**Written after Bill died. I needed some way of writing the story of who we were, as friends and as 2 people who loved each other.
It was raining the day you left for Wyoming. I remember watching your Grandfather’s truck leave the subdivision. It is 1978. My 15 year old heart is broken for the first time. My soul mate is leaving and I stay behind. If we had known then what our futures would be like, would we have changed anything?
I never understood why you lived with your grandparents or why they made you go back to Wyoming. I knew you despised it there. I hated the fact that they made you leave. I never would have guessed that it would be 15 years before I would see you again.
I met you about a year and a half before at a meeting at Mike’s house. He said “I want you to meet someone”. You were tall with shiny black hair and a deep sexy voice. I was awestruck. We didn’t know what to say to each other. You came over to my house a few days later and we began to hang out. Soon, we were like peas in a pod, finishing each others sentences and walking the subdivision until the wee hours of the morning. We talked and talked, catching up on what had happened in our lives up to then.
Dad thought we were having sex so one day he left a brown paper sack on my pillow with contraceptive foam and a letter saying how much he loved me and would I kindly not get pregnant or catch any diseases? I called you right away and told you to come over; I had something to show you. When you saw what it was and read the letter, I thought you would never stop laughing. All we were doing was talking and having tickle fights.
We watched a lot of TV. Sometimes my brother Adam would join us. We learned to meditate together. Lying side by side on my bed, we would listen to music and go off into other realms. We smoked cigarettes, drank booze, and got high. We were a real couple; no one knew we didn’t do much else. We had kissed but only on the lips.
Through those 15 years we wrote and called each other. You were really good at tracking me down. It helped that my Mother kept the same phone number for many years. We talked through the military years, you in the Navy, me in the Army and Air Force. You went overseas, I stayed in country. I got married several times, you had numerous boyfriends. We had our separate lives but we always had each other in some way, a touchstone.
Sometime in 1987 you called me. You sounded bad. It took you awhile to get to the point but finally it came out. You were HIV positive. In the medical field, we had started hearing about this disease but we didn’t have universal precautions then. It was a gay man thing. I wasn’t even sure what it was. I heard it could be terminal and there wasn’t much they could do. You were going to be medically retired and the Navy would cover your costs from here on out.
I asked if you knew how you got it; it was a one-night stand. I was shocked, I told myself not to dwell on it- a cure would be found soon. It’s always found, isn’t it? What naiveté I had. Sometime after that, we had some sort of spat and lost touch with each other. We were in shock and didn’t know how to deal with this news or with each other.
I finally saw you in 1993 when you came to see me in Arkansas. You were spiraling downward ever since you found you were HIV positive. You were an alcoholic and saw no need to stop. You told me the truth of your life for the first time. The capper was hearing the gunshot as your mother killed your father. She went to prison for six years and you somehow felt guilty for her being there.
While you were there, I initiated you onto the Goddess path. You needed some kind of spiritual direction. We knew that harder times were coming and you needed all the help you could get.
In 1995, you were with Steve, also an alcoholic and HIV positive. He was very abusive. You would call to tell me everything that was crappy about your lives together. It became routine, I was your confessor. I tried to talk you into leaving him but you weren’t ready. In your mind, you had nowhere else to go. Who would take you with all that baggage you carried?
November 1996. You were getting sicker and getting afraid for the end of your life. We knew that Steve would take you to the nearest VA hospital and dump you there to die alone. After much consideration on my part, I offered up my home. I would care for you until the end. Some of my own “friends” thought I was crazy for even offering. I had already helped to hospice another friend of mine the year before. It was at this time I realized that hospicing him was my preparation for this. Could I take this on? I too, was scared.
You considered it for a few days and called me to accept the offer. We began planning for your trip out here. You called again a few days later and said you had another, more difficult question to ask me. You asked me if, when you died, I would shamanically journey with you and take you to Hecate the Crone Goddess.
