I began writing these these blog posts, in large part, for myself, so that I could somehow keep Howard alive. More to the point, I wrote so I would not have to let him go. I now realize that the fact of writing the posts, especially the ones about our childhood, have done the opposite. They have helped me let Howard go in the way we all must when we lose someone who is so much a part of who we are. We incorporate part of them into ourselves but then we must say goodbye. What I’ve come to realize is that there is a difference between keeping someone alive and not letting them go. We don’t have to do both. We don’t need to do both. We can keep them alive and we can let them go. Howard will always be, to use a cliché I’ve helped propagate, a part of my world. But I am going to let him go. He has left us.
That said he will always be alive to me and I suspect to many of you.
I also began this blog because I wanted to write about the brother, the person, I so loved. It has sometimes been hard for me to share these memories – because they are personal and because they are part of Howard that was mine alone. But I also wanted the world to know, or at least for me to put out into the world, the extraordinary person we lost.
Terrance McNally said something very sweet and moving at this year’s Howard Ashman Awards for Gay Men’s Health Crisis. He said, “there are many ghosts in this room tonight.” He was right. So many who we are trying to keep alive and yet must let go. The brilliant actors Tyne Daly and Bobby Steggert performed a scene from Mothers and Sons. It was about not letting go and the poison it can create in us.
Mr. McNally also said that he hoped to meet Howard someday. Wherever you stand on the sweet hereafter, and I’ll keep my views to myself on that one, I like to think that our ghosts, our souls and the souls of those we love are still with us.
Living on and letting go.