Emotional World AIDS Day For My Husband

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    Dec 02, 2014 4:57 AM GMT
    We attended an AIDS Day event tonight in Fort Lauderdale. Lots of speakers, many of them politicians who rambled on with nothing of value to say, just another media opportunity for them, while running the program beyond 2-1/2 hours.

    What had really drawn us there was the direct notification that the quilt containing the panel for my husband's late partner would be featured. He's been trying for some time to get that quilt displayed locally here.

    We went with 2 other friends, and when it came time to view the quilt, after it had been formally carried onstage and unfolded in the prescribed manner, I warned them of my husband's likely emotional reaction. Sure enough, as soon as he spotted the panel he had made with his own hands 23 years ago he fell to pieces, crying loudly and largely incoherent. It was the first time he had seen it in almost all that time. It took the 3 of us to console him.

    Once he was in control of himself I began taking as many photos as I could, in the short time the quilt was displayed. He didn't want me to take a picture of him with the panel, though. And I'm glad I got to see the panel for myself, since he sometimes will talk about it. A highly emotional experience for him, but something he's been wanting to do for a long time.
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    Dec 02, 2014 8:44 PM GMT
    Denouement: My husband is OK today. He's glad that after over 20 years later he finally saw the AIDS panel he created for his late partner.

    And he viewed my pics of it today. He handled that pretty well.

    I don't feel threatened by this. He knows I have special feelings for my own late partner, who likewise died of AIDS. Feelings that don't eclipse him, as I believe his feelings about his late lover don't eclipse me. Rather, I respect his emotions, and attachments, after all these years. They tell me what a priceless guy I have.
  • ursa_minor

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    Dec 03, 2014 12:12 AM GMT
    any pics of that quilt, perhaps?
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    Dec 03, 2014 1:16 AM GMT
    ursa_minor saidany pics of that quilt, perhaps?

    Yes, but that's something I don't think my husband would want posted here. Which my "fans" on RJ would mock and ridicule, and hurt my husband. In that regards the bullies here have won, when we can't post some innocent things we'd like.
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    Dec 03, 2014 2:30 AM GMT
    How wonderful that after such profound losses you found each other.Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
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    Dec 03, 2014 3:20 AM GMT
    WickedRyan saidHow wonderful that after such profound losses you found each other.Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

    Thanks. Yeah, made more remarkable by our ages at the time. But it's also that common loss that helps to unite us.
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    Dec 03, 2014 4:11 AM GMT
    Very moving. Thanks for sharing.
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    Dec 03, 2014 5:10 AM GMT
    you guys are awesome...good to hear you're by each other's side
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    Dec 03, 2014 2:12 PM GMT
    Some years ago, the project sent parts of the quilt on tour, including here in Denver.

    Each panel, 3' x 6' commemorates someone who has died of AIDS and normally, has been designed and hand-crafted by a friend or family member.

    When I saw the display, it was visually stunning. Bits of each person's life was embedded into the content of each panel, and the loss of life and talent reflected was overwhelming.

    When I chanced upon the panel of someone I had known, the impact was like a kick to the gut. I broke down, though not to the degree your husband did.

    Those of us who were out and living in the 80s lost so many friends during that period -- and many of them are commemorated with the quilt. Until you see it in person, you really don't realize how powerful a statement it makes.

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    Dec 03, 2014 3:44 PM GMT
    rkyjockdn said
    Each panel, 3' x 6' commemorates someone who has died of AIDS and normally, has been designed and hand-crafted by a friend or family member.

    When I saw the display, it was visually stunning. Bits of each person's life was embedded into the content of each panel, and the loss of life and talent reflected was overwhelming.

    Yes, the 3 x 6 dimension was chosen to represent the grave. Originally there were 8 panels sewn together to make an individual quilt, so a complete quilt is always 12 x 12. The 8 panels can be arranged in many directions, a combination of horizontal and vertical layouts that always equal 12 x 12.

