Richard Wickersham's not-so-solitary fight against AIDS
This story appeared in the July 1988 issue of Columbus Monthly.
Richard Wickersham is energetic today. The music playing from his stereo is upbeat, the snappy sound of Manhattan Transfer. Even after he flips it off, he drums his hands against his thighs. He’s eager to talk as he sits in a rocking chair – his back to the window, absorbing the spring sunshine. The topic is rehearsals for the Players TheatreColumbus production of Gypsy; Wickersham is the show’s choreographer. Between sips of orange juice he tells a story about Marilyn Sokol, the New York actress who’s flown in to perform the lead role.
“So, she’s asking questions about Columbus and says, ‘What’s the AIDS situation here?’”
“And I say, ‘Funny you should ask….’” He pauses, and an ironic smile plays across his boyish face.
Funny you should ask. Wickersham – 35 years old, in the prime of his life, a friend and son, a talented contributor to the Columbus arts community – has AIDS, the plague of our times. In January, he lay in a hospital bed, curled under blankets, barely able to move. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome seemed to be winning the battle for his life. But it didn’t; he held off the parasite in his blood during the month-long struggle. And by spring, his health on the upswing, he resumed a normal life, retuning to work and his career as a choreographer.
He knows, of course, that the disease is devastating; there is no cure. “My clock is ticking,” he says. Wickersham is described by friends as always in control, of himself and situations. This virus eating away inside him is one situation that, except for the effects of a new drug and his own will, is swirling dangerously out of his grasp. Still, his story is of someone living with AIDS – not of someone waiting to die from it. It is a story of close friends and family who have woven a warm and loving cocoon of support. And it is a story of a man helping those loved ones overcome their own sorrow by standing strong, by fighting back.
The phone call
In early September, Wickersham – a slender man with neatly groomed brown hair and mustache – sat at his desk at Opera/Columbus, back from a much-needed vacation to Cape Cod. He’d been through a hectic 12 months. His full-time work is at the opera company, and in September, he was starting new duties as director of educational-outreach, which includes the artists-in-the-schools program. But his passion is his art – his choreography for the theatre. In the past year, he’d plunged into Players’ first season as an Equity company, choreographing four musicals: Quilters, Harrigan ‘n’ Hart, Little Shop of Horrors and Nunsense. He’d also worked on two community fund-raisers – one for the Childhood League and another for the local arts community – and directed a show for Columbus Summer Stage. During the spring, he had juggled four shows at one time. The year was busy, chaotic and thrilling. The long hours, the creative release, the camaraderie with other artists. Looking back, he says, “It was my greatest accomplishment, theatrically.” He had come a long way, from growing up in rural Marion County wanting to be a high school band director to playing a key role in Columbus’s most important theatre company.
He was looking over papers at his desk when the phone rang. It was his doctor. It was not an unexpected call. During vacation, Wickersham had developed a skin rash that grew progressively worse. His doctor, aware that Wickersham is gay, suggested, as a precaution, an AIDS blood test, which detects the antibody to the AIDS virus (HIV). Wickersham agreed.
The test results were back. Over the phone, Wickersham heard the doctor’s voice.
“You’ve tested positive.”
Wickersham felt nothing. No sadness, no fear. He had expected the terrible news, and braced himself for it. Obviously, he knew of AIDS. He’d first heard about it in the early 1980s – the “gay cancer” spreading through the homosexual communities in New York and San Francisco. AIDS is not a gay disease, but the vast majority of those infected are gay, and Wickersham had realized he was at risk. He’d changed his sexual habits, practicing safe sex and using condoms. Usually. There were times when he let passion overrule reason; times when he had unsafe sex with other men. He had felt somehow secure because Columbus is in the conservative Midwest. AIDS happened in New York, it happened in San Francisco; surely the virus wasn’t flourishing in the hinterlands. And people here, he says, preferred to avoid the topic. “My gay friends didn’t want to talk about it – it’s not fun to talk about.”
After hearing the results, he clung to hope. He assured himself, repeatedly, that testing positive didn’t mean he had AIDS; it meant that the virus was in his blood. Many people have gone years carrying the virus without contracting AIDS. He realized that he could get ARC (AIDS Related Complex), which is debilitating, but less severe than AIDS. And he certainly was aware that he could get AIDS. That the HIV virus – its round, spiked shape resembling a microscopic World War II sea mine – could begin to eat his T-Lymphocyte white blood cells, ravaging his immune system. His body eventually would become defenseless, a one-sided battle ground for germs and cancers that a healthy immune system would beat back. He could get pneumocystis carinii, a rare lung infection for the general population, but a deadly common pneumonia for people with AIDS; or Kaposi’s sarcoma, a killer cancer; or neurological disorders, which prey on the brain, causing dementia or blindness.
