Dear John

It’s been years since I’ve written to you. Where do I begin? Maybe, with the conversation I had with your sister last Friday or a stroll through the memory of our first encounter?

It was my first holiday, as an adult, Vancouver and it would’ve been ruined if it weren’t for you. You rescued me. That man I was seeing at the time came on the trip. He was trying to make up for the huge blunder of not telling me that he was also HIV-positive until we had been dating for three months. The four days he was there and his sulky little moods and attitudes of not wanting to explore the city because it was raining, and then saying, “I’ve been here before. I’ve seen everything already,” was our biggest and final fight.

Then, I met you through the people I was staying with. You were not working at the time. I think you called it a mid life crisis holiday. You took me sightseeing on my final few days. I don’t know if I ever said thank you for breakfast. I loved talking on the phone with you, writing love letters and especially, your visit. The minute we saw each other the sparks flew, the passion flared. I was in love.

I moved to Vancouver. Four months later, I came back home to my family and friends.

I never did tell you that you were the only man that I ever truly loved. I think, in the long run that is why I ran away. Well that and the fact that I could not keep up with the act of always being happy and optimistic. I couldn’t let you see that I needed you, just in case you didn’t like what you saw. It was easier to claim an early defeat and run away.

There’s a saying, “If you love someone set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were. I think, they should’ve added an extra line, if you run away from someone you love, they’ll haunt you forever. I’ve been possessed, for so many years by the image of our short affair.

Why then, after ten years am I writing you? It’s not my first attempt. I did write to you and about you in a writing class. There was tremendous encouragement given to me to seek you out.

It’s been over a year since then and out of nowhere I had this dream about you. You and I were hosting a dinner party. I was at one end of the table and you were walking to the other end where you sat. There were people on both sides of a long wooden table that was full of food and drinks. I think you were topping up the drinks. The image drifted away and I woke up.

The next day is when the coincidence happened. I’d just finished painting the sunroom and was cleaning a bookshelf when I came across your name and address in an old day planner. I don’t believe that there are such things as coincidences, so I phoned. You didn’t live there anymore, as I’m sure you already know. I went on the Internet and instead of finding you, I found your sister, Jane. I thought maybe you had moved to California or Europe like you had always wanted to. I wrote to your sister.

I’ve written this letter, over and over in my head and on paper, several times. Each time, I seem to get to this point and never get any further. I think, I wanted to live with the happy memory of my loving you and you loving me and that love would be enough to sustain me, until I died.

For the past several years, I’ve been waiting and hoping to die. It’s now been fifteen years, living with the virus and my dream-pile for the future is running low, until I dreamt of you.

A month later, your sister left me a voice mail. She said she was sorry it took her so long to get back to me, but she was in New Zealand. She was glad to hear from me and would try again later. She left me her number so I could try and get in touch with her. The game of telephone tag began, but thanks to Jane’s quick thinking she said she would email me with a good time for me to call.

I waited two days. Then, I didn’t know if I wanted to hear from her. Maybe, she had bad news. Maybe you moved away. Maybe you didn’t want to talk to me because I hurt you so much. Okay, that might be a bit too dramatic.

Friday night at eleven-thirty, eight-thirty her time, I decided to call. I went over to the phone and before I had punched in all the numbers I broke out in a cold sweat and started to feel nauseous. I hung up and sat back on the couch. This part may sound a bit weird but, I started to see these white lights floating around my peripheral vision. I decided they were the spiritual energies of my grand parents and my sister, trying to encourage me. The lights began to flash wildly. I stood up and literally shouted, “Fine, I give in. I will call.”

It was so nice to hear your sister’s voice again. She said she was sorry for the long delay but she had some bad news. You’ve been dead for six years, seven years on March ninth. You died from Aids or rather complications, kidney failure. I started to do the math in my head, but I couldn’t do that and listen to her at the same time. She told me you decided to take yourself off the machines and you died peacefully. You just slowly stopped breathing, no pain. She laughed when she told me that you’d been a difficult patient for two years. She said that I probably already knew that. She also told me you moved home. That must have been a treat for you because you said you’d never live there again.

It’s funny how the pictures of our time together seem to flash before my eyes as I listened to your sister. I really did enjoy them. I went through our photo album and reread the cards and letters you sent me.

Your sister says she talks to you all the time and that she believes you are in heaven working with animals. Halfway through our conversation, she said she was surprised that I didn’t know that he died. When she got my letter, she talked it over with your brother and his wife. She told me they thought I knew because they all assumed I gave it to you. The rest of our conversation is a bit of a blur. I don’t know if you can hear me right now but if I am responsible, I’m sorry. If I’m the reason you died, please please forgive me.