Friday, February 05, 2010

Death on the Brain

Those of you who pass by here frequently know I'm always thinking about death and figuring out how it can make us live, live, live like Auntie Mame just because we're aware that one day it's going to all come to a crashing end.  My friends have always sustained me and this has been an extraordinarily difficult week. My gorgeous friend Anthony died suddenly in an (rumors swirl) apparent Michael Jackson/Anna Nicole/Heath Ledger "I just want to sleep" incidence, though I don't really care how it happened because this beautiful person is gone. 

We went to his "Celebration of Life" Sunday and because he was always so excited to host our Gay Pride misadventures, we decided to dress in drag as a tribute to the non-judgmental, positive person he was.  Awkward!!  Though we did it as a tribute to his memory, our intentions were mistaken by some mourners and OH, the confused glares!  The important thing is we were there for Anthony who would have laughed his head off.

Then the other day my super-healthy 45 year old friend Mark Selva, who runs his own PR company had a seizure at the gym.  Turns out it's a double brain stem stroke, which left him in "locked-in syndrome" - trapped inside his paralyzed body and yet completely aware of what's going on.  The only functioning part of his body are his eyes, and he crying, so traumatized by the inability to move that the doctors have to sedate him.  After two days, his family can't bear to prolong his suffering and decide to remove life support and he passes, fully aware of what was happening. Can you even imagine? I had seen him just a couple days before on the street, so full of life, excited about a third interview (and possible contract) with AMFAR.

The horrifying loss of two beautiful souls has led me right to the liquor cabinet. I have no idea how people who lived through the '80's dealt with these untimely and unfair deaths, right and left, in the wake of AIDS.  Until I figure out a way to plant a garden, or give back in some purposeful way, I'll remember my friends in the way that a stranger recently wrote to me, regarding those many he lost:

There's not a day that passes that I don't remember one of them and wonder who they would be now; how time would have moulded and mellowed them.


milehisteve said...

Some time ago I heard this quote: "Live each day as if it were your last, but plan to live forever." So sorry for your loss, Jesse.

Tony said...

Hey Jesse -

There's no easy way to deal with the death of friends and loved ones, especially when it happens in an untimely way to people like your friends Anthony and Mark, whose potential was no where near being fulfilled.
So totally not fair.
But aside from the liquor cabinet, I think your on the right track: the support of friends, giving back, and also keeping Anthony and Mark alive for the rest of us through your recollections of them here.
Hang in there.

Anonymous said...


i loved the drag outfits, and i loved meeting you. you guys made me smile and feel at ease, during a time that was so frightening and sad. i am very thankful that you all were there.

this has been an awful week for me, too. everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong ... from Anthony's passing (obviously the worst thing that has happened) -- to one of my little patients at work passing away VERY suddenly on Wednesday morning (i am a NICU nurse), to my house heater, vacuum cleaner, and computer all breaking within days of each other ... and a million other little things.

but i know eventually i am going to crawl out of this funk. the good thing, is that this week i have met some truly special people - one of them being you. :)

hang in there. it's got to stop snowing sometime, right?


steve said...

Make an album of memories. If you don't have pictures, just write down your favorite times with each of your friends.

They would want you to remember all of the fun time you had together. It does not get rid of the pain, but you will celibrating their lives.

Auntie M said...

You already give back, Jesse. Every time you bring fun and joy to others, as I know you do every day, you do your part to make a better place for the rest of us to be. Don't discount that contribution. We need more of it.

Jesse Archer said...

Thank you all so much for your kindness. Megan, I'm so blessed to have met you and heard your memories and "puppy love" that made me smile at a very sad time. Anthony was so lucky to have a woman like you on his side, and I can't help but wish you didn't feel so robbed of precious time with him in recent years. Please send me an email, I'd love to keep in touch with you. Jesse