Another Brother Gained and Lost.  By Jeanne Bossé

Another Brother Gained and Lost. By Jeanne Bossé

. 4 min read

In a heartwarming tribute to a dear friend lost to AIDS, one PrimeCrush writer reflects on the many gifts he gave her.

With three brothers and three sisters, I never felt the need for another sibling. In my twenties, that is exactly what I got.

Daniel Platten and I met working at a costume company supplying both professional and amateur theatres. His sometimes cranky exterior didn’t put me off as I saw the vulnerability underneath and loved his quirky sense of humor. Born to a young English mother and American/Puerto Rican father, he wound up in foster care after their breakup and his mother’s move to Australia. Years later, he finally felt some sense of belonging after meeting his mother’s family in England. Stunned by his sudden appearance, they soon gave him the acceptance he longed for.

Daniel always felt connected to his mother’s homeland and became a total Anglophile after finding his English family. From Danny Fuentes, he became Daniel Platten, taking his mother’s name. A Royal Family devotee, the wedding of Diana and Charles thrilled him, as he admired Diana and had a huge crush on Charles. Daniel’s favorite pair of bedroom slippers had enormous heads of Diana and Charles with crowns, sitting up in bed; one for each foot. When Daniel had a bad cold, he told me that it made him “feel better having Charles looking up my pajama leg”.

Daniel taught me the Royal wave; to just move the wrist gently. He was excited by the arrival of “Cats” on Broadway and insisted I was properly attired. Mesh gloves completed my ensemble of a vintage cocktail dress and small hat with a little veil. (I was ahead of the Madonna “Evita” craze.) We treated ourselves to a cab and Daniel had us using the Royal wave at every stoplight to unsuspecting nearby cars, amused by their reactions.

American royalty also had Daniel star-struck, namely Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and John F. Kennedy, Jr. Late one night, I answered the phone and heard strangled breathing. I was just about to slam the phone down when it suddenly dawned on me; “Daniel??” Another breath; “Jackie!! John-John!!” The famous pair paid a backstage visit to a play Daniel was working on rendering him delirious with excitement. I laughed with pleasure at his delight and relief that he hadn’t been an obscene phone call.

While both of us had theatre acquaintances taken by AIDS, my worst fears were realized when Daniel became HIV-Positive. When the film “Philadelphia” was released in December 1993, it was clear Daniel was fading, but insistent on seeing the movie. True to form, we were both admiring the beauty of Antonio Banderas at the same time we were agonizing over the decline and demise of another young man. As the credits ended, I turned to Daniel, who fell into my arms as we both wept.

Daniel had made a career change from costuming to theatrical hair design, working for both television and stage. He had finally started to get some excellent recognition for his work, including a brief spotlight magazine feature. By the end of 1993, Daniel could no longer work and I often traveled between my East Village studio and his West Village apartment.

The winter of 1993-1994 was particularly miserable and I was among the network of friends who looked in on Daniel. Upon arrival, a painfully thin hand would appear, holding a surgical mask as we each wore one, along with Daniel. The same group took turns to stay with him during the month of May 1994 as he hoped to die at home. A sanitizing station was set up and visiting nurses came regularly. After Daniel became jaundiced, he was taken to the hospital and died soon after, without knowing his beloved Jackie Onassis passed away a few days before him.

During his last months, Daniel had asked dear friends if we wanted any mementos. After his death, the apartment had been set up with items labeled and a table with items that were “unassigned” and available to take. Looking around the familiar space, I felt a sob choking my throat and could hardly breathe. I staggered through the apartment out to the backyard shared by the tenants, sobbing uncontrollably like a wild animal, ripped apart by grief. Suddenly, through my sobs, I heard Daniel’s voice: “BOSSÉ! BOSSÉ!! SHUT UP!! YOU’RE SCARING MY NEIGHBORS!!!” I had nothing stronger than coffee in my system and know with certainty it was Daniel. Abruptly I stopped in stunned silence before doubling over as tears of laughter now mingled with tears of sorrow. It was his last gift to me.

If you love me as much as I love you (and I really do love you!), then please help me grow by forwarding this {love} Letter to a friend!  And I'd love to have you join us on instagram, facebook & twitter.

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