Friday, January 17, 2014

The Gift

Gifts come in all types. Some are tangible, some are emotional, some intellectual. 

Some are large, some are small.
I believe the best gifts are Spiritual.

I also believe people enter our lives for a reason at the time they are supposed to.

I have rarely written about my first partner, Rick, who died in 1994. And now I feel empowered to do so. It's time. 

We met in 1986 and soon began dating. It escalated all too soon into a full-fledged relationship and after about a year of dating, we moved in together. 

I was happy, I had my first long term boyfriend! I was living with a man who loved me, and we'd be together forever! We experienced the typical ups and downs of a relationship; good and bad moments; discussions, fights and make ups! I was happy, or so I thought. 

Beneath it all, something was amiss. Yet, I couldn't put my finger on it. Through time and therapy, I eventually discovered what was amiss which I have explored in prior posts.

We continued on until a health scare forced him to confront something that had never crossed our minds. He might be HIV positive. 

This was in 1992, towards the beginning of the AIDS pandemic when many gay men didn't want to confront a possible death sentence as very little was known about the disease at that time. Plus, I believe Rick was in denial about it all.

As frightened as he was to be forced to get tested, he faced it bravely; no, we faced it bravely together. He went in for the test a few days before we left for a vacation to Walt Disney World, during which he called his doctor back in California and got the results. He tested positive.

Without fully realizing, or accepting it, I had already left the relationship emotionally; now I knew I could never leave it physically. I had to stay. I was; no, I am not the type of man to leave a dying partner. Even after he told me to go, to live my life, I still could not leave him. What would my friends think of me? What would I think of myself?

His health deteriorated rapidly after January 1994. He tried to manage what he could on his own, as he refused to apply for services from any of the AIDS organizations at the time. By the end of July, it was inevitable. It would not be long. He was dying. 

He asked me to promise him not to let him die in the hospital. Of course, I agreed.

I failed to keep that promise.

I carried that guilt for a number of years. Sure, I was eventually able to rationalize I'd done everything I could. I'd told the doctor of his request as soon as I knew he was close to death. When she finally came to release him, he would not have survived the trip home let alone to the elevator. It was her fault, she was late. I could forgive myself for letting him die like that. 

But, did he forgive me?

And that, I needed to know.

In time, I put it out of my mind. I went on with life, met a new man and eventually married and divorced him. 

As I dealt with the pain of the divorce, the pain around Rick's death resurfaced, the nagging wondering of whether he forgave me. 

But how could I find out?

I took the most logical step.

I consulted a medium.

I discovered the blog of a man I follow on a social media platform where he came out as a medium and was looking to practice reading people to further develop his gift and confidence. I thought if he is just learning about his gift he might not be very accurate, but what would I have to lose but the time invested in the session. I contacted him and explained my situation that I had a couple of questions for my prior partner. I nervously awaited the answer which came the next afternoon, "I'd LOVE to help you, but please tell me no more!" 

We met at the chosen restaurant on a Friday shortly after noon, and I immediately felt comfortable with him. Perhaps it was my eagerness to finally have the answers I had been searching for that had me at ease. Perhaps it was the fact he said he had so many questions for me that buoyed my confidence in his gift. Perhaps it was the gentle banter over lunch that also relaxed me. Perhaps it was even something greater than both of us.

And the fact he was so easy on the eyes certainly didn't hurt.

Maybe this was all meant to be.

For me.

At this time.

When we'd finished eating, he said, "Before we begin the reading, you told me you had a question for your ex; your answer is 'Yes'. Now, what was your question?" 

I explained the promise I'd made to Rick and the guilt I'd carried about letting him die in the hospital. Did Rick forgive me? Apparently, he did.

The Medium went on to say he'd had a few images flash through his mind that morning as he prepared to meet me and even a few more as he entered the parking lot of the restaurant. He began to write them down. The very first image the Medium shared with me convinced me he had the gift. Rick was with us. 

It was a daisy. A reference to my favorite Disney character. Throughout my relationship with Rick, I collected almost anything I could find with Daisy Duck on it. The fact that this was the first message from Rick told me he wanted to be there for me. 

The Medium went on to share more images, most of which I could connect back to Rick; gray- the color of his car; Michael- the name of a man I'd met just before I met Rick who later turned out to be Rick's ex and close friend and coincidentally, Rick died on Michael's birthday; 23- the age Rick was when we met; 14- the date of both Rick's birthday and our anniversary, May and August respectively. As I was meeting the Medium for the first time, how could he have known any of this? There is only one person left in my life who knew of my passion for Daisy Duck. 

Before we ended the session, there were a few messages from Rick; he's very happy I'm out of the relationship I was just in, he is very grateful I didn't leave him in spite of how unhappy I'd been, and I'd meet the love of my life very soon. And I deserve this man who will be coming to me. I left the reading very happy, elated over the fact Rick forgave me for not fulfilling my promise, and acknowledging me for staying by his side to the end.

The next morning, Saturday, as I sat at my dining table over my morning tea and yogurt, I began reflecting on what Rick had said. And then it happened. I broke down. I could not stop the tears from coming. And they came, bursting forth from so deep within I never knew they were there. I cried all morning. I tried to hold myself together while driving down the 101 Freeway to a counseling appointment, but totally lost it when I heard the song, "I Hope You Find It" by Cher, which I recently highlighted in a blog about letting go and moving on. The first time I cried to that song, I realized I was moving on from the two men who had most recently broken my heart and I sincerely hoped they find their happiness. This time, I took it as a message for me.

And later, I realized why I had been crying, as I had cried on and off all weekend. I was finally able to release all the long carried grief and guilt still buried some twenty years later. I was also finally able to accept that, in spite of how different we were, Rick loved me more than I knew and more than he knew how to show me while he was alive. And he still loves me even now. 

And he always will.

And for that, I will always be grateful to the Medium for the gift he gave me.


  1. This is a really moving post, Jeff. Have you considered writing a memoir? I'm really sorry about how that first relationship turned out, but it clearly has made you a stronger person. That old adage is true: through adversity comes strength. What a harrowing experience, though! I don't know that I could handle it, if I was faced with that. But I do know, of course, that I would. I love my partner and vice versa, it's the law of the jungle! :)

    1. Sean, thank you, as always, for taking the time to read and comment. It's funny you should mention a memoir, as you are now the third person to suggest something along that line. And thank you for your support! I believe everything we go through gives us strength, if we only take time to stop and look at it in that vein.
      Remember, God/the Universe/Life always gives us what we can handle.