SALT LAKE CITY -- Carol Lynn Pearson remembers the July day as if it unfolded yesterday -- how she felt burdened and exhausted as she gazed out of her kitchen window.
The smell of fresh bread baked by a neighbor filled the suburban San Francisco house, friends were doing chores and the telephone rang incessantly, bringing words of comfort.
This was a phenomenon she had often celebrated in her books -- the gentleness and strength of Mormons responding to another's need and suffering. As a member of the church, she had often taken part in the giving. Now, she was on the receiving end, a sufferer.
The blond, handsome man to whom she had been 'sealed for time and all eternity' in the Salt lake Mormon Temple in 1966 was stretched out on the living room couch, dying.
A homosexual who once tried to 'go straight,' Gerald Pearson had contracted AIDS and come home in 1984 to the wife who divorced him four years earlier.
Despite Gerald's standing as a sinner in the eyes of the Mormon Church, Carol Lynn's Mormon ward, or diocese, in Walnut Creek, Calif., closed protectively around the writer and her children on learning that her former husband was dying.
During a visit to see friends in Utah, she agreed to an interview.
She weeps when recalling the day when the leader of the Mormon women's auxiliary arrived with her loaf of homemade bread.
'She embraced me and cried. Up to that day, she had known nothing of the situation,' Pearson said. 'There was never any hint from anybody that I should not have Gerald there,' she said.
Three days later, Pearson remembers telling her former husband, 'You can go any time you want. We'll be fine. We love you.' Just after midday, his labored breathing stopped.
With the experience fresh in her mind, Pearson, 46, already a popular Mormon author, decided to write a book telling the story of her marriage and Gerald's death. The book, which Random House is to publish this fall, is tentatively titled 'Another Kind of Love Story.'
Until his death, few people knew Gerald was gay, and the book is expected to be explosive among Mormons.
'There will be some of those people who will be terribly shocked that I wish to address this subject, but ... most of them will be with me in wanting to understand and wanting to address another part of the human condition that so far we (Mormons) have not been able to do,' she said. ---
Carol Lynn and Gerald met in 1965 as students at the church-run Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She was active in theater and a writer and Gerald was an actor, a free spirit and a dreamer.
Like many Mormon men, Gerald had spent two years spreading the faith as a missionary. Later, he experimented with homosexuality but remained devout.
Finally, he confessed his sexual preference to Carol Lynn. She said Gerald's local bishop had counseled him to marry a woman he loved in order to make his life right.
They married, lived in Provo and, like most Mormon couples, had children -- two boys and two girls. Gerald encouraged his wife's writing.
He took the thin stack of poems they had titled 'Beginnings' to several Utah publishers, who rejected the unknown author. Gerald borrowed money and published the book himself.
'Beginnings,' which probed emotional and spiritual aspects of Mormon beliefs, was a success in Utah. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, more books, musicals and children's works followed.
In 1975, Carol Lynn learned that Gerald remained an active homosexual, which she found devastating.
'Fulfillment comes to a Mormon woman in her femininity being valued by a man,' she said. 'When that is undercut, what does she have left? The tremendous guilt of not being sufficiently attractive for him to want her more than a man.'
Carol Lynn had always found Utah's tight-knit Mormon neighborhoods secure and comforting. Now, the lack of privacy was a barrier.
'Utah did not seem a place to work out the situation,' she said.
The Pearsons moved to Walnut Creek, where a strong Mormon community existed on the edge of San Francisco's homosexual culture. The marriage continued to deteriorate.
'I was hoping for the miracle that Gerald would either say, 'OK, I don't do that any more,' or a vaccine for homosexuality would be developed,' she said.
After four years in California, Gerald joined the San Francisco Gay Men's Choir -- a symbolic breaking point. 'We ultimately decided to end our marriage and try to remain good friends,' Carol Lynn said.
In her writings, she has described Mormon strength against adversity. Now her church is wrestling with the problems of homosexuality and AIDS, and she is uncomfortable with the stern attitude of the Church leadership.
'My Mormon people are capable to deal with homosexuality and AIDS in a way that is knowledgeable and unbigoted and Christ-like,' she said.
Only by openly discussing homosexuality can Mormons and society in general come to grips with the tragedy of AIDS, she said.
'The saddest part of all this is the relationships that have been devastated. Illness doesn't do it. Death doesn't do it. But this horrendous shame does it.'