thumbnail of After Goodbye An AIDS Story; Master
Hide -
After goodbye, an AIDS story is made possible in part by funding from the Southwestern Bell Foundation. American Airlines, providing daily flights to Europe and offering the American Airlines Advantage Travel Awards program since 1981. And, by Abbott Laboratories, providers of innovative health care products worldwide. He did live long. 23 years is not very long. But he taught me a lot. So he was my son. He was my friend, and he was my teacher. He taught me about love.
When you lose someone, the age you've been breathing for a long time. It's not a gay disease and there has been just a gay disease. That's the community that it hit the hardest first. I was angry at him for having it. I've been angry at God for allowing it to happen. Living together and dying together is the most important thing you can do. Initially, some of the friends that we told, we were surprised because they backed out of the picture. I think to them they think it only happens to bad people. Music is the language of love, but for us it's become the language of grieving as well. We've never given more than we can really handle, but
we certainly think this is more than we can handle. I do not fear death. I think that death will come as a relief. All of us get some point in our lives with experience, the pain of loss. We will grieve. Many of us will know this sorrow because of AIDS. Someone dies from AIDS every 11 minutes through this country. For each of these deaths, countless others are left to make sense of their loss. For the total Creek Corral, grieving has become familiar. This chorus of 200 men has lost
60 of its members to AIDS. Through music, they express the pain of their loss. The entrance has to be, just like you were the other night, right on, perfect diction. It came on five years ago to conduct the chorus. We began this spiral of grief. I find you gone the first time and then a really nice echo. Then we're out of there. I rebel
inwardly against the role of father, spiritual guide. I don't want any of those. I want to be the conductor and yet what they need is 10% conductor and 90% love symbol. When an emotional injury takes place, the body begins a process as natural as the healing of a physical wound. Let that process happen. Trust the process and surrender to it. Know that the pain will pass. When it passes, you'll be stronger and happier, you'll be more sensitive and more aware. Now let's do bottom of page three. The music they were rehearsing titled, when Reno Longer Touch was composed by Corral member Chris Anthony. The Requiem
chronicles the emotional stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. The lyrics are except from a book of poems about loss by Peter McWilliams. Why do words come to mind that call you back? Denial is what we usually feel first. We forget. We deny. We are numb. Numbness is the process. It's a great blessing because we can't take all that pain at once. Numbness becomes the, it's like the transformer that steps down all that pain, all that grief, all that fear, all that hurt, all that anger. It steps it down and then we get it fed to us gradually, gradually, gradually over
however long the period of time is a year, two years. It's usually denial that's first. Until it sinks in my God, it's true. Then it goes through a lot of anger. Why did this have to happen? Why me? Then they bargain with God usually. If you only do this and that, I'll give you something, it's a path during. Nice peaceful period, temporary truth. Then they go through it, very great depression. They move on all those things. They don't have any more. Their loss is a hundred little deaths. That the very end, if they're allowed to express their anger and their depression, they will get to a state of acceptance. Swiss-born psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has spent most of her lifetime studying the emotions surrounding death. Her work is known in respected worldwide. She continues to conduct grief workshops here at her farm in Virginia.
We have to resolve a loss. We cannot move on unless we have resolved some previous losses and life is nothing but one loss after another. If a little child loses its security blanket, then 25 years later loses around the child. If they had not gotten some preparation for it, they would commit suicide. They could not deal with it. But life prepares you. One day, a winter storm kills all your trees. That is a blessing. You will not eat as a blessing, but it prepares you for something else to come. My mother died almost two years ago today, after being in a coma for seven weeks and six months later, Jim died. Those kind of losses
are overwhelming and back to back there. I get dizzy just describing it right now. What allowed me to get through the loss of my mother was the love and support I had from Jim. Greg Cotton has lost dozens of friends to AIDS. He is HIV positive himself. His lover died just over a year ago. I looked over and he just took three small breaths. It was just gone. I was thrilled for him and horrified for me. The hardest thing to do is leave that room, knowing that I wasn't going to get to be with that form. It made sense
somehow. I hear a lot about people who experience the loss of a loved one as being senseless and hysterical. There was absolutely nothing hysterical about this. It was a sensible part of that journey. You know, I walk softly through life, adding thickness each day is exactly what happens. It's slowly, slowly. You're able to come back to this world, but then a thought or a feeling
of that person you've lost breaks that. It's like it rips the scab away and you bleed again and you start all over. And, for a feeling of you, Christ the Son of us is thought, for a feeling of you, Christ the Son of us, Christ the Son of us is thought. Christ the Son of us is thought, for a feeling of you and you know, what am I going to do? How am I going to deal with this? Is it going to be
quick? Is it better if it's quick or is it better to live, you know, to the very last moment and through a lot of pain and suffering? For Randy Ray, the Turtle Creek Corral is family, a family he can count on to understand when others cannot. The reasons that my father won't, you know, will not tell anyone that it's AIDS, you know, have to be the classic ones. I mean, the obvious ones, he's ashamed of it. He is, he feels shame for my sexuality, for the fact that I'm gay, and he's ashamed of
this disease. Since I've improved a lot since 1980, but the first few years were a nightmare until people finally discover that this is not the homosexual disease. This is a human epidemic that affects everybody, poor and rich, black and white men and women and children. And that helped a little bit, at least to take the big nightmare of the gay society, but they have suffered no losses in anybody. They have told us a lot about compassion and love and understanding. They were fabulous teachers, but nobody wants to acknowledge that because they're gay. I got over the shame and the guilt of being gay long before this came up. I guess, you know, because I had felt so much of it at a time before I came out and before I really started breathing. I don't think, I think I had suffocated for 25 years.
