Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sweet Sixteen, Part One

There are friends in my life for whom it has become a regular occurrence to hear me count off the exact number of days since I was diagnosed HIV Positive. As of this writing it is now 15 years, 11 months and 362 days. More than a few people have asked me why I would want to live in the past like that. Well, I don't. I am not nostalgic or homesick. Heck, I certainly do not want to live through again that awful day I was diagnosed. No, thank you; once was enough.

Shakespeare wrote, "What's past is prologue." He got that one right, as I assume he did many things. I interpret the statement to mean that my present takes on a new dimension and quality when it is informed by the memory of past experiences. It is a reminder of how grateful I am for every day I've been here since my diagnosis. They are so many more days than I ever thought I'd have.

The day after my diagnosis, I found myself attending a Big Group at an organization called Friends In Deed. I arrived there sad and frightened; sad because I thought my life was all but over and frightened because I thought I would not live to see my goals achieved. My mind was so clouded that I could only think of two things I wanted to live to see. One was my nephew's Bar Mitzvah and the other was the Centennial of Radio City Music Hall, which will take place on Monday, December 27, 2032. I was the first person to give voice to his feelings that evening. OK, my comment about Radio City got a laugh from everyone assembled. Laughter being the best medicine there is, always makes me feel better. All of my comments elicited this response from the facilitator. I am pretty confident this is a direct quote:

"Well, we thoroughly support you in having goals. Also, if you hang out here for a while, we might be able to show you a way to live your life a little more in the present."

I have, and continue to hang out at Friends In Deed. I'm still living with some pretty challenging circumstances. In being there I have experienced some very interesting, inspired and inspiring ways in which to live my life. It is a life that is not only longer, but more open to possibilities than I ever thought it would be. Oh, this is as good a moment as any to tell you that my nephew's Bar Mitzvah was four years ago. I was there. As for Radio City in 2032, it doesn't matter. I could stop typing and go there right now. That's fine with me.

If you are dealing with a life threatening illness; if you are a family member, a friend or caregiver to someone who is; or you are dealing with grief and bereavement, I strongly suggest you find out if Friends In Deed is for you. You can find out more about them in addition to their operating hours at

Having a blog is a real
time saver. It enables me to express my gratitude to a large number of people all at once instead of one at a time. There are times (too many) when I would be inclined to make more out of something than is truly necessary. On those occasions, the Friends In Deed facilitator I mentioned earlier might gently point me back towards Earth saying, "It's no big deal." Just as often she will simply say, "...and here we are. Thank you for including us." So, let's keep this simple. To everyone I've known at, through or because of Friends In Deed, here we are. Thank you for including me.

To paraphrase the Wicked Witch of the West, "Going so soon? I wouldn't hear of it. Why, my little Sweet Sixteen party is just beginning." I did refer to this as "part one". In Part Two, a tale of a very significant time in these past sixteen years. It is a story of near death; real death; great gain and the pain it takes to achieve it; and a blob in my neck. In other words, it was the time of my life!

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