The Stillness
Volume 3 Book 6 Part 2 of
Living in the Bonus Round

Angels & saints in a doorway frieze in Rouen France.

[ Book 3-5 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ]  [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] - [ Book 3-7 ]
September 11-15, 2003.
Surrounded by Angels.
I know I promised to talk about our trip, but I can't yet. I have been sitting here crying my eyes out. My stomach hurts. My head aches. My body feels like it's been punched. Sunday morning when I went to church I was doing all right until Rev. Pat, this beautiful woman, one of the ministers, asked me how I was doing and I just started bawling like a 2 year old, unfettered, unrestrained, all out. When the songs started, I couldn't help myself. I just kept weeping.

I laid down to take a nap when I got home and I slept for two hours. When I woke up, I couldn't move. I felt like I had taken some kind of drug. I'm literally sick with grief. I don't remember the last time I felt like this.

The source of this grief comes from two places, two stunning deaths in my life. The first was my little friend Amon Terrell from Henderson Kentucky who I mentioned here about a month ago, who had developed liver cancer after a long bout with AIDS. As of Sunday morning, I had known for about a week that he was in his death coma. He finally passed Monday morning.

The other death came kind of out of the blue. Dori, a 20 year old girl on my TLS list from Seattle has had AIDS her entire life, born with the virus. I met Dori back when I sang a concert there. She was this vital, little bundle of energy who everyone loved -- and who outlasted all the doctors' predictions thanks to the loving care of her mother. Her most prized possession was a picture of her with Ricky Martin.

Dori and Steve recreating the Ricky Martin pose.

Amon was this little guy who I met about three years ago when I first visited Henderson Kentucky to sing for Peace with Justice Weekend. He told me that, back then, he was in a deep depression and that he was on the verge of giving up on life until he heard me singing the songs from TLS. Somehow they had given him the courage to keep on fighting.

Each year, as I traveled back to Henderson, I would always look for Amon. He would reserve a seat on the front pew as close to the piano as he could get. We scandalized the minister, too, because Amon would come over to the room where I was staying and we'd stay up half the night just talking and hugging each other. He delighted in telling me that the pastor had seen him leaving my room, laughing at her caution, "He's a married man! Don't you be getting in the way of his relationship!" We knew nothing was "going on" but he loved making the pastor crazy over it.

We did snuggle, though. I would hold his fragile little body as we gossiped together late into the night, talking about doctors and hospitals and his not always supportive family -- and his days as a drag queen. "I was damn good!" he would proclaim. He was so tiny and so fragile I wondered sometimes what kept him going at all.

As a kind of physical therapy he took on the task of cleaning the church each week, continuing after his cancer diagnosis until he finally couldn't handle it. Each year, I would look forward to Henderson just to spend those nights with Amon. Friends of his told me that they felt one of the reasons he hung on so long was in anticipation of seeing me again. We would get on AIM chat frequently as he worried about my health and what I was doing to take care of myself.

When our friend Glenda finally told me that he had liver cancer, it was like someone had reached in a torn away a piece of my heart. We continued to chat but the chats were less frequent and I was so hoping I could afford to go back for one last visit -- and that he could hold on long enough for one last goodbye, one last snuggle/giggle session.

But it was not to be. The note came from dear Glenda Monday morning:

"I hate to be the one to have to tell you that Amon died last night at about 10:30.  He was surrounded by family and a long time friend, David.  I know you will be thinking of him prayerfully as he loved you so very much.  You brought so much joy to his life.
Not nearly as much joy as he brought to my life. We were partners in AIDS; we understood each other on a profound level that "civilians" can never know. I will return to Henderson some day, but it won't be the same without Amon in the front row, saving himself a seat, excitedly begging for just one more encore.

Amon with garden hose.

In Linda Dahlstrom's email sadly telling us about Dori's death, she said,

"We had a saying, she and I, a promise to always be there, which was 'Together forever, no matter what.' Those were her last words to me."
Or, as we engraved on Dickie's tombstone, "We will always be connected to each other."

[ Book 3-5 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ]  [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5
[ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ] [ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] - [ Book 3-7 ]


© 1996-2003 by Steve Schalchlin.
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