Today, I ventured to Father Flanagan Park (NYC) where I, along with friends, planted a tree in memory of my younger brother, Andy, who passed away exactly one year ago.
I was sitting on the Staten Island Ferry, reflecting on the pain, the love - ya know all those memories some which I hold onto and some which I wish I could just let go of.
|Andy's Tree - Father Flanagan Park, NYC|
The day was somber, quiet and very emotional. I got to meet up with some of Andy's friends and his life-long care taker to exchange memories and "hug" his spirit-tree.
There is much pain I hold inside, and I thought this would be a good time to let some of it out. . . it is time I be blunt about what is going through my head. I wanted today to be a special day of remembrance, but it is was difficult because my head was so clouded by the very immediate events which led up to his final breathe. . .
I remember getting a call from my half-sister, telling me that my younger brother, Andy, had been rushed to the hospital, as he could no longer walk and could barely breath on this own.
On October 7, 2010, I was able to reach my little brother on the phone (after learning of this news) and he told me they (the doctors) were about to intubate him. He asked me to please come to the hospital right away and tell the doctors not to and that if I didn't get there in time, to remove the tubes. . . and let him go in peace.
|Me (in the red) and Andy|
Andy and I were born into a very privileged family and lifestyle. We had 7 brothers and 1 sister (half-blood). Andy took a wrong turn somewhere in his life and started to hang out with a crowd because he thought it would be "cool". He landed a life of addiction to heroine. It was sad to see him fall so hard so many times.
I assume, while I am not certain, that Andy became infected with HIV through IV drug use. I recall clearly the day he came home and our family learned of his diagnosis. The reaction was hateful. One of our older brothers punched him in the face and told him never to return home again.
Andy had lost contact with the family for some time - he reached out many, many times for help, but he could not win the addiction fight and he didn't want to deal with the other fight inside him . . . he could not live with the fact he was HIV+.
My mother and the rest of my family were fully aware Andy was in the hospital, and this time he would not be coming out. NO ONE in my family wanted anything to do with his passing. One of my older brother's had told me on the phone that "the family buried Andy a long time ago." (My jaw dropped).
The hospital required, that if I am to have the tubes pulled out of Andy, I needed the doctors in charge to speak with his biological mother (our mother) to pass on the primary medical decision making to me. On October, 9, 2010, the doctors reached my mother, and in less than one minute made it clear to the doctors she wanted nothing to do with Andy.
Just before I ordered the tubes, as per Andy's wishes, to be pulled out of him, I called my mother and said, "do you want to say anything to Andy before I pull the tubes out? I will put my phone up to his ear. . ." She said, "No." It was done. I was ready to help Andy go in peace, however I was far from being at peace. The tubes were removed and in an an hour, at 2:25 pm on October 9, 2010, Andy took his last breath. No one should ever have to witness this kind of pain. It has scarred me for life.
I realize that when I die. . . when it is time for my personal journey to come to an end . . . I too, will be family-less. While there may be a family plot. . . actually I don't know if there even is one. . . what I do know is that I nor Andrew are "good" enough to be buried along with the family because of HIV.
It fucking sucks and there are no words to describe the deep, dark pain I feel inside; so let me focus on what is helping to heal the pain. . .
On October 9th and days just prior, I am grateful to ALL of my friends who were there to console me and who came to see Andy at the hospital. I am truly grateful to my friend Samantha for taking time out of her truly dedicated family life to make sure I was able to be at the hospital to see this through. I also am grateful for my friend Lance. . . for making a quick connection to make sure my brother's body was properly taken care of for the after-life. And lastly, I am grateful for Joel. . . he was Andy's life-long care-taker here in NYC, and without Joel I am not sure how Andy would have lived as long as he did! I can only imagine the pain you are feeling, you were the closest thing to an angel he ever had in his life.
I am proud to say I have a new family today. . . built of friendships more solid than "born-blood" could ever bond or fuse together. Anyone who has been disowned by their family, much like my brother Andy and me, I wish there were words I could share to make you smile or feel better. It's tough and the reality is only time will heal this pain. So as time passes I remember that my life today is not only an adventure for me but it is also an adventure I will continue to live for my brother. HIV will not beat me down. Today I find comfort in my friends who I am proud to call my new family! You know who you are. . . through the good and the bad times. . . we stick it out!
Thank you for being there.
I am Daniel, and I am living pozitively. Thank you for following my blog.