    Today there are also 12 x 12 quilts that do not use the 3 x 6 panel format, for larger combined community remembrances. The quilts are stored in a warehouse in Atlanta, each folded on stacked metal baker's racks to keep them aired. Tens of thousands of them, I don't know the current count, which is always increasing, but it's over 50,000.

    They are constantly in circulation around the US, and if you represent a community group of interest you can request a quilt for issue through your local Quilt Chapter, and a specific one if you know the number. But the quilt you want may already be out, sometimes for an entire year, and they are often cleaned upon returning, and allowed to "rest" for a number of months before being eligible for reissue.

    For these reasons the timing of my husband's requests have always been off, but this year his late partner's quilt was available, and was shipped for this event. They are packed in special black wheeled duffle bags. He & I receive 3 to 4 quilts each November to display for our SMART Ride HIV/AIDS fundraiser. The entire quilt has only been displayed a few times, on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

    It is indeed emotionally tough to view the quilts at times. Each year my husband I set up the quilts, and then guard them all day. It gives you plenty of time for reflection. I also act as a docent, to explain the quilt's history & features to the curious.
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    Dec 03, 2014 10:10 PM GMT
    Btw, I don't know if any of you ever knew this but around '91 a hopefully Broadway-bound musical called "Quilt" was being shopped around NYC. Since I was peripherally involved with Music Theatre International then I'd seen one of the workshop scripts and heard a demo tape but never really knew what became of it until (sorta) now:

    http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000144
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Dec 04, 2014 12:08 AM GMT
    I'm sure I would have learned a great deal and thought it an awesome experience. I appreciate you're bringing it to our attention and talking about your partner and the depth of emotion here.
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    Dec 04, 2014 2:26 AM GMT
    The AIDS Quilt in Washington, DC, over the years:

    aids_quilt_ap_2.jpg

    dsc_0122.jpg

    aaaa_zps7fd4a1f8.jpg
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    Dec 04, 2014 4:00 AM GMT

    Once he was in control of himself I began taking as many photos as I could, in the short time the quilt was displayed. He didn't want me to take a picture of him with the panel, though. And I'm glad I got to see the panel for myself, since he sometimes will talk about it. A highly emotional experience for him, but something he's been wanting to do for a long time.[/quote]

    That's sad. He must have loved his husband a lot.
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    Dec 04, 2014 4:25 AM GMT
    canadian_stud said
    That's sad. He must have loved his husband a lot.

    They were together for 18 years, until his husband died. I didn't know him then. I can only presume they were in love, by the way he speaks about him. And by his emotional reaction at things like this.
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    Dec 04, 2014 8:38 PM GMT
    And now for a surprising, and perhaps a bit spooky irony I just realized today. A couple of days earlier I was double-checking my suitcase from our recent Key West trip, before putting it away. And I found a rainbow ring, that I didn't immediately recognize. I asked my husband, and he said no, wasn't his.

    When we were dressing for this World AIDS Day event I wanted to wear my rainbow ring. But it's become too loose, because of my 20-pound weight loss since August, and wouldn't stay on my finger.

    But I remembered this other ring I found, and wore it instead, a much better fit. And so that's what I was wearing when I saw my husband's late partner's quilt for the first time.

    So today I saw that ring on the dressing alcove counter, and was about to put it into my jewelry box. But I stared at it for a bit, still puzzled where it came from. And then it hit me like a bolt of lightning.

    It's my own late partner's ring! That I had bought for him 14 years ago. The reason it was in my suitcase is because I had put it there months earlier, so I wouldn't forget to take it on the SMART Ride.

    At that time I was still expecting to ride my bike, and it's a custom that riders carry on their bicycles some memento of any loved one who had died of AIDS. Some carry a photo, or some a personal object. I've carried his ring with me before.

    But why I didn't recognize what it was when I found it puzzles me. Could it be my late Tom wanted me to be wearing his ring when I attended World AIDS Day, and saw the quilt my new partner had made? As a reminder of him, and that I haven't made a quilt for HIM yet?

    Or maybe all just weird coincidence. But it will result in my making a quilt for my late Tom, a task I've delayed too long.