Deny it or not . . .
We all know, when we see those short, carefully worded obits that they are for one who has died of AIDS and we sadly pass them by, except when the name is of one we know.
Once I saw such words about one who was my friend. And it matters little that it has been years since we last laughed and talked, I mourn that he is no more in a body and I miss his calls when we chatted, set straight the events of the world . . . and talked of God .
And my heart still aches for his family because AIDS remains today’s leprosy and survivors are stripped of the consolation others have when they are free to speak of the sorrow and the history of the death with caring friends.
See, I know, for several times death, for husband and parents and others has come close to me, and each time I was surprised to discover how much healing came to me, when I could talk about the days, weeks, months of osculation between hope and despair we experience when someone close is diagnosed as ‘terminal’.
And I thanked God that there were friends who were willing to listen as I unburdened myself on the why’s, how’s, what’s, and offered friendly shoulders for me to cry on.
But with AIDS it’s different, for no one even wants to hear of AIDS. There is a deep fear, and those left behind not only have their sorrow over loosing a loved one, but the added sorrow of people’s unthinking cruelty when they almost ignore the death and even the burial services.
A friend told me of being ignored in such a way. People who had been quick to remember birthdays and other such occasions, never spoke of his death and even passed by on the street, pretending (?) not to see her. I’m sure it’s because they don’t know what to do, or to say, and so they do nothing. Sad.
But we are learning, for this is how Cancer once was treated.
I clearly remember as a child, when we kids should have been sleeping, I overheard my parents whispering about a neighbor dying of cancer.
Yes, there was a time when cancer was a no-no disease and I recall my parent’s surprise when the words ‘died of cancer’ began to appear in obituaries.
And now, thank God, AIDS is also beginning to appear there. but just the same, it still is to-day’s leprosy. Strikes fear in all of us, and when we learn someone we know has that disease, we are torn between “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know”, or the big one of, ” Don’t come near me. Oh, please don’t touch me.”
But the sooner we get our thinking straight, the better it will be for all, because, if you haven’t already been faced with AIDS or the death of someone near you from AIDS, you will.
It is not just a disease of Gays and celebrities. Quite ordinary people get it from blood transfusions, scratches, accidents, and, yes, it does happen to ‘nice’ people.
The death I spoke of was for a wonderful person I once often laughed and talked with, wondered why it suddenly all stopped, and then . . . just as suddenly I knew why.
Once AIDS enters a life there is no time or energy for anyone or anything else. It’s a survival course, except everyone knows there is no survival, but. chiseled in stone. the verdict of death.
My friend was given a most private burial, and I don’t know what I could or would have done, but oh, pray God, I hope I’d have had the love and the bravery to let him know he was still my friend and that I cared.
And . . . with AIDS still not freely accepted (as we once did with cancer) now we face Ebola. Pray God, to give us time to find peace with one horror before another comes to us.