More than halfway through this day, as I begin writing, I realize that this is a date which sneaks up on me now more than it used to.
It was March 22, 1990 when I met with my doctor and received the not-totally-unexpected news that I was HIV-positive. (As much as anyone can prepare, it still had a kick-in-the-gut feeling to it.)
I cannot remember whether that appointment was during my lunch-hour or after work. It could have been either as the doctor’s office was no more than two blocks away from my own workplace. I do, however, recall that I was never ‘myself’ again at work and went on sick leave later that year.
As part of the follow-up with my doctor, blood taken the previous May – while I experienced what I thought was the flu – was re-tested and the completely flipped-from-normal results indicated that this was, in all likelihood, when I was sero-converting to positive. Therefore, because I cannot pin down the date in May 1989, I remember March 22, 1990 more profoundly and celebrate having survived since at least 1989.
I hope that I will be able, one day, to assemble everything I have written about living with HIV, then AIDS, since then. The closest I have come is this very blog.
It is impossible to list everything that comes to mind as I mark this day – images of the many friends who have died (an instant fellowship developed, for me, among others with HIV), blessings received from other friends and loved ones who refused to let me give up on life, and gratitude to God for patiently allowing me to wallow and drift, for as long as I did, before awakening in me a sense of purpose – however tentative it sometimes still feels.
Above all, though, today I just remember the cold and rainy day that it was on March 22, 1990. I remember the tears, the absolute fear, and the many hugs received that night as I went to a meeting where I knew there to be others – nearly all of them long since passed – who had experienced what I was going through that day.
It’s cold, and somewhat overcast, here today these many years later. My spirit, however, is much brighter and my heart is filled with gratitude for the many second chances I have been given.