I remember falling in love with him when his parents walked along with us at the Arts Festival, and he kept up with us by means of doing continuous cartwheels, a big smile on his little face. He might have been six.
I remember his admiring look and him saying "Wow" when I took him and his brother to the swimming pool with me, after I'd appeared in my bikini, ready to leave the house. Was he twelve already?
I remember overhearing him asking his brother if maybe their father and mother would remarry each other, and his older brother telling him gruffly, "No, they're never getting back together, so just stop it." They were nine and twelve, I think.
He learned to play a number of musical instruments well, but especially loved the French horn, and was good enough to play with a symphony orchestra, though by that time he was already a stranger to me, due to the contentious drama of the family.
In time, my Christianity and especially my Catholic way of life were too much to surmount. No amount of love and good will, or good memories of childhood were enough to allow him to reach back through the steel doors of liberalism and re-touch the relationship.
For a short while, a few years ago, he sent bloglike emails to his entire mailing list, regaling his contacts with his celebration of ostentatious promiscuity and how he loved the gay community in Denver. He went through one love of his life after another, one party after another, one bar after another. I think everyone in his family just wished he would settle down and be happy. And then the emails stopped. Completely.
The rain that has poured down all day today echoes my emotions; my eyes have been burning all day, as though they were crying a little constantly -- not enough for falling tears, but enough to hurt. Sleepily I woke this morning to the cloudy skies, taking stock of what would be on the agenda for today, then feeling a great weight to the heart as I remembered the evening before.
Yesterday, I heard about it for the first time. My youngest nephew is HIV+.