Another year goes by…
And then another year, and no word from Fabrizio. It pained the RM to endure this silence. He had thought a lot about their last phone conversation and still could not believe that he was like Fabrizio. He couldn’t be. He was now serving in a bishopric. He was honored and respected as a leader of the church.
He followed Fabrizio indirectly through mutual friends in Italy. He heard things like, Fabrizio:
• has left the church completely.
• has taken up drugs.
• has dropped out of / got kicked out of medical school.
• has a boyfriend.
• has multiple boyfriends.
• has AIDS.
The RM tried writing and calling Fabrizio, but there was no response. He started corresponding with Fabrizio’s sister, Silvana and she became his primary source of information. Silvana told him that Fabrizio purposely tried to get AIDS because he wanted to die. He no longer had any will to live. He stopped eating, too. He just lost all will to care about anything.
Silvana knew how close Fabrizio and the RM were. She knew of their relationship to the point that she probably knew it was much more than the RM led to believe. She wasn’t blaming the RM for this change in her brother, but she was placing blame at the church in Italy and their lack of efforts to provide any kind of support, fellowship, brotherly love toward him – and it was killing him – literally.
The RM decided to return to Italy with his wife. He met up with Thomas and SIlvana but by the time he got there, Fabrizio wouldn’t see him, didn’t want to see him ever again…
And he didn’t… A few months later, the RM received a phone call from Silvana telling him that Fabrizio had died. The last couple of months were gut-wrenching and painful to watch her brother suffer so.
And then she shared these words:
“Do you know what his dying wish was?” she asked.
“No, tell me…” the RM replied earnestly.
“He said, softly touching my hand… um… do you think the Church would allow me to have a Mormon funeral? And I responded: I don’t know, maybe… why do you ask? And then he said: Because that is what I really want. I want you to know that I have always been a believer of the Church. I know it’s true! And you know what else… the only good thing I ever did in my life was getting baptized and then bringing the missionaries to you! The only good thing I’ve done is then baptizing my sister into the true church!”
And she wept. The RM wept.
And then she continued: “And he got his wish…”
“The Mormon funeral?”
“Yes, the Mormon funeral. He had so many people there. All those people that were so afraid to reach out to him, to love him unconditionally, to be there for him… but weren’t. They were there, honoring my brother as one of them. Where were they when he really needed them?”
The RM sobbed uncontrollably… “I’m so sorry… I’m so, so sorry, Silvana.”
“It’s not your fault,” she tried to comfort him. “I’m not blaming you. You live on the other side of the world – what were you supposed to do?”
“I could have loved him unconditionally as he wanted me to,” he muttered.
“You did love him unconditionally,” she demanded.
“No, … really I didn’t. I didn’t support him when he was reaching out for support. I didn’t see the pain he was feeling because of my own short-sightedness and self-loathing. No, I’m just like the rest of them… I helped to kill Fabrizio, too!”
“Stop talking that way… I know how you felt about my brother!” she inserted boldly.
“I loved your brother.”
“I know you did!”
“I’m so, so sorry I didn’t do more…”
To think back on this now, I find it so ironic that I am posting this very personal story on this MOHO gay-Mormon blog. As tears still stain my cheeks, I am so, so sorry. I feel the pain of those words I last spoke to him. Many years since his death, these wounds are still very deep and painful to share. I have kept them hidden inside me for all of this time. It’s funny… some things can heal with time. The hurt can dissipate. The pain can subside… But not this! It still aches inside my gut. I feel responsible for watching the demise of my dear, dear friend, and not being more proactive to take steps to stop his self-destructing behavior – and why? Because I was afraid! I was too afraid of myself. I was scared of who I really was. I wouldn’t allow myself to be truthful and honest about my feelings, my attractions, my desires to be with him, to really be with him. I refused to permit myself to think that I could be gay. It was not possible! It was not true!
And yet, he knew. He always knew. He knew the first day we met. He knew that night in his bedroom – the night of our “first meaningful kiss”. He knew that night in my guest bedroom – the night before entering the MTC. He knew all along. And he was right… And I still feel such pain, such guilt, such hurt for allowing this wonderful, beautiful, kind and gentle brother to disappear and suffer such a horrific death… alone…
Would I do anything different now? Would I have the strength and courage to not be afraid? Am I doing anything for others in this situation now? Aren't I still hiding? Where is the progress? Aren't I just as pathetic now as I was then? What have I done to show that I really am sorry for not doing more and helping others to not end up in such a tragedy?
I'm not sure I like the answers...
I think of meeting him again someday and telling him how sorry I am… that he was right… that there is such a thing as a “gay Mormon” and that I am one, too. I dream of embracing him again and hoping that he’ll forgive me and he’ll allow me to kiss him… to kiss him one more time.