A Couple Reflects On A Loss From AIDS That Brought Them Together Shortly after Larry Dearmon lost his partner to AIDS in 1991, he met Stephen Mills, the man he'd eventually marry. At StoryCorps, the couple talks about the impact Larry's prior relationship has had.

A Couple Reflects On A Loss From AIDS That Brought Them Together

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It's Friday morning, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. Tomorrow is World AIDS Day so today we have a conversation between Larry Dearmon and Stephen Mills, who met in Little Rock, Ark., in 1992 around the height of the AIDS epidemic. They came to StoryCorps to remember the loss that eventually brought them together.

LARRY DEARMON: Well, I've lost three partners to HIV and AIDS over the years.

STEPHEN MILLS: Tell me about Michael.

DEARMON: When I first met him, I was in the Army. And, oh, he was handsome. He was extremely intelligent, ambitious. He loved everybody.

MILLS: How did Michael find out he had AIDS?

DEARMON: He took a test. I came in from work and he was crying. And I knew instantly he was HIV positive. And I told Michael, I'm still here and I'm not going anyplace.

MILLS: And you were just starting your relationship. You could have cut and run very easily, but you stayed for nine years.

DEARMON: The last two years of his life, I was his caregiver. Then when he died, I cleaned him up, changed his clothes. And then I called his mom. Hardest thing I ever did. After Michael died, for while I was a basket case.

MILLS: How did you get through that?

DEARMON: It was his idea that I move to Little Rock afterwards because we knew the end was coming. And I moved, and then a few months later, I met you. And one reason I love you so much is you know what I went through with Michael and you don't feel threatened.

MILLS: For me, the fact that you stayed with him and that you cared about him, that made me feel really, really secure with our relationship. If we had rough times, or if I were sick, you'd stay with me. You are one of the most loving and caring people I have ever met in my life, and you show me that you love me every single day. You tell me that you love me every single day.

DEARMON: Because you never know how many days you have left. I'll promise you that at the very end, the last face I'll want to see is when I look up at you...

MILLS: Same here.

DEARMON: ...And then close my eyes forever.

INSKEEP: Larry Dearmon with his husband, Stephen Mills, at StoryCorps in Little Rock. They were together for 26 years before they married in 2013, a day that Larry calls the best day of his life. Their interview will be archived along with hundreds of thousands of others at the Library of Congress.

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