If you should chill the canyon from the windstones, you would never see the beauty of their carvings. The AIDS patient, to me, is a grand canyon. They have so many carvings. You know what I mean? It's in Boric language. And there are beautiful people, beautiful, because their soul is wide open. You can see it when you look at them. There are people that do care about you and they will be there for you. I've also learned that there are other people out there who truly, truly hate. It hurts. And I cannot imagine how anyone, especially someone that claims to be speaking from a point of love,
a point of religion, a point of God and Jesus in the Bible and all of that, could have these feelings that are nothing, nothing but hatred. They've got to have someone to hate and they have chosen gays and or people with AIDS to have that anger. Now, there's a good one. It's okay to feel anger toward the person who left. And it's okay to feel anger toward social conventions or customs that may have contributed to your loss. And it's okay to be angry at God or the fates. But it's not okay to be angry at yourself. There's so much of my experience that was being invested in how things appear. Imagine
that. You're so strong. You're so together. How can you be doing so well? And Jim and I had planned to take a skiing trip in February of last year. The plans were made and I thought at the time since I was doing so well. And I was doing so wonderfully that I just get packed and go. Until I pull the suitcase down from the attic to get my ski clothes out of it and open it up and on one side, very neatly packed were all of my ski gear, my pants and shirts. And on the other side were all of his clothes. And he should have been taking that trip with me. There's not a reason in the world that he shouldn't have been. And I lost it. I screamed and yelled and ran into the furniture. I tell you, I felt like Glenn close at the end of dangerous liaisons. But I just didn't have a choice.
I angry about people that I know that I care about, that I see waste away. I'm also angry. I want to have to go to another memorial service and say goodbye to somebody else. I'm tired
of saying goodbye. This life has been one big goodbye. I'm also angry at people that don't understand. I'm angry with people who won't honestly look at life and suffering and death that they can't love the way I feel like I love. My anger covers up my pain, my loneliness, my fear that I'm going to have to do it again. During the final days of his life, composed of Chris Anthony's friend and caregiver,
Carolyn Shin continued to be at his side. I've lost my mom and dad that were close to me and my aunts and so forth, but they've always been older. Chris was so young. And we'd really talked about things that I never talked about, about dying and what happens after you die, what he wanted done. I love you. One of the hardest things probably was to call his parents and tell them to come back into the apartment. To even change the sheets on the bed. To hear his voice on the answering machine. To see his handwriting. When Carolyn called and said, Chris died this morning, I immediately thought. But today, why today, if only
we had one more day, it would be okay, bargaining. It's part of the grieving process. Even when we think we're ready, death comes too soon. Chris knew his HIV status. And in a matter of weeks, this poured from him. And the way we got to know Chris was through his music. And I think last summer, when we first read through the song cycle in its entirety
and Chris was sitting there, I think it's the first time we knew him. And I'm not sure that it didn't embarrass him to have bared his soul so completely in front of us. Chris and Carolyn shared a love for music. He was the quiet director for her church and her handbell partner. Chris was not my husband. He wasn't my son, lover. He was just a good friend. And people don't realize really just how close that two people come when they're sharing death. And that's what we did. During the last year of his life, Chris composed this handbell solo and dedicated it to his friend Carolyn. As far as emotions, I've never been an emotional person. Everything was always bottled up and that's the way
you're supposed to do. You're supposed to handle it. But in the last couple of years that's changed a lot for me, I have a lot of friends that were very supportive. And my counselor helped. And everything I read said you've got to let it out. You've got to let it out. And I thought, well, I'll do it. But for some reason, it just comes out naturally. Everybody in the corral is at a different stage in their life in the grief for every process. Because as you know with Chris's death today, we lost David Bass at last week. We have Randy in the hospital. And we have Miguel who was put in nursing home yesterday. And so
you can't go through the process equally with all four of those people at one time. Not to mention the other people that we know are ill. So you have to take a group in so many different stages and come to a consensus that for this moment, we are here and we are helping other people. And so we now for many years have drawn an imaginary line. In performance, you are not to go over that line. Because going over that line means becoming selfish and inward and grieving on a personal level. We practice not going over the line. But then there are times in rehearsal when we've just lost a member like Chris. When we come together and we say,
let's remember what he meant to us and the good times and the laughter and all the things we went through with Chris. And then when we saying I had loved, I just say to them, walk on over that way. Jump. Give in the circumstances of today there's not a line, the line was erased, I don't know, what we're going to do tomorrow. 190 people singing Chris's last gift. Oh, that sounds wonderful.
