Today is World AIDS Day. I have written before about what it was to lose a friend to AIDS, particularly in the hysteria of the late 80's and early 90's. The loss of our friend is with those who loved him all the time, but on this date I stop and try to picture our loss on a global scale; all the people who have lost loved ones as well, a tragedy that has occurred over 1.5 million times.
On World AIDS Day 2013 there is a lot of good news. Death rates and infection rates are down, especially in children. Discrimination against people with AIDS also continues to recede. There's a lot of valid info at the UN World AIDS Day page. To me this day is always one of both sorrow and hope.
I have always had a habit when a project was on or a big event occurred of making playlists. They help me stay on topic, or in the mood for whatever is needed. For World AIDS day I am sharing part of Craig's playlist. Some of them were compiled at the time of his death, others were added as I came across them. They all speak of love and loss and hope.
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
No other song speaks so powerfully of love and loss than this one. I particularly identify with this song because we were all college students together, just like the young revolutionaries of Les Miserables.
And I remember the time when one didn't even speak about AIDS to other people. "There's a grief that can't be spoken/There's a pain goes on and on/
Empty chairs at empty tables/ Now my friends are dead and gone."
This has always been one of the songs that most remind me of my youth and the friends I shared those times with. As we creep closer to age of the old guys sitting on the park benches, the more I find myself looking back as well. "Long ago it must be/ I have a photograph/preserve your memories/they're all that's left you."
How well do we know anyone in our lives? No matter how close we are, we can only know another person so well. And when we lose them, all we have are the memories to hang onto. But by thinking of them, writing about them, we give them life again. Paul McCartney wrote this song about John Lennon, but there is something universal for anyone who has ever lost a friend.
I know what you're thinking: what's with the chairs Meg? But this song by Don McLean is another one that works profoundly on the theme of loss.
That's What Friends are For
When this song was released in 1985 it was a big deal. Four hugely successful performers: Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and Elton John performing on a recording to raise money for AIDS related causes. It was a huge hit at a time when the President of the United States still wasn't saying the word AIDS in public. It's a sweet song of hope.
If you want more information about World Aids Day, here are some sites and articles to check out.