AIDS/LifeCycle 2013 – I’m Riding for Michael
Riding through San Mateo on a beautiful morning on Day 1 of AIDS/LifeCycle, a man was standing at the side of the road holding up a picture and calling out, “This is my brother Michael and you are riding for him.” I hadn’t taken the time last year to stop and talk to anyone holding up signs of thanks or pictures of loved ones, but fellow riders who had said it was one of the best things they did on the ride. I decided now was as good a time as any and pulled to the side of the road. As we talked, he continued to call out to other riders. He shared with me that his brother had died 22 years and a week ago from AIDS. I asked him where Michael had lived when he died and he said right there in San Mateo. He had such joy as he spoke of the memories of his brother, yet his grief was still palpable after all these years. We shared a hug and he thanked me for riding. I thanked him for being there and I went on my way.
I haven’t lost a sibling or parent or spouse. I expect it is something you never truly get over, but with HIV and AIDS, so many have died in shame and silence, suffering alone and being disowned and abandoned by family and friends. Throughout the week, I was touched time and again by the loss of so many. The grief in this community hangs like a heavy fog, lifting now and then through our shared joy and laughter in the life we are each blessed to be living and the hope that some day we will come together to ride for fun rather than to wage war on this pandemic. Still, the fog is ever looming.
Carol and I were pretty sure ALC 2012 would be our last for a few years. But we are not done. If we do not participate, someone will not get the medication they need to live with this disease, someone will not get the information they need to prevent contracting or spreading this disease, someone will not get the support they need to face this disease and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation will not get the research funds they need to find a cure for this disease. We cannot be done.
We are AIDS/LifeCycle 2013 Rider 1609 and Roadie 8113 continuing the fight to save lives on the Ride to end AIDS.