Memory is a strange thing. Things that were once top of mind fade over time. As you know, memory is how we store, retain and recall information. Mine was jogged, big time, by an email I received on Friday from someone I hadn’t thought of in almost 40 years. I was in college and she was the girlfriend of my younger brother Jay back in the early ’70s. I really don’t recall too much about their relationship other than that it was. I was too busy with my own life at the time.
Jay died of AIDS in 1985 and while his death effected me in a major way at the time, after almost 25 years things have a way of fading from memory and I don’t think of him as often as I once did. But her series of emails over the past 24+ hours have taken me back to a different time and place.
I remember my brother Jay as a talented, troubled, loving kid who could always make me smile and laugh. I remember his struggling with his sexuality in a very different time. I remember my parents reaction to his being gay. I also remember, my father throwing his arms around Jay, crying, and telling him that he loved him when, after a few years of estrangement, they reconnected in my NYC apartment in the early 80s.
Now, some 25 years after his death, I am struck by thoughts of what might have been. What might have been had the world of the early 1970s been a different place for a gay man? What might have been had treatment for the disease been what it is today.? What would Jay be like if he had lived and was a 55 year old man today?
I want to believe that I was a good brother and friend. He lived close to me in NYC for about 5 years in the late 70s and early 80s, so we spent a great deal of time together. But could I have done more? I guess I will never know. For now, thanks Edna for contacting me and bringing back memories of Jay that had faded from my mind over time.