Chapter 32 …

They say follow the light ...

Last week took us from October into December and close to the Christmas holidays. Some positive things happened along the way.

After a long discussion in which Mark shared his fears with Jeff about the possibility of infecting Leo with AIDS, they finally agreed this was something he needed to discuss with Leo so that the two of them could decide together what they wanted to do.

By now it was apparent Mark and Leo genuinely loved one another and one thing they decided to do was to affirm their love in a commitment ceremony, something new and unusual for Jeff. But he seemed to warm to the idea after his discussion with Mark because soon enough he and Jimmy followed suit in a more private and low-keyed fashion.

By the end of October Tommy had finished his interviews with Jimmy and Jeff, but continued to spend time with the two of them as the end of the year approached. At one point Jimmy mentioned he thought Tommy was gay and liked Jeff. But Jeff resisted the notion even after Jimmy told him he needed to let go of their relationship at some point.

Letting go of someone you love is never easy. It only made Jeff more determined to secure funding for AIDS in the continuing resolution Congress needed to pass in the wake of the 1982 mid-term elections. Those elections had ended in a split verdict that left the Democrats in control of the House and the Republicans in charge of the Senate.

Having prepared his boss for his meeting with the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Jamie Wheeler, before the two chambers formally worked out their differences, Jeff waited anxiously for the outcome of that meeting. In the end, his hope of securing funding for AIDS was dashed because, without money in either bill for AIDS activities, there was no issue to conference

But Congressman Wheeler seemed sympathetic to the case Jeff’s boss had made for such funding, even going so far as to his give his word he would put something in the first supplemental appropriations bill the following year. For Jeff it was a bittersweet promise because by now he realized time was quickly running out for Jimmy.

That brings us to this evening’s chapter, which I’ve now posted and which takes place as Christmas Day approaches. It was a difficult chapter to write so it may be a difficult read as well. And yet the truth is that reality was far more difficult than tonight’s chapter portrays for many AIDS patients.

Too many died alone, unattended, and in conditions that can only be described as beyond belief. Tonight’s chapter doesn’t capture that reality and I apologize for that.

But tonight’s chapter is difficult enough; and what makes it even more difficult is that it’s based on a true life experience so I hope you’ll pay it the respect due to the real life Jimmy who died of AIDS many years ago.

The image? One can only hope it’s as easy as following the lights.


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