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 Topic: Life after your partners death, how to start living again.

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crighton  



Joined: 06 Apr 2003
Posts: 1
Interests: Science fiction tv and movies, GLBT people who have lost a lifepartner to death from anything, stand-up comedy, meeting new people, internet, 70s & 80s music.
Physical Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Posted: 7 Apr 2003, 8:43 pm    Post subject: Life after your partners death, how to start living again. Reply with quote

No matter who you are, where you're from, or if you are gay or straight, losing your lifepartner is a devastating thing to live through. I personally have been through this more than one time due to the scourge of Hiv/aids. Typical grief groups in my expierience [living in Minneapolis Minnesota] are not very receptive to the glbt community. I have been told many times in my quest for support, "get over it, it's not like you lost your wife" or another enraging one is "how can you compare losing a perverse sex partner, to my losing the father of my children"! We as glbt people need to support each other in times of grief, and after getting to a point of acceptance, we need to educate straight people that for us, who can't legally enter into marriage, our loss is every bit as devastating to us as there loss is to them! After my partner of 8.5 years died, I was so devastated and self destructive that it is truly amazing I'm alive today to write this post. I'm told that I suffer from an acute case of survivors guilt, stemming from my being alive, and still being Hiv-negative. I am very interested in hearing from other glbt people who have lost there lifepartner to aids or from anything that resulted in death. I believe that in the continuum of care,especially regarding aids,the most neglected group are those of us left behind to carry on with life, without our other half. I know for me, it's been like trying to carry on with half of my heart being ripped out of me. I will respond to any and all replies to this post, unless of course you'd prefer I don't, [which of course I will respect], regardless I'd be very interested hearing anybody elses story, opinion, or anything else. Thanks for reading this, sincerely Bill-aka crighton
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Ryan  



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 33
Interests: Queer History and Biography
Physical Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posted: 7 Apr 2003, 11:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Life after your partners death, how to start living agai Reply with quote

crighton wrote:
No matter who you are, where you're from, or if you are gay or straight, losing your lifepartner is a devastating thing to live through... regardless I'd be very interested hearing anybody elses story, opinion, or anything else. Thanks for reading this, sincerely Bill-aka crighton


Bill, the following online articles may be helpful to you, although the first one on this list might be a little too academic....

Gay Widowers: Grieving in Relation to Trauma and Social Supports
http://www.thebody.com/shernoff/widower/widower.html

Gay Grief and Gay Widowers
http://www.gaypsychotherapy.com/lgnywidower.htm

I'm Not Done Yet (chapter from the book mentioned below)
http://www.thebody.com/shernoff/wilson.html

and the book is:
Gay Widowers: Life After the Death of a Partner
Michael Shernoff, MSW, Editor; Foreword by Felice Picano
Published by Haworth Press in December, 1997

Also, there's a website for gay widows/widowers:
http://www.domani.net/richard/gaywidows.html

I hope that this info is helpful to you...you can find more by doing a Google search http://www.google.com on "gay widowers" (you need the quote marks to search the words as a phrase).

Find out what supports you have in the queer community in Minneapolis (service agencies, counselors, etc.) and don't be afraid to use them. Look for a copy of The Source gay community directory for the Twin Cities; there's also a Resource Directory in the Twin Cities GLBT Visitor and Relocation Guide published by Lavender (I had picked up copies of both on my visit to Minneapolis in 2001, when a group of us Winnipeggers piled into the car and drove 8 hours south for a fun gay weekend). And don't give up on the straight grief resources either...some, but not all, are homophobic. You may have to kick a few tires before you find what you;re looking for. Best of luck to you.

