My older brother, Jeff David White, died twenty years ago this past March. His death was a result of complications from full blown AIDS, although he had been dying an emotional and spiritual death I believe for much of his life. About five years after he died, my siblings and I got together, and we created a panel for the AIDS quilt, or the NAMES project as it is also known. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life, to be with the rest of my siblings, to create a testament to the life of our brother.
My brother was no saint; he had his sins, and I he paid dearly for them. Yet, he was funny, super smart, and caring. He knew so much about music, and he was the first person that introduced me to U2 in the 70’s. I looked up to him in so many ways, and I miss him often.
In July, the AIDS quilt will be shown, 25 years after its inception, in most of its entirety in Washington, DC, where my family and I saw it the last time that it was there in 1996. There is a reverence about seeing the panel of a loved one there, that is hard to describe. It is humbling at how massive the whole quilt is, and the power is in that, and that someone you love is part of that patchwork.
If you are near DC, or have the desire or opportunity, especially if you have never seen in in person, I highly recommend it. I believe it changes lives, minds, and hearts.