December 1st is World AIDS Day.
My college is one of the many places that display a part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. I’m part of a group called AIDS workcrew- we bring a part of the quilt for display for a few days around this time and we guard it while it’s here.
We’ve got one panel. It’s made of 8 individual panels, each 3 feet by 6 feet. I sit on a bench next to a 12x12 square of grief, memory, and tribute.
Danny 12-17-89: Forgive self and allow yourself to be today…
Charles: Rest in peace. Love, ma. There’s a red heart with a high school picture and a pink elephant in the middle.
Maurice: loved those wings.
Scott; Loved and missed by many. There’s a picture of a cat with “opie misses you” written under it.
Bobby: A Silence = Death tshirt. Music notes.
In memory of Peter. If love could have saved you, you never would have died.
Scott: our beloved son.
Ted: A stuffed bear, a bow tie, dancing footprints, a fishing lure. It was made and signed by 8 of his friends and family.
The museum guards give me a nod and smile whenever they walk past. A woman comes in with her two young children and tries to explain what the quilt means. People trickle in- some glance and leave, some examine the panels with great care as if they’re trying to memorize every detail. Some just stand there quietly crying.
There’s more than 86,000 names on the quilt. It’s less than 1/5 of AIDS deaths in the U.S. alone, and 36 other countres have contributed to the quilt along with all 50 US states and the territories.
I would like to remember Sean, who died when he was 17.