familiar faces in the room, found Tam looking at her, and smiled back.

"For those of you who don't know me, my name is Carys Douglas. I helped start the support group that many of the people in this room come to, and of which Kathy was an online member. I grew up in East Lansing. I knew Kathy at school, though she was a junior when I was a senior.

"I'm going to read a short passage from a book that I know Kathy wished she could share with her parents, then I'll read a poem that Kathy wrote. This is going to be hard for me, so please bear with me if I have to stop occasionally."

Drat. She was already starting to leak tears. "This book is titled, The Grace of Coming Home, by Melanie Morrison. Melanie is a Christian, a lesbian, a minister and one of the founders of a retreat center. This is from the first chapter, 'Standing on Holy Ground.'

"You probably have a place, some special place..."

When Carys reached the end of the passage, she had to stop and wipe her eyes and blow her nose. Then she continued, "Now I'm going to read a short poem that Kathy wrote and posted to the support group online journal. She read it to me over the phone once. It's more spoken word than old style poetry, and I'm probably not doing it justice tonight, but I'll try. "

   I know who I am,
   sitting in the dark.
   They know who I am,
   sitting in the church.
   Mother is sure she knows me,
   as her little woman.
   Father only knows that
   he thinks he can't know me.

   But they're all wrong,
   they haven't seen me with you.
   And I haven't found you,
   so maybe I don't know myself.
   I'll know you when I see you.
   A girl like me, who likes to
   sing silly songs, read manga,
   surf the net, shop for clothes,
   talk about what's going on, and
   lie in bed and kiss and touch and
   hold each other all night long.

   Yeh, I'm that way, yeh, I'm one
   of them, yeh, call me a lesbian,
   though I don't think it's that;
   if a boy was pretty and liked to
   sing silly songs, read manga,
   surf the net, shop for clothes,
   talk about what's going on, then
   I can see lying in bed and kissing
   and touching and holding each other
   all night long.

   I'm an equal opportunity pervert,
   an abomination who works both sides
   of the street.
   Dyke, slut, whore, depraved, unnatural
   freak? Sure, bring it on.
   I mean, God is so busy creating people
   like me in large number, could it be
   that I'm not a mistake?
   Or do you think God is so error prone
   that She needs more practice?

   I believe I was created in God's
   image, and I'm looking forward

Carys blew her nose again, deciding that wiping away tears was a waste of time, as they weren't going to stop flowing.

"I think now it would be good for people to share brief memories of Kathy, or if it's something you don't want to say out loud, you can ask for a moment of silence to remember her. Then we'll close with a couple of songs from Crystal, who was a friend of Kathy's."

They slowly went around the circle. A few people spoke, a few asked for moments of silence. Most simply shook their heads when Carys looked at them.

"Thank you all," said Carys. "Crystal?"

Striking a soft minor chord, Crystal said, "Hi, everyone. I'm going to sing a couple of favorite songs, from the quiet side of my life. These are what I think of as spiritual songs, as opposed to religious songs, because they aren't tied to any particular dogma or ritual. I first heard them at the Simplicity retreat center when I was there with a youth group."

She strummed a few chords.

"I'm still active in my church. It's hard sometimes. But I want people to understand and accept me. I don't want a war between the religious people and the queers. That division doesn't have to exist. I admit I have no clue how to fix that, but I'm still trying.

"Enough of my preaching. The first song is 'Shadow of Your Wing,' and the second is 'Between Us,' both by Carolyn McDade. Please think about Kathy, and peace, while I sing."

By the time she finished, not a few people were leaking tears.

"Thank you all," said Crystal.

"Thank you, Crystal," said Zoe. She looked at Carys.

"That's all I have planned. If you want to stay and talk for a while, that's okay?" she looked at Carlos, who nodded. Carys sat back, exhausted.

Tam came over to kneel beside her. "Carys," said Tam. "Are you okay?"

"Just tired." She sat up. "I need to get home to Jami."

"I can walk with you to the bus. I'm going in the other direction, and I should get home, too."

Carys smiled weakly. "Sounds good."

Tam stood up and extended her hands to Carys, helping her stand up. They said their goodbyes, put on their coats and took the elevator down to ground level.

"I didn't know Crystal could sing like that," said Carys.

"She's good," agreed Tam. "I guess it's a cliché to say a lot of queer people are talented, looking for ways to express what other people don't want to notice."

"Do you know her outside the group?"

"We've crossed paths here and there. She kind of stands out in a crowd, you know."

"True," said Carys.

"What she did tonight was pretty laid back. I saw Crystal and Sandy play together once, at a talent night thing. She had an electric guitar and synth; Sandy was playing bass. They were both really punked out. It was pretty good."

"Wow. Sandy? That's hard to believe."

They walked through the side doors out into the clear, cold night.

"I guess I don't know much about most people in the group, other than the issues they bring up. Except for Jami, I don't really know anyone very well, now that I'm out of high school and on my own. I guess I didn't know people very well there, either."

"I hear you," said Tam. "It's hard to talk to, well, normal people without either telling lies or freaking them out."

"Yeh," sighed Carys. "It's not like most people want to hear about how I'm not like them."

Tam sighed, "I know."

They walked a moment in silence, slowing down as they neared Grand River Avenue, prolonging their walk to the bus stops.

"Life is so precious," said Carys. "And I'm surrounded by people I don't know, who I'm scared to get close to, for fear they'll hurt me, or I'll hurt them."

"I so know what you mean." Tam moved close to give her a hug. Carys hugged back. They didn't let go.

"I just need to loosen up, I guess. Be something other than an activist all the time. I'm not sure where to start."

"I thought it was fun spending the night with you and Jami last weekend." Tam giggled.

"That wasn't exactly planned to end up that way." She looked at Tam, smiling.

"Sometimes the best things aren't planned." Their noses touched, then their lips. They were kissing.

Carys pulled back, looking at Tam, who was looking back, wide-eyed.


"Tam, I... Oh, my gosh."

"I'm sorry."

Carys put laid a finger on Tam's mouth. "It was no more your fault than mine."

"No. But you should be kissing Jami, not me."

"Jami's not here," said Carys, realizing that she was somewhat peeved that Jami had stayed home.

"I wish she had come, too," said Tam. "There aren't many people I feel truly comfortable with." She pulled away from Carys. "I guess maybe I feel too comfortable with the two of you.

"When you're someone like me, it's so hard to get to know anyone past a superficial level. I like you, Carys. I like Jami, too."

"Then you need to come over again, soon."

"Will Jami want to beat me up for accidentally kissing you?"

"I long ago gave up trying to predict what Jami will do about anything," said Carys. "Whenever I think I have her figured out, I find that I don't. I should go, Tam."

"Me too. Uh, are you going to tell her?"

"Sure. I can't keep secrets from Jami."

"Of course not. Let me know what happens?"

"Will do. I think it'll be okay."

"I hope so. Good-night, Carys."

"Good-night, Tam."

Carys was deep in thought on the bus ride downtown. That kiss just happened because we were still emotional from the memorial service, right? I'm not really attracted to Tam, not like I am to Jami. I'm just tired and lonely.