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Monday, February 04, 2013

Most of our life is spent in daily routines from getting up, going to school/work, coming home, having dinner, watching TV, going on the Internet and then to sleep. We may vary weekends by going out to eat or a movie or to a wedding and, those who are lucky may go on a vacation each year. What we mainly remember of past years are things, both good and bad, that take us out of our routines which can be anything from losing a job, a death, a new life and changing our life. I had many good times in the 1990s and many bad but one stands out above all.

Michael McCarroll was the first friend I made when I moved to Fort Lauderdale, meeting him at the Sandpiper bar and restaurant. I have spoken about him before but I have never spoken of his death and the influence he, and that event, had on me. Out of respect for him I won't go into much depth as Michael was a very private person regarding his illness.

Michael told me he was diagnosed with AIDS, over dinner, the week before- -this was October 6, 1988. He was prescribed AZT and that sort of scared me as I had only heard bad things about it. (For more information on AZT go to:
ZT.) On June 7, 1989 he went into the hospital with Kaposi's sarcoma , a form of cancer, and pneumonia and was there until July 9 . He would tire easily but continued to teach. Very little was known about AIDS back then with kids being kicked out of school for being HIV+ and doctors and nurses refusing to take care of patients among other things. He loved teaching and refused to give it up knowing he wouldn't harm a student so when it came to medicine and bouts of illness he would pay out of his own pocket because if the school became aware of his having AIDS he would be fired--it was allowed back then.

He came down with CMV February 23, 1991 and on April 21 went into the hospital. On August 10 he was once again in the hospital with Kaposi's sarcoma in his stomach and in early September his father and sister came down. Nancy knew he was gay and had AIDS but his father didn't know the former and he still didn't want him to know. Ray didn't push him as to how he got AIDS and returned to Michigan to his wife, Michael's mother, Shirley and I don't think to the day she died, years later, did she know he died of AIDS as both Ray and Nancy told her he had cancer from smoking.

I visited Michael every day he was in the hospital and on October 8 he was moved into hospice. Nancy and I spent as much time as possibl with him and one evening when I was sitting with him I whispered that it was okay for him to let go, that we who loved him didn't want him to suffer anymore. The next, on October 11, 1991, Michael died. Nancy made arrangements for his body to be sent to Michigan and she left 2 days later.

Many things would happen in my life over the next decade but the one thing that stood out, and still does, was the loss of my friend, 'brother' Michael who got aggravated with me when I spent too much money, who would give me, and others, the shirt off his back if he had to, who believed that everyone was good and even found excuses for those who did him wrong. He showed me what goodness was and how it could be applied to everyday life. I didn't always succeed but I tried to be another Michael who only knew how to give love to others.

Thank you for the 12 years of friendship and caring Michael and I am sorry for not listening to you regarding money as less than a year later I was where you feared I would be--declaring bankruptcy.
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