A long title yes…
And in the end….My LAST long time HIV surviving friend Robert “Chandler” Karasik died this morning of AIDS related cancer, July 3, 2010.
It was as horrific as anything I ever experienced in the 1980’s. I am sad but even more relieved that its over. I am exhausted beyond any words I can convey to you out there.
Last night I was very restless after getting two phone calls from his sister Gloria telling me that the hospice nurse told her that it wasn’t going to be long. I couldn’t sleep and was restless so my roommate Ron and I stayed up and hung out in the backyard and talked. About 3:45AM I felt a finger on my arm in the EXACT spot Chandler had asked me to put his star (Ink tattoo)) after he died. I told Ron he was here and then I said, “hes dead.” I said that for 15 minutes while still feeling that light touch on my right arm..About 4AM I got up and commented that “why is it that they always pick 4AM to die?” I went to bed and at 8:40AM Sat morning, his sister called and said that he wasn’t moving and his eyes were open as was his mouth.. I told her that he was gone. She thought he fell asleep with his mouth open since it was dark and she had the lights out. She explained to me that she heard him gurgling and sounding like he was clearing his throat..she thought he was getting up again but then the sound stopped and she assumed he went back to sleep..what is was is the common term as the death rattle. I asked her if this happened at about 4AM and she said WHAT how did you know to which I explained to her what I just wrote here. I told her that Chandler came to say goodbye to me by pointing on my arm where the star was going to be inked on my arm. He KNEW I would understand that he had left all the pain and disease behind.
I got dressed and went over there with Ron and she was a mess.. I helped her with phone calls the hospice nurse and the funeral home since Chandler had already paid for EVERYTHING. I peeked into the room where he left his AIDS racked body and saw how peaceful he was and his legs were that of a doll and at 5’11” he was only 90 pounds. He was covered with his blanket and was so painfully thin. I went around to the neighbors at Gloria’s request asking if anyone wanted to see him before the funeral home came since his body is being shipped up to New Jersey for the service and burial. Several of the guys came to see him one last time but the wives stayed with Gloria while I helped the hospice nurse and go through papers, making calls and keeping Gloria calm.
The death certificate was signed and the funeral home guys came and by 11:15AM they went into the bedroom, wrapped him gently in the blanket he died in and placed him in a blue cloth zip up bag. I couldn’t watch as they wheeled him out of his home on a stretcher for the last time. Ron stayed with Gloria and watched while I turned away facing the kitchen and cried. MY 20 year time with him was over. He loved his home so much and I just couldn’t watch him leaving it like that. I stayed with Gloria several more hours getting things together for her to take up to New Jersey.
I am now the LAST one left of the entire group of men I grew along with. This will be my last time care-taking anyone with HIV. I am DONE with it..On Monday, I will be getting HIS star inked on my arm and again this is the last star I am adding to it. I realize that AIDS is not going away because men insist on bare-backing and spreading this virus with the God Damn stupid idea that the meds will keep them going forever without ANY consequences or side effects so they can just keep bare-backing regardless of co infections with OTHER STD’s and reinfection with different variants of the HIV virus. You know what the worst part is? You have so many fucked up young gay men who will say, well hey that’s his choice and hes my friend so whatever he wants to do is ok with me…FRIEND? Are you FREAKIN kidding me? JESUS Christ if you are a friend you don’t tell them anything because yer afraid of losing their friendship? Well if they get sick and die you’re going to lose them ANYWAY DUMB-ASS.
The gay society is very ‘well its not me so whatever they want to do doesn’t affect MY life and they are my friend and can do what they want’. This I have heard MANY times. That’s just so FU^KED up I cant even put it into words.. When these A-HOLES watch their friends dying in front of them I wonder what then?
I know 7 guys that died just in June from AIDS related and HIV med induced cancer. You don’t think a NEW wave of death is upon us??
I am very sorry about your loss….and all the losses in your life. Keep your chin and spirits up – we need men of integrity who value life and value values!