He told himself to find the strength to remain in control. “I’ve never been physically strong,” he says, “so I think I have compensated by being emotionally strong” – just like the time he mustered the control necessary to sing, clearly, calmly, at his grandfather’s funeral.
Wickersham refused to try to pinpoint who infected him. “It could have been six months ago or it could have been years ago,” he says. “Why do it?” He doesn’t characterize himself as promiscuous, but says he had different lovers. Instead, he focused on positive thoughts. He would seek out information and educate himself, calling the Columbus AIDS Task Force and the Columbus Health Department. He would find the best medical help available, choosing Columbus’s so-called “AIDS doctor,” Dr. Michael Para at Ohio State University. He would get plenty of sleep and eat well. He would monitor his body closely. And he would tell himself, “I don’t have AIDS. I have just tested positive.”
Sharing a secret
He didn’t have a lover when he was tested positive. He was grateful. If he had, he would have had to worry about two people. Have I infected my partner? Did my partner infect me? Those were complicating questions he didn’t want to face.
Wickersham shared his secret, but only with a select few. “I didn’t need to have that stress put on anyone else. Besides, there’s a chance I could go on being fine for years,” he says. He didn’t seek out and tell former sex partners. “If you are at all active in the gay community, you know what behavior is risky. You know the test is there. So it becomes your choice,” he says.
So, aside from his doctors, he told two people: one, a longtime gay friend, and the other, his closest companion, P. Susan Sharrock, company manager at Players TheatreColumbus. Sharrock is deeply attached to Wickersham; he is her confidante, best friend; they’ve shared the struggle of turning a script, people and props into a polished production, and the laughter of singing Christmas carols while dressed in Victorian clothing at downtown Lazarus.
She talks lovingly of Wickersham – the thoughts flow freely, emotionally, as she describes him. “Richard is style. I call him a quality snob. But he’s not a snob. He settles for only the best, from the clothes he wears – and I wear; he helps pick out my wardrobe – to how his meal is served at a restaurant. Oh, he loves to eat. Loves Lindey’s. And he absolutely loves the Ohio State Fair. I think it reminds him of growing up near Marion.
“You should see him at Merry Go Round [a play performed by community volunteers to raise funds for the Childhood League]. These are attorneys, doctors, and here’s Richard, who lives in a different world, having them eating out of his hand. They love him at Merry Go Round. He’s demanding, but respectful and encouraging; he didn’t look down on them because they were amateurs, you know, housewives and stuff. He treated them the same way he does professionals.”
“He loves to entertain. Every detail matters. The thing about Richard is that he appreciates detail. He has these Christmas ornaments and each one has a story. He makes you see the beauty of the little red shoes of the angel. And he loves vitality and spectacle. Organ music and choral singing. He loves the drum and bugle corps he works with. But then, he’s one of the few people I know who genuinely likes to be by himself.” Sharrock would do anything for him, and he for her.
Wickersham’s test results nearly devastated her. “I knew AIDS would get here sometime. But not like this. Not with Richard,” she says. She refused to eat for four days as emotional conflicts bubbled inside her. It’s difficult for Sharrock to understand Wickersham’s lifestyle, his gayness. The cruel irony of sex bringing death filled her with anger and sorrow. Why did he take the risk? Why didn’t he protect himself? She wanted to scream, “We’ve got to do something! We’ve got to save Richard!” But she kept his confidence.
Later, he enlisted another confidante, Dan Wilch, pastor of his family’s parish, Timothy Lutheran. It is a small church near Wickersham’s hometown of Claridon, a tiny rural community seven mile east of Marion, where his parents and brother still live. Wickersham didn’t know Wilch well. Wilch, 31, is in his first assignment and had been at Timothy for less than three years; Wickersham had drifted from the church, but wanted someone to be a pillar of support for his parents: Ann, a fourth-grade schoolteacher, and Bill, a junior high school custodian.
