Wrapping Up 1997 with Random Thoughts and Letters to Gordon (#40)

Posted September 8, 2014 by

I once asked Beth, "Who do you write a journal for and who would want to read it? "

I don't remember her answer, but I soon found out in times of stress, it helped me to put my feelings down on paper. Writing letters to my husband was my coping skill that helped me get through the worst days of my life.

Dear Gordon,

September has arrived and so did an invitation for me to share my story at St. David’s High School. For two hours I was there, not aware of how I felt physically but very aware of how I felt emotionally. Murray made his AIDS 101 presentation and shared it about himself. Then with legs like Jello, I launched into why I got tested, how the news of my diagnosis was delivered and how we got through those dreadful days when there was no hope of a cure. After we finished the students thanked us with handshakes and hugs. Somewhere along the way these students got the message that you cannot contact the virus this way.

Again I am given the opportunity to speak at U.O.W. All I can say is “bring it on!”

I was very near tears when one of the young female students enquired, "How do you make it through each day?" She herself was having trouble asking the question. Without hesitation I replied, "I live one day at a time or one hour if need be." My friend Katie joined me at this presentation. Her feedback is invaluable to help me know how I am being perceived by my audience. I am thinking about taking condoms with my pills to my next presentation. I plan on writing on the board "The choice is yours" while I hold a bag of each in each hand.

Dear Gordon,

Tonight I got a phone call from Beth's youngest son. He wanted to thank me for his birthday gift. Being only four it was comical when he said, "I'm going to have a birthday for you”. Uh huh...the cat's out of the bag, as my 40th was a whole seven months away.

Dear Babe,

I had an appointment with my HIV specialist in Toronto today. I asked her if I had an AIDS diagnosis because my CD4 count is only 16 and I had previously had shingles. She assured me I didn't that I had not progressed and was still HIV positive and that my viral load was undetectable.

Beth ,Val and I went out to the cemetery today. The little tree watching over your grave is changing colour and has grown quite a bit in the past year. On the ride home the girls were talking about what they were doing a year ago. With a sigh and a quiet voice not sure anyone heard I said "Gordon was still here." Val gave me a knowing look.

Weeks after you passed, our support worker told me about a night she had decided to visit you while I was out making a presentation. You always supported my efforts to educate. She told me that you were telling her your life story and when you finished you asked her, “what do you think?" She said, "I think you’re a good man Charlie Brown!” You inquired whether she was making fun of you. She said, “no I just think you’re a good man." She told me you drifted off with a smile.

Around that time changes were taking place which I couldn't understand until later. First you were edgy and tired of everything .Who could blame you? You were confined to bed, you had no energy, and thrush was invading your mouth. And these were only the visible signs. Then there seemed to be a sense of acceptance. Maybe you knew it was okay to stop fighting and that your grandmother was waiting to take your hand and walk you to the other side together.

For five years you and I were the only two HIV positive members in our families. Now I have to go it alone. Even though my family tries to help me have a normal life. I don't know what normal is any more. I feel jaded! That is only my perception of myself. No one could have prepared me for what this disease would do to me. The medications have destroyed my self image and not being able to work has worn away my self-worth.

Back to see my HIV specialist- she tells me it is the best I have looked in a year. She called me her miracle patient.108 lbs and on AZT. It sometimes takes longer to get to Toronto on the bus than it does for my appointment. Returning home and talking to Beth on the phone she told me that she had pulled her full length coat out of the closet that day. Ben her son asked why there was a red ribbon on her coat? Being only 7 she told him it reminded her of Gordon. He replied it has been almost a year. She was surprised at his concept of time. She also told me that the day of Gordon’s funeral she caught Ben staring at Gordon’s picture. Because I was leaving to go to Toronto the next day. Pookie my cat was staying with Beth. She said he asked the cat, "are you going to miss Gordon too?"

Dec 31 /97

Well Gordon, it is the last day of the year and I don't know how I made it this far! I had asked God for one more Christmas with my nieces and nephews and thank God he did! My next goal is to reach my 40th Birthday in March. My second goal is to write the story of our lives together .So I continue to journal and write letters to you babe. CM