I’ve been quiet for the past few months, and the reason for that is because my mom had been having some health issues. She went into the hospital around Halloween this past year. She had some good days, and some bad days. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to get better. She fought hard but ultimately she couldn’t beat the problems that she faced. So now we all have to go forward without her amazing presence, and her unwavering support.
My mom supported me in everything I have ever tried and did. When I told her about wanting to write, she asked me “What’s stopping you? You’ve always been a good writer. Let others read your words.”
I am posting an (unedited) excerpt from Brian’s Story in honor of my mom and the support she gave me in everything I wanted to do in my life. It’s going to be hard for me to not have that support anymore. But I know she wouldn’t have wanted me to give up.
I will not throw up. I will not throw up. If I kept repeating it to myself enough times, I may eventually believe it. Elliott, the traitor, had abandoned me at his mom’s request. I know it’s customary to get grilled from The Parents, which means his dad will likely be next. The problem was I was scared out of my mind. After the problems I had with my parents, I tried to stay away from all the parents that I knew. I didn’t want to prove to everyone that my parents were right, that I didn’t measure up.
“Breathe Brian. I promise that I won’t bite your head off. From everything Elliott tells me you are a wonderful man. Unless you hurt him, you and I will have no problems.”
I looked at Mrs. Watkins- no she told me to call her Laurie- trying to hide my fear from her. I didn’t want to appear weak. I knew I had to respond but it was hard.
“I have no intentions of hurting him. He is important to me. I’m falling for him.” I told her honestly how I felt. I didn’t want her thinking that I was some playboy athlete or something crazy like that. I just wasn’t worthy of someone as amazing as Elliott.
She nodded as she watched me with her keen eyes. I tried hard not fidget under her stare, but it was hard. I figured offering to help in the kitchen somehow would be the right thing to do.
“Can I help you make, whatever it is you’re making? I’m not good with baking but I can take directions well.”
After another moment of being watched, she nodded once and then went back measuring something.
“Peel those browned bananas and put them in the mixing bowl.”
I dutifully started to peel the bananas and put them in the bowl. I had never messed with the super ripe bananas before and boy were they messy! I could feel Laurie’s eyes on me as I worked. As soon as I finished she gave me the next instructions.
“Now start the mixer. Only put it on the lowest setting until it starts to get creamy. Then up the mixer to the second level.”
As the mixture got creamy she would add different things, having me stop in between each one to prevent a mess. Her silence unnerved me however. I expected her to ask questions to make sure I was the right guy for Elliott. I started to get more and more tense as her silence dragged on. I knew I should say something, but I had no idea what. The problem was the more tense I became, the more I started to mess up. A little splatter here. Mixer too high there. The last straw for me was when I put in too much sugar. A whole extra cup too much. I still had no idea what we were making but I was sure double the amount of sugar wasn’t a good thing. I hung my head because all I wanted was to impress her. I was sure messing up her, whatever it was we were making, wasn’t the way to do that.
“The Disney super nanny may have said that a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. But I say an extra cup of sugar makes the banana bread twice as big. Do you know why?”
That solved one question at least. We were making banana bread. Elliott’s favorite treat.
With my head still bowed I answered. “Because it makes the bread rise twice as much?”
Her startled laugh had me bringing my head up to look at her.
“You were serious when you said you couldn’t bake, weren’t you?”
I’m sure my confusion was obvious because she laughed harder but managed to pull me into a tight hug at the same time. Which was a feat itself because of how skinny she was.
“Sugar doesn’t make bread rise. Though if it did, all of my bread would be extra sweet.” She pulled out of the hug and then held me at arms length and looked into my eyes. “No, extra sugar makes the banana bread twice as big because we make twice as much batter. All we have to do is put in more of everything else and the batter is fine. That’s the thing about baking. Even when you mess up, there’s usually a way to fix it and make it better.”
She waited a beat while staring at me meaningfully. “Sort of like love. When you mess up, there’s always a way to fix it. There’s no need to throw it away.”
I nodded as I absorbed her words. “I have no intention of throwing Elliott away. I know it’ll be hard with both of careers. We’ll also both mess up from time to time. That’s how relationships work. But if we try to make each other feel as important as we are to each other, then it will be worth it in the end. I want that with Elliott.”
She was nodding at me the whole time as I spoke and a broad grin formed on her face by my last word.
“Exactly. And Elliott is lucky to have someone as wonderful as you to show those things in return. I am glad he has found someone worthy of him.”
My eyes opened wide at her last words. Of course she figured out my insecurities; she’s a mom!
“I know you think you’re not worthy for some reason. Elliott wouldn’t say since it wasn’t his story to tell. Frankly, I don’t really need to know the why behind it. However, I do know that you are an amazing man. I haven’t seen Elliott this happy since he was a kid. Now, relax, we’re going to finish making a double batch of banana bread.”
With that, she went back to measuring more ingredients. When she leaned in to pour the last ones into the mixer she gave me a sideways hug and said softly, “Welcome to the family Brian. I couldn’t be happier to call you son.”