Bring on the nightmares

I watched the final episode of “It’s a Sin.” I guess I will probably be having bad dreams again tonight. That’s been a thing – too many memories.

I witnessed the story the author was presenting first hand. I watched my brother wither away to skin and bone before he passed away. I wasn’t there at the very end; I was attending my university outside the city. He died the week before my mid-terms. I had to go back home for the funeral. He was thirty-six years old – too young. They were all too young.

I visited my brother at Wellesley Hospital, “The AIDS hospital,” people called it. My brother was lucky. He had a big family, and thus, a lot of visitors many other patients did not. When my brother had two people in the room visiting, I would walk the corridors of the ward, and overtime, I would visit some of the other patients who the nurses told me had no one. Imagine that, no one to visit and no one who cared. Some patients valued a visitor; others were downright hostile to any notion of a visit from a stranger.

I wouldn’t do much sit and chat if they wanted to or sit and be there if they did not wish to speak. I would get a drink of water or juice if the guy requested. Many were young, as young as I, and most were closer to my brother’s age (he was seven years older than I). It was sad to see. A whole generation was dying.

I was lucky. I only had to deal with watching people fade away to nothing while my brother was in the hospital; although, he was in and out of hospital quite a few times until he didn’t.

It dawned on me this evening that I could have done more for these young men. I could have continued to visit the hospital after my brother passed away and I finished university. But the memories were too dear, the pain too deep. At the time, I couldn’t handle it anymore.

My father got sick about a year after; he passed away about a year and a half after my brother. My mother died a year or so after my father. It was a difficult period, and I carried onward in life the best I could.

There are sad memories, but also terrific ones. I try to remember the good times. It is movies and shows like An Early Frost, Love Velour Companion, Longtime Companion, Philadelphia, A Normal Heart, and Freeheld that bring it all back. The memories weren’t pleasant, but it wasn’t all tears. It was life, and I lived it fully.
—Robert Confiant 12 March 2021

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