June 12, 2016 – I Remember

tumblr_orfx54cIDW1qzh7bfo1_540

On Sunday night, June 12, 2016, I was sitting in front of this box, watching this news come in. That night, I threw in my religion towel and told God to go Fuck Himself, that He would let this happen to kids, hanging out in a bar, that I hung out in, when I was their age, and that gunman killed all those young men and women.

It turned my world upside down for more than a year. It was the WORST, cathartic emotional event in my life, since the day I was diagnosed with AIDS on July 8th, 1994.

TURNED MY WORLD UPSIDE DOWN !!!

I remember them. And will never forget this night.

Octave of Epiphany

slideshow_image01

Epiphany fell on January 6th. My father passed away on the following day, Sunday January 7th. I did not realize the solemnity of the weekend until I was sitting in church this morning, at the memorial mass that my friend and mentor, Reverend Donald Boisvert celebrated for me.

Sunday, January 7th was actually the Baptism of the Lord. Mark 1:4-11.

baptism-jesus

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

The weather was cold. There is snow piled up all over the place. At least the sidewalks are all cleared of snow, and it is piled up against the streets. Cars are buried as well.

We sat a small group for the memorial mass this morning.

This story, the baptism of Jesus, takes place at the Jordan River. One of my favorite authors, Brooks Hansen, wrote a book called “John the Baptizer” in it is a very compelling visual of John and his disciples, on the bank of the Jordan, as many people are coming from all points far and wide to see John, and to be baptized by him.

One of the early disciples, Andrew, shows up at the Jordan with the fellow-man named Nathaniel. Nathaniel does not make it into the twelve, but plays a prominent role in the story, as well as the Gospel teachings.

Andrew leaves his family, after feeling like a shroud is cast over him and he seeks to find something within. For a couple of days, he sits with Nathaniel on the banks of the Jordan, till the Sabbath, when John baptizes.

One odd day, a man from Nazareth shows up among the crowd. Every body recognizes him as a Nazorean, by his dress and his looks. The story that unfolds is legend, where Andrew, Nathaniel and the many on the banks of the Jordan, witness the miraculous baptism of Jesus by John.

I mused to my priestly friend after mass, about what my father must have been thinking when his time finally came up. And what took place when he stood before God, and made his peace, and I laughed and said …

Well, he must have gotten up there, and God gave him a very LONG LOOK. They probably had quite the conversation. And as we know, God is all forgiving, and I am sure that Jeannie and Alexander were waiting for him on the other side of the gate to welcome him.

Diana – My Story August 31, 1997

Princess-Diana-2274244

I had turned 30 years old just a month prior on July 31st, 1997.

Little did I know how the age of thirty would change my life forever, then.

I remember that night vividly. It was a Sunday night, around nine or ten that night. I was home in my apartment in South Miami, watching tv, when the news that Diana, Princess of Wales was injured in a car crash in Paris, and would later die from her injuries.

My next door neighbors were from London. I remember being in shock. I quickly got dressed and ran to the local neighborhood bar, around the corner, that was in full swing of Sunday T-Dance.

I ran into the bar, the lights were flashing in the ceiling and people were dancing and partying without a care. I jumped into the DJ Booth, and called to the DJ to stop the music and put the televisions on full blast.

The party stopped.

The news was flashing across the screens in the bar. And the sobs began. We stood there for what seemed like hours, as the international news told the story of Diana being trailed by paparazzi through the streets of Paris, and Henri Paul at the wheel.

In one fateful entry of a Parisian Tunnel, Henri Paul’s car hit a pylon in the tunnel and Diana was fatally wounded in that crash, and would later die in Pitie-Salpetnere Hospital in Paris France.

When I was a boy, on July 29, 1981 I remember getting up at the crack of dawn, and watching the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana. That day I had gone to work with my father. And I had a television in the car, that I could plug into the car lighter for power so I did not miss a moment of the wedding ceremony.

Diana was part of my life, she was part of my being. In those years from 1994 to 1998, I was waiting to die from AIDS. I was so very sick back then. But Diana, in her simple loving way, embraced the sick and dying in a way nobody we knew had before.

In her own way, from afar, I knew that she loved me and cared for me, by extension, the men she knew, who were fighting the same battle an ocean away.

The News of Diana did not stop. The American press, at the time, had non stop coverage of all the sordid details of the night before the accident. Parsing every word, scrutinizing every action, looking for that smoking gun, of Who Done It.

September 6th 1997 – was the funeral…

We know today, what Prince William and Prince Harry have said about that day. We’ve heard the stories re-told with insight of all these years, through the eyes and hearts of her sons, William and Harry.

0005509500000258-4552500-image-a-23_1496070333161

Watching those young boys walk behind their mothers flag draped casket, being carried by a cortege of horses and guards, was heart wrenching. I just could not imagine what was going through their young minds during that very long and arduous walk to Westminster Abbey.

I’ve walked inside of Westminster Abbey myself when I was in London, many years hence.It is a beautiful space.

The entire world stopped for those few hours to pay our respects to Diana, Princess of Wales, The People’s Princess. The words of her brother, The Earl Spencer, were pointed and biting. The message he sent to the world was this …

“We your family, pledge that William and Harry would grow up without the fear of cameras in their faces, and they would grow up as normal boys, come hell or high water.”

Well, we know today all that happened since that fateful day.

William and Harry, did indeed grow up, into fine young and noble men.

I think to myself, his thought … There in Miami, at a church downtown, was held a memorial mass for Diana, Princess of Wales. While there, memorial books were placed for mourners to sign. I had written letters to both Prince William and Prince Harry. And I stuck those letters, within the book, that would be sent to London, with the millions of others, from all over the world.

I wonder if William and Harry ever got to see any of those letters, and if they read them?

I watched several special presentations herein Montreal, over the past few weeks. And as I listened to them talk, I wondered if they read any of the millions of greetings that were sent to them specifically?

We all know the stories. We all know the speculation and the conspiracy theories.

William and Harry carry their mother’s legacies as best they can. And now that William is a father, and Harry an uncle, one day, Prince George and Princess Charlotte will one day know who their grandmother had been, and how much she loved her boys.

Diana lives in the heart of her children today. And every time I see both William and Harry, I see a little bit of Diana in each of them.

05E7D0CE0000044D-4552500-image-a-24_1496070960878

We honor Diana, The People’s Princess today.