A friend of mine linked this story from Slate.com on Facebook earlier today: "The AIDS Memorial Quilt Moves Online".
The story itself provides a link to the AIDS Memorial Quilt itself. If you've never seen it, you should. I saw part of it in person when it came around to the University of California-Riverside about ten years ago.
Seeing it in person is very moving. Every panel represents someone's loss--a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, a father, a mother, a friend--and it's so immense, both physically and emotionally.
I had a friend--we'll call him John--in high school who was HIV positive. He was straight--one of the few people to have contracted HIV in a blood transfusion, as he was a hemophiliac.
He was in our Dungeons & Dragons group--how dorky is that, right? But he was one of the strongest personalities in our group, with some of the most memorable characters. I still remember his main character's name, "Charlotte Evening"--it has an elegant ring to it.
He was an aspiring writer, involved in our high school's writer's club and on the editorial staff of the literary magazine.
I remember running into John as I was walking home. He had just bought the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik CD, and he shared a bit of it with me on his headphones. I remember the smile on his face. Every time I hear "Under the Bridge" on the radio, I think of him.
He passed away about five years ago. I can hardly get my mind around that. I'm gay, and I grew up in the shadow of AIDS/HIV--I turned 18 in 1990. I didn't think I'd live to see 40.
I never thought I'd be 40 and John would be gone. I breaks my heart.
Every panel of the quilt is a story like mine. Every single one. Every panel represents someone's terrible loss.
I've you've never seen it, go. See it.