My Friend Patrick who Died 18 years ago, Remains Unforgotten

Grief & loss, Grief, Coping with Grief, AIDS Panel, The Names Project, Patrick Kelly

Patrick Kelly, who died at 40.


What power my relationship with Patrick still has, even 18 years after his death. He was the most vibrant person I knew. I have lived well because he remains in my heart reminding me how fleeting our time is on this planet.

He died when AIDS was a plague that brought certain death. He loved my children and accompanied us to Disneyland twice. Both kids clearly remember how he approached a salamander type of critter sitting on a tree & was bitten.

He used to spin my son around on the balls of his feet. He would come to our home to sleep & replenish. The kids would be soooo excited about when they could run in and wake him up on the sofa bed.

In all the intervening years, I have never found anyone who can match Patrick’s gift for fun.

So I made a panel for the AIDS Quilt, which we all got to visit in DC when they were laid out on the mall, stretching out in all directions for miles. I wrote an essay to go with the panel & found that the creativity of that effort was crucial for my own healing.

Patrick remains one of the most important people of my life. I don’t believe my life would have the vitality it has, without knowing Patrick. He was determined to make his dreams come true. He succeeded. There simply aren’t enough people in the world to inspire us. If you find someone who does, hang on!

Imagine my surprise when The Names Project contacted me for permission to give my phone # to a student who wanted to interview me for an art project about the panel. Rebecca Grace was a student at Savannah College of Art & Design and she made a podcast of 2 minutes & 27 seconds to go along with a picture of the panel. Patrick’s story is #4 of only 10 to be found on this link: http://quiltstories.org/podcast/quiltStoriesPodcast.xml.

Rebecca only made one mistake, we were students at The Gestalt Institute of Cleveland not classes to be a psychiatric nurse. He already was one. I am a social worker. The podcast is worth listening to.
What a lovely gift to be chosen more than a decade later to add even more art to my panel!

Not forgetting those we love who have died and borrowing something from them to improve our own lives is the best that we can do in the face of loss.

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