I don’t know where that line comes from, “Ghosts that sell memories.” A song, I think, or at least a song whose lyrics I vaguely remember.
I came across a letter Larry Kramer wrote to Randy Shilts (via The Petrelis Files, via Andrew Sullivan) in which Kramer tells Shilts that he’s going to Los Angeles to see a production of “The Normal Heart” starring Richard Dreyfuss. I saw that production. I was there to review the play for EDGE, a long-defunct gay newspaper I wrote stories and reviews for. My late partner Jim was with me. He died in 1991, spending the last three days of his life comatose in a hospice. Prior to the very end he’d been in a tight fetal position, but for some reason he relaxed that last day. A very kind nurse shaved him and combed his hair; he was looking good for the first time in many months, though he had always been handsome to me.
Jim will be dead 20 years this November. I very rarely encounter him in dreams – maybe once every five years – but the last week or so I’ve met him again after all this time. He seems content; his sense of humor is intact, he’s easygoing, and speaking with him now, there is none of the pain and fear that was such a thick, oppressive part of our days and nights.
So much has been written about the 30th anniversary of the AIDS plague (and I do prefer to call it a plague, as Kramer calls it; “epidemic” is both an understatement and a sanitization of its horror). It wasn’t that I wanted to throw in my two sentimental cents, just that I suddenly recalled, after reading Larry Kramer’s letter, sitting in a theater in 1985 with a man I would lose six years later. And those dreams so recent, and the peace I felt seeing him again.
I’ll be marrying Frank, my partner of nearly five years. Maybe Jim just wanted to give us his blessing. Ghosts that sell memories I’m happy to buy.