--Ryan.
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Ryan Schultz, Reference Librarian
University of Manitoba Libraries
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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LibPer  



Joined: 30 Apr 2005
Posts: 1

Physical Location: Chicago

Posted: 30 Apr 2005, 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I lost my life-partner of five years suddenly April 1 of complications relating to a recent hip replacement operation. I received a phone call from his brother: that was it. He was gone. Just gone. Just when we were rejoicing in the change that a new hip would alleviate the constant pain and dependence on pain-killers, just when we were integrating our lives further (we did not live together and did not share finances), including socializing with his family, his involvement in my college teaching career. Luckily the family and I were both mature and gracious, and I was mentioned prominently at the funeral and participated. I unofficially inherited most of his personal effects. I have not been in contact with the family since the clean out of the house. They are dealing with their own guilt (I could tell). I can't deal with them, nor can I deal with going back to the house again. I spent two days with the family and some friends of mine cleaning out. I am crying now. I had to start pulling apart a closet with the clothes hanging there, only days after he had died. That will haunt me for the rest of my life. Dammit! God dammit! He had just come out later in life and really was not close to them through the years. Sometimes I want to shut my eyes and think this did not happen, his things are not here Luckily, also, the event has brought my family closer together, and my colleagues and friends at the University I teach at have been wonderful. Thanks for listening. I am just not sure what to do. I know now he is not here, but there's a void, a dark vacuum. What do I do? I have my work, and that has helped, but going home is difficult.



Link to obituary in gay publication. His name was Barry Stern.

Scott


http://www.gaychicagomagazine.com/nw.passings.asp
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davidat  



Joined: 05 May 2005
Posts: 1
Interests: folklore, professional storyteller, foreign film, modern Middle Eastern literature, world beat, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Latif Bolat, and just too much more to list.
Physical Location: Austin TX

Posted: 5 May 2005, 1:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Life after your partners death, how to start living agai Reply with quote

My dear Bill - 2 years ago I lost my partner of 12 years to advanced Hep C and Liver cancer. It was quite a shock despite the fact that we/I had been preparing for his death for about 2 years. The hardest part for me was watching his gradual decline, sitting up during the night to help him take care of his night-sweats and terrors (side-effects of the meds), leaving work to take him to the ER, and all those wonderful challenges that come with transition from life to after-life. I was with Joe when he died - it was a kind and peaceful death. Probably what helped me the most was that before the funeral van came to pick him up, I washed his body and sang one of my favourite Irish folk songs ("Gaoth barra na dTonn" - yep, that's Gaelic for ya'). I became active in his death and transition. Of course, I was very very numb for about 2 - 3 months, avoided crowds, went home and withdrew. Viewed this as an incubation before coming back out in the world. It's a bitch that you had the experiences you did with the grief support groups. Perhaps it's where I live, don't know, but the hospice bereavement group was open, listening, and supportive of my sadness. Never heard a comment about my being queer and not really losing anyone like a father, that sort of thing.

The best thing you can do to honour his life and death is to take care of yourself, love your friends, do not see yourself as a victim of life, and always remember that guilt [gilt] belongs on picture frames. Live life like he'd want you to - free, joyous, and loving. Always remember, grief is like ocean tides - it's strong at first, then gradually recedes into softness only to come back again every once in a while like a strong wave. You don't have to go through this alone. Honestly.
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In the country of slaves, the free man is a beggar. - Bukiet
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philip490  



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 1
Interests: HIV/AIDS, Literature, History, Postcard collecting, World Cultures
Physical Location: Greece

Posted: 8 Oct 2005, 12:56 pm    Post subject: I am in grief and still in love! Reply with quote

I have recently lost my beloved partner to AIDS. Philip was 38 and we were deeply in love. I am still in love with him and I treasure every moment we shared. My grief is deep, though, and at times I feel lost and tottaly diosrganised. Are there any other guys who have experienced the same feelings?
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Nikos
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Ross Pres  



Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 1
Interests: meeting people who have lost their partners, site seeing, travel, gardening,hiking, camping, beaches,classic rock
Physical Location: Little Falls, NJ

Posted: 29 Nov 2005, 9:42 pm    Post subject: Losing the Love of My Life Reply with quote

