Positive Life Board Director, Andy Heslop reflects on the 2019 Candlelight Memorial, held on 19 May at the Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst.
As our vigil drew to a close, and the applause and warm appreciation for Paul Capsis’ heartfelt contribution and talents died down, I had the opportunity to maintain a silent reflective pause that filled the contemplative space of the Eternity Playhouse at the annual Sydney Candlelight Memorial hosted by Positive Life NSW and ACON.
I found myself contemplating the light of a single candle. How much energy and life is represented in each flickering whisper it makes. I remembered the networks of communities, friends, family, lovers, partners, pets, work colleagues, the whole damn lot of a life, for each one a single life. I thought then of every small flame on stage, the thousands multiplied, whispering and flickering in a dark-quiet theatre.
I remembered the rhythmic, stately procession of syllables that suddenly bought each name into flesh in our memory and glimmered an opportunity to gloriously remind ourselves of familiar friendly faces now gone, but never, never forgotten.
My pause was also a reflection on the words that were spoken by Robert Agati, President of PLNSW and echoed later in the speech given by Cameron Cox, CEO of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP). Words that reminded us of the lost lives who don’t get their moment by candlelight. Our people, those friends, family, lovers and partners many of whom remain nameless, and who bear forever the unremittent product of shame, fear, stigma and doubt within our greater community.
I was moved as Paul Capsis masterfully delivered a song by Lou Reed, “A Perfect Day”. Lou Reed always strongly resisted the allegory others see in this work and A Perfect Day is one of those rare musical intricacies that is simultaneously an orison for the everyday yet also a powerful reminder of how great beauty can be blazingly etched into stark simplicity.
‘Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on…’
I felt stirred by another kind of simplicity in that moment of beautiful twinkling lights, inviting our love in remembrance of those who we have lost too soon from HIV/AIDS.
Published in Talkabout #196 April 2021