Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

21 Years Ago Today.

In General Mish-Mash on July 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

On 15th July 1991, my little brother, Peter, succumbed to what was, at the time, a horrific disease – AIDS. He would have turned 30 on 26th October that year – young.

So young. For many people reading this it would seem like eon ago that he died, it still seems so close to me.

So young. But Peter probably lived a lot lot longer than most – because he had the courage to live his life.

He did not shirk at the potential bigotry he would have to face. A schoolboy in the seventies in Western Sydney  had plenty of unfair challenges to face without the extra burden of being in a minority that generates phobia in some.

Peter courageously and honestly did not allow bigotry or judgement to constrain him from living the life he wanted.

The funeral chapel was brightened by a mass of Pete’s favourite flower – yellow roses.

Following is the eulogy spoken at his funeral. I’ve included here because it is referred to in 365 Short Memories #196.


I have three brothers – Stephen, Peter, and Phillip. I cannot express, in words, the love I feel for each of them. Nor can I find words to express my grief over the loss of Peter. Like Lord Tennyson:

I sometimes hold it half a sin
To out in words the grief I feel
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

A myriad of memories and feelings are held within all those anecdotes, adventures, and precious moments that will be shared, swapped, told, and retold in the days and years to come. These tales – some tall, some true – will almost form an A to Zee of how we saw and felt about Pete. And in this alphabet, under C – squashed between convivial and courteous – comes courageous.

For Peter was courageous. This was evdent nearing the end of his life.

More importantly, it was also vitally apparent at the beginning of his adult life.

The time between beginning and end, though short, was all his – courage gave him that.

He had the courage to be himself – there was no pretence. Plenty of theatrics but no pretence. Peter lived his own life from beginning to end and so his life need not be scrutinised by asking “why?”.

However, for me, his death begs that question. Why?

I have no answers but I have heard it said that AIDS may provide society with its last opportunity to give unconditional love. Maybe Peter’s death will help tip the scales away from hatred and fear and towards unqualified, unconditional love. If it does, even slightly, then perhaps the question will have been answered.

So, let us try – each of us – to help tip those scales. Let us go then – you and I – transform our grief into love and carry it into the world with courage. For we will surely need courage – and in this My Brother Pete can and will be happy to show us the way.

Peter Wayne Cowan

26th October 1960 – 15th July 1991.