Friday, March 12, 2010

Death and Life.

I've recently gotten emails from a guy named Thomas. He and I are going to have lunch together today. And I got a phone call with some very, very sad news.

As we've been putting together plans for a new TLS concert performance / staged reading (June 23! Put it in your calendar!), I suddenly got several notes from him.

For newbies, The Last Session (TLS) was the show we did back in 1997 in New York containing all the songs I wrote about my struggle with AIDS. These are the songs that saved my life.

Well, it seems Thomas has been listening to the cast album every single week since then. He wrote me a passionate note about how the CD was stolen from his car and so he started looking around to find a new copy. And he stumbled onto my blog.

In this day of constant connectedness, I was kind of shocked to discover that we had a fan out there that I didn't know about, especially one so very passionate about the material. He is an athlete who teaches karate and tai chi and probably a dozen other things, and he lives here in New York.

So, after a few emails back and forth, we're going to finally meet face to face. I told him, "Hey, I thought I already knew everyone who had seen TLS." But apparently not.

In a way, it's very exciting for me because now that we're going to do this concert, I've been thinking about the material a lot, and remembering back to the beginning of TLS, which is also the beginning of real public access to the Internet.

1996. So many of us in the early days were housebound because of illness or other disabilities, so we all made very quick connections. That's what I mean by finding a "lost" fan out there. His passion for the music and the message is really overwhelming to me.

But it's great, because it is allowing me to reconnect to the material in a new way, seeing it through his eyes. He even told me that a friend of his, this week, suddenly went into cardiac arrest. Thomas brought him his ipod with the song "Save Me A Seat."

Here's what he wrote:

a dear friend of mine is VERY sick in the hospital.
He's an 88 year old man who has practiced Karate for nearly 60 years !

2 days ago, he went into cardiac arrest and died for 20 minutes.
The doctors were able to bring him back, but he's brain damaged and they
will probably pull the plug this week. Very sad.

On Monday, I told him about you and your story and that I was able to connect with you.
I brought my iPod to the hospital and let him listen to "Save Me a Seat".

I typed out the words for him to read along with the song. He had a tear in his eye
and he said, "You better be careful, because if I follow you home, I'm going to see
you naked !". LOL Humor was always his way of "hiding".

He asked me to leave him my iPod so he could listen to it alone.
The following day, he told me that he listened to "Save me a Seat" nearly all night long.
It moved him deeply. He said that he hopes his wifes spirit was at her wake and remains with him.

They were married for 65 years !

He told me to tell you, "Thank You for writing that beautiful song FOR HIM".

Anyway, he's now in a non-responsive coma like state. It doesn't look good, but he's
hanging in there. He's one hell of a tough man. I'm happy that "Save Me a Seat" was
the last song he heard in his life. :) I'm praying for either a miraculous healing or a
quick painless passing.

And, of course, that brought me right back to the death of our dear friend, Dick Remley, who also was in his death coma, but came back out of it just long enough for all of us around him to say goodbye.

It pleases me to no end to know that the music from TLS still holds the same power it held 12 years ago.

Meanwhile, we had a phone call from our friend, Heidi, that her husband, Tom, had suddenly died back in Los Angeles.

WHAT??? We knew Tom had been dealing with some health issues, but this was sudden and totally unexpected. Heidi and Tom are two of our closest friends. We have cruised together. We call each other every night during Jeopardy's final question.

Really? Can this be? It's impossible!

The passing of Tom is really a shock to us all. Emotionally, it hasn't hit yet because it doesn't seem real to me. For me, he's still at home, trying to beat Jim at Jeopardy and trying out new foods. (Tom is, was, a gourmand, who loved trying anything weird and exotic to eat).

So, here's to Tom, one of the sweetest guys in the world. And to Heidi, whom we love like a sister.


Bev Sykes said...

So sorry, Steve.

Richard said...

Oh boy..... sorry for your loss, Steve.

I remember all too well 1996, just before, and as we were just starting to take, Crixivan, and meeting you on the IRC in the aids/hiv+2 chat room ... 14 years ago.....

love, ~Richard

Gabi Clayton said...

Dear Steve and Jim, I am so very sorry about the death of your dear friend. ((((HUGS)))) and my love to you both.

Elaine said...

Steve, thank you for your thoughts and wonderful picture of Tom. What a wonderful person, we are so blessed to know Tom and Heidi. My heart goes out to all of us who will miss Tom dearly, especially Heidi. Sincerely, Elaine Enochs