I lost my sweet Ron this past Sept.13th. He was 50 yrs young, I was 40.
Ron battled advanced AIDS. He had a terrible last 2 years, I watched him waste away, lose his strength, and then lose his sight completely from CMV in the last 6 months. He fought every step of the way always surprising the doctors with his rebounds and he never gave up hope that he could somehow surrmount what was happening to him. Thank god he had a very supportive doctor and was enrolled in experimental treatments that probably extended his life.
I am devastated, we were together for 15-1/2 years. The night I met Ron I knew he was the "one", I dropped every other boyfriend immediately. We moved in together almost immediately and never doubted our love for each other(really). Sure we fought sometimes but it never got serious, I never even thought about leaving him. We enjoyed fixing up the house and yard, traveling, camping, dinners and get togethers with friends, our pool, our cats. Ron was a jack of all trades kind of guy. He made bird houses, water fountains, gates for the yard, garden beds, patios, lattice work, he loved his projects.
I am having a very difficult time getting past his death, I miss him so much it hurts. He was my soulmate, supporter, lover, protector...
He was always concerned about my wellness even when he was so sick that he couldn't even get out of bed. He was the person who always wanted to do things for others and it hurt him that he could no longer help his partner or his friends.
I could not have imagined the depth of my feelings of loss. Even though I had anticipated with great foreboding the day that this might happen, had panic attackes over it, etc. I now realize that you can never really prepare for this event.
I still don't want to believe that it has happened. I call his name every day, his clothes and slippers I wear, I replay the answering machine and cell phone to hear his voice, I can not stop looking at pictures of him, sometimes I make a plate for him at the table, I still can not imagine my life without him...
I am in therapy and I am trying to set the stage for me to move on with my life. Funny thing is right now I still don't want to move on, I'm not ready to let him go, he's worth holding on to, 15 years of love and support it's only been 2-1/2 months without him. I have to honor his life...
It would be nice to meet other people going through bereavment for support, it seems only those who have lost a partner can relate to these feelings.
Thanks for letting me vent...Love you forever Ron...
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TedR  



Joined: 17 Dec 2006
Posts: 1
Interests: Writing, Film, Food, Karaoke, Tennis
Physical Location: Union City, NJ

Posted: 18 Dec 2006, 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thursday, December 21st, 2006 will mark eight weeks since my partner passed. Reading these posts made me realize that there really are people out there who understand.
I often think I am losing my mind. The grief, guilt and depression are overwhelming. There is so much to say, yet words cannot really convey the sense of emptiness, loss, terror, confusion and anger. Mundane tasks are difficult, concentration is impossible and silence unbearable.
I want to hold onto everything of Joe's. I do not want to "move on." I am terrified of losing memories, even painful ones. I hate knowing I will never hold his hand again or look into his eyes or hear his voice. Right now I cannot imagine how people survive this.
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gennee  



Joined: 15 Sep 2005
Posts: 412
Interests: reading, writing, poetry, transgender issues, gospel, veteran's issues,jazz,education,religion,literature,Native-American and African culture,lighthouses,trails,castles,tractor trailers, playwriting, biograhies, electronics, bass guitar
Physical Location: new york

Posted: 19 Dec 2006, 10:38 am    Post subject: Sympathy Reply with quote

Losing anyone who we love hurts deeply. It doesn't matter if it's a wife, husband, partner, friend, or child. My heart goes out to you who have lost someone. I will pray for you and that you will be comforted during this time of bereavement.

Gennee
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jim770  



Joined: 24 Dec 2006
Posts: 1
Interests: Photography, Landscape, computers, hiking
Physical Location: Alpharetta, Ga (Atlanta area)

Posted: 24 Dec 2006, 2:25 pm    Post subject: Loss of my Partner Reply with quote

I lost Bob on December 09, 2006. I read TedRs comments and agree totally with him. Bob and I have been together for 35 years. He died at home in my arms after hospitlization for about 3 weeks. We met the week after Thanksgiving on a Saturday night 35 years ago. He died the week after Thanksgiving on Saturday night 35 years later. Strange. It has been two weeks now and I thought life would get better a little bit each day. But it hasn't, I don't cry as much but still do, but now there is this emptiness that has settled in. I feel like there is no "spark or light" in me any longer. Bob was my anchor, lover and my best friend. I have a hard time doing anything, have absolutely no interest in anything either. Even reading seems impossible. So I sit here on the computer looking for some support. But there is not much support out there for gay widowers.
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SteveNC  



