How will you act in this incredible time of uncertainty?

 

My mind is taken back to many years ago I was in my first year of sobriety. And I was afraid because I was sober I would die.

 

After my accident, at 13, I knew life could change on a dime. Death was close.

 

But early sobriety I was thinking of it hourly.

 

Friends would tell me that maybe my old life was dying. Maybe I was dying metaphorically.

 

But I knew in my darkest alcoholism I used to pray nightly for God to kill me and maybe he had been behind on his orders and was going to take me up on my prayer.

 

See I was finally happy. I was back performing and teaching at Second City, regaining the trust of my friends. I was writing on a TV show with my writing partner, Deborah.

I was making new friends on this path of improvement.

 

It only made sense that the old malevolent God I was raised on, was going to tap the watch on his wrist and say, ”Time’s up. This party’s over.”

 

After lunch one day, I wen walking through the Mount Pleasant graveyard and found Danny sitting on a lawn chair next to the gravestone.  Danny was a guy I had met in my first year of recovery. He and I talked a lot. He was always kind and loving to everyone.

 

There was a picnic basket next to him. He sat with his eyes closed and held a coffee cup in his hands.

 

“Danny, my God, what are you doing here?”

He opened his eyes and smiled, “Practicing.”

 

I laughed nervously.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“The Doctors just confirmed I have full-blown AIDS.” Those words hung in the air for barely a second when my mouth started moving.

 

“You might not die. You never know there might be a cure.”

 

But we both knew that this was a lie. It was the beginning of the AID epidemic, and there was no cure. There were none of the magic cocktails like there are now. Beautiful young artistic gay men were dropping like flies.

 

He patted the ground next to him, and I sat down next to him and began to cry. I felt so bad for him, but in early recovery my self-centredness surfaced.

 

“I’m afraid I am going to finally and be happy and boom its over.” I said.

 

“Well, you are going to die.”

 

“But I don’t want to.”

 

“I don’t want to either. But everyone does.” This felt oddly reassuring. “ And Deb so you can die miserable or you can die happy. You choose.”

 

“I feel so stupid about sharing my fears of dying when you are actually…you know?”

 

“That’s how we heal. We talk and are witnesses to each other’s truth.”

 

He offered me a piece of his sandwich and we sat there for a bit, in the April sun, then I asked him if he was afraid of death.

 

He said, “Yes, I am. That’s why I am here.” He pointed to the graveyard. :I find practicing helps me.”

 

“Maybe I should do that. Practice dying, I mean.”

 

“No. No. Deborah you have different marching orders than me. You should practice living.”

*********

 

Soon after this encounter he was admitted to the hospital, Many men in Toronto who had been diagnosed with AIDS were at the hospital at Wellesley and Sherburne. Danny was in the E.R. behind a curtain at the very end of a very crowded and noisy hallway.

 

In those early days there was so much confusion about AIDS was contracted and many victims were treated like lepers.  I pulled the curtain open and Danny lay there grey and gaunt covered in carcinomas. He smiled at me and grabbed for my hand.

 

When I saw how bad he looked, I began to cry.

 

“Now, now, none of that. ” He pointed to his body, “This bag of bones has to go eventually, Besides, this dying thing? Well, it’s all perfectly safe.”

 

“What does it feel like?” I asked.

 

“Death? Its like a big piece of ice melting.”

 

I hugged him and he smiled. “Aw, you are a sweetheart. Do you know how long it has been since I’ve been touched?”

 

My face reddened in shame, for I didn’t want a compliment for just being a human being.

 

We held the embrace for a second.  I had no idea of how many bright lights the virus would snuff out. Men like Bruce, and John and Tim and Alan and a gal named Patti from my hometown.

 

And then he closed his eyes, and I sat with him holding his hand while he drifted in and out of sleep.It was all I could think of to do.

 

When he died his family didn’t come to the funeral. There were myriad reasons that people use as an excuse not to love a person, but the people whose hearts he touched were there in droves. The men and women that he touched came to honour him, because acted from love?

 

How will you act in this incredible time of uncertainty?

 

Yes, you are afraid. That is okay. But then you help someone else to stay calm, to stay safe?

 

Who can you help with your words, your actions, and your open heart?

 

When this is over, that is what we will remember!

 

Like many of you I lost my work two weeks ago. If you like my writing and want to be a patron of mine there is a GOFUNDME account to help me pay my way!

GOFUNDME

And, if you can afford to donate, I thank you in advance.

If not, just read the work I have put up there and have a laugh. remember we are all in this together.