Death of Barry

I’m depressed—and have been for several weeks. I was told yesterday that I was probably going through a grieving process for my friend Barry, who died a month ago. I certainly don’t feel as if I’m grieving.

I have known Barry since 1995. I met him in a twelve-step fellowship. Both of us were working on our drug addiction—me with crystal meth, Barry, opiates. We have always had a thing for each other. We have never been able to consummate that, because I’ve been in a relationship with Michael for most of the time we’ve known each other.

Barry left Fort Lauderdale to move in with a boyfriend in Houston a few years back. Things didn’t work out so well and Barry wound up back in Fort Lauderdale. I had heard about his return, but didn’t get a chance to catch up with him. Before long, I heard that Barry was in the hospital, for pancreatitis; brought on by his HIV medications.

I finally got the nerve up to ask his roommate, Carla for his room number at Imperial Point Medical Center. I stopped by for a visit. He was delighted to see me, so much that he ran to the bathroom—to put his teeth in. I spent much of the afternoon there with him, catching up on our lives. We enjoyed each other’s company so much that I went back the next day to spend some more time with him.

We had begun making plans for when he was going to be out of the hospital when he developed a staph infection. He had fever spikes of close to 104°F (40°C) and developed a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics. They dosed him with Benadryl and Demerol, a combination that made communication with him difficult at best. At one point Barry told me he had a conversation with an Angel of God, who told him that God would be coming for him soon and to put his affairs in order.

After that, spending time with Barry was bittersweet. We still enjoyed each other’s company, but he had come into the hospital off of his anti-depressants, and his morale continued to sink. I had come to really love the guy, and did everything I could to bring his spirits up, but it seemed it was always after he’d been given another big dose of Demerol; and I think that very little of what I said actually got through to him.

Learning to eat again had proven too much of an effort, and he received his nutrients through an IV tube—the likely source of the initial staph infection and those subsequent ones. The nurses were free with the painkillers, too; and Barry wasn’t stopping them from coming. He had already decided, it seemed, that life was too difficult; and at this point nothing anyone said would get through to him.

I am certain that up until his last week at the hospital, if they had stopped feeding him pain meds and had given him counseling, Barry would still be alive. I cannot be convinced otherwise. But even I had to admit he was gone when I visited him at home, under the care of a Hospice agency. I walked in the door and he briefly glanced at me in recognition before he returned to frolic in his morphine-induced Elysian Fields. Maybe he heard me when I that I wouldn’t think less of him if he decided to leave, but I thought he could still come back. I went on to thank him for the time we spent together, and how glad I was that we managed to become a part of each other’s lives.

Then I left; angry at the hospital, his doctor, all of his nurses, the hospice agency…and I held them responsible parties in Barry’s suicide.

He died the next morning. Not of pancreatitis, a staph infection, or any other AIDS related illness but starvation and dehydration. His body simply stopped functioning.

I didn’t attend his memorial service a few weeks ago. I had to stay away.

I hate Imperial Point Medical Center right now—Barry is not the first person I’ve loved who died while in their care. However, the only thing I can do is ensure that I, myself will not be given any mentally debilitating painkillers to ease my journey to the River Styx. I believe in miracles and the mind, and that our mental attitude is a source of healing strength as much as any medication.

I will also not want to deny my loved ones the opportunity to commune with me should I truly be mortally ill.

About Michael

I need to explain a little about the man I call my partner, Michael. I’ve already mentioned that he was arrested in 2002. Right now, he’s serving a prison sentence at the Federal Work Camp at Eglin Air Force Base up in the Florida panhandle. He’ll be out in September 2005, based on his own calculations.

Michael H. and I at Eglin 2004

I met Mike on October 30, 1994, while I was cruising for sex in Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale. I was riding my bicycle, and it just so happened he was riding a bicycle as well, and…we sat down under a tree and hit it off. We moved in together “officially” in March of 1995.

In 1997 we bought a house together. We were in love. We had it all. We could afford to make the leap into drug addiction together. We started out with cocaine, but soon the availability of crystal methamphetamine made that drug impossible to resist.

I wasn’t able to get totally clean until 2001; but Mike wasn’t finished. Let’s just say that in the meantime, he was dealing a large amount to support his habit. I was not entirely aware of the dealing, and the ready access of money made it easy for me to keep looking the other way.

Like all easy things, this had to come to an end. One night in June of 2002, I couldn’t look the other way at his heavy drug use any longer. I decided to leave him and made one last prayer that he would get the message. The next day, Michael got popped in the parking lot of Lowe’s by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

I stood by him, and relished the seven months that he was home, between his making bond and then delivering him to his prison sentence. I’m still here, trying to pay the mortgage in the hopes that we’ll have a home when he gets out. I’m happy alone, though. I’m not pining for him. When he comes home next autumn, we’ll take it from there—either start a new relationship between us or sort things out and go our separate ways.

I miss him—I can’t deny it, and I really do love him.

A reason to blog

I have promised that I would use this blog as an instrument for working my writing muscles. However, one of my biggest difficulties as a person with ADD is coming up with an interesting topic on a regular basis.

I would rather not rant daily about what’s bothering me. I am not a huge knot of negativity and would rather not people view me that way. I should not like to spend time here criticizing everything and everybody and yet doing nothing to better my own world.

Whether many readers find my daily musings interesting is actually somewhat incidental. My ego would have me send this link to all of my friends and expect them to keep up with me regularly. Ultimately, I need to do this—to express myself continuously, stringing together word after word until I am able to gather complete thoughts together to form an article.

I may yet send this link to everyone in my email list.

It had to happen

Today, I started my blog. Thank you, GeekSlut, you’ve inspired me. Thanks for the helping hand, too.

Yes, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Kris Henry was the first person I personally knew involved in blogging. Go visit the site GalaxyGoo and get lost for a while. Being a writer, however, I knew that eventually the time would come that I’d be ready myself.

I’m certain to be writing a lot more here, but for now, let me just pump my story, “Eight Hours a Year”, featured in the new anthology Law of Desire: Tales of Gay Male Lust and Obsession.

So long for now.

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