It sounds melodramatic and couldn't have been scripted any better. Only none of us will regret that one. We are here this evening to in celebration and appreciation for the music of Christopher John Anthony. For that is what he would like to be remembered for. But we cannot celebrate Chris's music without also celebrating his life. Everyone needs that closure, that stopping point, the realization that it's really gone and that time to agree, and to agree together is a group
not just one person. depression. Now on this one, it'll be take a number. I have been depressed all my life because I have been a Baptist all my life. I am in fact a recovering Baptist. We feel very isolated during loss. It's one of the processes of loss. We feel that no one has ever felt this badly before. No one
really can understand this and someone comes along from a sort of authoritarian position like a parent to a teenager and going, oh, you'll get over it. Go find somebody else and we're going, you don't understand. You don't get this. It's that sense that I'm never going to feel better again that leads people to the act of suicide or to numbing it over. I'm never ever going to let this happen to me again. I will never be this vulnerable. Ever. I know it's okay to be sad, but when does it go from being sad to being depressed? Carolyn began seeing a psychotherapist during Chris's illness. When Chris died, she continued to find therapy comforting and helpful in sorting out her feelings of grief. Because everybody seems to think, well, you know, it's been six weeks now, so you should be back to normal. And those six weeks seem real short in some ways,
in other ways, it's like a lifetime. I think that you are going to feel sad for a while. It's not realistic to think that it's going to go away in six weeks. Like in the last couple of days, there's been a lot of tears saying this is what most of us expect to feel during the grieving process. Depression, however, is another story. Many of us are uncomfortable with the feelings and behaviors that are brought up with depression, and it scares us. Depression is a normal part of the grieving process, and sometimes seeking professional help can be useful in letting us know that we're on track and we're not going crazy and that being depressed isn't part of grieving. When it comes to the point where you feel like you want to do harm yourself or someone else, that might be a time when seeking professional help is more critical. And although you may be afraid to ask others for help, you must ask others for help. It is a human and a courageous thing
to do. Gather your friends and family and co-workers into a support system. You need to know that others care, and if they, if you tell them your pain, they will help. If you have wrong human being and it does not matter who it is, it does not have to be your mother or your father or anybody. Just a human being which is compassionate, understanding, and knows with unconditional love. If you have lots of human beings, then you can take anything, anything. For me, having him gone and the realization that he was gone was like a part of my insides being ripped out. Now, Marilyn Hollingsworth lost her son Rick to aid six years ago. And I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't tell you that there were some times I thought that it's not worth living. If I hadn't had my life partner and my main support, I probably wouldn't have done nearly as well.
Come on in. For Marilyn, getting involved in reaching out to others as help bring some understanding to her loss. She created a quilt panel for her son shortly after his death and now spends countless hours running the Dallas chapter workshop for the names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. It was one of the most healing things that I have ever done was making a panel for him. And that's how I got involved with the names Project I've been involved with them ever since. I'll sit and start tracing the letters for you. We had some quilt parties. Four quilt parties were me and his friends got together and discussed doing the quilt, talked about Lee, stuff like that. That's part of the healing. Yeah, we had like 10 people at the first one.
