Today is World AIDS day.
While I've had a few poz friends over the years, one pains me more than the rest.
In 1998 I briefly dated a guy who had just moved to Toronto from rural Canada. When we didn't "click," we decided to remain friends. This friend went out almost every night, drank A LOT, slept around A LOT, and basically enjoyed himself heartily. This is not meant as a negative critique - he was one of the most loyal, honest friends I've ever had. Anytime I needed support, he was there ready to lend a hand or an ear. Or a… nevermind.
We slowly drifted apart, as I stopped partying as often as he did. When I started dating girls again, he got a little uncomfortable. He didn't want to confuse or worry my girlfriends, no matter how loudly I said 'THEY KNOW'! By 2005, our friendship turned into a semi-annual catch-up over a few beers, and a phone call every month or so.
When I was living in Georgetown in 2006, we were talking on the phone one night. I was whining about my unhappy marriage and life in the middle of nowhere. Realizing I'd been monopolizing the conversation, I asked how he was. "I'm on stress leave" he said. "Two months ago I got diagnosed with stomach cancer."
"Oh shit," I blurted.
"Yeah." He laughed. "And I just found out I'm HIV positive!"
He didn't really want to talk about his issues, but was more concerned with mine. I really didn't care about my own, and felt like a little whiny bitch at that point. We left his dilemma with my offering my help in any way needed, at any time.
We had a couple more conversations, and a couple more nights at the bar sucking back beer and cigarettes. Last Christmas Day, I phoned him to wish him well. I got his voicemail, so I left a message. Very unusual for him, I didn't get reply. A few weeks later I phoned again, with the same result.
In March, it was his Birthday. I phoned him, but his line was now disconnected. So I went on Facebook to add to the long list of B'day comments. That's where I saw the RIP wishes from his internet friends around the world. He had died a couple of weeks before his birthday, but had been too sick to get in touch. He hadn't been able to medically address either the HIV or the cancer, as treating one would exacerbate the other. I'm not sure which finally took him, but it was the combination that was too strong.
Last June I went to Toronto's AIDS Vigil, and finally said goodbye to him.
I really need this to NOT happen again.
So to my other poz friends, and those of you that I've never met, today we're all thinking of you and hoping that a cure comes quickly.