AIDS at Thirty – Owning Your Life

The Next Family

By: Charlene Strong

Putting one’s experiences on paper can bring a light that has not been considered before.  This is just one of those moments. My editor-in-chief asked me to speak on a part of my life that has rarely been shared with anyone.

Now is a time to share. I lost my father over 15 years ago and it was the catalyst for dealing with my personal homophobia and pain.

I was holding my dad when he died, his once handsome face was being ravaged with the very visible cancer that literally ate at him with a very cruel suffering, the likes of which I hope to never witness again.

When I laid him back in his bed for the first time since he was admitted a month earlier, the machines were all turned off, the quiet a gift.  The calmness that came over me was strange, just an hour before I was screaming into a towel in the bathroom begging for the suffering to stop.  Was it that someone heard that scream and silenced the struggle?  I removed his St. Christopher Medal to give to my mom. As I sat quietly in the room with him until the funeral home came to receive his body, I felt clarity of needing to make some changes in my life.  I felt at that moment that I was moving through life without any life.  I was onto my second marriage and my husband was nice enough, but by writing that assessment I knew my days were numbered on this one.

I rushed into this marriage after much heartache.  My first marriage was a sad and damaging moment in my life.  I married a very handsome young man when both of us were far too young to know who we were.  Had we spent time in the same city while engaged perhaps we would have figured it out.  That’s really just conjecture, so we married.

Shortly into our marriage the intimacy stopped and the more I pushed the farther he pulled into his own world.  I would sit up wondering if he were ever coming home and calling the state patrol to see if there was a truck in a wreck that matched the description of his truck.  When he would arrive home he would often be bedraggled and not in the mood for explanations which only fueled our arguments.

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Brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian 

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