I didn’t know if this was possible. I said yes anyway, knowing in my heart I would figure it out somehow. I asked for help from the Indian elders I knew. No one knew much about this anymore but they knew it had once been a skill. It was then that the full impact of what you had asked hit me. You wanted me to walk you to the veil, turn you over to Hecate the Crone and go back to my mundane life here on earth. I was to have a larger role to play in your death than I had thought.
You were coming here in March and I had time to figure this out. No one had any information on this so I went to the source, Hecate herself. She said yes, she would teach me and so my own transformation began.
You arrived March 17. I was not prepared for you being so thin and anorexic. I went into the bathroom and cried. You were my Bill, the smile and voice was the same. You loved to watch the Food network, even though you had no appetite. I knew that lack of appetite was a signal that your body was beginning the shutdown process.
One morning, we had an appointment to go see the doctor and you began to say over and over “I’m not going, I’m not going!” The dementia had come. I freaked out to put it mildly. I called work and the hospice. I couldn’t leave you at home alone anymore. I listened to you lose your mind and there was nothing I could do.
Thank the Goddess we had done the paperwork for the hospice a few days before. My boss put me on leave right away and told me she would pray for me. We spent one more night in our little home. I couldn’t keep you there any longer. The next day we left for the final journey.
I remember one thing from that last night; it still makes me sad. You came to my doorway, looked at me and said, “I’m sorry my mind is all fucked up.” Then you walked back out. Oh Goddess! He knows he’s losing it, I had hoped it would slip away and you wouldn’t know it. I hope to never see that again.
The ambulance came the next day. It wasn’t safe for me to drive with you in the car. I would follow with your things. I watched them load you in and felt that this was all some bad dream that I would wake up from. I got your things together in a zombie-like state. I watched as the ambulance drove away and felt my insides dissolve. We’re down to days now.
We settled into hospice life. I spent most of the time there, going home only to shower. Your brother and mom got there. We became very close in a matter of hours. The final days came and I called in the friends. One would stay at my house to take care of the cats. Melanie and Samir would come and stay at the hospice. The death watch began.
Friday night your breathing changed. The Death Rattle began. Melanie and I did therapeutic touch on you and that calmed you down. We also called on the Mother Goddess and bathed you in her love and compassion. When we finished, we looked around and saw that everyone was crying. Samir said he had never seen anything so beautiful in his life.
Saturday you brightened a lot, you even threw us out of your room so you could have breakfast in peace. When we came back, things had changed. That night, you went into a coma. We were down to hours.
Sunday dawned and I was tired. I knew this was the day. I went outside to smoke. In the early afternoon, I saw a big storm brewing in the west and I knew what you were waiting for. You always loved the rain and when it hit, you would leave.
It began to rain. Ron and your mother were with me outside. They stood to go inside and asked me if I was coming. I said no, I would stay out here for awhile longer. They looked at me and ran back inside. I don’t know what they saw, but it scared them. I felt a calm and peace descend on me and I knew that you were with me in my body. We were one. I won’t even try to explain how that felt; there are no words for it.
We went back in to get Melanie to come dance with us in the rain. She was sitting by the door and looked at us like we were crazy. We asked again and this time she saw what had happened. She grabbed our hand and we went outside. It was pouring; we danced to the far edges of the parking lot. As we spiraled back in, I felt you loosen up and fade away. Everyone in the room was waving frantically for us to come back Melanie ran back in. I just walked slowly and gave you to the Dark Lady as you had asked.
I got to the room in time to hear the last beat of your heart. You died at 3:15 pm on the 27th of July 1997.
We went back to my house to eat a little and I went to bed. The last thing I remember before drifting off is feeling your hand on my back and you thanking me for all I had done.
Would I do it again knowing what I know now? Yes. Why? Because I know now that the amount of grief I have felt is equal to the amount that I can love. They go hand in hand just like you and I. Always and forever, I will love you.