Dying of AIDS

...and other fun things I'd rather be doing

by Corey Saucier

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RightNowThisVerySecond we are playing gospel music at full volume. Which is not very loud. I have my cell phone plugged into the wall and Pandora is blasting a station called “John P. Kee Radio” because John P. Kee is the only artist that she will listen too….The Thai food arrived fifteen minutes ago and we are stuffing our faces with flat rice noodles; and raising our hands; and smiling; and dancing; and singing “Hallelujah,” the way we Black folks do. Today is a very good day!

We have had so few good days.

fairyTwo months ago my mother fell again. But this time she broke both her knees and both her wrists; and I fear a bit of her mind may have broken too. It’s been miserable. Can I say that again? It’s been MISERABLE!! I’ve been homeless, an intravenous drug addict, and (literally) dying on my deathbed from AIDS. But caring for my mother for this short amount of time has been the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. My heart is out of breath, my soul is saturated with sewer water, and for the first time EVER, I think that maybe things will not be “okay.” You see, not many people know this, but I am made of magic. I wear pink glittering wings underneath my skin-tight T-shirts, and carry handfuls of fairy dust inside the pockets of my homemade Daisy Duke shorts; and whenever I have ever had a problem or situation that may interrupt my carefree days of sushi, sex, and pumpernickel, I just throw a little fairy-dust on it. Someone doesn’t like me? Poof! Suddenly we are best friends and they’re inviting me to all the popular parties….My computer crashes and I can’t afford to buy myself a new one? Poof! Suddenly because of tax purposes I am gifted with a new Mac Book Air and iPhone 6. I’m emaciated with a 101 T cells and fungus growing out of my mouth from a virus I got from a stranger in a bathhouse….And, Poof, skip to twenty years later, and I am muscular and healthy (and still having sex with strangers in bathhouses).

Poof poof poof!

But my magic does not work on her. Never has. I’ve been sprinkling it in between her bedding when I change and wash her sheets; I’ve been mixing it in her food when I fix her a plate and a drink before she goes to sleep; and I’ve been dusting it gently up and down her back while I carry her cradled in my arms up and down the stairs….But it does not make her smile—it does not make her see—and it does not make her broken body walk again.

But she will walk again.

I swear it.

Because being a forty-year-old man who takes care of his elderly mother will not be my life.

I’m way too cute to be that cliché.

There are far scarier things in this wide, winding universe it seems than death and dying of a disease. And living with your mother is one of them.

RightNowThisVerySecond I’ve been up for three days, the nurse is scheduled to come in thirty minutes, and I am running in concentric circles while my mother calls me terrible names as I try to find her favorite pair of jeans! My eyes are bloodshot, I am dehydrated and haggard, I think my hemorrhoid is acting up, and I just want to put my head under the covers and cry the way that little boys do when the dream becomes a nightmare, and the nightmare is a little too real.

She has told me more than a hundred times that this is not my responsibility—that it is not my job to take care of her. That if I don’t want to do it, “Don’t do it!”

And this is what you do not know: At my core I am primarily a selfish person. I am petty and superficial, and I do not believe in self-sacrifice. I believe in magic and miracles and fairy dust. And my magic has never worked on her. We scream, shout, fight, and say things that we can never take back…But now this tragedy has given us an opportunity to finally be close. For us to finally work through our issues. For me to make us both proud and do for her what she did for me as a newborn child forty years ago. The universe has called me to grow a pair, turn the other cheek, and care for my helpless beautiful blinding mother.
And I don’t want to.

This is too hard.

I want to rip off all my clothes, climb a barbed-wire fence, and escape across the sweltering desert.

I want to stop taking my medications and have my T cells drop to zero so that I will have an excuse to not answer when she calls.

It’s such a horrible thing to say but I’d rather be dying of AIDS than spending every day with my mother.

(Im pretty sure God is going to kill me for that.)

I think I’m a terrible person.

“Coming, mother!”


Corey Saucier is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles. He is a Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and Non-Fiction and is currently penning his first novel. His musings and wanderings on Love, Life, and Nonsense can be found at www.justwords.tumblr.com.