Richard, the older of the two Wickersham children, is extremely close to his parents; they regularly drive the 50 or so miles to Columbus to attend the opera with him or to see one of his plays. And he enjoys introducing them to new experiences; he took them to New York on their first plane flight. He didn’t tell them about being HIV positive – not wanting them to worry. He realized, though, that he might have to tell them about AIDS – if it came to that. And at the same time, Wickersham also would be revealing to them his homosexuality. He had never told them that as a teen he carried a “deep, dark secret” about “these different feelings inside me” – had never told them, after discovering his “natural” self as a student at Ohio State, exactly why he broke off his wedding engagement with the hometown girl he’d known since sixth grade.
If he told his parents, then his brother, Steve, would know. They are four years apart, and share little in common. Richard’s love is the arts, and in pursuit of that he ran off to the big city; Steve embraces his grandfather’s pleasure of training show horses and lives two minutes by foot from his parents. How would Steve react? Wickersham was afraid his brother would worry about his two small daughters – would refuse to let them see their uncle. Wickersham adores his nieces, ages six and four. He buys them dresses, makes them giggle and treats them to lunch. “I want to be a good uncle,” he says. “It’s the only chance I’ll get to have children.”
AIDS casts its shadow
While Wickersham forced himself to believe that he was only HIV positive, in September, AIDS already had begun to reveal itself. He had some of the telling symptoms. There was a persistent cough, and also a white coating of the mouth called thrush. Friends told an already slight Wickersham he looked too thin. He developed small facial bumps. And he had an allergic reaction – caused by his depressed immune system – to the skin rash medication; unbearably itchy red welts, a 104-degree temperature and labored breathing sent him to Riverside Hospital’s emergency room.
But through the fall, Wickersham felt positive, in control, confident of Dr. Para’s ability and advice. The cough had subsided and the thrush was being treated; his appetite was strong. He started work on two plays – Hans Christian Andersen for Players and Babes in Toyland for Opera/Columbus – and participated in a program held by Stuart Pimsler and his dance company. It was an AIDS fundraiser, and he silently wondered, “Could this be me?”
Then, Wickersham got sick. Deathly sick.
He spent the holidays with his parents, but could barely get out of bed, gasping for breath. When Wickersham went back to Columbus, Para sent him immediately to University Hospital. Wickersham was admitted and placed in the infectious disease ward. An associate of Para’s performed a bronchoscopy; a flexible tube was inserted into Wickersham’s bronchial tube to retrieve a piece of lung tissue. It was tested for pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). Positive. Wickersham had AIDS. But, in the grip of a powerful fever, he was unable to grasp the full impact of the diagnosis.
Stories are told about people with AIDS who are rejected by family and friends – who are left alone to suffer and to die. Wickersham, though, felt no rejection. His room was inundated with flowers and cards. Visitors were constant, as was the ringing phone. Three friends, with whom he’d planned a trip to Disney World, wore Mickey Mouse ears and tap-danced in his room. An Opera/Columbus board member draped her mink-lined suede coat over a shivering Wickersham. Michael Harrison, his boss at the opera company, sneaked into his room late one night with a slice of chocolate bourbon pecan pie from Rigsby’s. The support gave him warmth and energy. “It’s so hard to describe how wonderful it felt,” he says now. Only a handful of friends didn’t visit – afraid of what to do or say. Those who did come put on a cheery face. They wept later, alone or with friends.
Sharrock was a constant companion. She brought in belongings from his home – candle holders, pictures of the ocean – and left surprises at night – microwave popcorn at the nurse’s station to be delivered to Wickersham at 8 pm. She handled his checking account and paid his bills. Sharrock went to his home and packed away his Christmas ornaments. She knew Wickersham loved Christmas, taking hours to find the perfect tree and making sure everything was just right for his annual party. As Sharrock worked, she wondered, wrenchingly, if she would ever help unpack his ornaments again.
Sometimes, Wickersham was so sick he rarely moved, a human form coated by blankets. Sharrock leaned over to search for signs of life, to see if his chest was moving. Wickersham was on IV and oxygen. A CAT scan and spinal tap were done. Groups of medical students examined him, passing in and out of his room. Sharrock worried that he’d quit. No, he assured her with a clear, committed voice, I’m fighting.
