Twelve years ago, I photographed Joel Rothschild, author of “Signals: An Inspiring Story of Life After Life.” I found Signals a fascinating read, not only because of the beauty of the story, but for the content. I loved it even before I read Elizabeth Taylor’s testimonial: “I will treasure Signals always…it’s written from the heart.”
I was taken back to the 1980’s when Joel lost most of his friends to AIDS. With the epidemic as backdrop, Joel recounts how his lover contacted him from the After Life, as he had promised, in different ways. Sometimes he would visit in the form of a hummingbird. Once, even though hummingbirds don’t fly after the sun has gone down, one of these beautiful birds came to Joel on a full moon night.
I was so moved by the story that I gave the book to some friends who had just lost their mother. They both read it in a day. Just like me, they couldn’t put it down. Later, while talking to each other on the phone one morning, one said to the other, “You’re not going to believe it, sister, there’s a hummingbird flying right in front of me, looking straight into my eyes.” It was just like in the book. Their mother was visiting. The sister was shocked, “Oh my God! There’s a hummingbird flying right in front of me as well.”
I gave Joel a small oil pastel drawing of a hummingbird and a green full moon that I had made especially for him. Ten years later I had the urge to draw a hummingbird with a full moon, again, this time against a pale moon. I’ve tried to connect with Joel by phone since, to no avail. Perhaps I should pay more attention to the skies and listen to the hummingbirds.
More than 27 million people have died from HIV infection. While you may not hear about many people dying from AIDS in the US anymore, There are more than 33 million people infected with HIV in the world, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. You can help by making a donation to an organization like the International Medical Corps or Doctors Without Borders. According to the RED Campaign, 700 babies are born with HIV every day. By 2015, that number could be close to zero.