Sunday before surgery.
During the night, I had a good cry thinking that I am at peace and ready for tomorrow to come and to move forward.
I also was thinking about all of your offers about what you can do to help and the image that kept coming to my mind was candles. For those of you who can do so, please light a candle for me, keeping in mind that the current plan is that the surgery will be Monday afternoon, April 11, starting around 2 PM NY time and should last 3-4 hours. I love the image of candles burning around the world while my brain is exposed, adding some light for me. If you are someone with a faith or spiritual tradition, feel free to light the candle in front of your favorite Buddha or Shiva or Ganesh or Saint. If you are someone who does not believe in such gods or icons or symbols, just lighting the candle is enough. If you can’t do it because you will be in a place where this is not possible, please just send some light my way for a successful outcome.
I am very optimistic that all will be fine – I have no real fear that I will die or have a less than wonderful outcome – and I also feel at peace so that should the outcome be less than ideal, I am not afraid!
This is one of those moments that pushed me to reflect a bit on my life and I am one of the fortunate people who has had an amazing life so far – and I am confident that will continue for many years. I have been so lucky to have been born into a family that provided me with a foundation of love, education, encouragement to do what I wanted to do, support for my life choices and who I am and who I love. I have been surrounded with friends who are extraordinary people from everywhere in the world who have loved me in extraordinary ways including celebrating weddings, religious passages, births, birthdays and holidays with you. Some of you on this list have been friends since early childhood and some came to me more recently. You all have in common that you have added much joy to my life! I have had the chance to visit every region of this amazing world and experience cultures and festivals in cities, villages and countryside. I’ve been able to drink in the wonders of the Earth, from the beaches and oceans to mountains and deserts. I’ve seen lions, gorillas, elephants, rhinos, apes and giraffes from inches away… I’ve dived the Caribbean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean to swim side-by-side with fish of every color, turtles, eels, octopus and to see coral of every hue. I’ve been to the world’s best art museums and exhibits; to temples, churches and monuments on every continent.
I have been to the best theater, dance, opera and music performances that this world has to offer.
I have been blessed with great love from very special people and lately have been showered and spoiled by Antonio each hour of every day. My home is filled with beautiful reminders of not only my travels, but with gifts from you and made by many of you. I treasure these especially!
I have danced until sunrise on Fire Island and shared meals, drinks, walks and conversations and made good friends with amazing people there. One of these days, that’s where I want my ashes scattered – hopefully many, many years from now.
I have been so lucky to have started my career as a Peace Corps Volunteer and then to have worked with UNICEF and UNAIDS, including having contributed to building the capacity of the staff in those organizations to plan and implement development initiatives, to address internal challenges of working in diverse teams, to ensuring staff know how to protect themselves from HIV and to building a more inclusive workplace for people living with HIV, LGBTI people and people with other differences.
I have served as a volunteer on the Board for Development in Gardening and helped raise money for DIG and for AIDS and LGBT inititatives. I am on the steering committee for LGBT Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and have continued to be part of the Senegal ’72 RPCV group, going to reunions every 5 years.
While I may not have always succeeded, I have tried hard to be a good friend both in good times and hard times. I have also tried to be a good son, especially now that my Dad is experiencing his own health and aging challenges.
While it may seem like I am writing this as my own eulogy or to boast, that is not my intent – rather it is just a reflection of where I am in my life as I am about to undergo brain surgery, scary even with all of the best doctors and support system around me!
You’ll hear more from me later in the week or early next week and I hope by then, I will have seen or heard from many of you! But continue to be patient with direct contact until I am more able to take that on.
P.S. Thought I’d share this message that really touched me. Prayers from anywhere and anyone are welcome:
My father went today to the synagogue, and pray for you, he also gave charity for the blessing.
I’m sending you the blessing, and I’m praying for you as well.
May the one who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, bless Alan son of Gloria, since he has come up to the Torah in honor of God and Torah. May he merit from the Holy One of Blessing protection, rescue from any trouble or distress, and from any illness, minor or serious; may God send blessing and success in his/her every endeavor, together with all Israel, and let us say, Amen.