“Plead the Blood” & Other Lies God Told Me It is 3:22 in the afternoon, the temperature is pushing 100 degrees, and humidity makes it feel like 110 down here. I’m sweating like a run-away slave. The subway platform smells like piss and fermenting malt liquor. I want to sit but the only bench is draped with official police tape: "CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS.” There is a sista standing nearby, so I turn and say, “See that police tape? It comes in rolls of 1000 feet. Did you know the circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles and one mile equals 5,280 feet? So, in order to circle the Earth, I’m gonna need 131,481 rolls of that there tape.” It has been 364 days, 8 hours, 10 minutes, and 1000 seconds since Ephraim’s death. My pain is no longer cloaked; rather, it stirs the ghosts that inhabit this city. Since the death of my beloved I have mourned in two tongues and faiths. I am now on my way to the cemetery to unveil Ephraim’s tombstone, after which I will return home and light a Yahrzeit candle and still the God of my childhood has yet to send condolences. Instead, I am inhabited with the perpetual shrill, “Jacob Have I Loved, But Esau Have I Hated.” And again I am Esau. Oh, I understand that death must visit every home. But how shady of death to visit a home where the living has just begun. There were many times I pleaded with death to come for me, why not then? Why now, why Ephraim, why our home? Jehovah Jira, you must have heard me plead the blood: In the name of Jesus, I plead the Blood, for healing and restoration upon this house; worthy is your name; I must have said it a thousand times, maybe more. And if that was not enough I summoned all the elders of the church and they laid hands upon him, prayed and anointed him with holy oil. Though still in the distance, the once-faint sound of Death and his galloping pale horse was growing louder and louder and Ephraim’s breath was becoming shallower and shallower. As I reapplied fresh lamb’s blood on every door, windowsill and bedpost, I whispered, “Hold on, this home is protected by a blood covenant. Death must pass over.” Death did not pass over, but walked right in, sat between Ephraim and me, and whispered, “Prepare your ark today, for we will leave port shortly." Death and my beloved left port exactly 2 hours, 20 minutes and 1000 seconds later. I can’t remember a time when death, grief and rage were not a part of our lives. Ephraim and I met while planning ACT-UP New York’s first political funeral, “The Ashes Action.” October 11, 1992, we carried the actual ashes and bone fragments of loved ones we had lost in a funeral procession to the White House, where, in an act of grief, rage and love, we deposited their ashes on the White House lawn. Chanting “History will recall, Reagan and Bush did nothing at all,” we ushered in a new form of AIDS activism, fierce, defiant and unapologetic. Truth was most people—myself included—didn’t believe we’d get anywhere near the White House fence, now guarded by police in riot gear, police on horseback and police posing as protesters. That day the White House would become Jericho, and ACT-UP would invoke the spirit of Joshua You should have been there. Soon the lawn would become frosted with the remnants of unfinished lives, loves, stories, issues, songs, arguments, and potential. And it would sparkle . . . with empty urns, bowls, baggies, hatboxes, and even a Chanel handbag. I liked that—classy to the end. As if on cue, heaven opened up and began to weep, her tears forever cementing these extraordinary lives into the soil and perhaps the conscience of a nation. I remember looking up through my tears, perhaps for God, perhaps for Zion, the city on the hill. What I saw was blankets of fog: shame and indifference rolling in. Nonetheless I prayed the way my mother taught me, saying, “Lord, into thy hands I return your sons and daughters. Make them whole once again. But above all make sure they know this cruel and unjust world was never your intention. I remain thy good and faithful servant. Amen.” There would be many more funerals and actions. A month later, on November 2, 1992, we would honor one of our friends and fellow activists’ final requests, which was to be buried furiously. After a simple service, we ventured into cold and rainy Manhattan gloaming. There we carried an open casket, containing the lifeless body and passionate spirit of our friend, from the West Village to 43rd Street, where we lay his body and spirit at the doorsteps of the New York State Republican Headquarters. The next day would bring about changes. Clinton would take the White House. Ephraim and I would attend ACT-UP’s victory/strategy party at Mr. Fuji’s Tropicana. There would be door prizes for catchy and inspiring new ACT-UP chants that rhymed with Clinton. Surrounded by suspended plastic pineapple and palm tree lights, Ephraim and I would dance until last call. And Alphaville’s “Forever Young” would play continuously, as the DJ had left for the evening. Most importantly, that night, deep within my heart, I stopped believing that there was nothing on this planet that validated, protected or encouraged my existence. Ephraim had impregnated me with a new heart song—one I hoped we’d sing forever. I look down the tunnel: still no subway in sight. My freshly laundered shirt is now drenched in sweat. Thinking out loud I exclaim, “I hate this city.” Translation: it has been 364 days, 9 hours, 10 minutes, and 1000 seconds since Ephraim’s death. Which means I’ve been waiting for the subway for exactly an hour. More importantly, Death has yet to call me home. So I wait and listen. Waiting for Death and his galloping pale horse. Listening for the words, “Prepare your ark today, for we will leave port shortly." These words will reunite me with my beloved, and my heart will sing again.