Bill and Ann Wickersham came four days a week. Richard had been sick as a child; a case of rheumatic fever forced him to miss a year of school. But this was different. Their son was so sick – the vomiting, the fevers, the horrible chill. A thought flashed into Ann’s head on the first trip to the hospital: Richard is in the infectious disease ward; he must have AIDS. Her other son, Steve, had similar fears. Bill said no, as did Steve’s wife, Cheryl. It just couldn’t be. Ann shifted the thought to the back of her mind. And no one confirmed her suspicions, nor did she ask. All they knew was that he had pneumonia.
Slowly, doggedly, Wickersham fought back; he got better. Sharrock celebrated when he kept down his food, even if it was only a solitary strawberry. It had been a month since he was admitted. January had vanished, and Wickersham missed breathing the cool winter air into his lungs and feeling the snowflakes fall onto his face. Although still weak, he was finally released. He tried on his clothes, and they bagged around him. He weighed 120 pounds, down 25 pounds from his normal 145.
“The worst moment of my life”
The day after his hospital release he decided it was time to tell his mom and dad. He had set the scene in his mind months earlier. It would be a Sunday afternoon, in their living room at home. “My parents had to be absolutely comfortable,” he says. And Wilch, the young pastor who in his short ministry had not yet encountered AIDS, was there, according to Wickersham’s wishes. “AIDS is a terrible disease,” Wilch says. “It is not a curse from God.”
Wickersham, driven to Claridon by Sharrock, sat in a recliner chair – with his mom on the sofa, his dad on the loveseat. There are many memories in this house – of Mom, after a day’s work, studying for her college degree while he, Dad and Steve cooked dinner and washed dishes; of helping Grandma and Grandpa, who lived next door, on the farm, bailing hay or tending to the stable.
This was the worst moment in his life – telling his parents he has AIDS. And while he suspected they knew about his homosexuality, it had never been confirmed, the words had never been said. Not once did he imagine he would lose their love or support. But he didn’t want to face the heartbreak they would feel. He braced himself, to the point, Wilch observed later, of sounding detached, as if talking about a third person.
“There is something very difficult I have to talk about,” he said. “I have AIDS.”
The news was crushing. Little was said – no one brought up his homosexuality. Bill and Ann knew about AIDS – had read about it in Newsweek and the newspapers. But nothing could have prepared them for this. It’s every parent’s nightmare, to learn that your child could die before you do.
Then, Wickersham broke the news a second time, to Steve and his wife, Cheryl. He was concerned about how his brother would react. Again, he said he had AIDS. Steve, tears forming in his eyes, was quiet, saying only a few words. Finally, Cheryl moved to the door. Before leaving, she asked Richard, “Do you want to see the girls?” In an afternoon of anguish, for Wickersham this simple question brought a burst of relief and joy.
Two more times, Richard would brace himself and tell family members – his grandmother and his aunt and uncle. Exhausted, he finally headed back to Columbus with Sharrock. That night, in the two-story white house in tiny Claridon, two parents were left alone, with their thoughts and sorrow.
“He’s living. He’s living”
His support system of friends and family rallied behind Wickersham as he recuperated at home. His parents visited often, and Sharrock moved in to care for him. Wickersham still hadn’t told his boss, Michael Harrison, that he has AIDS. He’d heard horror stories about people with AIDS (PWAs) losing their jobs, and, most importantly, losing their medical insurance.
There would be no problem. “As long as he continues to work, he can do so,” says Harrison, general director at Opera/Columbus. “If he gets sick, and can’t work, a decision has been made, backed by the board president, that his insurance will be provided indefinitely. We are a small company, 14 employees, and don’t have many benefits. It is the very least we can do.” He says that he talked with co-workers individually about Wickersham, and each has acted “compassionately – shown no fear or reluctance.” He adds, “People like Richard. He has done a lot of community service. He has a lot of friends.”
By April, Wickersham was working again in the theatre, as choreographer of Gypsy. During auditions, he appeared fit – on occasion demonstrating a few basic tap-dance steps. This “zest for life,” as Wilch calls it, has helped fortify those close to him.
Bill and Ann are encouraged by their son’s recovery. “Dr. Para was very comforting,” says Ann. “He gave no great promises, but wasn’t morbid. He stressed going day by day. We hope he hangs on until they find a cure.” They’ve shared their news with friends. “He is the same person he was before he contracted AIDS,” says Bill. “He’s done nothing to embarrass us in any way. I’ve read about how other parents have rejected their children with AIDS. Boy, that’s something. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Parents don’t do that to their children.”
