AND IN THE END…THE LOVE YOU TAKE IS EQUAL TO THE LOVE YOU MAKE

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??

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The End of a TWENTY Year Adventure

Its been a very challenging week. My friend of 20 yrs is nearing the end of his struggle with AIDS.  For the first time in a long time I lost it. I came home from his house this past Wednesday evening and I fell apart. Thankfully my roommates who are also my good friends were there to hold and support me.  He doesn’t respond to me anymore and in the many hours I am there speaks only a few words, many of which are inaudible and incoherent. He has fallen several times, Shit and pissed himself when he fell in the shower and his ankles are very swollen with his toes turning black red and blue. Yes he is surely dying. I didn’t think I would go back to see it again but on Friday evening I went back. I am not sure if I did it for him, his sister or for myself. I HAD to let him know that I love him at least one more and maybe last time..I told him..I had to get on the floor to look AT him since he cant seem to focus his gaze anymore and cant move his head…I told him, you know I love you right?  He nodded barely and I grabbed his ice cold skeletal hand. I told him again..”you know that I love you and that our 20 year friendship is the best”. He then actually said “of course”. There was no smile, no affect, no emotion..just a vacant look but he understood..I needed that for me..His sister then showed me the Hospice papers sitting on the dining room table. I sat and read them as my friend who was with me left the house to go have a smoke.

I opened his chart..I see the orange card that says in HUGE BOLD letters…  DNR … Do not resuscitate. I froze. I had forgotten how that felt to read those words knowing that this would happen soon. I read the chart.. respiration 17 blood pressure 95/55,  weight 105 lbs at 5’11”.   MY God its bad I thought to myself.. I went through the chart and you can see the steady decline from a normal blood pressure and  a 28 respiration and 115 lbs  down to the latest numbers in a week. The finality of his life weighed on me because I knew the numbers weren’t good and that when he stopped breathing there was no hope of reviving him. It could be hours or days; a week maybe? Well hes fooled the doctors all this time..maybe hes gonna fool them again  I kept thinking to myself. Ive asked my friends; not this time they tell me, not this time.  Hes not gonna bounce back  and recover from this..hes not gonna get 6 months or 6 weeks..maybe not even 6 days..

Facing this is not easy. I am done with HIV… at this point in my life I have nothing left to give because I have seen too much and I am tired. I have thrown people out of my life who cant deal with me talking about it..of course NOT a GOD DAMN one of them have seen it and the day WILL come when they cant turn from it. Why? Some of those who yelled at me HAVE IT themselves and the others will have to watch it AS I HAVE. The excuses I have heard are no better than shoving your head in the sand like an ostrich so if I don’t see it or hear it,  it doesn’t exist, I don’t have  to deal with it..FOR NOW. How I feel honestly..FUCK ALL OF THEM. You can BET when that phone call comes, and it will , I wont be answering it. So many turned away from me..imagine;  NOW in 2010 ?  They have and they can stay AWAY from me. I CHOOSE not to have them near me now. By the same token some have run TO me in ways I never expected and the phone calls I have gotten from men on the net and on FaceBook who I never thought would even think bout it have been a wonderful support. It has made me know that despite what I have dealt with in so called friends I have given money, love and support to, there are those out there who DO give a damn. I think of one of the Beatitudes to end this post.  Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.