RTB is presents part two from a long-term observer and participant in the AIDS war, who has written an explorative, insightful essay in two parts for ReduceTheBurden.
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A Shooting Gallery and an Hour-Glass Part Two
One HIV Skeptics Continuing Journey
By William A.
Over the years, I began to notice the feeling that AIDS dissidents–particularly those with an ‘HIV’ diagnosis aimed at their head–seem almost shackled invisibly together… joined like some godforsaken chain-gang on a remote, dusty highway: When one of us stumbles, we all seem to lose our footing. When one of us falls we all feel vertigo. Someone else’s illness can beckon almost unconsciously, dancing off in the distance like a dark mirage…promising…shimmering…waiting. We seem to obsess about the health of other dissidents, revealing, in our often slightly mad speculation about what might be going on, this invisible connection to each others’ wellness. Or illness. An umbilical cord of wary hope. Or suppressed despair. As though someone else’s ability to survive the rain of death and hopelessness falling on us every day can make it more likely that we will defy the odds ourselves. Like anyone would, we find strength in numbers.
Nothing revealed this more powerfully to me than Christine Maggiore’s death. All these years she had soldiered on through a sea of hatred and vitriol, somehow not going completely mad from the intense scrutiny from the AIDS machine. Yet equally intense, if not more, was the almost unconscious scrutiny of many dissidents. We often live immersed in fear: this diagnosis is like being cast out into a sea of anxiety, a sea that can seem to extend beyond the horizon and it swallows people whole. Though many of us find ways to subdue the monstrous anxiety, I did notice how often others around me would ‘point’, somewhat nervously, to Christine as evidence that one could stay healthy, their trembling finger betraying the fear they felt that it was all somehow going to go pear-shaped anyway. There was a watchfulness about it. A kind of expectant waiting.
Unconsciously, many of us seemed to keep looking at her and then ‘looking at our watches’. I often wondered if she felt pressure to be the exception, or if she felt the many quiet, lonely hands clinging to her for reassurance and hope. I can’t see how it wouldn’t have been an enormous burden, however unintended it may have been by those who so understandably needed some signal, some sign of hope in a world awash with the expectation of early death that comes with this diagnosis.
I can’t help but be reminded of that, creepy scene in The Wizard of Oz, where the Wicked Witch of the West traps Dorothy in the tower-room and gingerly turns the Hour-Glass over and places it on the table, starting it flowing and saying evilly:
“Do you see that? That’s how much longer you’ve got to be alive! And it isn’t long, my pretty! It isn’t long!” Continue reading A Shooting Gallery and an Hour Glass – Part Two