went to the AIDS quilt opening ceremony last night at the holiday inn. i had the honor of participating in the reading of the names, and as always, this event utterly overwhelmed me. panel after panel after panel...after panel. i saw this once in DC, the quilt in its entirety, our own version of the vietnam wall, our own fallen men and women, our own beloved victims of a ravaging and devastating and ridiculously cruel war.
the entire night was a whirlwind...no...a hurricane...of emotion. the gay men's chorus sang and it was haunting and beautiful, their voices the backdrop of music as people quietly shifted from panel to panel, somber, respectful, honoring the bits and pieces of fabric filled with grief and loss, with memories, with celebrations of life and love, fabric that is a sad yet necessary part of our culture, the remembering of names, of lives, of brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and lovers and friends.
at one point i felt so completely overwhelmed by sadness that i had to walk away, go outside in the cold and smoke a cigarette and just...cry. i leaned against the wall and could not contain it, the rushing of anger and of sadness, of the faces and voices and echoes of too many friends, too many beautiful souls who left this world far too soon. jay. ron. alex. russell. calvin. and on and on and on. i miss them. so much.
when i finally felt composed enough to go back inside, i walked into the lobby and there sat corey, waiting for me. i just wanted to be sure you were okay. i sat down next to her, empty of words, unable to explain the emotions and thoughts and feelings that were filling up inside me. of course, i didn't need to, she understood and felt it too and so we just sat there, quietly, acknowledging in our silence the profoundness of those pieces of fabric, the lives they represent, the friends no longer with us, the mountain of work left to do.
and all the miles yet to go before we sleep.