Linda Luschei: 1958-1994
My good friend Linda Luschei died today, Saturday June 4th at 8:35 AM. I heard from someone who shared her last few hours that she died peacefully. I was not surprised to hear this because everything Linda did was peaceful. She had a way about her that even when stressed beyond human capacity, she maintained a demure and peaceful manner.
Linda was part of a group of five women who were the first HIV+ women I met after finding out about my own HIV infection. We had all become close friends quickly due to our common sero status and attraction to each other's personalities. Only three of us are left, and Linda is probably with Jayne right now guessing who is next.
Linda and I had often discussed the fact that many of our current friends were peers we met through our HIV experience, friends we wouldn't necessarily have chosen had we not been infected. But we always agreed that although we really didn't have much in common, she and I would have been friends under any circumstances. We truly enjoyed and trusted each other.
Linda was a great friend and her support could always be relied upon, regardless of her health status or what time of the day or night it was. She knew how to be a real friend, and consequently had many friends who she was able to turn to in her time of need. After my fiancé died, Linda's unfortunate experience with widowhood six years prior supplied her with the tools to help me cope, and she was always available to me. I bored her with hours of babbling nonsense and she never once complained, because that is who Linda was.
Linda never gave up on herself or on anyone else. She went out and made things happen for herself. A few years ago, when she'd had enough of her stressful job and needed a break to enjoy life, she quit, with the faith that when the time was right, she'd find another one. And that she did. After a few months of riding our bicycles on the beach every day and going to matinees, Linda landed a great job at UCLA with excellent benefits that enabled her to live on a sizable disability fund when she was too ill to work. She always encouraged others to take chances as well. Linda thought before acting, and therefore made some wise choices. Fortunately, Linda got to fulfill her dream of marrying again, even though she was only married a few months before her untimely death.
As Linda and I were very close, we attended a lot of activities together until she met her second husband. Very often if either of us returned alone to a place that we had been together, we were mistaken for each other. People would always ask me how Lori was, thinking I was Linda. It became so insane that we often teased the poor souls who mixed us up and went along with their confusion. Even close friends mixed us up regularly. One lazy sunny day, Linda created a little poem about us, something about Lori Levine and Linda Luschei lounging on the lawn and lingering over lunch of linguini at Lori's lair on Linda Lane. Naturally Linda's version was written with the skill of a professional poet.
Although Linda dressed conservatively, and appeared to most to be very straight laced, what many people didn't know was that she was really just the opposite. She was very daring and adventuresome and always ready for a good time. She was willing to try anything once and often surpassed everybody else in the crowd in her quest to have fun. Linda's joie de vivre always amazed me. With CMV, a picc line, the difficult infusions and the threat of PCP, which later materialized, Linda packed a suitcase and left for a Mediterranean cruise and tour of the islands. How many PWA's would take the chance on one last shot of excitement? When I have a slight fever, I am stuck in bed for the day.
Linda was an extremely educated woman who relied on her skills to perform duties in her daily life that many would not be able to. She was an excellent speaker and an even better writer. I was impressed by her many appearances on national talk shows where she always kept her composure under the pressure of the audience and some of the inane questions posed. During the time I was writing articles for the Being Alive newsletter, I always depended on Linda's expertise in editing my articles and suggesting different ways of expressing a point before handing them in. I would never rely on my own skills & Linda never let me down. I feel awkward submitting this one without Linda's approval, but I think she taught me enough, that she would be satisfied with this, appreciating what little I could say about her wonderful self. Linda had begun writing her memoirs, and every time she finished a chapter, her other friends and I would beg her to read it to us, because her writing led us into a fantasy land where we imagined the scene replaying in front of us. I understand her father is planning to finish her book, which is necessary because it would be a real tragedy to let such talent fall by the way side. The world should have the chance to know Linda the way her friends have been fortunate enough to experience her.
Linda, I, and many others, love you and will never forget the sunshine you brought into our lives. Linda was one of the first women to speak publicly about being infected, which helped the rest of us come out of the HIV closet.
This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.