I know that there’s been an interruption to my regularly scheduled posting recently. It’s been a time consuming process getting adjusted to my new life, and I had a few difficult things happen which made the process of creating stability more difficult than it would previously have been. As a result, I withdrew from writing things for publication for a spell.
I’ve written very vaguely before about the presence of HIV/AIDS in my life. While my HIV status is negative, I have known people with HIV/AIDS and been very close to them for the entirety of my life.
Today is International AIDS Day. Since this day last year, two people I knew died of AIDS. First was a girl who I was not particularly close friends with, but who taught me a considerable amount in both life and death. You can read about the ending of her life here if you use fetlife.
A few weeks ago, while I was in the process of my cross-country move, my elder brother also died of AIDS. He became infected with HIV due to IV drug use when he was a teen and passed away a few months shy of his twenty eighth birthday. While his health had been touch and go for several years, he was in excellent health when I left Los Angeles. He went into the hospital due to excessive sleepiness and inability to stay awake while I was driving to Salt Lake City. I texted him that night with great concern and he told me that he was fine and would be home soon. By the next day, a viral infection had swept through his body and his weakened immune system could do nothing to defend against it. He was seen by a hospice nurse by the end of that night and passed away several days later.
I was able to have a final conversation with him while he was still conscious, during which he told me that he was alright with dying, that he loved me very much, and that he was proud of me for the woman I’ve become. I told him that he had always been a great source of inspiration for me and that he was one of the most admirable men I’ve known.
The past few weeks since his death have been extremely difficult for me because the death was so removed from me: I was unable to be with him when he ceased to exist or to see his body and his memorial service won’t be held for another several months. It took me a lot of work to believe that he was really dead, to know it in my bones and be alright with it. I think I’m there now, and if not, I’m very nearly. I’m perky and happy and enjoying my life here, making sandwiches and getting spanked. I’m having fun with HeatherFeather and Malignus and making new friends in my new community. The world is full of potential right now. There’s terror in the idea that my brother will never again be just a phone call away, but there’s also happiness in the fact that he won’t suffer from his horrible illness again and in the simple fact that I had the joy of knowing and loving him. He was ready to die and unafraid. So few get that privilege.
I’ve been keeping this information to myself to prevent it from seeming like I was seeking attention, to avoid platitudes of comfort and to simply not focus on the dark and the terrible, but today seemed like a good time to let everyone know.
Please remember to know your HIV status and to practice Universal Precaution when dealing with blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk and other body fluids which may be tainted with one of the above (for example, saliva from a mouth with an open wound). Use clean needles and wrap it before you tap it. Seek medical attention if you believe that you’ve been exposed. Educate the people in your community about HIV prevention.
Additionally, remember to fight HIV, not people with HIV. There are a myriad of situations in which HIV is transmitted and it isn’t a disease that suggests that someone is a bad person. Anyone can get HIV. It’s hard to remember just what that means until you’re burying someone you love.
I’m proud of the lives which were lived by my friends who have been killed by this disease despite their illness, and I have great hope for a future where medical advances and education lessen the impact that it has on our world.