From: email@example.com (Ellen Evans)
Subject: Re: Howard Arthur Faye, motsseur, 1959-1995
Date: Fri, 2 Jun 1995 18:36:55 GMT
Earlier this year, in the midst of a heated discussion of the announcement
of Greg Louganis' HIV status, Howard posted an article on his own
struggles with the disease, which I am reproducing below. As
befits the source, it is a powerful and elegant statement on the value of
life lived fully, no matter how difficult the circumstances.
He was much loved and will be sorely missed.
The recent, angry reponse I made in the ongoing discussion of
Greg Louganis' revelation of his medical situation provides me
with an opportunity to reflect on my own situation, which I have
been convinced by my caretakers to regard as "wondrous". I
think they are fooled by a few good test results and the fortune
I have had in retaining my mental acuity despite the place on the
timelime of disease progression I find myself (somewhere between
"late stage" and "end stage").
I am profoundly unhappy that Greg Louganis or anyone else would
discover they are infected or that they are under the clinical
spectre of AIDS. At the same time, I am not so sure the quality
of life as an infected person cannot be kept quite high for quite
a long period of time. I have been symptomatic for more than five
years. When I began to feel ill, I was en route to Agrigento in
Sicily and I visited a Carmelite convent overlooking the sea. On
the bus I was sweating profusely and sliding against the bus window
lubricated by my sweat, trying to avoid being sick on my fellow
passengers by counting olive trees and anticipating the reemergence
of the sea after crossing the island stopping only long enough for
orange juice in Enna.
I told my companion, who was as impractical and romantic as I am,
that it would be perfect to die on a cot resting on those terrazzo
floors before a giant arched window facing the sea. At almost every
interval where I was feeling poorly and I found myself in a place
I liked, I had the same sense of impending demise. Attended by
I faded away swathed in a white sheet, mumbling nonsense verse.
[I recently amended by fantasy death throes after seeing _Queen Margot_
where Charles IX --Jean Hugues Anglade-- is borne on a silken litter,
sweating blood as death nears.]
Such opportunities have come and gone a dozen times in the last five years
ruined by the equal and opposite experience of visiting the Clinic, mostly--
nah, completely-- devoid of healthy fantasy. That such places are perfumed
by antiseptic cleaners and are inhabited by people obsessed with insurance
forms and patient identification cards doesn't help.
I almost feel guilty that I'm still here.
But even as I prepare to march through favorite cities in foreign places
again (a trip planned both as a gift to my Ken who has never satisfied
his passion for Joaquin Sorolla [!] and Arne, who needs to be in a place
more suited to his schedule *and* as a potential suicide location-- I
am just thin enough to squeeze through the open windows at the top of
Sagrada Familia's steeples), I spent the afternoon with a home care
nurse and a social worker making preliminary preparations for being
attended at home, powers of attorney/No Code/DNR, morphine drips, and
even more interesting spiritual questions that inevitably arise
How can this be? I still have cases of good claret to drink! Is this
kinetic energy, like a cartoon character that runs off a cliff but begins
to descend only after realizing the ground is no longer there? Zilch CD4's,
anemia, horrible edema in the ankles and feet. Shouldn't I retreat to
my goose down comforter and urinal?
I would love to have a witty phrase to delimit life from its terminal
phase but I don't. No one-- from all of the doctors, clergy, psychiatrists
and reasonably intelligent lay people-- has been of any help.
I had a momentary pang of practicality and considered not
going. But of course I am. It doesn't matter where I expire and I have been
hungry for oily squid and prawns in garlic and Asturian cider. The best time
of my life was making love with Kevin in the Hostal Palermo just off the
Ramblas in Barcelona. That won't happen again but now I can concentrate
on the food and drink.
I sincerely hope that Greg Louganis has the will and passion for life
to sustain him and keep him healthy for a long, long time. I attribute
my own longevity to such a passion, a regular ration of red wine and
using the minimum number of medications possible. Oh, and closeness
to my family. And maybe baseball (this year might kill me!). Maybe
Monteverdi too. Oh yeah-- foie gras plays a role, I'm sure.
Howard Arthur Faye * Los Angeles, CA
'Wine is the professor of taste, the liberator of the spirit, and
the light of intelligence' -- Paul Claudel
Ellen Evans 17 Across: The "her" of "Leave Her to Heaven"
firstname.lastname@example.org New York Times, 9/30/94
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