Thank you to my good friend, Tracy, for sharing this beautiful story of her aunt, Cindy. Tracy sometimes blogs over at LifeofACr8zyMom.
I just calmed myself from having a panic attack again.
For some reason, I feel the walls are closing in on me and the twenty pound weights on my shoulders are making it harder for me to keep my head clear.
The beautiful face of my loving aunt is the only thing that pops into my head. Oh—how I miss you, Titi, being so young and ignorant at the time. Never in a million years did I think I would have ever been someone personally affected by losing a family member to AIDS.
Your thin frail frame was so completely different then, when I was a kid. You had the perfect hour-shaped glass bod, and everywhere you went men drooled over you. Your presence exuded sex. It didn’t matter what you were doing. It was either the rolling eyes of jealous women you walked by, or the puppy-dog eyes from the desperate men trying to get your attention.
The self-rewinding tape in my brain consistently repeats the last conversation of you having with a friend, Tony from N/A who came to visit you in the hospital. I remember being squeezed in your bed, laying down next to you, chit-chatting and cracking jokes, making fun of your one-and-only daughter and her choices in men. I laughed when you commended me, telling me how smart I was choosing to stay single. Tony going down the list of drug user friends, who also happen to be a few of your exes.
“And so—how’s Michael? Did you ever hear from him again?”
“Nooo, I heard he’s back to using. Bendito, someone told me they saw him down by Lafayette Park, sleeping on a bench.”
“And what about that other charity-case you dated, Hector?”
All three of us laughed at Tony’s charity-case comment.
“Ay—Hector died, man!”
“Really? Get out! I didn’t know that.”
“Yeah about five or six months ago. I think he’s the one that got me sick.”
“Really? Wow, woman that is crazy the life we lived, man. You just don’t know who to pinpoint this shit to.”
“So what’s up? How are you feeling?”
“Ah, man—you know. I’m just tired, Tony. I’m tired of fighting. I just want to die already. I’m ready to go. I’ve made my peace, and I’m ready to just die.”
I could feel my throat just becoming swollen, and my body just tensing up. Everything inside me wanted to hold you so tight, and beg you to stop speaking this way. I couldn’t understand why you would say something like that. This was the first time I had ever experienced death with someone so close to my heart, and I just didn’t know how to react.
Every time I walked into that hospital I pretended to not see what was actually happening right in front of my eyes, and it never occurred to me—not once—did I ever really ask you how you were feeling. And those words you said to Tony just took me over the edge.
Although I pretended like I didn’t hear the conversation that just went on, I tried to get up as quickly as I could and run to the bathroom without making a scene, and avoid anyone noticing how upset I was. The tears just came streaming down my face. I never said anything to you and the pain, the guilt and the regret weighs on my mind and my heart—daily.
Although I was around during your last days, I felt we never had a real conversation about how you were feeling or even what led you to that point. We talked about bullshit things, places or even people that didn’t matter. Maybe— just maybe—we were trying to ignore what was really happening around us. I think of my titi, Cindy, every single day.