“If only…” What happens when your list gets too long.

Thought we’d add this very simple yet profound “Life Tip” to your consciousness today.

Take a moment to look at the Special Someone in your life. Of course, I’m not asking for your examination if you’re currently satisfied in your relationship. So, if you are one of those who is currently riding around on a unicorn surrounded by rainbow butterflies please giddyup elsewhere.

I’m speaking to those ladies and gents who find themselves in a state of dis-ease. If you are mentally notating a list of “if only my Special Someone would do this… or do that… or change this…” then you need to take your heart out of the equation and ask why they aren’t doing those things. Are they understandable requests? Are they valid? Are they easy?

If you answer yes to any of those questions then your Special Someone is not treating you as the #1 Person in their Life and sadly, that may mean that you aren’t the #1 Person in their Life.

Remember, you deserve to be treated as special and precious.

If you’re not being treated as such, maybe it’s time to find someone who will treat you that way.



Love is in the Air Soundtrack

We’ve brought back our writers (one male, one female) to address the subject of romance. Now, we’re not talking a “Wham-Bam-Thank You-Ma’am” playlist. We’re talking “as close as you can get-staring deeply into your eyes-two people alone in a crowded room-sharing a heartbeat” music. The last music installment listed 6 songs apiece but after ruminating for longer than they should, the authors pulled out 3 classics. What does that mean? Does the general popularity enjoy listening to songs of heartbreak more than love? Or do you simply remember better the music from a sad time in your life?

A Man’s Perspective A Woman’s Perspective
Let’s Get Lost-
Chet Baker

A joyous romp, celebrating “the night we found each other”, this west coast jazz standard captures the spontaneity of a first kiss or a midnight skinny-dip. Hard to sit still when the trumpet, piano, stand-up bass and drums kick in, telling the world, “were in that crazy mood”. An obvious affront to the Eisenhower era when the world was recorded in black and white, this just swings with a colorful intensity. Chet Baker delivers the lyric in deadpan irony, like a beat poet raging against the tyrannical oppression of his recent parking ticket. “You don’t have to take it serious, man, just dig it!!!” Whether you are sitting or standing, you will be dancing.

So in Love
kd lang

kd lang. Man, there is just something about her voice that can make the straightest of women question their own sexuality. If you are looking to set the stage for honest to goodness romance then simply turn down the light, put on a bit of candlelight to enhance the mood, turn on this song and ask her to dance. And not one of those high school slow dances, either. Hold your hand firmly at the base of her back and turn her hand into yours so that you can easily lift her hand to your mouth and brush your lips to her fingertips. When kd sings“taunt me, hurt me, deceive me, desert me…” look her deep into her eyes and tell her, “so in love with you, am I.”

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
Ella Fitzgerald

Hard to imagine a 71 year old song might be used to conjure romance but this gem stands as a playful reminder that you nor I invented carnal knowledge and when handled by the velvet voice of the First Lady of Song, it is an effusive testimony of the hip-shaking power of subtlety. Backed only by a piano and brushes on a snare, Ella absolutely steams. She dissects every syllable as if it were a soulful kiss. She hits every consonant with such wanton efficiency that it can render adults to blush and children to giggle as she professes without shame or pretense that’ “horizontally speaking, he’s at his very best”. In the end we realize that Ella no longer has the man, but in the wake of her temporal monologue, we are left with so much more.

Embraceable You
Nat King Cole

I have a theory that the most romantic of voices are those that sound like their vocal chords have been lightly sanded, creating an almost fuzzy, warm tone. Nat King Cole, kd lang…their voices are steps above that. They sound as if their chords have been sand blasted with velvet, leaving me feeling just as raw and exposed as their music. As Cole sings, “Above all I want my arms about you. Don’t be a naughty baby, Come to papa — come to papa — do! My sweet embraceable you…” I yearn to walk up to my lover, open his arms and simply crawl inside. I want to feel him and smell him and taste him and get as physically close that I feel might actually move through him. The song is that yummy.

