stopped seeing patients with AIDS. Only Margaret, Gordon, and I continued. Because of my other responsibilities and commitments, I followed the fewest. Many of the gay men Margaret followed had been coming to the office long enough now that their deterioration was painfully apparent. Men who originally appeared healthy were now coming in wheelchairs or with pillows because they were so wasted that sitting on a plastic seat too long without a cushion of flesh was unbearable. Many now looked like old men, with sparse white hair, wrinkled skin, and masklike faces. The secretaries in my office were genuinely moved by their suffering. They knew them all by their first names. Frequently they would be admitted to the hospital and then be absent from the office for several weeks. When they returned, they invariably showed signs of deterioration. When the secretaries saw them in this worsened condition, they were shocked and frequently hid in one of our offices and cried. When one of them would pass away, no one would commiserate with Margaret more than they would. Margaret took each death personally and after each would mourn for several days. During these times it was difficult for anyone to reason with her.
Meanwhile, Alina was talking to Régis almost every day. She had managed to get some support for his rent from Catholic Charities, but his situation was rapidly becoming desperate. He admitted that he had not been entirely honest with us about his immigration status. Apparently he had come to this country three years before on a student visa, which had expired.
We sent two letters signed by Margaret, Alina, and me to the INS explaining Régis’s situation and asking that he be allowed to stay in this country for humanitarian reasons. Neither letter was ever formally answered, and daily phone calls to the responsible bureaucrats were not returned. Amal prayed with Régis while he waited to see me. In the privacy of the examining room, Régis told me that he appreciated all that we had done for him, but that he felt the situation was becoming hopeless. He wondered why God had forsaken him. I reminded him that I had promised him during his first ad-