When I was in school, I met a man named Will on the Internet. Much to my mother's surprise, he tuned out not to be a psychopath bent in my destruction and instead turned out to be a dear friend. He was fantastic. I was 17 and he was 34, exactly twice my age, (we shared a birthday) and exactly the person I needed in my life at the time. Will was an Egyptologist, he used to work at the Pentagon, spent some time in a Episcopalian monastery (no, I do not remember which one) and he was living with AIDS. He was also gay, incredibly funny, and very very smart.
I knew he was going to die from the day I met him. Not in an abstract kind of way. Everybody dies. Everybody dies but my friend was sick. He had full blown AIDS and he'd been living with it and the knowledge of how he was going to leave this planet since 1981. (Incidentally, he found out he had HIV on the day I was born.) So I had him as my friend during my late teens, and he passed away on November 6, 2001. ( I've mentioned briefly that I'm a mystic. This is one of those stories.) Not long before his death, Will lost his faith and became a Buddhist. He died in a Buddhist hospice. Much to the distress of his mother, (and me) he wouldn't allow her to bring his priest friend with her to pray with him. 1,600 miles away, I knew it was time. His emails made me think so and I knew in my heart that night was the night. I got down on my knees beside my own bed and prayed last rites for him. I felt like I was being compelled to do so. (Sometimes, the Holy Spirit is pushy) Not too long after that, I found a note on my desk. I'm pretty sure it was from him. I knew my roommate's handwriting. I knew he was in trouble (in the sense that he had work to do) but he was okay.
I've talked to him a few times since then, he tends to show up when I absolutely need him. He was like a wise gay uncle or something to me then, the voice of reason when I'm mid panic attack, and God in his wisdom has let him reprise that role a few times. But I never saw him. I hear his voice internally, and it's just different enough from something I'd come up with on my own that I know it's outside myself.
I laid down for a nap last Sunday afternoon and I had a dream/vision (not sure which, honestly) that I was sitting around a table with Jesus and Will talking to them both. Will was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. You know when someone is just painfully good looking? I saw a picture of Will in his late teens once and he looked like that only more beautiful. Like there was light and happiness radiating out from him. He was in absolute bliss. The conversation was serious, but he hugged me and kissed my forehead like it was the most natural thing in the world to do. I woke up feeling like I'd been given a gift.
I know it was a gift.