Van Morrison

Nobody celebrated love so unabashedly as Van the Man. Here, he starts of in a whisper over the flute and piano that drives this groove like a pelvic grind. Not sure anybody has ever used the word “fantabulous” with such lusty confidence before or since. Brandishing his poetry like a sword-bearing Eros, he paints pictures of absolute bacchanalia. By the time he takes the mute off his vocal trumpet and lets out about the glossy glee of “the nights magic” well, if you’re not on the train by now, you weren’t going anywhere. The chorus asks, “Can I just have one more moondance…” It really isn’t a question but more of a declarative statement.

The Way You Look Tonight
Harry Connick, Jr.

There are so many renditions of this song but I chose Harry Connick, Jr.’s to represent here because there is a bit of melancholy in his version. When you are standing there with your lover and you are in a completely perfect moment there is so much love and so much happiness but deep, deep down there is also just a tinge of sadness because you realize that this moment is fleeting. That realization makes us cling tighter, look deeper, kiss harder. We all want to keep and hold that one moment where we are complete, invisible, and magical. Play this song during that moment and it’ll remind you to capture and hold the memory so that when difficult times inevitably come you have that wonderful glorious feeling on which to reflect and remember. “Some day, when I’m awfully low, When the world is cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of you…And the way you look tonight.”

Written by D.A. Latta Written by Cindy French

Do you have a song that floats your love boat? Respond via comments! We’d love to get your perspective!



The Sadness Soundtrack

We’ve commissioned two of our writers (one male, one female) to delve into their own personal break-up Hell history, compile a list of their top 6 Heartbreak songs and create their own “Sadness Soundtrack.”

A Man’s Perspective A Woman’s Perspective

Everybody has experienced loss in their lives. It can be as tragic as the death of a family member or something less tangible like the loss of someone’s trust or a job. The ways to deal with loss can be as extensive as the reasons and whatever feels right probably IS right. I’ve always fallen on music as a melodic crutch to get through these times since it’s much cheaper than Prozac and it doesn’t cross the line with my AAallergic reaction to alcohol (which wasn’t always the case). These 6 songs are my equivalent to free medication and therapy. I’d say “enjoy” but that would just be cruel.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve or as we know it today, “Music soothes the savage beast.” Music can be one of the most healing forms of therapy for anybody suffering a heartbreak. It’s tantamount to group therapy whereby you can sit in a room and sing along with the other heartbreak sufferers. So the next time you’re feeling down and out or long in the tooth…or any of those other lovely phrases, turn on one of these favorites and sing your heart out. Trust me, you’ll feel better.

Ray Price

I learned this healing process (or form of dementia) of dealing with a broken heart from my mother, who was married 5 times and subsequently, went through 4 divorces. Her initial divorce from my father brought “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary down on my young skull about 1000 times. Her 2nd D-I-V-O-R-C-E (sorry, Tammy Wynette) brought this classic from Ray Price. I recall singing it to a freshly-exed teenage girlfriend in an attempt to convey in song what I didn’t have the words, knowledge or tact to say. Her response ran along the lines of “shut the hell up.”

As I got older and actually listened to words and their meaning, the song became much more than a band-aid. Price’s rich baritone told me to “…hear the whisper of the raindrops, flowing soft against the window and make believe you still love me one more time…” Having shared that last dance of a love gone south, the pain in this song is palpable. When my mother passed away in 2005, Ray Price reminded me, once again, that it was over.


How can you NOT include this song as one of the truest heartbreak songs out there? The moment it is played in supermarkets, elevators, iPods and elsewhere is the moment the listener’s mood changes from anything else to heartbroken. You don’t even have to be suffering from a heartbreak, just listen for a few bars and you will be transported to another time when your heart WAS broken.

Adele’s voice has a raw and guttural quality; as if her heart has been recently ripped from her body with her tears still flowing in between the words. Her chin tilts up as she wails for him not to forget her, her rhythms lilt and sway in an almost-but-not-quite off-tempo way. It is in there that you share her pain and add a touch of your own. “Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?” Yeah, reminds me I need to get Kleenex.

Fairport Convention

This Gene Clark composition has had many incantations but this little remembered folk group (had Richard Thompson on guitar) from the late 60′s somehow turned this country approach into a gut-wrencher. Fueled by the subtle yet evocative emotion in Sandy Denny’s harmony, it helped me realize why they really had to go. The morose layer of her beautifully stunning voice seemed to broadcast every romance I couldn’t maintain and “…so I sit right up and look right past the pain because I’ve been in love before and I can love again” are words that I lived by in the 80′s and reminded me that it was okay to feel like a kicked dog when I probably deserved it.

