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Thanksgiving was uh, well, I gave thanks. I gave thanks that my father is still with us, despite his illness. Crabby and fussy and, in his own words, "sharp as a rat's turd and twice as nasty." I gave thanks that my nephew has the sense and sensibility to come to town and visit his grandparents. I gave thanks that my brother wasn't at the actual dinner which allowed me to scarf down all the fried turkey skin by myself, since the rest of the family has fat and cholesterol issues which make poultry skin repellent.

But mostly, I was thankful that my mother got released from the nursing home/rehab back to her own home. She recognized it as her home. She knew me, and she knew my nephew. On Sunday, she looked at me and asked when I was going back to my home.

For maybe ten minutes, I had my mother in the room. After that, she went back to babbling non-stop about things that no one in this world can comprehend. But. For ten minutes, my mother was there with me.

Alzheimer's has got to be the most cruel disease inflicted on man. Jackie, at the needlework store where my mother used to buy her supplies said to me: "Her light shone very brightly, for a very long time." Jackie, I know you'll never read this, but thank you. It did. She did.

Maybe because of that sentiment, and my own recognition of how her light has failed, I'm taking up knitting again. For years, my mother made me a sweater for each birthday. I haven't gotten a new sweater in maybe eight years. I bought yarn from Jackie, and a pattern, and this morning I cast on 70 stitches and began a turtleneck.

Also this morning I read the obituary of a senior girl from a local high school. She was on the crew team. She was a friend of my surrogate daughters. They are destroyed. This is the first death that they've experienced of a peer, and not an elderly relative. They are gobsmacked by the suddenness of death, its random nature. How could it happen? Why? There is so much she will never know...

For all the joys they list in their blogs, I think of the other things this unknown girl will never know. She will never have her heart broken in first love. She will never discover that the person she trusted has stabbed her in the back over something as insignificant as a job promotion. She will never worry that the world is no place into which to bring a child. She will never look in a mirror and wonder what happened to her youth, her innocence, her love of life. She will not live to see her parents die.

And it's World AIDS Day, the day that I think of my friends who are gone. My peers who will never bring children to the world, never find love or happiness, or sorrow or fame. My peers who died senselessly and randomly.

I wrote to my daughter-by-choice and I told her, from the vantage point of age and repeated loss, what I know of sorrow and death. I said: Say their name aloud. Remember them. Don't ever let a moment pass where you know they would have found joy or amazement or sorrow and not say their name. Wait for them in your dreams. Eventually they will come to say goodbye.

So in memory of the men I loved, who died because they loved other men, I say their names: John Borella, whose sisters disowned him, and who died in the arms of kind strangers. Nick Cannon, who was so bright, and so funny, and who was my college friend, and who never told me he was sick. Shel Lurie, who was an artist of amazing talent, and a man of such brittle and bitter humor. He stood by me and wrote my letter of recommendation to graduate school. His pride was such that he never let me visit him in the hospital to say goodbye. Scotty Neail, who was the first boy I ever had a crush on, who took me sailing on the St. Lucie River, who was the first to die. Scotty's little brother Richard, who was my friend, too, despite being so much younger. And Rick, and Mark, and Ken, and Adam, and Robert, and all the others. So many. Too many.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 12/01 at 08:44 PM in Maudlin Crap

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