Monday, November 23, 2009

Quilted

In our small Southern city there opened today a showing of panels of the AIDS Quilt.  I cried.  I've never met any of the folk memorialized on the quilt.  All of them are strangers to me.  But the sight of it moved me to tears.  Loving remembrances, famous and not famous.  Parents, children, lovers. The panels are 3 feet by 6 feet:  the size of a coffin.

I did have a small connection to one panel.  My friend Ch. had invited me to the opening night of the Quilt's arrival in town.  His partner Doug died nearly ten years ago of AIDS.  His panel was part of the display.  Ch. showed it to me and explained all the parts, all the symbols.  He'd brought with him pictures and shared remembrances and love.  They were so much in love.

A little bit of grieving releases in me a whole lot of grief.

13 comments:

Lemuel said...

I think that I grieve most for those people in our world who cannot grieve for these great losses, who, using the powerful language of John (KJV) have "shut up the bowels of compassion from them".

Java said...

The quilt is an amazingly powerful symbol. Glad you were able to experience it.

Michael Dodd said...

I saw the quilt years ago when it was on the National Mall. I know a number of people whose names are on it, including one brother from my own monastery. When I worked at the University of Chicago, panels hung in Rockefeller Chapel for a while six or so years back. It was good to see it in a place of prayer, such a concrete reminder of human lives and loves, of pain and hope combined. "Did e'er such love and sorrow meet ...?"

Birdie said...

There were panels displayed in the sanctuary at the Covenant Network convention. I locked away my grief in the midst of the crowd. I would need silence, as those remembrances pull mightily at my heart.

At one time, I wanted to make one for my brother. But I hardly knew him as an adult, and ultimately it would be for me and not him. My work now is my memorial to him.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

I have my panel of the quilt ready to go. I worked on the names project for a while back in the 90's. I've seen the quilt several times in my life and in DC. It is quite stirring.

All of my friends who are dead are together on the quilt - I am only 1 of 2 that are left from that original grouping of men who were diagnosed in the early 90's, they are dead, but I am still alive...

Jeremy

Larry Ohio said...

I'm glad you cried. I did too. The emotions associated with it are so strong, so shaking.

Ur-spo said...

I am glad to hear the Quilt is still around and being displayed. The people are not forgotten.
I am glad too it is still moving.

It is important the living honor the dead.

D Gregory said...

Thanks Joe, this HIV+ friend was very touched.
D Gregory

Kelly said...

Have a great Turkey Day!!!

Topper said...

I have never had the priviledge of seeing the quilt. I have heard of it. I was moved by your description and expression of grief. We carry grief with us, incorporated in our life. Its healthy to let it out, express it. Write about it. Blessing on you! With love Frank

Neil said...

The same for AIDS Memorial Grove in SF Golden Gate Park.

john said...

I think the sharing of people's emotions can be moving for anyone who witnesses them.

BadgerBear said...

I've seen three friends' panels, and they've all torn me up a bit.

I was in Grace Cathedral in SF a couple of years ago, and went into the side chapel to just sit and meditate after having walked the labyrinth. Behind me were panels from the quilt, and I just lost it.