Julie London

“Now you say you’re sorry…” It’s what every girl in a break-up yearns for; the ex- crawling back to them, begging for another chance. Your lover has left and like a game show host now seems devoid of any real emotion. Up until now you thought you would do anything, and I mean anything, to get him to return to you. During those rare heartbreak moments where you have a spark of strength that you wouldn’t want him back, this song can feed and nourish that “fuck you” spark enough to build a fire, which may just get you through another day. I chose Julie London for this rendition because her voice is warm and soft, like a cashmere butter blanket.

Tom Waits

Say what you want about Tom Waits. The man has a corner on melancholy. First time I heard this song turned my booze-filled youthful giddiness into a weeping mass of humanity, the gravel-wretched vocal cut me to my core, the piano, dancing with the alto sax, poured salt right into my veins. His plea is just a page in a chapter of desolation and I experience the same sadness every time I hear it. Rich with 1940′s references and imagery, the done-in waitress of this greasy all night diner, armed only with an apron and a spatula, hides her sad past while the antihero, watches her over another cup of java. In the end, he thinks out loud about taking a job at the filling station “…cuz he can eat here every night, what the hell do I got to lose…” You mean other than everything? I’ve sat at this very counter and ate the same hash and drank the same weak coffee that couldn’t even defend itself. If you’ve never been this desperate, I dare you to listen to this song after a fight with a loved one

#4 ON MY OWN – Les Miserables
Samantha Barks

Les Miserables is a tragic story upon a tragic story upon a tragic story. Throughout the entire musical you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some version of heartbreak. This song, however, oozes the cruelest of all loves: the “unrequited”. To love someone with every cell in your body and yet know that that someone would never even consider you as a possibility is heartbreaking. To make it worse, add a dash of hope; which in reality is really adding salt to your already gaping wound. You know he could never love you…but what if? That small dose of hope will keep you singing this same song and yet still realizing that it will never be. “…Without me his world would go on turning, a world that’s full of happiness that I have never known…” The song is belting and hypnotic and as it builds to a powerful crescendo it leaves the weaker vocalist muted. Samantha Barks (shown here) and Lea Salonga sell this song like they’ve lived it all their lives.

Dorothy Moore

If you like torch songs, this one is funded by Napalm, Inc. Lush with all the trimmings of that beloved 70′s soul, I’ve honestly seen this song make grown men cry on several occasions. Dorothy Moore starts off like any conversation with a long lost lover, light and airy, so sweet and like all conversations where love was left in a rainy parking lot, layers of history come back in hushed tones and recollections then denial, as not to lose face in this unexpected reunion but eventually acceptance and testimonial. The power of her wails add the final death stamp on a love gone wrong and possibly the most honest cries I’ve ever heard

Sunday in the Park with George

Musical theatre has carried me through many light, happy moments and dark, brooding times. There is something about singing a song while knowing an entire back story that stays with me. “We Do Not Belong Together” is one of those songs. Bernadette Peters is the voice that is both warm and wounded and Mandy Patinkin’s clear, demanding tone barely conceals the artist’s anguish. How do you stay with someone who isn’t able to give to you what you need to hear? Even while engulfed in a firestorm of passion? I remember sitting in my little rented room in a house filled with college students. I’d taped pennies to the doorframe as decoration and my mattress lay flat on the floor amongst books, clothes, dishes and cigarette butts. Saturated with heartbreak in a smoke-filled room I played this song on repeat and I cried with Bernadette as she begged him, “tell me not to go…”

Billie Holiday

I’ve often thought that Billie Holiday’s voice was comparable to looking through broken opaque glass, distorted and distant. Perhaps how one hears things while in a coma. Here she takes the 8 notes that she could sing and twists the joy out of every sweet memory you ever had and leaves you with the cold sweats of every mistake you ever made. Repeated listenings confirms that she is lying. Her reed-thin voice gives just a glimpse of her cruel secret … She won’t look you in the eyes; she moves her cheek as you try to kiss her. She is so close you can almost taste the recent cigarette but she is so far away. If you wake up from that coma, she won’t be there. Her subtle touch will be gone and the small cafe, the wishing well and the moon itself will only be your memories.