Steve, his brother, searches for the right words. “I hate what’s happened. I think about it all the time,” he says. “I feel closer to him now.” He smiles, “We haven’t argued as much lately.”
Sharrock, meanwhile, still struggles. “I’m not a strong person,” she says. She asks, hoping for a sign of some kind, “How does he look to you today?” Later, she says, “Do you believe in miracles? I hope for miracles. I want to unpack his Christmas ornaments again.” She wonders what goes through his mind. “How do you not allow your thought to swallow you up? I wake up every day and go to sleep thinking about it. How do you not look into a mirror and see ‘AIDS’ stamped on your forehead?” She bites her lower lip and looks away. “I love Richard. I don’t want him to die. But look at him. He’s living. He’s living.”
It’s 4 pm in mid May and Wickersham is sitting in a booth at the Dell, a restaurant in Olde Town East. A Joni Mitchell tape plays over the speakers. He puts a small white pill with a blue stripe into his mouth and swallows, drinking it down with iced tea. It’s ATZ, the anti-viral drug approved by the Federal Drug Administration last year. It’s not a cure, but tests prove that it prolongs life for some PWAs. For others, though, it does nothing, or causes wretched side effects: nausea, anemia. Wickersham takes a pill six times a day, every four hours. He’s asked if he suffers from side effects. “None so far,” he says, knocking on the wooden table.
AZT is just one drug he’s taking or has taken. There have been treatments for his facial bumps and medication for thrush, for a cough, for staph infection, for nail fungus, for rash, for a cold, for the prevention of another bout of PCP. The AZT is expensive – a full dose costs more than $7,000 a year. Wickersham is prescribed a half dose, so his charge is less: $350 a month. Insurance covers all but $70. Unlike other PWAs who are financially devastated by AIDS, Wickersham hasn’t felt a money pinch. If he is forced to quit work, he says, “I’ve had friends and family who’ve told me they will help me out with money.”
Dickens wrote once about a dying man who heard the ticking of the clock as the sound of nails being hammered into his coffin. Every day, Wickersham faces the prospect of death, of waking one morning with a sign that the virus is continuing to destroy his immune system. A cough is no longer just a cough. He has to wonder if the fatigue he feels is a normal tiredness, or the onset of PCP. Suddenly, time, precious time, become so much more important. It is brave to plan months or years forward, but it is human to ball up in fear of what might be. AIDS is a psychological battle as well as a physical one.
If Wickersham mourns for himself, he does so privately, even refusing to say that AIDS is “fatal” – only that it is “believed to be fatal.” He has made plans for the summer and fall – taking a leave of absence from work to travel the Midwest with his drum and bugle corps, and to visit Disney World with friends in November. He’s exploring alternative healing: acupuncture, massage therapy, crystals. He has access to underground, nonFDA-approved drugs, if he chooses. But unlike other PWAs who aggressively seek unlicensed treatments, Wickersham, though educating himself on what’s available, favors what some critics call Para’s conservative approach. He also attends a weekly PWA support group and has gone on a “healing weekend” sponsored by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio AIDS Coalition.
“People are surprised to see me out, socially – that I’m living and not withdrawn into a corner,” he says. “I’ve received letters clearly saying good-bye, but I had to communicate that that was not where I was. Some friends have read in the paper that you get AIDS and you die. You don’t realize that there is life after AIDS. Some PWAs take ‘early retirement’ and quit work. I’m not ready to quit work.”
“Richard has always been one of the most energetic people I’ve ever met,” says Ed Graczyk, producing director at Players. “And now…one would never know that anything was wrong.”
In the Dell, the volume from a nearby table rises, and the words “safe sex” are clearly audible. Wickersham smiles, and comments, “Popular topic these days.” He plucks a marinated grape from its stem and eats it. “When you have AIDS, and are really sick…you think about having to take care of the will, the power of attorney, the memorial service. But then you see the light at the end of the tunnel [after recovering from PCP], and you know you do have time left.” Wickersham wants to spend his time, whatever is left, he says, seeing friends and family more, working on his art, “appreciating things instead of being a critic.”
And he’s feeling the need to share his life – to begin a relationship, to hold and care for someone again. Those feelings had been buried, “shoved way down on the priority list,” he says, when he learned he was HIV positive. People with AIDS do begin new relationships, sometimes with other PWAs. Now that he feels healthy again, he tentatively considers possibilities. If there is sex, it would be safe sex. “I’m not out seeking anyone,” he says. “But it is open to me.”
