dinsdag, november 30, 2004

And a goodbye

Can it possibly have been 15 years ago that I met Larry?

He auditioned for a play I had written about people with AIDS and internet support groups. This was back before there were live chat rooms; back when "People With" was always capitalized when followed by the word "AIDS".

The internet was different then. So was knowledge of it. The characters in the play wrote to each other on-line; we had to explain during the show how people could hook their computers up to phone lines and "talk" to each other through a screen. The concept was startlingly new.

Larry gave a beautiful audition.

The play was angry, but it was also filled with love. I admired Larry, a married man living in Wichita, Kansas, for having the courage to portray a gay man with AIDS. We ended up touring the show a bit, and over its run he played two characters. I think he was in every performance.

Until Larry had a major heart attack (his second) not long after one of the shows ended, I had no idea his heart was not in good shape. He mentioned once that he figured he would probably not survive another attack.

You would think that after having some practice, accepting that you've had all the conversations you're going to have with a person in this lifetime would get easier. It just doesn't.

One of the characters Larry played was called "Upper Westsider". After his character died, one of the other characters ended the play with this monologue:

This morning I logged on and read that Upper Westsider has moved on to the other side. I cried, and I wanted to scream.


And I will, in my fashion.

I went back to the Survivor archives and renewed my relationship with this man I had come to love yet only knew from the glow of the screen. Here's some of what he wrote, from three years ago, July 19, 1987:

“I was ready to write an answer back, when the sun began to set. Now you should understand that since I was diagnosed, I don’t miss a sunset. I watch it. Every day.

“I want to tell you about today’s sunset. You can take the description as allegory.

I was sure that the sunset was over. By this time the whole sky was red. But I was wrong. It found a place between clouds, and the entire disk, now smaller, was dense and whole. I put on my sun glasses to watch.

"It hung there, not moving. For the longest time it was moving down, and then it just stopped. It didn’t go. It just wouldn’t go.

"And then, later, it did."

Goodnight, Larry.
Larry's Obituary