These quilt panels will eventually join 22,000 others at the Monumental AIDS Memorial Quilt display in Washington, D.C. Letting go turning it over and walking away is Thank you my only weekend. Yeah, that's probably the hardest part. You bet. You've gone through that too. The grief process in my mind is like water that you spill. The more you spread it around, the easier it becomes because it's the faster it dries. So I think that sharing it is a good way to dissipate it. There are a lot of people out there that we could reach that don't have anybody to talk to like we all do. Maryland still attends a parent support group. She and her late husband Dick Hollingsworth started when their son was first diagnosed with AIDS. Many of you have been through what we're going through and you reached out to complete strangers but yet when we came we didn't feel as a stranger. We felt instant warmth and instant love
and that's helped us an awful lot. That means that means so much. Your friends can support you but as well know if you have not walked in someone's shoes you really don't know what the feelings and the emotions that you go through. My neighbor who's been my friend, who was my friend for 23 years and her daughter and my son were like brother and sister and there is no way that she could not have known that Chris was dying and she did not come to my house in a year. Her daughter came but not her. It's very helpful. And they don't realize you know it's just like shutting a steel door in and I deal with fear daily and places such as my job. I don't feel like I'm free to share but you know I think when I weigh everything out that I've seen and experienced through all this
it's strange but I don't know that I would change it. I don't think I could take for what I've learned about love and compassion, human understanding. People in this room tonight have shared the fact that they've got you know love and compassion and understanding but there are a lot of stories you know from people who didn't. One of the members of this group was asked not to come back to her church because her son had AIDS you know and that was incomprehensible to me and I would love to see the Christian community respond in a Christian manner to this disease rather than only a few of them. I have been to church twice since Doug has been diagnosed and that doesn't mean that I don't spend my quiet time with because I have my daily devotions and my quiet time that I go through but I have found that when I go to church in a way I feel like I'm a hypocrite sitting there because by to me yes it is a church of God but yet the hierarchy is is mandating
that they don't accept the gaze and by me going inside those doors I'm accepting their decision and so I've been to church only twice and I don't know when I'll go back. Many parents who lose gaze sons to AIDS struggle with accepting their son's sexual orientation as well as their deaths. We were scared and worried and every kind of emotion was going through us and we got to the hospital and the family that Duane had there were a bunch of of young men who happened to be gay and for the first time in my life and I think Doug would agree we saw these people as people just like us because we got to know them. If you ever wanted to know what love was about you need
to be in that room with those men around our son to see what love was really like and they have taught me a lot about life. I was prejudiced against homosexuals and I wasn't hostile and I wasn't hateful but I was prejudiced and I was uncomfortable and these people just surrounded us and took care of us and it was a very different experience, been very different sense. You know so many parents have said to me well what do you think I did wrong? Well the answer to that is nothing they did not have a choice it is not a conscious choice they did not choose to be gay those that have children that are gay and it doesn't matter how they got AIDS. Well his parents we all know that we have enough guilt trips we don't need anymore you know and raising children but it is definitely not anything that parents do. When I first learned our son was gay I had a little bit of shame and it wasn't anything I would go around you know just advertising to tell everybody about but then in
last very long and again the way he handled his illness and his dying and his life while he had illness I'm tremendously proud of him and was throughout that time the guilt I wasn't a good father to him and I'm guilty about that particularly the next to the last time he was in the hospital I just kind of withdrew and closed up and I'm guilty about that I still regret that but when it comes down to are you embarrassed about his being gay or are you dealing with the fact that he has AIDS you know I knew long before he got sick but being gay was totally irrelevant the fact was that I'm dealing with the big picture and the big picture is that he is terribly sick and whatever
I can do to make life easy for him that's what I chose to do. It's because of you all and because of Marilyn and because of Mildred that Doug and I
were able to talk about Duane's dying and we came home after one of these meetings and Duane had been trying Duane always wanted to talk about dying instead of not wanting to talk about it he wanted to talk about it so that that gave us the ability we said okay if you all could do it then we could do it. We lost our son mentally a time he was diagnosed and he began to lose control of his legs and arms and then in the last six weeks I guess there wasn't much of a communication out so we didn't talk about that we could we feel people have had a chance to talk about our portion in the way if you can say it that way. Like Chrissy he lived for 24 months and he died at home we made that choice and I was really happy that we did because I gave birth to me and I wanted
to be there with him and I had he been in a hospital I would not have been able to do that. We had a long discussion one night and so we talked and held three o'clock the next morning and I talked to him in and so the next morning when he was in a coma and so he died a day and a half later but he died in peace he was peaceful and he was okay and every way of his life and I feel secure and knowing that he is okay. I think it's an important for caregiver to absolutely learn everything they can learn and choose
someone to that they can really call on if they have to to talk to people kept telling us you know you can't give you can't change your whole life or give your whole time to him because it's going to hurt too much and I kept saying no this is what we want to do and if anything if I've changed anything I would have spent more time with him so I don't think people need to be afraid of that and I think they need to let their emotions show I think they need to let the person they're taking care of know those emotions and how they feel if they're sad they need to tell them they're sad if they're angry they need to let them know they're angry and share those emotions
with the person they're taking care of and I would do it all over again you now question I don't ever want to forget how much I've lost. I can really choose what I do with that pain, but I don't want to forget it.
