It IS December 1st, in Montreal, at this hour.
On July 8th, 1994, at 12:00 noon exactly, a doctor entered my exam room, sat down, and said these words to me …
“No Better time than the present. Jeremy, You have AIDS, you are going to die. Go Home, Get your affairs in order, time is of the essence.” I thanked him for the information, he gave me five minutes to collect myself, and leave the office.
I went outside, because my friend Ken, the clinic nurse, was nowhere to be found inside. As I looked down at the car, he was sitting on the hood of my car waiting for me. He, in fact, knew, what the doctor knew.
I approached him tentatively and he opened his arms and folded me into them, as HE wept for me. He was the nurse, who cared for all the sick, in the bar we worked at, after hours, for FREE. We saw hundreds to their deaths over those two years.
Now I was one of those men who were going to die.
I’ve shared this entire story with you back in July, as it happened in real-time.
I called my folks, after my boyfriend left me, my friends all bolted for the doors, and could not run away fast enough. I called Todd and his hubby in Provincetown to come home immediately. They did come home, immediately.
I remember meeting Todd at the bar, a couple of days later. We were sitting alone together on the stage, on the main dance floor. I told him that I was sick, and that I was going to die.
He took on, taking care of me, because in the end, everyone else had fled. It was too much to bear for any of my fellows AND my family. I had lost everybody.
Todd crafted a plan of action. He chose to save me, when he could have easily walked away, but he did no such thing. Everybody working in the bar was sick, in one way or another.
It was me he chose to focus on.
Hindsight does show me that, in Spiritual terms, Heavenly Father had stepped out of His heaven and walked with me, in real-time, for the whole of Todd’s and my relationship.
Todd saved my life.
Bob was buried in the cemetery across the street from the bar, directly. Todd had lost already, and he knew the drill. After attempting to kill myself a few week later, Todd was at the COPA with my friend Danny and the paramedics, as they revived me from an alcoholic stupor and alcohol poisoning.
Danny took me home and stayed in my apartment for a week, on suicide watch, on Todd’s orders. The following week, I went back to work. I had also gone to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Todd told me that I would get sober, if it killed me, and it almost did, seeing that many of the men in that sober room, were not very sober. As they bet on me like a race horse, waiting for me to go back out and drink again.
Thankfully, Todd’s lover, Roy, was a year sober then, worked at the bar, had a Big Book on his cash register, that we read together. Because for the year prior, while that Big Book was on that register, I asked him, what that Big Book said, because it said BIG BOOK on the front.
His response was always the same:
When you need to know what it says, I will tell you. That took a year to get there.
I did stay sober that first year, despite the assholes who hounded me for a year. I stayed sober another year, and then a third year. At the end of year two, Todd moved to San Francisco, with the entire bar staff.
I was too young to go. Too sick to travel. And in my sick, and deluded fantasies, of my father dying and my eventual moving to be with my mother for the rest of my life, never happened.
I lost my Mother and my Father.
To this very day they still believe, and have said repeatedly that:
I was a MISTAKE and should never have been born.
On July 31st, 2017 – I turned FIFTY years old. I am still alive.
Because of God’s good grace and Todd’s intervention.
When all else failed, ONE human being walked into my life and affected change that changed my life in ways I could never repay. I cannot tell you the price Todd paid in caring for me, personally, and what my illness did to him, because he never batted an eye for one day or even one night.
His love never wavered. His Words were Gospel. His cup overflowed every day that I remained alive, under his watch.
YOU never know when YOU may save a life, in being there for another human being.
AIDS is still a disease that kills. Not like it killed indiscriminately, back in the day, because there were no drugs to come by, or speak of. No doctors to take care of us. Only a woefully prepared group of physicians in MOON SUITS, who did not know their asses from a hole in the ground.
It was total MAYHEM and FEAR, unlike any fear I had ever seen.
My friends suffered terribly. Doctors treated them indignantly and in death they all died alone, save myself, Ken and a few others who sat death watch for over 100 men who died on our watches.
I skated by, by the grace of God, and Marie Wansiki, who ran the local 411 Drug Farm, Health Link, they collected drugs from dead men’s medicine cabinets. Repackaged them and gave them to us for free. That was the beginning.
In year two, was when I met my first real AIDS doctor, who set out to continue to save my life. And get me drugs that did the job quite well.
In 2002, Eight years later, I landed in Montreal, and found the doctor I have today. He treated patent ZERO. He maintains my care to this day. For all the years that followed, my agreement with my doctor is this: He gives me new drugs that our medical GROUP test among ourselves, if they work, they go to the government for national and international dissemination world-wide.
I am still alive – At fifty years of age. And almost Twenty Five years from Diagnosis.
I did DRINK and USE again, in year FOUR the first time around. I returned to Alcoholics Anonymous on December 9th, 2001.
In just a little while from now, on December 9th 2017, by the Grace of Heavenly Father, I will reach SIXTEEN YEARS Clean and Sober.
Today we stop to remember. So many died. Horribly. Undignified. Alone. Family less, friend-less, lover-less.
I will never forget the debts that I owe Todd and Ken.
I will forever be grateful for my life, because without Todd, read GOD, I would certainly have died a very long time ago.