I dreamed we were there. The plane leapt the tropopause, the safe air, and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it threadbare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening. But I saw something that only I could see, because of my astonishing ability to see such things: Souls were rising, from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning. And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles, and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were three-atom oxygen molecules, of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them, and was repaired. Nothing's lost forever. In this world, there's a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we've left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that's so.
Many strange sad thoughts this afternoon. Angels in America was on HBO, the last part and as usual, I sat and watched. That movie...it's not just a movie. It's horrifically painful and beautiful, wrenches your heart from your chest and makes your brain spasm and recoil with thought after thought.
My mother said something to me this week. Something that I haven't been able to shake since she's said it, that's rotated in my mind like a song in a jukebox, day after day after day.
"Are you friends with [them] because you are trying to hold on to David?"
Now, if you know me, or if you've read a few past posts, you will know, and now know, that David was my uncle, my mother's youngest and half brother. He was gay. He had AIDS.
In simple words, that is who he was. In unsimple, complicated, messy words--he was my uncle and I loved him with a raging, burning heart. He was an amazing person. He did amazing things. He had an amazing voice.
Yet he died a horrible death, literally rotting away in front of me until his lungs could no longer push breath and he choked to death on his own fluids in the middle of the night in January of 1995.
No human being, no living person should be sentenced that kind of death. To die in the dark, alone. No God, no kind and generous God, no benevolent God would let that happen to someone who sang in His choir, sang "Oh Holy Night" during Christmas Eve services so clearly and beautifully that I can STILL hear him---and I'm not even straining to listen.
He was my champion, my hero, my friend, my closest family member. Someone who I felt could understand, who understood me, who saw in me what I thought no one could see.
And yet, he died. Ten years ago in fact. Ten years. Since then--well, I'm a grown up. I'm not fifteen. I'm not confused. I'm not afraid.
And I certainly do not confuse my dear, dear friends with my dear, dear departed uncle.
Of course, I understand her fear. Why would a normal straight girl want to be around homosexual males? What does she gain from it? Is she using them to regain the uncle she lost, who she didn't have enough time with?
Because if she is, that isn't fair.
Such questions from my mother's mouth, in her voice, cutting me like razor blades.
I do not struggle with delusions that my friends are really my dead uncle. I do believe in reincarnation--but that's ludicrous. My struggle is to keep David's legacy alive. His presence has only made me a more caring, understanding, open-minded, available person.
It hasn't made me crazy.
And yes, there are occasions, like at the end of Angels in America when I weep for him. Like my heart is breaking. Because I would have liked to have known him in this world, my adult world. I would have very much liked for him to have known me. I would very much liked to have him see the person I've become, instead of clinging to me one night a few weeks before he died, holding me so tight I couldn't breath, whispering about how much he wanted to see me grown, graduated, adult. I would have liked for him to still be here.
But he isn't. So there will be times that I will still miss him with my entire being, will cry for him, will feel a great quivering loss for my uncle and my friend.
And there's nothing wrong with that.
"This disease will be the end of many of us, but not nearly all. And the dead will be commemorated, and we'll struggle on with the living, and we are not going away. We won't die secret deaths anymore. The world only spins forward. We will be citizens. The time has come."
All quotes from this post were taken from "Angels in America"