February 6, 2012
I didn't know Bonnie Goldman for a very long time, nor did I have many contacts with her in person. That being said, these few times we did interact, she was nothing short of a force of nature on my life. Sometimes we get lucky and meet that person who can push us beyond our comfort zones and encourage us to do things that we never thought we could before. Bonnie was one of those people in my life.
I had just started writing when I met Bonnie. In the beginning, I would pray that someone would read my posts. I always felt like Peter Brady, and no one would show up for my blog posts. Bonnie showed me I was wrong. Bonnie also told me that even if one person reads it and walks away with something then I have done my job, and done it well.
Bonnie shared with me over our second lunch that the driving force behind her advocacy was her brother. It was her brother's struggle and finally losing battle with AIDS that created this drive within her. It is a drive I am sure many of us that work with this blog, and many of you reading it, can relate to.
We all have that moment -- that one moment where time seemed to stand still for us -- and we saw what was going on with our community, how it was being annihilated by this powerful force that we could not see -- and the rest of the world just stood still. We all felt that rage inside of us when our loved ones were writhing in a pain that we could not comfort.
Bonnie's voice reminded the world that we still had something to be enraged over. Bonnie inspired dozens of us to keep that rage alive, for it is only with a passionate and focused voice are you heard.
Bonnie helped me develop my own voice. Bonnie saw talents in me that I didn't even see. By working with Bonnie, I knew that I was doing my part to help keep her brother alive, if not in a physical sense but at least in her heart.
And Bonnie did the same for me. For my driving voice was my partner, David. It was this very sweet and gentle reciprocal relationship we had going on -- I would help keep Bonnie's brother alive, and Bonnie would help me keep David alive. Bonnie and I were links in each other's chains that kept these people in our hearts and in our minds -- but more importantly -- in the hearts and minds of others, too.
Bonnie knew the power of the written word. Bonnie knew that by writing and publishing, especially on such a powerful force like the Web, we were all going to keep our loved ones alive -- and help others that were still dealing with the virus to not have the same fate.
Now Bonnie is gone -- and I feel that a link to the chain of all of those people I was helping to keep alive is gone. And I don't know who is going to take that place. And I worry that all of those people who we were keeping in the forefronts of other people's minds and hearts are not going to be there anymore. For if they go, then a part of us goes -- a part of our past. And when large chunks of your social circle just suddenly disappear from existence, you start to wonder if those experiences you shared together happened at all. You begin to doubt your own memory. At least when someone is alive from that time period, you can still talk to them and your history is validated. It existed, and more importantly, it exists within our hearts.
Bonnie did nothing less than keep a part of my own heart alive. And with her passing a part feels as if it has no reason to exist.
Bonnie's passing reminds me that many of us in the movement have either passed on, grown weary from the constant battle, or just are too sick to fight. Bonnie's passing also reminds me that we need to pass on the fight -- to bring in new recruits to our army against HIV, and ignite the passion within them.
So, if I had a last moment with Bonnie to say what I felt, I would simply say this: I am grateful for the little time we did have together, and you challenged me to become a better writer. But most importantly, I would say how much my heart can rejoice, still, because so many of my friends, both in my heart and on this planet, were kept alive because of your work.
Now it is our turn to do for you what you helped us achieve with so many of our loved ones that had left us far too early.
e.e. Cummings said it best: I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart.
Bonnie, you will always be in my heart.
I love you.