aids, brother, christ, Christianity, church, communion, death, deathbed, e-mail, email, false alarm, family, friend, gay, hell, HIV, homosexuality, jesus, life, life and death, reconciliation, Religion, Saint Mary, sojourner, solidarity, St. Mary's, tribute, World AIDS Day
The email’s subject was simply his name. I knew immediately what it meant. I hoped against hope that there was some other explanation for the subject to be what it was. There wasn’t.
When you get an email where the subject line is that person’s name, a person like him, there’s only one thing it can mean.
The service will be held March 14 at St. Mary’s, where the World AIDS Day prayer service was held.
I knew this day was coming. We all knew this day was coming. From the day he tested positive for the virus, he knew this day was coming.
Part of me isn’t sad at all. Part of me is glad for his sake. I can remember sitting beside him in his bed. He held my hand with his feeble, emaciated hand. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he asked, “Is this Hell, Davo? Am I living in Hell?” I remember days when his meds would be off, and he would be entirely incoherent. He would tell the same four stories over and over again until I knew them better than he did. I remember the false-alarm, deathbed moments, where I was sure that we would lose him, only to have him miraculously pull through several days later. Most of all I remember the pain and loneliness that he shamelessly displayed any time he talked about his partner. Those moments reverberate in the chasms of my soul. Because of the pain that he no longer feels, part of me is glad… for his sake.
Part of me also feels sorrow. He was there for one of the pivotal moments in my life, and he is inextricably bound to it. I learned so much from him. He was my first openly gay friend. He was the first openly HIV+ person I knew. At that point in my life, those descriptors carried more depth than their explicit meaning. He was an integral part of my journey towards a greater recognition of the inherent worth of a human being.
Naturally, he had his issues with the Church, for which I cannot blame him. Many in the Church had mistreated him, and as a result, I don’t think he put any stock in Christianity. Yet I can distinctly remember two occassions when, while visiting him in the nursing home, he told me that to him, we were Jesus. It was as if our meager actions were the beginning steps of reconciling the chasm of hurt that existed between him and the followers of Jesus.
He deeply impacted my life at a time and in a way that no one else in that moment could have. He was a brother, a friend, a fellow sojourner, family. Family.
He taught me solidarity in life. May he experience perfect communion in death.