Billie Holiday

Yes, I’ve chosen the same song. This song is just … wow. Billie Holiday conveys the grief of lost love with such sadness and melancholy that it makes me teary even writing about it. The lyrics have such a finality to them that there appears no hope of ever seeing this person again. “I’ll find you in the morning sun and when the night is new. I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.” Did the person die? Perhaps … which makes me even tearier … especially considering the circumstance of Billie Holiday’s own passing.

Otis Redding

Few can adequately put on paper what Otis can do to one’s senses. Personally, I’m embarrassed to try. How could I possibly convey the six notes he uses on the first three syllables of the staccato intro are like pushing that sled up to the edge of a 75 degree incline. Who am I to think I could put into words how in 2 minutes and 32 seconds you could literally taste kisses from 30 years ago, remember a soft embrace in the front seat of a fogged up car, hold a newborn baby against your chest while she sleeps, hear the whimpers of excitement only to have your heart ripped out by suffering through an absence, relive negligence, burn in selfishness and wallow in self-pity. Otis leaves me naked miles away from home in a place I vow never to return to but actually, I’ve never left. I miss my kids; I miss my mom and my dad. I miss the old Motorola Hi-Fi where endless 45′s spun like magic and burned me with thoughts and dreams that I could never attain. I miss the friendships I’ve destroyed and every love that I’ve killed. What I don’t miss is this song because I hear it every day.

Bonnie Raitt

This song was a favorite karaoke song of mine and I could belt it with the best of them. Who knew that this soon would become the theme song to my break-up? Internally I knew there was someone else; I knew that it was a matter of time before the silverware was sorted and the laundry was halved. On that stage, holding a poor man’s mic and without the need for lyrics on the screen, I looked deep into my lover’s eyes and I sang Bonnie Raitt’s words…but for that night they were mine. I had written them with my tears, I had sung them with my soul. I wailed for understanding and pleaded for more…but just as the song came to an end, I also understood that so had we.

Written by D.A. Latta Written by Cindy French

So do you have a heartbreak anthem? Can you identify with any of the songs listed above or do you have a completely different take on what makes a song heartbreaking? Respond via comments! We’d love to get your perspective!



I’m sooo happy for him. Really. I am. Honest.



Inspirational Words to Help You Deal with Grief

I’ve read close to 33,000 letters on and occasionally I get stopped by the message and think, “Wow, that’s so universal and true.” With permission from the author to post his name I give you the letter “There is always hope.” Thank you, Daniel!

There is always hope

by Daniel Chenault

It ended and you either feel empowered or bereaved. Whether it was from someone dying, someone being a jerk or some other reason (and there are always many reasons) the fact is that it is over.

It hurts. Yes, it does even if you feel empowered that you got rid of a negative influence in your life. It’s part of being human – growth is not possible without pain. Don’t hide from those feelings however painful they may be, however sad they make you. You have to face them, accept them, understand them and then you will grow from them.

  • Doesn’t seem like anything is worthwhile though, right? That’s fear talking.
  • But women/men are such bitches/jerks! That’s anger talking.
  • But I don’t want to feel this way again! That’s sadness talking
  • But I’m the one for him/her! That’s sorrow talking.

  • Understand what you are feeling and why and, when you do, you will experience growth, you will learn from your mistakes as well as the other person’s mistakes and use that to build a better tomorrow.

    And there is always a tomorrow. There is always another opportunity however bleak that may seem at this moment. Whether you work to be ready for that opportunity or continue doing what you have been doing (which obviously hasn’t been working) is totally up to you – tomorrow and what it brings will happen in either event.

    Your happiness is in your own hands, it really is. This is not a homily or a feel-good one-liner meant to cheer you up – it is truth. Accept it or not, it is the truth. And when you find that other person, remember the lessons you learned. Use the pain from your mistakes to motivate you to do better. In this fast-paced world of sound bites, quick anger and selfishness a little bit goes a long ways.

    Give of yourself every day in some way. Whether you help an elderly person walk across the parking lot or volunteer at a shelter or whatever, find something every day that requires you to give something of yourself expecting nothing in return. If you find yourself in a relationship that experience will do wonders and if you don’t you will feel better about yourself.

