This is the first time I have had the opportunity to see the AIDS quilt.
Over the two weeks surrounding Independence day, it was stretched out across the mall. Though I had heard my dad and Dencil talk about the quilt, and the impact that it can have on you, I was completely unprepared for the stark reality of the number of names of the deceased that covered the lawn of the mall.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died from this disease.
Men, women, children, babies.
It gave me pause to think about the gift of health. The gift of mobility. The blessing of friends who do not have to greet me from behind a sterilized medical mask because any germ could be fatal. It made me think of Gitz and the pain she suffered the last years of her life and how she chose joy despite the pain. It made me wonder how many of the names on the quilt had taken the route my friend Sara did and thus left an eternal legacy for those behind.
It also made me think of the names of all of those who were still suffering…
Because truly, the suffering of one of our fellow sisters or brothers should cause the compassion of us all… though many times it does not. Sometimes suffering results in increased prejudice, or denial, or blatent disregard for the fallen and the falling.
Think Rwandan genocide.
Think German Holocaust.
Think American Internment Camps.
Think AIDS crisis.
Think Breast Cancer.
It should not be.
On our watch, may the names that are quilted into the fabric of justice and freedom and health be greater than the names that become a part of our memories.