Part One: The World Before Aids,
“Excuse me, Messieurs,” interjected a French man sitting close-by. “I am a physician from Paris. Perhaps we have something in common.”
“What is your specialty,” I asked.
“I am a pulmonologist,” he replied, “informing certain authorities here, in Geneva, of a bizarre circumstance we have observed in Paris. Two women of the night have died of a rare and previously easily treated form of pneumonia. Speaking vulgarly, they were drowned by protozoa we all have in our lungs, but which healthy immune systems can control. So bizarre!”
Part Two: Tim, 1982-1989.
By January, 1982, the World Health Organization announced there had been 36 reported cases of the illness in Europe. The CDC had weighed in with their American tally of 108, and had requested funds for their “Opportunistic Infection and Karposi Sarcoma Task Force”.
The unanswered appeal for $83,000 represented an infinitesimal part of the multi-billion dollar National Institute of Health budget. There simply was no interest in studying, much less preparing any prevention, for a “Gay Cancer”.
Part Three: Bob, 1989-1998.
Our housekeeper had also cleaned several local physician offices. I spread the numerous syringes, medications and assorted paraphernalia I used to boost both Bob’s red and blood cell count on the table in the dressing room and explained what they were to her. When she did not come to work the next scheduled day, I called to inquire why. She said that her religion would not allow her to work in a house where there was AIDS.
“But you clean an HIV physician’s office,” I said confused.
“That’s business and it is different. This ain’t right,” she replied.
Part Four: The Arc To Triumph.
In the months after Bob’s death, I existed in a numb trance. I later understood that this condition was my body’s defense mechanism, which came into play when emotional survival seemed incomprehensible to me. Gradually, a level of awareness began to surface as my conscious mind wakened. Although I felt injured, angry, frightened and compromised, I began to notice behavior, which more closely resembled the thinking patterns and actions that Bob habitually exhibited in contrast to my more emotional responses. Initially, I thought that I was trying to emulate him, but then I understood, at a deeper level, that a part of Bob was alive within me. Authentically integrating his more admirable behavior not only immortalized him, it simultaneously fueled my transformation. The earliest clue that this miracle was occurring was when I genuinely laughed for the first time in many months. I noticed that my laugh sounded like a blend of Bob’s and mine.