    It gets better. Really, it does. But, my friend, it takes effort. No one beats a path to your door – you have to build the path for them.



    How to heal your heartbreak.

    If you are currently experiencing heartbreak of any kind let me first offer you my empathy. Grief is a universal emotion and every person has been touched by it at some point in their life so we all do understand the pain that you are dealing with. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t fun, it isn’t something you’d wish on your worst enemy (well, unless THEY are the cause of your grief).

    Look, I’m not a doctor but I am getting up there in age and since time is the greatest teacher it’s like I’ve received my Doctorate in Matters Of The Heart. I’ve got a PhD in M.O.T.H. (or MOTHer for short). I’ve witnessed via friends, and experienced via self, a lot of heartbreak. I’ve paid attention to and taken note of people’s ability to successfully move on from tragedy. If the goal is to bounce back from grief while also learning life lessons and growing internally then there are definitely some people who get it and others who don’t. Sadly, the ones who don’t get it are the ones destined to repeatedly make the same mistakes. They are pretty easy to identify as they are the ones who just can’t seem to live in any type of sustained happiness.

    First, let me give you some good news. The dark and miserable feeling that currently saturates you to the core of your being and overwhelms you on a cellular level is a temporary one. It’s not going to be how you feel forever. And although you don’t feel like there is any end in sight and that everything is out of your control, you actually do have some power over its length. Isn’t that great?

    The single most effective mantra that I can offer to you is that you need to “feel it to heal it.” Grieve, grieve, grieve. Cry until your throat hurts. Wail, scream, mourn. Put on Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight” and cry the lyrics at the top of your lungs. Don’t stuff your emotions deep down inside or I guarantee you they’ll stick around and show themselves at the most inopportune moments. Grief is a process and there are certain steps that need to be taken to get to the end of the path. It’s much like scuba diving. As scuba divers descend into the water they need to equalize the pressure in their ears. Every few feet they will slowly blow out through a plugged nose relieving their ear pressure. If a scuba diver misses one of the steps, they have to swim back up to the location of the missed maneuver and start all over again. In other words, you can’t ignore the missed steps or it won’t get better. You’ve got to go right back there and deal with the pain.

    An interesting fact that I’ve noticed about heartbreak and grieving is that you’re not sad every minute of the day. There are many moments of laughter, anger, boredom, happiness…until something reminds you of your situation and makes you sad again. But you aren’t sad 24/7. That’s a good thing because as time progresses you’ll notice that those moments of sadness get shorter and less frequent. Make a note of that, because it’s a great indicator of healing.

    Sometimes you’re in a relationship and you just can’t figure out what went wrong; everything seemed so perfect. Other times your relationship has been a day to day struggle where you’ve never felt completely comfortable. When you are in the midst of your breakup, try to look at your relationship without the rose colored glasses. This is hard to do when you’re grieving because the “good” stuff is what you miss and what you put your focus on. Nobody misses the “bad” during a break-up. Nobody exclaims, “I miss him cheating on me!” or “I miss him telling me he’ll be home at 6pm and then showing up at 4am!” Nope, we miss the good stuff. We miss the soft voice in the mornings and the warmth of his skin. We miss laughing over inside jokes and looking deeply into his eyes. The “bad” is temporarily set aside. Missing the “good” stuff is normal…but include the “bad”, too…because that was just as much a part of your relationship and deserves equal billing. Don’t romanticize it.

    Your relationship didn’t work. Whether it was them or whether it was you does not matter – it didn’t work. Now chew that sentence up and swallow it whole because you’ll need to walk around with that for a long time. It did not work. In your mourning process your mind will pop out these great “if only…” scenarios. “If only they didn’t drink so much.” “If only they liked my mother.” “If only they would have tried harder.” Sorry, but this is where I get out my ruler and slap your piano hand because THEY DO, THEY DON’T and THEY WON’T. If they didn’t, did or would then you wouldn’t be in the situation you’re in. Get rid of the “woulda coulda shoulda” attitude and accept the fact that it did not work. One of you was the round peg, one of you was the square hole and you just didn’t fit together. Accept it. Repeat it.

