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Being Alive
Dear Gilbert . . .
Vincent Dureau
February 5, 1995
Being Alive 1995 Feb 5: 11

Dear Gilbert, I did not know what I was going to wear today to remember you. Then I thought of your black sneakers on the floor in the hospital and how I noticed that Cory and I were also wearing the same shoes. I think of how you used to dress for work, most of the time blending in with the colors of the walls. How quiet you were, as if to conceal what you thought should not be revealed to the straight and the healthy.

Dear Gilbert, it takes many people to tell the story of someone's life. You have left each of us with some pieces of the puzzle, many of which you thought could not be brought together. In my memories, I think of you first as a gardener who loved to grow bushes of computers, planting hard disks, pruning files, watering networks with strings of commands pouring from your long fingers.

Then I think of you as the story teller who knew all the episodes of the AIDS epic. We would share long dinners where you would call all the molecules by their names. You would teach me to love and support Being Alive. You would also tell me why you thought it should remain a space for and by people with HIV and AIDS.

I will not forget these last weeks, our quiet conversations and how you would ask me to put your hand in mine before I left. Dear Gilbert, I was on a plane when you died. You must have flown by me, but I did not see you, because I did not think of looking out the window. By the time I got to your apartment, they had already taken you away. Dear Gilbert, it takes many people to tell the story of someone's life. And each of your friends reminds me that there is more to it than a stack of medicines, a box of Kleenex, and an empty bed.