Wickersham seeks any evidence of hope, and talks about that small minority of PWAs who’ve lived three, four, five or more years after being diagnosed with AIDS. He’s not ignoring the very real chance of another outbreak of PCP or the onslaught of another deadly disease. In fact, he talks about death calmly, almost matter-of-factly. He’s preparing his memorial service. He plans to be cremated and have his ashes spread on his grandfather’s grave site. He’s debating his musical selection at the service. Maybe some Sondheim, maybe some Copland. He’s thinking about a will, too. “These are things that my friends and family shouldn’t have to worry about,” he says. “We all have a fear of the unknown. And I don’t like the idea of people grieving. People close to me are grieving. It’s hard for people in my age group to deal with death. You’re supposed to do that later.”
He takes another grape, and offers one. “They’re very good.” Then he reflects on a question. “What do I hope for? A cure,” he says quickly. “A peace of mind, support and love. And I want to make a contribution. Something that I can leave behind. We all have a finite time to live, but I may have to accomplish my contributions in a shorter time than I had thought of before.”
A sadness passes over him, but the blue eyes remain clear. He looks across the restaurant, seemingly oblivious to the laughter from the other tables. He’s alone for the moment. The he turns and says, “I’m not living in fear, not being afraid to live. In some small way, I want to help empower other people. Friends have turned their fear around, for whatever reason, and are fighting with me. I’m not fearful of taking a public stance.” One contribution he is making is being open about having AIDS; he wants to help educate. “As the disease spreads, more and more people, I hope, will choose courage over ignorance and fear. I saw a poster once, very subtle but powerful, and all it said was, ‘Silence equals death.’ We can’t be afraid to talk about AIDS.”
He could face discrimination and abuse. Gays have made tremendous strides in societal acceptance in the past two decades, but there still are prejudices, still are vicious names shouted. And in the age of AIDS, of right-wing preachers calling the disease God’s vengeance, there’s a fear by some homosexuals of an increase of gay-bashing. Wickersham doesn’t want to believe that hearts turn cold and fearful. But he knows that it could happen. With the drum and bugle corps, he works with teen-agers. In Gypsy, he worked with children, as he did while doing Babes in Toyland and Hans Christian Andersen last fall. How will parents react to the news?
In the fall, Wickersham consulted Para about taking extra precautions while working with children. “I was assured there would be no problem,” he says. “I was very confident that I wasn’t posing any health risk.” AIDS is not spread through casual contact, but during the exchange of blood, semen and other bodily fluids by sharing intravenous needles or by oral, anal and vaginal sex. Wickersham says he has the support of the drum and bugle corps board of directors and of Graczyk at Players. Graczyk says, “To bring up a ‘problem’ is to create a problem. If there was certainly any evidence of any harm, it would have been discussed. But there seemed to be no need.”
While in the Dell, Wickersham seems more somber than usual, more preoccupied with his thoughts. There’s a reason. He says he found a small purple spot on his scrotum. Later, he saw another one. They could be signs of Kaposi’s sarcoma, the cancer that has killed so many PWAs. He is supposed to get the biopsy results today. If he tests positive, there could be chemical treatments and injections. If the cancer spreads, he’d return to the hospital to battle for his life again. KS is a crippling, terrible way to die.
It is a new reminder of the virus inside him. He had been feeling better – felt that the PCP had finally, totally, cleared from his lungs. Now, there’s the tiny spot. He doesn’t want to dwell on it, instead preferring to talk about AIDS Awareness Week, and its five-mile walk at Schiller Park. He’s deciding whether to make and carry a sign of some sort. He won’t be walking alone in the crowd, of course. Sharrock will be there, as will his parents. He still hasn’t openly discussed being gay with them. “It’s not a wall, I don’t think. But it’s something we need to talk about.” Then he checks his watch. It’s time to go to Gypsy rehearsal.
Wickersham walks into the fading sunshine of the spring day. Words come to mind – something he had said days earlier, while sitting on his coach at home, talking about death. “I plan on having some good years. I want to see people, do activities, not take things for granted. It’s OK, though, to release – when the quality of life gets so poor, it’s all right to let go. We all have to move forward…to go on.”
Ray Paprocki is a staff writer for Columbus Monthly.