    I think this is the toughest point about letting go…the Dream. We started building it the moment we looked at our potential spouse and thought, “What if…?” What if he wants to see me again, what if we get along, what if this works, what if we move in together, what if we start a family, what if we’re together forever…? Our brains work overtime asking that question, weighing reactions, deciphering text messages and emails; what if… We begin to color in the blanks of our dreams, adding relatives, mixing friends, establishing history so that eventually we change that question of “What if…?” to a statement of “What is.” We accept the dream and work on fulfilling it. A break-up cuts that dream off at its proverbial kneecaps. Having that dream taken away is devastating and oftentimes is the reason why we have so much trouble moving past grief. You have devoted so much time and energy into your “What is” that it is like your very future has been ripped from you. That right there is some very heavy shit. That “dream” of what was in front of you has died and you should take the time to honor it and mourn it.

    Now is not the time to stop eating altogether and become rail thin. Now is not the time to start abusing your body through alcohol, sex or drugs. Now is the time to take care of you. Eat healthy, exercise and release those fabulous endorphins, learn something new, create something, reconnect with family and friends, travel. Spend your time making yourself feel better on the inside and the outside so that you have the strength move through this difficult period in your life and prepare yourself for your next great adventure.

    Work through your feelings and become an active participant in the healing process. I liken it to the 3 R’s, the skills-orientated education program within schools: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.

    Reading: Read self-help books and articles that mirror your situation and try to identify why the relationship didn’t work out. Are you consistently attracted to someone who is commitment-phobic or a serial cheater? Do you think you can swoop in and with the power of your clear heart and magic voice completely sway them in your favor and change a lifetime of poor decisions? Find out why you are choosing the wrong people and make a list of the traits that simply don’t work for you. What are your “must-haves” and your “must-not-haves”? What are the deal breakers? Establish that list so that you can recognize those traits in the next potential mate. If the person you meet is chock-full of “must-not-haves” and only 1 or 2 “must-haves” kill it before there is an emotional attachment.

    wRiting: Write it out. Journaling and letter writing can help you cope tremendously. Take pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and have a field day. Write with the intention of being brutally honest. Rake them over the coals, write down every irritating trait, call them assholes, admit your deepest feelings, confess your darkest fears. Be as honest as you can be…because nobody is going to judge you or tell you that you’re wrong. In letting yourself “free-write” you’ll uncover golden nuggets of self-awareness. Later down the line you can re-read what you’ve written and gain an even greater understanding of what you were going through and how you have grown. If you are not one to journal for fear of your diary being confiscated and read or feel like you need an audience, you can always submit your letter to our sister site, It’s completely anonymous and usually readers give great, positive feedback.

    aRithmetic: Hanging around positive friends that share a similar outlook can do wonders. Most friends have been scared to tell you what they really think of your relationship in case you get back together 2 weeks down the line. Get with these friends and ask for the truth, ask to hear their warning signs, ask their opinions. (WARNING: Don’t ask if you have any intention of getting back together with the ex-. You will damage your friendship if you’re in a roller coaster relationship). Invest money in a good counselor. Working actively with a counselor can lessen the duration of your heartbreak. They are schooled in listening and offering sound and solid advice and they do so with an unbiased opinion. Bottom line, with both your friends and your counselor’s guidance you can figure out why the relationship just didn’t add up (sorry, bad math pun).

    As I stated at the beginning of this article we have all been faced with great heartache in our lives so you are surrounded by empathetic souls who have felt your pain. We say that this feeling is temporary because we’ve gotten to the other side and we know you can do it, too. Yes, it feels like you’ve been hit by a bus but eventually you need to stand up, knock the dirt from your clothes and keep going. We’ll be right down the road waiting for you. The best of luck to you!



    Excellent advice for the heartbroken



    World Aids Day

    Today, on World AIDS Day, I happened to stumble upon this K.D. Lang video from back in the ’90′s. This was a compilation of artists singing Cole Porter songs with money being earmarked for the AIDS crisis.

    Watching it again brought back so many memories; that initial fear of this unknown “disease” and the many rumors of how you could contract it. For so long there were so many unknowns…so much misinformation…so much ignorance. Could you get it by touching, kissing, hugging, coughing…? “Safe sex” was widely talked about but still hit or miss in its actual usage. And of course, with us being teenagers, we were convinced this scourge could never hit “us”. Until, of course, it did. My friend Mick was the first I knew who died of AIDS. Michael was the second. For Michael’s memorial he requested that all of us gather in the auditorium at work to screen the movie, “Longtime Companion”. Considering the subject matter of the film and the reason we were watching it, I’m amazed that any of us could drive home that night.

