World AIDS Day

©Amy Livingstone, Scarlet in A Wind, 1997

Twenty-five years ago I never thought I would see a sign that read, “The Beginning of the End of AIDS.” Today is World AIDS Day and I just viewed part of the on-line panel discussion with former president Bill Clinton, Bono, physicians, scientists, and global activists working to end the AIDS pandemic. This sign was on the wall behind the panel. I was moved to tears by the end of the conversation when they read off the numerous organizations working to eradicate this horrific disease from the planet. They believe it is possible. Wow. Back in the early days of the epidemic, when my brother, his partner, and so many other young gay men were dying and first diagnosed there were few agencies (The Gay Men’s Health Crisis was the only one in NYC) working on the frontlines of the disease and there was so much denial and fear. Even our political leaders refused to acknowledge what was happening. Reagan and Bush, Sr. never mentioned AIDS while in office and for a long time I blamed both of them for my brother’s death. The late 80s. A different era.

As I’ve shared here before (click to read), art has always been my way of processing deep feelings, especially my grief in the wake of my brother’s (and my mother) death. I credit art for saving my life during those dark years and you can see some paintings from my early years by clicking here. The painting shown above titled “Scarlet in A Wind” was inspired by the song a former friend of mine wrote for me about my loss and love for my beloved brother Richard. The red ribbon being the AIDS ribbon. As we mourn and remember all the precious beings who have been taken by this disease, may we also celebrate those angels among us who are working tirelessly to end the suffering of all those who continue to live with HIV/AIDS. May it be so.

Scarlet in a Wind

Sad ribbons blowing
Scarlet in a wind.
Sad ribbons blowing
Twisting ‘round her heart.
Thoughts flying skyward
Remembering you.

“Dearest angels in the sky
I had no time to say good-bye.
Your greedy wings took him away.
I didn’t know it would be today.
Didn’t you know that he wanted to stay?
All of my tears couldn’t keep you away.

Golden harps sang too soon.
Wind from your wings swept through the room.
Why did you need him so soon.
We needed time to grow and bloom.

All the things he might have been
are erasing in the night.
A father with child or a funny old man.
Now a dad lives on past his son.
Too soon. Too soon.

Tell him I love him.
Tell him I care.
Tell him one day
I will be there.”

© 1996, Joanne Nelsen