My Story

Richard Ian Wilde

Unless AIDS has hit home to you personally, you may not understand the feelings of those who have lost someone to this disease. I didn’t really understand either until I got to know Lewis. That was almost 22 years ago. Lewis was one proud Texan. From Houston. He had moved to Oregon to deal with the final stages of his illness. Lewis and I were part of a support group here in Portland. One Sunday he showed up for a meeting and didn’t look well at all. I asked him about his sight. He had driven about 3 miles to the meeting but could barely see. I asked him if I could have the keys and told him I would drive him home. When we got home, he went on about all the people in his life and pointing out all the things he had received from the friends and lovers in his life. After that day, Lewis never drove again. I told him not to drive anymore and asked him to promise me he wouldn't. About a month later, Lewis lay in a bed at Providence Hospital, Portland. As soon as I heard he was in the hospital, I rushed over. I held his hand and kissed him on his forehead. He wasn't conscious. I kissed that man goodbye. I'd like to think he may have known I was there. You see, when you're on a morphine drip in a coma, you don't move. You just wait. And the ones who love you wait. I left the hospital balling my eyes out. I got home. Two hours later, I received a call from a friend. Lewis had passed. I had already cried enough. I sat there stunned but grateful that I had gotten to say goodbye and perhaps had been the one to give him his last kiss. A week later, inside the Zidell Chapel at Congregation Neveh Shalom, I gave a short eulogy to Lewis. I was actually one of many who spoke on his behalf. His parents were there. Men were asked to put on a yarmulke before entering the chapel. I had never worn a yarmulke before. But I felt so at home, like I belonged there. And I did belong there because Lewis was now home as well. Lewis and I were never lovers, only friends. I had wanted to date him but that was not to be part of our friendship. I feel so grateful that I knew this man, one of the kindest, most honest men this universe could create. Lewis, I still miss you. And I still love you.