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In This Life

By Larry Gross · September 4th, 2013 · Living Out Loud
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For all I've been blessed with in this life
There was an emptiness in me
I was imprisoned by the power of gold
But one honest touch could set me free

Just a few days after Labor Day, September 1994, I was sitting in a chair alongside my twin brother who was lying in a hospital bed. This was in Seattle, Wash. — Swedish Hospital. Jered had just “turned the corner” on almost dying from AIDS — or at least that’s what his doctor told me. 

With Jered coming so close to death and still living with an illness that could kill him, we both decided we needed to prepare for what eventually could happen. It wasn’t something we wanted to do; it was something we had to do.

We went over his will and financial matters, then we talked about this memorial service. There would be no actual funeral with a casket. My brother wanted to be cremated.

Jered didn’t really care what was said at his service, but there was one song he wanted played — one song he wanted others to hear. He wanted “In This Life” to be sung and he wanted it sung by Collin Raye.

I knew of the song but I couldn’t actually remember hearing it. I asked him what was special about it — why that song? He just told me he liked it. I said nothing more. I wrote down the name thinking and hoping I would have a long time before I had to learn more about it. Turns out, I didn’t have long at all.

After he was released from the hospital and after I had returned home to Cincinnati, Jered took a turn for the worse. I talked to him on the phone the night before I was heading back to Seattle. I would be with him the following day. I didn’t make it. He died that morning in Swedish Hospital. This was on Sept. 27, 1994.

With my mind in a haze, I started thinking about Jered’s memorial service and that song he wanted played. I don’t remember who found a copy of it and don’t remember who provided the stereo system to play it on. I was just there in the church and in emotional pain when the song was being played.

Let the world stop turnin'
Let the sun stop burnin'
Let them tell me love's not worth going through
If it all falls apart
I will know deep in my heart
The only dream that mattered had come true
In this life, I was loved by you

After the service, we went to a friend of Jered’s who had a house on an island outside of Seattle.

I was there, but then again I wasn’t. Drinking too much wine, I mostly stayed to myself. None of what was going on around me seemed real. 

A friend of Jered’s approached me — apparently a good friend. He was glad that song by Collin Raye had been played at the service. This person, a stranger to me, started talking about the history of the song or at least my brother’s history with it, assuming I knew the special meaning behind “In This Life.”

I learned that Jered wanted that song played at his memorial service in honor of the one true love in his life. That person’s name was William. 

William lived in San Francisco. That’s where my brother lived before moving to Seattle. I knew of William. Sitting there drinking wine and listening to my brother’s friend talk, I remembered a picture Jered had sent me of him and William together — both smiling like they were crazy for each other. I hadn’t thought of that photo in years. 

This friend who was talking to me assumed I knew all of Jered’s and William’s history together. He assumed I knew that William was the one who had given my twin brother AIDS and this was the reason why Jered had moved to Seattle — to try and forget he had the illness and to try and forget William.

I was shocked. Jered had never mentioned any of this to me.

Him and his damn privacy. Him and his damn secrets. He never wanted to communicate anything real that was happening to him. If he could tell a friend this, why couldn’t he tell me, his twin brother? He made a habit of keeping me in the dark and not sharing his life — not sharing his problems. That’s how he was. The reality is I shouldn’t have been shocked by anything I was hearing. 

Listening to what Jered’s friend was telling me, I started to realize that my brother hadn’t forgotten about William. He had continued to love this person who had given him AIDS and who had killed him.

For every mountain I have climbed
Every raging river crossed
You were the treasure that I'd longed to find
Without your love I would be lost

In the years following that conversation with my brother’s friend, I learned the one true love of Jered’s life lived for two more years before dying of AIDS himself. For a long time, selfishly, this made me angry — William killed my brother, he should have died first — but I’m not angry anymore. After 19 years, I’ve learned to let the hate go. I’ve learned to be glad Jered had someone in his life that, at least for a little while, made him truly happy. 

Jered and his secrets: I don’t know why he had them and why he didn’t think he could tell me everything or anything. In talking to his friends only the years, I’ve found that he was like this with most people. He kept it all inside, not sharing much with anybody. 

Time has a way of healing, but Jered is always in my thoughts. The month of September brings him back full force. A few days ago, I decided to go to the internet and see if I could find Collin Raye singing that song — singing “In This Life.” I hadn’t heard it in close to 19 years. There it was on YouTube:

Let the world stop turnin'
Let the sun stop burnin'
Let them tell me love's not worth going through
If it all falls apart
I will know deep in my heart
The only dream that mattered had come true
In this life, I was loved by you

Listening to it, the tears fell like I knew they would. He loved William, the man who had given him AIDS and who had killed him, until the very end. When I can sort through the muck with his privacy issues and secrets he kept from me and just think about forgiveness, I can accept the decisions he made. In the end, I realize he was somehow trying to protect me and I know he loved me. That’s all that matters really. In this life, he loved me. 

 
 
 
 

 

 
09.06.2013 at 06:45 Reply

I am probably like a lot of people who don't know how to respond to your column. It's heartbreaking and heartfelt and it brought tears to my eyes. You see, I am also a twin and I am blessed to still have her with me. I can't imagine losing her. You have carried on for nearly 20 years without your brother and he is still on your mind and always will be until you can join him in heaven. You will see him again, always remember that. God bless you, Mr. Gross 

 

09.07.2013 at 07:15 Reply

I lost my partner to aids in 2000 and still miss him. Your words meant something to me and were comforting. thank you for this. 

 

 
 
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