There's a part of me that wants to call it back and really grieves not being able to fully be. You know, experience it, that somehow little by little I become a little more disengaged from June, and that to me feels like disloyalty. But there will always be a part of me that is always touched that way. Morning becomes a lifestyle. It becomes something that you're doing. It becomes the primary healing, surviving, recovering becomes your focal point of the day. It becomes your number one job, and it can go on for quite some time. And as you start losing that job, there's a sense of loss over the morning process. As you're at home, as you're in the midst of loss, in the midst of loss, you can only see this far because you're in too much pain.
But if you're after or to the end of the loss when you begin to reach a stage of acceptance, you're odd about the inner strength of human beings. It's incredible how strong some beings can be. And the only way you can do that if you have the courage and the guts or the roots power, whatever you call it, do look at it and face it. I think the irony of the entire AIDS epidemic and particularly for me is that what is evolving out of the most horrible pain in my life is a clearer sense of myself and a clearer, truly emotional stability and responsibility, that there is so much life that is brought out of this, certainly for me.
I've learned I'm pretty damn strong. Stronger than I ever thought I could be, as I've seen people who are less ill, is at the right word, less ill than I'm with. And they just give up emotionally and they give up physically. If you had asked me before this happened, I don't think I would have, I don't know if I could have responded, but my strength has surprised me. I've learned how I've learned everything about this simple. I'm so wide, independent and weak
imates our land Slings our land I missed it so much, I mean it just was great, a great friend, a great guy. I'm so, I'm so very glad to have you, I don't know what I do, if I didn't have that organization. Let's have my love come.
Amen. Amen. Amen. and God's was gracious. Congratulations. This chorus has lost many singers, but we haven't lost any of their spirits.
Somehow we keep going. We lost Randy Ray last Sunday. He had no fear of what was on the other side, none, and to watch him waste away as he did, and he got up every day and lived that out in front of us. Randy loved to send the cards. Adiris Tim, thank you, and enclosed when you've come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown.
Faith is knowing one of two things will happen. There will be something solid to stand on, or you'll be taught how to fly. Those of us who have been touched by the tragedy of AIDS have been forever changed. If you are grieving a loss and want to help, or want to know more about HIV and AIDS, call the National AIDS Hotline,
1-800-342-8s. 3-800- 1-800-8s. After goodbye, an AIDS story is made possible in part by funding from the Southwestern Bell Foundation.
American Airlines, providing daily flights to Europe and offering the American Airlines Advantage Travel Awards program since 1981. And, by Abbott Laboratories, providers of innovative health care products worldwide. If you would like a video cassette of After Goodbye, call 1-800-328-PBS1, or send a check for 2495 to the address on your screen. This is PBS. Thank you.
After Goodbye An AIDS Story
Producing Organization
Contributing Organization
KERA (Dallas, Texas)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-2809ed5491c).
Program Description
Ruby Dee narrates a story of grief and recovery through music performed by the Turtle Creek Chorale which lost more than 90 members to AIDS.
Created Date
Asset type
Grief and recovery associated with AIDS.; Social Issues
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Director: Martin, Ginny
Director: Christian, Kay
Executive Producer: Garcia, Yolette
Executive Producer: Komatsu, Sylvia
Interviewee: Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth Dr.
Interviewee: Brasch, Neil
Interviewee: McWilliams, Peter
Interviewee: Seelig, Timothy Dr.
Interviewee: Brasch, Ruth
Narrator: Dee, Ruby
Producing Organization: KERA
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: cpb-aacip-9935de7ce0a (Filename)
Format: D2
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “After Goodbye An AIDS Story; Master,” 1993, KERA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “After Goodbye An AIDS Story; Master.” 1993. KERA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: After Goodbye An AIDS Story; Master. Boston, MA: KERA, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from