    But drive home is exactly what we did. We drove home to our loved ones to sleep in our beds and find comfort in the mundane and routine. Those too scared to have an AIDS test would wait in fear after donating a pint to the Bloodmobile. Hushed whispers followed openly gay males when they experienced a sudden weight loss. An entire community of gay men, ravaged by this disease, attended funeral after funeral after funeral.

    AIDS is a vengeful mistress, to be sure. It strips you of your dignity, as you reluctantly confess all of your sexual dalliances to a suited stranger with a clipboard, your humor as the sickness and drugs depress your mood and stifle your hope, your appearance as you discover Kaposi’s sarcoma covering your body and hollowed cheeks from the 60 pounds you lost seemingly overnight, your vital organs as you gasp for air from the Pneumocyctis Pneumonia or forget your family from the lesions on your brain.

    July 23, 1996 – that was the day that the The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded the patent on the antiviral drug 3TC. This new “cocktail” of drugs from Emory University was a turning point in the AIDS crisis. It changed the disease from people dying of AIDS to people living with AIDS. That cocktail saved my friend’s life. He was literally on death’s door, resembling more a concentration camp victim than the witty, vibrant, funny man I knew. The hospice nurses warned us he wouldn’t see Thanksgiving. He survived. He thrived. Now he faced the new challenge of figuring out how to live on disability while shoveling pills that help him live (but also make him sick). Health care, job opportunities, everything he had needed to be rethought around his second chance.

    Just recently another friend, who had AIDS for decades, passed away. It was a shock. He hadn’t made his diagnosis public, as many don’t, so it took a lot of us by surprise. It reminded me that we have gotten forgetful of what people with AIDS still have to go through every single day.

    I am sorry for forgetting.

    Today I remember.

    I remember Mick, whose sardonic wit and perfect taste had people clamoring for his attention.

    I remember Michael, whose gentle spirit and kind demeanor commanded fierce loyalty.

    I remember Rick, whose funny laugh made my friends adore him.

    I remember Kelly, whose Midwest stories during cigarette breaks could make the toughest exterior crack.

    The final scene in the movie, “Longtime Companion” has stayed with me through these many years. 3 friends, walking on a familiar beach, discuss the day a cure is found. “Imagine what it would be like.” “Like then end of World War II.” They look into the distance and see a group of people come into view, laughing, hugging. You realize that many in the crowd are the friends and family who had died earlier in the movie. There is celebration and there is hope; of one day being able to say, “We cured AIDS.”

    That day will be amazing.

    “And I want to be there.”

    To watch the final scene, go to the 8 minute mark on this video.



    What is Love?

    With this being our first Heart Surgery post, it led me to thinking about our hearts and the definition of love.

    Love is such a common word that has been spread thin in its meaning. We all understand the Hallmark definition of Love but when we look deep within our core what do we see? What does it mean to you? Is it different depending upon your age? Do you want different things depending upon your circumstances? Does Love ebb and flow and change direction or is it a constant?

    What are your 5 “must-have” qualities before you will declare your love? I’ve listed mine below but I think I’ll revisit them next year to see if they’ve changed. My 5 are:

      1. Trust - I mean – if I’m giving you my heart completely I have to trust you not to break it.
      2. Morality - Our morals need to match up. I admire the person who will stand up for another person. Hmmm – is that also strength?
      3. Kindness - A kind eye will melt me.
      4. Humor - Someone once said, “Fuck funny.” and I didn’t get it until I dated someone with a wicked sense of humor. “Funny” is very, very sexy.
      5. Family - “See how they treat their mother.” – Words to live by. A need to act as a family makes me feel comfortable and loved.

    Now let’s apply Love to our senses. Choose a word(s) that describe love in regard to the sense of:

      Sight -
      Sound -
      Smell -
      Touch -
      Taste -

    Take the 5 qualities you came up with and join them with the words of your senses to see if you can assemble a poem. Not only will it give you a better understanding of your desires…but it’s also a great creative writing exercise.

    Post your answers in a comment. I’d love to see what you come up with. I’ll get started on mine.