AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.~ Hervé Guibert
The Dream a Wish Show (2)
Continued from… The Dream a Wish Show (1)
“Does he have a support system there?”
“South Africa is a very conservative country, even though it might now be less so than when I lived there. However, some things are just not spoken about, such as HIV. Not because of the illness, but because of the belief that only gay men get it.”
Annie’s voice was picking up speed, and because this was a subject she felt strongly about, she reverted to speaking more in Afrikaans than in Dutch.
“When I grew up, gay people – or anyone who was different than the so-called ‘norm’ – as being weird and dirty. Because of this, people with HIV were treated different from others. I want Isaac to see how broad-minded this country is. My experience is here they accept and respect people the way that they are,” Annie closed her heated account.
“Your letter evoked our interest and we decided to investigate the possibilities to make your wish come true,” Henry said and Annie smiled.
She knew it! He was here! They really brought him over to visit her! Incredible!
“. . . but he is too ill,” was the last words she heard, and they were enough to make Annie’s smile disappear. She didn’t hear the first part of it, but what she had heard was enough to make her realize that her wish would not be fulfilled.
“Too ill?” was all she could manage to say, instantly realizing how stupid it sounded, and at the same time a tight fist of worry clenched her stomach.
“Yes, his doctors advised him not to travel such a long distance. Nevertheless, we do have something for you. Since he couldn’t come here, one of our people went there to talk to him. We wanted to make a longer video of him so you had something special to always remind you of him, but unfortunately he was just too tired,” Henry explained.
Tears of disappointment and worry stung at the back of her eyes and Annie tried desperately to keep herself from crying. When Henry asked her to turn her attention to the screen on the floor in front of them, she had to blink the tears away.
Isaac appeared on the screen. He wore khaki shirt and smiled into the camera. In the background, moving images of the traffic in Cape Town and a part of Table Mountain filled the screen. Annie didn’t even notice the background at all. Her eyes were riveted on Isaac’s face. He looked so tired. Her disappointment disappeared, and only concern for his health remained. It was good he had not made the trip to Europe. Now she saw him on the screen, she realized it would have been too much for him. His shaky constitution wouldn’t have been able to handle such a tiring trip.
“Annie,” Isaac spoke on the screen.
The audience followed the images on two big screens on either side of the big studio hall.
“Annie, I would’ve loved to be over there with you now, but I’m not well enough to make the trip,” Isaac said. “That doesn’t take away that I’m immensely grateful for what you wanted to accomplish. It would’ve been so nice to visit you.”
Isaac paused for a couple of moments. Annie bit the inside of her lip.
“Thank you so much, my friend,” Isaac continued, “you really are my rock nowadays.”
He paused again.
“They told me this would be broadcasted on your national television. So, I want to recite a poem I have written specially for you:
I have a friend far from here
In letters, our daily loves, we share.
She cheers me up with news from there
Telling me everything, is what she dares.
Me, on the other hand – I just unload
And bore her with being solo-ed,
She does not seem to mind at all.
On Sundays she writes me – what a ball!
I would love to hug you close to me
Thank you for your support, my friend.
My gratitude to you I extend
A word of thanks is just so little,
Especially for someone so special.
“Thank you, Annie, for all you do for me,” were the last words Isaac spoke on the screen. Annie bit her lip, tears in her eyes.
“Annie,” Henry said, while holding her hand. She was aware of so many impressions right then – the frozen image of Isaac on the screen, how big Henry’s hands were and the heavy feelings of deep concern.
“Annie,” Henry spoke again, “he’s here.”
She looked at him blankly. “Who?”
Henry smiled at her. “Isaac. He’s here.”
She didn’t believe him.
“No, he’s not. He’s too sick. You heard what he said. He can’t make the trip.”
“Annie, he’s really here. Isaac, come meet Annie,” the presenter said in his dramatic presenter voice as he got up from the couch.
Everything happened in slow motion. Henry walked to the front of the stage and stood next to the screen on which she had just watched Isaac. Here he would soon thank the public for coming to his show. Annie realized her letter was the last item of the show – the traditional showstopper. She heard the applause and in a flash, she saw the faces of her mom, her children and that of her husband.
It was the sight of Isaac that made her bolt from the couch, right into his arms. Hugging hi tight, she giggled, she cried, she talked – and nothing made sense. Not to her and not to Isaac. He really was there; right there in her arms. She was afraid to let him go, afraid all of it would be only a dream.
But, it wasn’t a dream. It was really happening. In her arms, she held her dear friend. Her dream for Isaac, her fondest wish had come out. It was yet another wish that the Dream a Wish Show had fulfilled. This time, it was her wish, her dream!
To be continued… The show’s nuts and bolts
Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay