I had forgotten how awful watching death is. The last close person that died was my father back in February of 2000 but this is different.
The last person I watched die of AIDS was back in April of 1996, my Best Friend Black Michael. I had really forgotten the details of those memories until now. Michael had been my longest friend, my best friend, who at the time died of AIDS.
Fast forward to the present, May 2010. My longest and last friend with Long term HIV is dying and its been the biggest challenge in my life since 1996 when I was also fourteen years younger. I am glad that I have not become callous to it all after having watched so much death when I was in my late 20’s and into my 30’s and finally having it end when I turned 42. I see him now many times during the week. He weighs 109 lbs and he is 5’11” tall. The cancer has taken over his body. He is on Albuterol because he gets shortness of breath. He is on morphine for pain. He has a hospice nurse come to his home and he has an oxygen tank in his house. He cannot swallow eat or drink anything substantial anymore. He chews on crushed ice. I was there this past week with my friend Kevin and I saw “the box” that the hospice nurse brought with her. Its kept in the refrigerator and its NOT to be opened by anyone other than the hospice nurse. What is it you ask? Its the box that contains the drugs that will put him out of his misery when he gets too far gone. I held that box in my hand as I have done before and I prayed right there in his kitchen that ANY kind of gentle divine being would just FUCKING take him from all this pain and misery. He cannot drive or even sit up much anymore for extended periods. He doesn’t even answer the phone. Now here’s the kicker to ALL of it. He bought his sister who’s living WITH him a plane ticket BACK to NJ. MY friend Kevin told me that hes sending her home because he doesn’t want her to find him dead in bed or to be there when he dies.. Makes sense to me.. Hes going out on his own terms and the reason hes lasted is simply because he has fought this tooth and nail and because of it this is why hes still here and looks like skin over a skeleton.
I make sure to sit next to him..close , and to tell him that I love him as often as I can..NONE of this is about me although when he dies it will be me that has to deal with it all because he will be out of his suffering and when he dies so does that fucking virus and I will have lost one of the major friends in my life..20 years worth. Yeah Yeah I am thankful for the time..that’s not in question and he has lived a full life and loved traveled and had tons of money, houses and cars. Does any of this rationalizing make it any easier.. NO. Its all Ive got though..
Another weird thing..the guys on the internet have been more supportive of me than those who actually have had dinner in my house, spent time with him and knew him.. I have not gotten ONE PHONE call or even ONE TEXT message from those around me that have seen him in my house FOR YEARS; yet I have had total strangers who have called me up on a regular basis to make sure I am ok and these are Leather folk to add insult to injury. Hows that bullshit for you? I have done a MAJOR re evaluation of those around me..and if they haven’t been there through this they sure as hell aren’t going to be there for me in ANY capacity..and if you happen to be reading this now..DON’T BOTHER. If I had to write about this to get you to think and move your ass then you aren’t worth my time. I am lucky though for the few that are sticking by me because this has been HORRIFIC to watch. They go to their bars and parties and events without one thought outside their own miserable little world..I wonder what happens when THEY will have to go through watching someone die that they are REALLY close to..Guess who’s NOT answering the phone when they call?
Am I angry??? YOU BET YOUR ASS I AM. This is one MAJOR reason why I don’t bother with the leather community down here. Do you know how many people I have told this to?? They don’t want to talk about it or deal with it. Well you see, as I was told, I have HIV and I cant deal with it..they laugh nervously then move on to something more pleasant about THEM. I have actually gotten yelled at for talking too much about my friend who’s dying because that all I talked about..Well Jesus Christ hes my friend of 20 years its not the family hamster for Christ sake. I am now surrounding myself with men who can be there for me and who want an INTER-INDEPENDENT friendship and I AM finding them; just not in the Leather Community. They don’t yell at me, they don’t tell me that’s all I talk about, which by the way that’s NOT all I talk about. I am supported and helped through this nightmare..yet AGAIN.
Here’s ANOTHER BIG bullshit excuse I get..Well you don’t go to the bars, you don’t come out in leather, you don’t go to events..HOWEVER, I have offered my time, my energy to teach, to speak and I have gone to events and offered what I am capable of giving and I get, yes yes we’ll call but no one does..and then its MY fault when I don’t keep going and no one bothers with me..Its still my fault..so because I don’t do this or that..you tell people your friend is dying and its ok not to give a shit right? This is what I am told…and you wonder why I don’t bother with the community here? The biggest kicker.. MANY of them have HIV and one would think that there would be SOME morsel of compassion. There isn’t. I hope none of these people go through what I have. I wouldn’t wish this on a dog..For any of you reading this, please pray for The Divine to take him quickly and in peace..