AIDS

it’s world AIDS day.

i used to hear the term unhinged from anything personal. another disease, affecting other people and other families… not mine. images i saw were unfamiliar and i didn’t connect.

i wonder how many people can still claim that innocence.

several years ago i took a few months off from life and went to uganda. i worked as an orphanage nurse in this beautiful country utterly ravaged by AIDS… what was left to destroy after civil unrest had already wreaked its havoc.

my first night in uganda i met brian.

brian, his feeding tube, and his wannabe mama...
brian, his feeding tube, and his wannabe mama…

arching and screaming in the throes of meningitis – the result of AIDS attacking his tiny immune system – i was introduced to third-world hospitals in one grim hour. i wrapped him tightly in his blanket when we got back to the house, and promised him that i would take care of him.

he taught me so much about fighting for life… about smiling right through anything… about loving despite life’s cruelty… and he taught me about AIDS.

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just weeks later, i held him in a tiny hospital room as he let go of life. being there for him seemed pathetically little to give.

a lot has changed since my days in uganda. that country modeled what can happen when heads are pulled from the sand, and AIDS has at least loosened it’s iron-fisted grip on the beautiful ugandan people. but the war on this disease is far from over.

and the war has a face. thank you, sweet brian.

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