Some days ago, I was thinking about a way to help me learn about the women in my network without getting too personal. I know that some people are particular about sharing, so in my private time as I talk to them, I ask them one simple question; “what is your favorite song?” This question does a few things: 1) it is an open-ended question, so it allows the other person to have to stop and think about themselves even if they already know, 2) it allows for a longer conversation because it brings up the story of how the song became so special, and 3) by placing this as a ringtone for each of my network friends, it allows me to think of the story and how other women’s experiences and stories, even if it is a ringtone, strengthens and empowers me. Lastly, the ringtone makes that person even more special by hearing a piece of them when they call. It is a simple way not to forget, and to remember to smile.
Let us know in what way do you find it easy to share without exposing yourself to deep?
Living with HIV presents its own sets of challenges, but when you add school and homework to the mix it can make life even more difficult. I had to take 2 years off of school when I developed HIV-related cancer, non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and for the moment HIV had won out against my determination to finish school. Beating the cancer was challenging in itself, and I was really too sick and tired to even think school-related thoughts. After I went through chemo, surgery, and had been in remission for some time, I started to think about school and how to pick up where I left off. I was a year in remission when I re-enrolled to finish my A.A. degree and get my life moving forward again.
My point is that everybody, especially those living with HIV and other chronic illnesses, can face their greatest challenges and still come out fighting on the other side. You might leave some pieces of yourself behind in that dark time, but everybody has something to live for. For me, that was my family and finishing my schooling. No matter what it is you are fighting for, just remember that there are others fighting alongside of you. Everybody might be fighting for different things, but at least you are fighting!
When I was leaving New York Back in 1991 I was also planning my funeral. I wanted to spend the time I had left enjoying my son. I had been diagnosed with HIV in 1983. Now that was one of the hardest things for me to face- knowing I had to leave him orphaned. No amount of therapy could take that deep hurt from my heart.
So, I learned to cherish every moment I had. Because back then, no one knew what the lifespan was for someone with HIV. I would hear from doctors different things like “you could live another three to five years.” Then another doctor – I remember her telling me the magic number is now “seven years.”
It’s been thirty-two years since my diagnosis and I am still going strong. I am healthy emotionally, physically and spiritually, And, I must say I have become more sassy in my older years. Ironic to say, but I give all the credit to having the big V. Not the best way to change your life, but for me it was, that was my blessing in disguise. I am still learning of life’s endless possibilities. I no longer need to just survive – I can actually have a life.
I had the privilege to help raise my three granddaughters, which for me, there is no greater pleasure in life. I thought being a mother was, but when you are blessed with grandchildren it takes you to a whole other level.
Who knew I would be still here today so eager to make a difference in this life, this is some of what paying it forward means to me.
What are your thoughts? Let us hear from you…