Why I Walk- Laura’s Story
Walking in Memory of Bobby
By Laura Alexander
Twenty-one years ago, I got married. In less than thirty days, my older brother Bobby died due to complications of AIDS. He was thirty-six years old. Six months later, the “AIDS cocktail” that might have extended his life was introduced.
Over the last year, as I’ve celebrated multiple gay and lesbian weddings, I’ve thought a lot about the fact that my last happy time with my brother was my wedding and that he and his partner, Don, were unable to marry at that time. In fact, my husband Fabian and I almost chose not to marry because of the unjust state of marriage law at that time. I wonder what Bobby would be thinking today?
Fabian and I have walked in more than fifteen AIDSWALK events since 1994 and it’s been an incredible healing experience, not only from the trauma of losing my brother, but the many other friends I’ve lost to this disease. My first walk (in Milwaukee, WI) I was like a zombie, so overwhelmed with emotion I didn’t even cry. I’ve cried at most Walks since then, but a little less each year. Walking with my family and friends, being with others who have lost loved ones, watching people give in support of my walk, speaking out about the loss of my brother, DOING something to help, has soothed my broken heart.
Today, I walk with Fabian and my 12-year-old daughter, Cecilia. We walk for lots of reasons. First and foremost we walk to celebrate Bobby’s life and remember his special place in our hearts. But also to support of all the people in our community who are currently living with HIV/AIDS who need the help of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation. To increase the availability of housing for people with HIV/AIDS. To help promote safer-sex practices. To prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other sexually transmitted diseases. To prevent suicide among LGBT youth and to make sure LGBT and questioning youth have accurate health information.
I also walk to teach Cecilia about the uncle she never met, the disease that took his life, and the power of standing up for what you believe. She’s growing up in a different world, where people are living longer with AIDS, where gay people can marry (she’s been to three gay weddings this year) and where young people have access to more information about sex and sexuality. Whatever the battles of her generation will be, I want her to know that she has the power to influence the world.
AIDSWALK is about so much more than walking. It’s about healing. It’s about action. It’s about making a difference. In honor of Bobby, and all those who have died or are currently living with HIV/AIDS, I hope you’ll join me.