Remembering Robbie

World AIDS Day 2005

There is not a day that goes by that I do not remember a friend who died from AIDS. Last year, I wrote about my best friend Michael. This year I am devoting my post to the memory of my friend, Essic “Robbie” Robinson.

I met Robbie right before my 30th birthday party in 1993. He brought me a banana pudding to the party and I put it away in my refrigerator for safe keeping. That is how our friendship began. Robbie was 6′ 6″ tall and very handsome but it was his spirit that was most attractive. He had a really big heart and a great sense of humor. To know him, was to love him. I learned so much about life from him. He was stylish and very gifted. Eventually, we lived close to each other so we ran the streets together all the time. He was the kind of friend that if he bought something that he knew you would like, he would get one for you too. I remember he gave me a party for my 32nd birthday and all I had to do was just show up. If you know me, then you know it is hard not for me to be involved. He was also one of the few friends that I would bring to my parent’s house and my mom loved him.

As the years went on, I started to notice some changes in his health and appearance which he attributed to diabetes so I did not think anymore about it. I remember what troubled me most was that he would disappear when he got sick and I would have to track him down. Of course, as a friend would do, I let him have it when I finally did catch up with him but it was all in love.

In July 1998, I moved from Chicago to Oakland. Robbie was one of the few people who was unable to attend my going away party. He told me was not feeling well that night so we got together a few days later. I can remember how really sad he was that I was moving away. I told him that I would be home often and he knew he was welcome to come visit.

We kept in touch as much as possible but there were times when I was unable to reach him. Fortunately, I had introduced him to my friend Theresa and they kept in touch with each other. I trust my instincts. In November 1999, I called Theresa and said we need to find out what is going on with Robbie. I was stopped in my tracks when she called me to let me know that Robbie was in the hospital. Fortunately, I was in town so I went to see him. We did not talk much as he was weak. He told that he lived with the virus for 10 years. I was not angry for him not telling me until now for I respected his privacy. I stayed with him for awhile and remember telling him that I loved him before I left. That would be the last time I would get to see him for he died in late December of that year. A couple of weeks before he died, I sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” on a cassette and sent it to him. It was one of his favorite hymns.

I have kept Robbie tucked away in my heart for a long time. Theresa and I talk about him in some way almost every time we talk. We speak about his love for God, life, family, and friends. I can remember how he could turn a phrase and had sayings that were all his own. He lives on in my heart with all the friends and family that I have lost along the way.

Worlds AIDS Day is a day when we stop for a moment to verbalize or write down our love for the people that live with or have died from HIV/AIDS yet World AIDS Day is every day. As I was preparing this post, I thought back to 1985 and being on the dance floor dancing to “Freeway of Love” or “No Frills Love” with all of my friends. Even when I dance today, their spirits are always with me.

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