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Articles tagged with: personal stories of people living with HIV


The soul of two roses

Sunday, 14 February 2016 Written by // Felix Garmendia Categories // Dating, Gay Men, Felix Garmendia, Lifestyle, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific

A Valentine’s Day post from our New York guy, hopeless romantic Felix Garmendia who looks back on his wedding day four years ago this week

The soul of two roses

Roses have been part of my life from the very beginning.

I grew up and was raised by my maternal grandmother in Puerto Rico. Her name was, “Rosaura”, which in English would translate into, “The aura of a rose”. One of my favorite memories is playing around her rose garden.

I remember one day in particular, when she taught me an important lesson about women and roses. Looking at a small rose bud, she said to me, “You see this rose? This is your little sister”. Pointing out a beautiful open rose, she then added, “This beautiful rose is your mother”. She stopped for a second and then looked at a third rose. This one was losing its petals, it was withered, but still alive. My grandmother, pointed at the third rose and finished her lesson by saying, “This rose is me, and you know what? They are all beautiful!”


Time passed, and I developed a very special place in my heart for these flowers. I decorated old family pictures and surrounded them with rose petals. I learned how to preserve them under glass and I found myself saving many in different boxes for years. They became a staple growing up.

Today, I’m in my mid-fifties. I don’t play in a rose garden anymore, or decorate old pictures with them but the souls of hundreds of roses have decorated my journey on this Earth. I’m very grateful for these memories. They are pleasantly nostalgic, comforting and beautiful. Just like my grandmother described all of us, no matter our age or physical appearance.


Today, I found myself preserving forever two dried roses that are going to be four years old.



The day was, February 10, 2012. It was an unusually warm day for February. After 14 years with my longtime companion Denis, I was going to marry him that day, thanks to the recent legalization of gay marriage.

We woke up early and waited for one of our two witnesses Stephanie. Denis’ cousin Jim, our second witness, was going to meet us at the City Clerk’s Office in the Bronx where we were going to get married.

Stephanie arrived around 10 a.m. bringing two perfect red roses for Denis and I to wear on our lapels. I was very touched. A week before I was in the hospital and we didn’t have time to organize anything special. It was going to be a simple ceremony with Stephanie and Jim as witnesses. The rose boutonnieres were a beautiful detail. It was one of the most significant moments of my life and once again, roses were witnesses of the celebration of 14 years of love.

Yes, by now, I know what you are thinking: this guy is a hopeless romantic! You're right, I am.

Four days before our 4th wedding anniversary, I decided to decorate my desk with a very special memory. Next to a framed picture of our wedding, from now on, there will be two roses suspended in time. Two roses that were part of a moment that will last forever, preserved under a glass dome. Like a religious reliquary (but way less creepy, lol), these two flowers, are preserved to be loved. Like the two powerful souls of two lovers that refused to let their love wither by the sometimes harsh circumstances of life.

I look at these roses every day. They are one of the first things I see when I wake up every morning. They help me celebrate life in a very special way that only two souls can share with two roses. All four, suspended in time, eternal by nature.