I thought it was
over. Our high school graduation completed, my senior
class had a special evening planned—a night at a
community center filled with food, a pool, games, and,
my personal favorite, a hypnotist.

Prior to leaving,
the whole class gathered in the cafeteria, where I was
hanging with some friends talking about how we had finally
made it. As I walked toward the beverage table, I
passed by “Mark.” He was walking with
his football buddies as he turned toward me and yelled,
“No homos on the bus!” Two years prior I
wouldn’t have said anything. I had been called
“faggot,” “homo,” and, the
worst, “fudgepacker.” And in all that time I
never stuck up for myself, never yelled back.

But I had had it.
I turned to Mark and said, “Hey, Mark, f--k
you!” Within a few minutes, a number of people
confronted him to tell him what a jerk he was. It felt
good. Finally, people were sticking up for me, and I
was damn proud.

Later that
evening I found out that Mark’s father had cancer.
And then I felt bad. Nobody should ever have to go
through that. My mother has been sick for many years,
and I know how difficult it is.

As the party
started, I thought that maybe I should say something. That
would end things on a high note—be the bigger man, ya
know? So I went up to him and said that I had heard
his father was sick and that I was sorry. He
didn’t know what to say, and I was shaking the whole
time. All he said was “Thanks.” We never
spoke to each other after that.

That could have
been my night to really let him have it, to tell him that
he had ruined my years in high school, tell him about all
the times that he made me cry. But life is too short
to be angry. We should be thankful for the hurt and
pain that we’ve endured. Why?

Well, maybe
I’ll just let you think about that one.

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