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
Posts: 1
Interests: Gardening, jazz, my calico cat
Physical Location: Central North Carolina

Posted: 26 Sep 2007, 6:17 pm    Post subject: Loss of my beloved partner Reply with quote

I don't know how many original posters are still following this discussion thread, but all of the entries touched my heart and made me cry. I'm still struggling with the loss of my partner one year and one month later. On August 25th, 2006 I came home from work to find him in the basement, dead from what I later learned was a heart attack. He was only 56 years old. We only had 9 short years together. I don't have words sufficient to express the devastation I felt and still do. I felt literally like half of me had been amputated. For the past year I feel like I've been groping my way forward in the dark, not knowing how to judge my progress or if, in fact, I was making any. I"ve been lucky in that I have very supportive friends and family who all loved Mark. But no matter how supportive or how much they loved him, his death is a small blip in their lives compared to the impact it has on mine. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that and that for the most part they have moved on a year later, while I still dwell in a very lonely place and try to confine the emotions to the quiet times at our home alone with our cat Serena.

I know things will get better, I just don't know when. I know that life has and will go on. But as one poster said, I think you have to have gone through this to even have an inkling of what it feels like, with the depths of despair directly proportional to the depth of the love you had and have for the partner. I was amazed at the lack of hits on "gay grief support" on Google. This is my first attempt at reaching out online and I truly thought there would be more out there. But I am glad I found this thread. If any of the original posters are still listening, or if anyone new comes across this, please feel free to reply. While I do have a good support structure, I still feel the need to talk with someone who really understands.
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gennee  



Joined: 15 Sep 2005
Posts: 412
Interests: reading, writing, poetry, transgender issues, gospel, veteran's issues,jazz,education,religion,literature,Native-American and African culture,lighthouses,trails,castles,tractor trailers, playwriting, biograhies, electronics, bass guitar
Physical Location: new york

Posted: 27 Sep 2007, 12:56 pm    Post subject: No Set Time Reply with quote

Hi, Steve. I posted to this particular forum last year. My name is Gennee. Losing a loved oneis a devastating experience. To lose someone suddenly is quite a shock. I lost my mom suddenly six years ago.
[color=darkblue]
Reading your post, I can feel the deep love you and Mark had for each other. I wish that we could sit together and talk about it. Crying is okay because it releasing some of the inner turmoil you may be experiencing. There's no set time on how long the grieveing process is. Just take it one day at a time.

I know that you have lovely memories of Mark: the things you did, the things that you shared, and the love you had for each other. Be thankful that he came into your life at that particular time. I'm sure that you are a better person today because of Mark.

Please feel free to email me if you would like to share anything. I will be praying for you, Steve.

In love,
Gennee
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JDH  



Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Posts: 1
Interests: Gardening, Painting, Renovation, Caring for my pets
Physical Location: Mexico

Posted: 28 Dec 2007, 9:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Life after your partners death, how to start living agai Reply with quote

crighton wrote:
No matter who you are, where you're from, or if you are gay or straight, losing your lifepartner is a devastating thing to live through.

Yves died one month ago on Nov 16th, 2007. We had been together 21 years. He'd been out for 10 years when I met him. I wasn't yet. My intense physical and emotional feelings for him swept away ANY doubt as to my orientation. Despite being head over heels for him, I still insisted we wait 6 months before we move in together.

Shortly after, I similarly insisted that we both be tested for HIV. It seems I was looking for the icing on the cake. There was none. I tested positive with only some discreet experimentation in my past, it was enough to throw a cloud over our existence from then on.
Yves never even entertained bailing out. For my part I tried my best not to burden him with the weight of my status any more than was absolutely necessary. He would grudgingly get tested about every 5 years. It had been about that long since he'd been tested. We decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary by getting married. All his family was there in Quebec, and a few close friends.

Today it would be the first anniversary of our wedding. He came down with a bad cold in September. I had to push him to see a Dr. The chest cold moved up to his sinuses, blocking his left ear from hearing and affecting his balance. 4 Dr's later; we were referred to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist who promptly announced, "Yup, that's a big tumor!" Now it's mid October.

