The AIDS Activist Project

The Making of an AIDS activist in 5 Parts – part 3*

(photo – Randy in hospital)

This is the last photo of Randy.

The next day, I went to see Randy at the hospital, they couldn’t find him. It took a few hours before he was located. He was on a bed in a hallway overnight until a room opened up for him.

I can’t remember the floor the AIDS ward was on. Time has blurred memories. The room they had for Randy had 2 beds. This was so family members could stay overnight and keep the patient company. They encouraged it. It was comforting to the patients. They did all they could to help patients through the ordeal of AIDS.

The memories I have of folks at St. Lukes are good. The nurses were helpful, kind, devoted. Considering the time, they were fearless. They were on the front lines fighting to save lives and comfort people with AIDS, though little was known about it.

Randy was in the hospital for about 2 weeks. I would spend the night, then go home to walk the dogs, shower, and return to the hospital. We had many loving friends who helped with whatever we needed.

On the day he died, I returned to the hospital. I had been gone just a few hours. I came back to find him finally succumbing to AIDS. I knew because of how he was breathing. They call this type of breathing Cheyne-Stokes it begins when one is in the final stages of death.

I started crying, singing a silly song Randy would sing to me sometimes, “A Bushel and a Peck” it went like this:

“I love you a bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck
A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap
A barrel and a heap and I’m talkin’ in my sleep”

I told him it was ok to go, everything will be ok. My sister Mary was coming from Pennsylvania to see him and say goodbye, and friends from around the city were on their way to the hospital as well. I sat on the side of the bed, crying. A nurse came in, sat next to me, and said “These things happen for a reason”. She put her arm around me and hugged me. I could not for the life of me imagine there was a good reason for Randy to have to die.

I was with Randy when he passed. I am forever grateful I was able to be with him when he died, he was not alone, he was loved.

I said goodbye.

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