Saying Goodbye, Mickie B Ashling
Rating: 4 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Gay Fiction
Tags: Death, Grief, Gay Romance, Social Commentary, Novella
Length: 42 Pages
Purchase At: amazon
Joaquin Gallegos and his only son Mario have been at odds for years. Unable to accept his orientation, Joaquin tried everything to mold the boy into his image until he ran out of time. Reaching out from beyond the grave, Joaquin is given one more opportunity to make amends.
Saying Goodbye is a poignant reminder that loving your child as they are born, instead of rejecting them, for whatever reason, will ultimately bring joy rather than soul-crushing regret.
This short story, originally called, Adios, was included in the One Pulse Anthology put together by Dreamspinner Press after the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016.
Joaquin Gallegos is not long dead. He’s in an afterlife waiting room, for want of a better description, with a number of LGBT people who have also died. Only, Joaquin died because of cancer, the others died at the hands of another at – I’m gathering from the idea behind this story – Pulse Nightclub. Joaquin has a seventy-two-hour window of opportunity to make amends with his son, Mario. There isn’t much he can do; he cannot materialise, move anything around, make actual contact. Mario has to gravitate toward something of significance of Joaquin’s that will make him see Joaquin had changed his thinking about his son before he passed. It’s his last chance to make good with a son he’s always loved but stubbornly and perplexingly shut out of his life.
Joaquin has kept a journal on his laptop since 2000. The vitriol and his thought processes made me want to slap him past the afterlife waiting room into the beyond. I’m not a believer in you can’t say bad things about deceased people. If they’ve behaved like an absolute arsehole during their life, then that’s the way it is, death does not exonerate them.
This is a bittersweet story. As a parent who gets frustrated at other parents who lack the understanding of the words ‘unconditional love’, Joaquin angered me. It’s not hard to love your children, and let them know it.
Saying Goodbye is told via Joaquin’s narrative and worries from beyond the grave, also Mario and his husband Ricky’s thoughts, actions, feelings. Their romance. Then there are Joaquin’s journal entries from 2000 – 2016.
It all started the day I walked into Mario’s room and found the box filled with magazine clippings of naked men alongside the baseball cards he’d won in Little League when I was his coach. My beautiful son was a cocksucker. How does a father respond to that?
The homos all over the country are going crazy. How dare they think that they have the right to marry? That’s an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. I’m not paying for health benefits for any of my employees who dares to think I would relent because I have a son who’s queer. No. Fucking. Way. Two men getting married? Come on….
As you can see, Joaquin’s thoughts are pretty awful for a while, but they do change as time passes, I’ll let other’s read for themselves. This story is only 42 pages.
I’ve been collecting anything in print about him, and I’m astounded that he commands such a huge price for his work. Who would have thought he could make such a good living doing this?
Mickie B Ashling packs a lot into the page count of this novella. There is one moment where I felt absolute sorrow, outside of the sadness reading about a parent wasting their life separated from their child, their family breaking down, simply because of homophobia.
One more thing, if you are a parent struggling with your child’s sexuality, just know it doesn’t change who they are. They’re who they’ve always been, your child. Reach your hand out to them because it’s up to you to make sure they know you love them.
Saying Goodbye’s theme is that life is too short to have regrets that shouldn’t exist. About equality. That you never know what’s around the corner for you or your loved ones, your child. Hurt and the pain of what ifs are something that you are far better off without and can be avoided through love, communication, and acceptance. 4 Stars for a story with heart.