We are living and working in Mexico; he as a French teacher. I put him on a flight to Canada the next morning while my mind whirled with the logistics of this. How can I join him? When? For how long? We have a house full of pets and few close friends in Mexico, and my job had just become extremely demanding with the resignation of 3 important positions at work. I managed to get away 2 days later for 5 days and then alternated weeks staying with him with is sisters.

His diagnosis of Burkitt's Lymphoma was confirmed a week later and intensive chemo began including intrathecal chemo injections into his spinal fluid began. He endured the side effects bravely with much support from a wonderful nursing team and lots of medication for the side effects. On November 16th, after losing blood pressure suddenly the morning before, Yves died. The caregivers in the ICU had kept him going for 24 hours until his sisters could arrive from Quebec. They discontinued aggressive treatment after his sisters arrived and he died 2 hours later. I too insisted on helping to wash him and dress him for the family to return and say good bye. I had stayed with him in ICU for the 36 hours he spent there playing his Satellite radio tuned to the Metropolitan Opera Station and his 4 favorite operas played throughout the night. Now I turn on his Satellite radio Opera Station every night when I go to bed. I have tried to turn it down low enough that it will not wake me but I cannot make myself turn it off.

6 weeks after his death, on what would be our first wedding anniversary, it has slowly but clearly dawning on me that I very likely caused his death. The WORST CASE SCENARIO I had hoped and prayed for 20 years would never happen if we were careful; had indeed happened. It has taken this long to sift through the myriad of images and emotions of his extremely fast progressing illness, that in the end, my beloved partner and most recently spouse died of AIDS (not lymphoma) and that he very probably got it from me despite our years of precautions. I have spent most of our time together making sure Yves had all the Life insurance I could afford and that no matter what our adventure; travel or home building, that everything was always in order for Yves to be well taken care of and secure. The irony is nauseating.

During his hospitalization, our family doctor telephoned and told him quite directly that he could not have gotten infected by me as my viral load has been undetectable for some time. What my Dr cannot know with any certainty is how long since Yves sero-converted. In retrospect, I know that he has been positive for AT LEAST 2 years, possibly 3 or more, because it is at least that long that he has been plagued by itchy sometimes dramatic allergic reactions to insect bites that would barely trouble me. He would spray himself with OFF and wear long pajamas even through the hot humid summers here in Mexico. Sudden allergic reactions to otherwise innocuous insect bites should be added to the growing list of warning sign for at risk individuals.

I cannot say that I have encountered anyone including the social workers in the hospital that did not treat me as every bit the devastated spouse that I am. What is discouraging is that despite many sincere attempts at consolation, no one can know the depth and width of your individual relationship along with whatever unique blend of guilt and loss that you are dealing with.

I do recognize the real help I continue to receive from just one or two of the many friends and relatives who continue to email me with words of support or concern, in the form of encouraging, if not creating the need or opportunity to write about my grief. Only my mother is making noises about “moving on”, and “not rolling in it”. What I do not hear from anyone, not even here at this site, is that there is anything to be done except to endure it. Withstand it. “One foot in front of the other”.

Corresponding with an Aunt, I wrote, “I know I am not the only person to experience this loss” and that another Aunt who had just as suddenly lost her spouse after 50 years, “seemed to be doing better.” I was trying to take some comfort in that, when the Aunt I was writing to told me that she had been avoiding discussing this Aunt who had been widowed almost 2 years ago, as she had told her recently that she “still expected him to walk in the door any day.”

What a blow this was. I had finally found something, however feeble, to grapple a hold of, only to learn that 2 years later, she still apparently felt the same as I do now. What on earth is one supposed to hold on to, or to aim toward? It is like being diagnosed with terminal grief and told there is no cure. At first I did not want to even begin to recover as I felt that was the beginning of letting go and I was definitely not ready for that. Now, still a relatively short time after Yves' death, I am more heartsick than ever and barely functioning at work. The distraction of work temporarily paints over the grief, yet I have the hardest time to finish the work day as my mind is so occupied trying to process this.

