Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

For Richard

The following was written on April 22nd 1989 while I worked at a convalescent hospital in Eureka, California. The AIDS disease was brand new at the time and everyone was scared. We had one AIDS patient in our facility, a man named Richard Black. He was kept all alone in a very large, windowless room at the back of the facility. Bright red caution signs prevented anyone other than essential care staff (such as me) from entering his room. Richard seemed to have no friends or family. He was young, still in his mid 30’s and very lonely and frightened. I was scared too, as the disease was so new that nobody was quite clear about the real dangers of close contact and I had already watched one of my favorite professors die of the disease a few months prior. Nevertheless, Richard and I became close friends in the months leading up to his death. However, I always felt like I could have done more and I was torn between my sense of caution and my wish to be someone for him at the end. I wrote the following words in my diary one day as I struggled to reconcile what to do.

I watch you as you deal with your reality
So certain and frighteningly unavoidable
You are lonely
You need someone to comfort you through the end
But how much can I give?
My resources are few and my time so fleeting
I feel selfish to want to continue with my life
Guilty if I leave you alone in your silent room
Afraid that my lack of caring will one day
haunt me as I near my own death
But what can I really offer that is of value
Time is nowhere and none’s to give
My time must be lived within my life
I must honestly face my own needs and
recognize your responsibility to your’s
We have not become kindered as spirits go
So it is not honest for me to say that
I love you as more than a friend
But I do love you
I love you for the wonder you are
A unique individual who’s depth I
shall never fully know
I shall therefore not pretend to give
You more than I have to offer;
A warm hand,
A truly sympathetic concern,
And my attempts to comfort you according
to my capabilities
We must accept reality
You will die soon
This is no sense in denying this truth
I will be there, when  I can, with all my
heart as a real friend
But please understand my limits and allow me to deal with this realistically
It will be only then that we can part
as honest, loving strangers

To Richard Black
(Who is dying of AIDS at the hospital where I work)


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This entry was posted on December 28, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .
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