Sunday, April 23, 2006

10 Yrs. Ago: Facing Family Issues.

Looking back April 22 & 23 of 1996, I can see that I'm beginning to wrestle more and more with the reality of what AIDS is doing to me both physically and socially. From the entry:
I made it through the night without the codeine stomach ache waking me up. That was nice, and I didn't "leak" last night. It's humiliating and embarrassing, but I usually sleep in an adult diaper to keep from soiling the bed. I hardly ever really need it but I've had my share of accidents through all this and I don't like messing up our bed.
I see now, contrary to what I wrote a few days ago, I was only now beginning to wear the adult diapers, and only at night. I was doubling up on the codeine to stop the diarrhea, but clearly, I was having "accidents" almost every night, so now I was protecting the bedsheets every night.

I was also starting to get out a bit and see all my old songwriter friends after several years of having disappeared off the face of the earth. For the longest time, my position at National Academy of Songwriters had put me in the middle of the L.A. songwriting community. But after a couple of years, being sick and mostly confined to bed, it was as if I had dropped off the face of the earth. "Rumors" were going around, but few people knew the whole story.

My friend, songwriter Harriet Schock, who has always led songwriter events in Los Angeles, had invited me to participate in a "Songwriters Campfire" the following month at a club called Genghis Cohen. It was actually Harriet who had also given me a platform some time earlier to introduce the song "Connected" in public. Harriet, who is also a songwriter teacher in L.A., as well as being the author of several hit songs, was one of the first to get behind me and the songs from The Last Session.

On the 23rd is this entry:
I heard from my cousin, S. in Arkansas today through e-mail. She hadn't heard that I had AIDS.

Now, I ask you, if I had murdered someone, don't you think the news would have spread like wildfire through the whole family? Why do you suppose after three years, much of my family still does not know that I have AIDS?
I speculated in the diary that they were probably ashamed of the fact that I was gay and didn't know how to talk about that. However, it's never that easy. For instance, my beloved Aunt Frieda, who doesn't have a homophobic bone in her body, said she just didn't want her kids to worry about me. I countered though, saying:
I begged her to tell them and let it all out. I would hate to think that someone I loved was sick and I didn't even know about it. What if I were to die and they never had a chance to speak to me? I suppose I could tell them myself, but we aren't really in communication and I don't have their addresses. Hm. Stupid excuse. I suppose it would be easy enough to find them out.
I note, though, that I titled that diary entry "Losing strength." Funny, but I didn't actually address my specific health concerns in the text of the entry. I notice, though, that the language in that entry is emotional and edgy. I have a feeling, looking back, that by throwing my anger at my family and speculating about their silence, I was really just avoiding having to face what was happening to me physically.

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