When I come home I cannot seem to get to bed and almost always wake up on the sofa in front of the television at 3 in the morning. Yves was the one who always said it was “time for bed” and with his work schedule, always got us up at least 2 hours before either of us had to work so we could enjoy the quiet comforting ritual of our morning coffee together before the busy work day. Getting up at a decent hour in the morning is now the biggest challenge. I recently purchased an old-fashioned alarm clock as the 2 clock-radios in the room were not waking me up. If I knew with some kind of certainty that I would recover from the suffocating weight of this grief and guilt I could endure the “one foot in front of the other” advice, but now that I am one of those people, I am just now getting the real story from more and more people. That it never really goes away. At 45 I am a little too young to dress in black the rest of my life but cannot imagine what kind of company I could ever be for anyone else with the size of the scar I am carrying and the 21 years of memories that will die with me as we have no children between us.

I wish I had found something more encouraging here at this site. That is what I was looking for, but I leave this story in solidarity with those other grieving spouses who are bravely sharing their experiences. Perhaps in writing this I am leaving something rather than taking. You are not alone and your grief is as palpable and as screamingly real as anyone’s similar loss. In a day and age where even Veterinarians send cards of condolence at the loss of a pet, it is only the cruelest of intolerant people who would even imagine they had any right let alone sufficient insight to validate or invalidate another person’s deeply individual grief. I only hope for all of us that the enormity of our respective losses will gradually shrink to a manageable size and not occupy all of our thoughts all of the time. A feeble goal I know, but not unlike the feeble goals I used to pull myself through those first very uncertain years of being HIV positive in the 80s. Perhaps the experiences will be very similar to the point where, like my sero-positive status, my grief will gradually be pushed to the distance as only the years have reduced its relative importance in my daily life.

Over time, a spouse not only occupies more and more of your heart, but also of your activities of daily living. That is why the loss is so great. Over the years Yves ad I just naturally gravitated towards different daily chores. We complimented each other so perfectly. So I have not just lost my love but also my compass and my clock, my homemaker and chef, he was always the good cop to my bad cop; as good natured as I was serious; and a master at turning any moment into a special one.

I now have to learn to live without him and all of his roles in my daily life. In doing so I must also rediscover and rebuild all the parts of my life that, over the years, he took over. Not wanting to is not an option. I don’t have any belief system in any spiritual power so most of the typical comforting expressions are meaningless to me. While horribly horribly ironic, I do not believe there is any divine plan or injustice to his getting sick instead of me. That I became HIV positive with perhaps 4 previous homosexual experiences is as much a part of the grand biological accident of life as his becoming infected despite our precautions. And that he would skip all the mundane HIV-related illnesses I have experienced, and that would have alerted us to his condition in plenty of time to have treated it, is so tragically unfortunate.

Yes your grief is every bit as real and debilitating as anyone's. Let's all hope that our recovery and acceptance is just as real.
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gennee  



Joined: 15 Sep 2005
Posts: 412
Interests: reading, writing, poetry, transgender issues, gospel, veteran's issues,jazz,education,religion,literature,Native-American and African culture,lighthouses,trails,castles,tractor trailers, playwriting, biograhies, electronics, bass guitar
Physical Location: new york

Posted: 30 Dec 2007, 1:18 pm    Post subject: Learned a Lesson Reply with quote

One of the lessons that I learned this year was my position on AIDS. It has changed from indifference to concern and involvement. Reading these posts plus WORLD AIDS Day opened my eyes. I still think about those who have been lost to this disease. I will continue to pray for all of you. I will learn all I can and do my part to help eradicate this disease.

Gennee
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gennee  



Joined: 15 Sep 2005
Posts: 412
Interests: reading, writing, poetry, transgender issues, gospel, veteran's issues,jazz,education,religion,literature,Native-American and African culture,lighthouses,trails,castles,tractor trailers, playwriting, biograhies, electronics, bass guitar
Physical Location: new york

Posted: 11 Jan 2008, 1:30 pm    Post subject: Happy New Year Reply with quote

I wish everyone here a belated Happy New Year. I also want to touch to see how all of you are doing? I'm keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers.

Gennee
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