I have no where to put flowers.
No where to commemorate the loss.
Name after name is written on the walls of my heart. Face after face appears in my mind. Voice after voice whispers in my ear. My memory fills with places and spaces now empty, people gone. Loss doesn't result in emptiness. Not at all.
Not at all.
Today is World AIDS Day. To me, this is always a deep and personal 'remembrance day'. Remembrance of lives lost, too young, lives left, too early. There are those who have died that live still in my heart and my mind. There are those who I still visit in quiet moments of memory. In my memory, they've grown older with me. I don't remember them as they were. I, and I suppose this is weird, remember them as if I'd seen them yesterday. They are growing old with me.
The other day we drove by Woody's, a bar in the heart of Toronto's gay community. A bar where we all used to get together for drinks in the evening or on weekends. A bar where we saw the group get smaller, and smaller and smaller. It seemed, then, that we talked of death a lot. We were in a bar with music pumping, pictures of hot guys on the wall, talking about funerals and about health. If, like with the magic of television, the background changed to a senior's home, the conversation wouldn't have changed. Except, perhaps, we'd all be ogling the cute male nurse.
As we drove by Joe said, simply, 'Do you remember?'
I replied simply, 'I do.'
We rode home in silence. Together, alone, remembering.
As Joe got the wheelchair out of the back of the car, I answered again, quietly, 'I do.'
And today, World AIDS Day, that answer is vividly true. I'll be at work, sure. I have meetings that call for my full attention, true. But part of me, the part of me that lay buried in hearts that no longer beat - will be mourning. Their names will be said, quietly, in my mind. Like I'm whispering them awake, another day older, another day lived here in my heart ... I know that's not heaven, but it's all I have to offer.
And now I realize.
And realization dries my eyes.
I don't need to lay flowers anywhere.
Because friends live as long as friends live.