(Excerpt from Chapter 1)
420 East Armour.. Suite.. 6-S.E.. Kansas City.. Missouri.. 2:17 A.M. Sleep is next to impossible.. might as well get up.. Put on a pot of coffee and walk around the apartment.. wondering if I should return home to Douglas.. Arizona or if it matters.. The presence of my son Michael and the tremendous amount of love that existed still linger as if they have no place to go.. I pour a cup of coffee.. grab an ashtray and head toward the windows in the living room.. Open a window.. and feel the cool breeze of autumn.. The raindrops are falling on the leaves of the tree.. just outside the window.. So peaceful.. The street is barren.. I feel as if I am the only person in existence.. I wonder how many times my son must have enjoyed this tranquil picture.. and walked where the city lights are glistening.. Gazing at the raindrops falling on the leaves.. watching the leaves detach and slowly fall to the ground below.. I think of how much they resemble life.. As if on cue.. two leaves detach simultaneously.. slowly starting their journey to the ground.. one landing sooner.. than the other.. much like my two sons Matthew and Michael.. Who within a year I have lost to AIDS.. Matthew 29.. died in Las Vegas Nevada.. October 28th.. 1989.. Michael 34.. died in Kansas City Missouri.. October 15th.. 1990.. Their favorite time of the year.. Autumn.. had they requested..? I was with my sons.. during their illnesses.. and at their sides as they took their last breaths.. And like the autumn leaves.. they too detached.. Bidding me an 'Autumn Farewell'.. yet the acceptance of finality escapes me..
At times.. feeling as if any moment the door will open.. and I'll hear.. 'Hi.. Ma.. whatcha doing?'.. or 'Well.. Hello.. Mom..' Rushing to answer the phone.. believing for an instant it will be either Michael or Matthew.. as if they are off visiting.. vacationing perhaps..
The Pagliacci role.. the clown in one of the operas.. That helps me to pretend they will soon return.. Or could it be the promise to my sons.. that I would be fine.. I'd remain the mom they knew.. or maybe that they no longer hurt or can be hurt.. No more rejection.. condemnation.. the horrendous physical pain of this disease..
The overwhelming emptiness.. desperation that lies within the deepest recesses of my heart.. soul.. is beyond any explanation.. Remembering how lost.. hurt I felt when my mom died.. I was eight.. I felt lonely and abandoned.. It was early teens before I could accept.. my mom's death.. I pretended then too.. These are my sons.. they are my life.. Aren't parents suppose to die before their children..? But then 'Charlie' left before his Mother.. No rules.. I guess..
Feeling cold.. I get up and put on one of Michael's jackets.. The smell of his cologne still lingers.. making me feel as if his arms are around me.. comforting me.. like he has so many times before.. 'Mom can I get you something. , are you sure you're alright..?' I can hear the words as if he were standing by me.. Pour some more coffee.. Pick up a pencil and pad.. Writing used to help.. just maybe if I try to write.. I can understand all that has happened.. that it's real.. that I indeed lost my two sons..
Headed back to the window sill.. where the cold air feels wonderful.. and the streets remain barren.. Looking around at the dimly lit room.. I gaze at Michael's blue-gray driving cap lying on top of his favorite scarf.. I think of how jaunty.. and handsome.. he had looked.. His face reflected his gentle soul.. I was 3 months pregnant.. when grandma told me 'It's a boy.. !' She would never meet Michael.. Grandma died soon after that.. I thought of the sadness in her eyes.. even when she smiled.. Grandma had lost two daughters.. my mom thirty-six and my mom's sister in her twenties.. Is life a repetition..? Was this my inheritance..? So many times she reminisced with teary eyes.. her words laden with love.. tenderness.. How well I know her pain.. I wonder.. can I follow her example of strength and courage..? Is life basic training for what lies ahead..? So many thoughts.. feelings.. Why am I ignoring all those fabulous memories with my children..? I should feel wealthy.. What we had was indeed worth more than a king's ramson.. A treasure chest of a happier time in our lives.. No bitterness in those memories.. none whatsoever.. 'No what if's'.. or 'wish I had' or 'hadn't'.. I get up to make more coffee.. look out the side window of the blue room.. The blue room is like a sun porch.. with large windows on two sides.. Dawn.. is making an appearance.. What a breath-taking sight..