The calls came from little towns. In no-name places. From cousins. And sisters. And brothers. And students. We heard about a cowboy in rural Oklahoma. And a son who struggled in high school. Two uncles in I forgot where who traveled the world before they came home to die.
Stories. "Tell us about them," the people you want to remember today and to name, your loved ones and friends who died of AIDS.
There are so many. So many names. And so many stories. The South American community has a beautiful way of lifting up the lives of those they wish to honor, "Presente!" And so these old friends were present today in my car and in cars across American, in living rooms and offices and at kitchen tables. "Presente!"
Whose story will you tell? Will you, please? Let's remember together.
I think that helps me, and perhaps you too, to gird up for the fight against the spread of HIV, and to care for those who lives with AIDS. The real people, the losses, the faces, the laughter and living we shared.
And let them be with us. I'm sure your loved ones are with you every day. Today might be a time for us to share them with each other.
(I'm sorry this is so late in the day. Thursday and days after can be days to tell the stories too.)
I told about Dan. Among so many young men whom I knew at the worst of the epidemic, who died, Dan was the loneliest. Closeted because of work, he was quiet, conscientious, faithful. And afraid. He hid his illness and himself until the very end. His story was the first one that came to my mind when invited today to tell a story. Dan. Whose name was not named then. But it is now. We miss you.