Reflections on Peter’s last Spring

Should I share with you some of what I feel, some of my doubts and concerns? I do not know how much of this you should bother reading. It is probably better for me to have written it down, got it out. Please realize it is at least a little therapy for me, perhaps nothing more.

Do I speak too low, or does he in fact hear me but without it registering? Do I imagine him to be distracted or distant? Would I not be distracted were I in the same position? Do I wait for the inevitable; do I see behaviors that are not there; where is he when he seems so distant? Fear, wonder, anxiety, anger and loathing of this circumstance – these are but a few of the lenses which often distort my thoughts and observations.

He is almost constantly scratching at himself – his skin is so dry and irritated, allergies and fungal infections compounded by who knows what else. Ready to bleed, his skin is so reddened.

His cough is so deep and so much at the surface at the same time. He would cough the life out of him, or the very demons he is afflicted with.

I would have him cut back on his work but he wishes to finish the school year with all his students. He seems angry at my suggestion. I stifle the way I end his sentence, his desire to “teach full-time” (even if it kills him). For the last couple of weeks now, he has absolutely no energy left at the end of his work day. Is this quality life? Who the hell am I to say except for myself.

I am sure we both wonder if he will travel to the mid-east this summer. I sometimes expect he may not make it to the end of the month, when he hopes to go to Chicago to visit with a dear friend. It will be Peter’s spring holiday. I stayed at home this entire week – my spring holiday – thinking that he could not manage without me, taking him to and from work, making dinners, doing most of the other household chores. At first, I felt a little resentful. I think it would be so much easier if he would open up to me – he holds everything in, except for a little, or maybe lots, that comes out in his writing. I am scared, frightened that, like Greg, any concern he has for himself will slowly and completely disappear as the virus makes its way with his mind. But how terrifying it must first be, to comprehend as I fear he must.

To slowly waste away or to die quickly? I know what I would want for myself and for those around me. But will I want it then? I know he has considered suicide as well as its effects on others close to him – how not, given the suicide of his sister and mother. I wish we could talk about it. I wish he could trust me with these thoughts as he seems to have with his very life.

Thoughts such as these I constantly live with this last year. And add in deep concerns for the welfare of Katie and Sarah as well as the realization of how much I miss my mother, close friends and extended family… And I also feel sometimes too full of self-pity.

As I say, I have second thoughts about appending this to the other pages – but, what the hell. I hope you will respond in any way or not at all as you see fit. I would so much prefer a day of conversation with you.

You have my love,

Ray

Notes: From a letter, dated April 9, 1994, sent to my dear friend Norman.  Some years before this I had served as a Shanti emotional support volunteer with Greg, another young man with AIDS.  My mother passed March 6, 1993.

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6 Comments

Filed under Memoir

6 responses to “Reflections on Peter’s last Spring

  1. Absolutely beautiful prose–and oh so heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing.

    • Your enduring love and support is more than I could ever ask of this life. Surely you know how much you mean to me dear man. Now get thee back to more writing!

  2. Elizabeth Boyington LaPointe

    Heartbreaking for sure. I can and I do feel your pain, maybe you don’t think so, but I read between the lines. You express the pain very clearly, because it comes from your heart. As humans, with a soul and feelings, we , or should I say most of us have gone through heartbreak. Shall I live or shall I not?? We are here to learn and grow and to help others.. With all my love a sister who loves and cares very much for you.

    • My dear dear sister, I do indeed know your love. Always have. There has surely been a goodly share of pain (including lots that I have only just begun to be aware of in your life). But also, and thankfully, more than a little honest fun. Here’s to health and joy in our remaining days and years!

  3. Norman Jacobs

    Even 23 years later, the emotion is intense and the heart cries out. But I read these powerful words knowing that you and Jack have a strong and mutually supportive partnership that will keep you happy, and looking to the joys of the present and future. I hesitated to send these saved letters to you, but I am glad now that I did. Now as then, you are loved by many.

    • Norm, I so appreciate your having saved our correspondence from over the years. It’s been an interesting experience rereading the letters, refreshing the memory bank, reflecting a relationship that has withstood the tests of distance and time. Your friendship and love is a treasure. I am thankful. I look forward to sharing many more with you and yours.

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