Bon Voyage: The Death of Tom
Egg Tempera On Gesso Panel
I was working as a Research Nurse, testing a new AIDS medication at San Francisco General Hospital. Tom had been my patient in the study for about two years. One day, he called me and said, "I am dropping out of the study, and I am dropping out of life". These were his exact words. Then he said, "I'm having a going away party and would love if you would come". He had made up his mind. He noticed that his mental state was declining and worried that in the near future he would not be able to make the decision he was making now.
I arrived at the party - the house was already quite crowded. Tom greeted me at the door with a big smile and graciously took my coat. Very strange for someone who shortly planned to take his own life. The party was amazing! People gathered in small groups, some crying (Tom comforting them!), some laughing. Wine, liquor and other substances flowed. Flowers and candles filled every available space. The food was opulent, complete with a cake inscribed, "Bon Voyage Tom".
This was the plan: whomever was present at day break would attend his suicide. I had already decided not to be there but asked a close friend of his to call me to reassure me that the event had gone smoothly. Two days later I received a phone call - this is the story she told:
At dawn about seven people were present. All the flowers and candles had been moved into Tom's bedroom. Tom lay back in the arms of his friend and his lover read him a "bedtime story". He then took the fatal dose of pills, washed down with vodka. He fell asleep within half an hour. In two hours he was dead.
This has been the inspiration for my painting, Bon Voyage: The Death of Tom.
This image is available as an archival reproduction and postcard. Tap the image to reveal info. The original Egg Tempera painting is available for acquisition - tap contact tab to inquire.