XIII International AIDS Conference Durban, South Africa
Out West Plan B Evolving Arts Santa Fe, NM Catalogue with essay by Curator Harmony Hammond
IT WAS SOMEWHAT UNEXPECTED, though welcomed, in January 1998 when my friend Roy requested I photograph his dying. With little early medical support for those infected with HIV, Roy had managed the virus for fourteen years on his own terms with acupuncture, herbs, humor, massage, and meditation.
A Buddhist, Roy was guided by the principles of conscious living and dying believing one must be free of attachment and conflict when leaving this realm to enter the next in a clear, calm, joyful state. Here we see Roy bringing his life to mindful closure with six women who were chosen for their caring nature. Roy sorted through personal possessions making note who would most appreciate as a remembrance of him. Every day friends were phoned to hear, “Goodbye, I’m dying and wanted to tell you rather than you learning once I’m gone.” He administered morphine at will to ensure awareness while yet assuaging his pain. Throughout Roy was surrounded by music, stories, silence, care, laughter.
These images chronicle the final week of his life and acknowledge the beauty with which Roy practiced mindfulness to attain a peaceful transition.