Remembering An Old Friend

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Feb 9, 2008
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25 years ago last week, one of my closest friends died a horrible death. In 1982 at age 37, he had to have two abscessed wisdom teeth extracted. Both were impacted and had to be removed immediately. He'd been told that he might lose a lot of blood and a transfusion of plasma might be necessary. He did receive the plasma.

Four years later, in 1986, he received a letter from the U.S. Center for Disease Control informing him that the plasma he'd received had been imported from France and very likely contained a Human Immunodeficiency Virus; that he should be tested immediately. He tested positive for HIV/AIDS. Little was known about AIDS at that time.

Terrified that even a kiss might infect his wife and daughter, he divorced his wife, and always maintained a safe distance from his daughter for fear that even a sneeze might infect her. As years passed and more information became known about transmission. He began to live a fairly normal life. In 1993, full blown AIDS manifested, which put him through two years of hell, prior to death, just before his 50th birthday.

We'd been friends for over forty years. Yesterday, I received a text message from his 45-year-old daughter asking me to tell her a story about her dad.

He could exhibit some strange, often humorous behaviors. He had a short period of being a vegetarian. We went to his favorite Italian restaurant pizzeria where he instructed the waitress to make him a Chicago style deep dish pizza, baked with sausage and pepperoni, but to remove all the sausage and pepperoni before she brought it to the table, because he's a vegetarian.

I miss him and have some stories to tell his daughter...with some self applied censoring.