January 28, 2005

I must have written a thousand letters in my lifetime, but that letter I wrote to Brandon was the most difficult. My wounded heart was still filled with emotions that could not be expressed in words and though I tried hard, for days I stared at an empty pad with nothing but the introduction “Dear Brandon”. {{more}}

I had so many things to say but I didn’t know where or how to start. I was writing the closing page for this painful chapter of my life, but saying goodbye is never easy, especially when you have to put it in writing, and in a way that makes sense.

This way you never really say what’s on your mind because you get to plan beforehand, you edit your feelings and you “sanitize” the things you say. But considering it, a letter was the best thing, because they don’t see you cry and you don’t make a complete fool of yourself.

About three weeks later, a letter came from Brandon. I didn’t really expect a response because he hardy spoke to me before he left. I was glad that he didn’t expose his wife to the virus and that he was coping. I finally got the peace of mind that I needed to move on with my life. Brandon was soon to be history!

I made weekly visits to my counsellor, because it was just hard to cope sometimes. The people at work found out that I was HIV positive and, although they were not openly hostile towards me, I could sometimes see them whispering when they thought that I wasn’t looking.

Even my close friends no longer came into my office to sit down as before; now they stood at the door with a scorn on their faces looking at me from head to toe as if the virus was crawling on my skin.

It was hard to command respect when others won’t even look at you or try to stay as far away as possible. I cried almost every night, sometimes I wanted to give up, to quit and go somewhere where nobody knows me and to start all over again. No! That was what Brandon did, and somehow I knew that was not for me. Besides, was Brandon really happy now?

Pam got a new job and she travelled a lot. She was the only person, apart from my counsellor, who did not treat me like a disease. Even my family was ashamed of me.

With Pam gone and no friends to console me, I became almost dependent on the advice and comfort from my counsellor. She said that I didn’t have to feel all-alone and recommended that I join a support group for Persons Living With HIV and AIDS.

I was a bit reluctant at first to join this support group. But my counsellor explained that this group met secretly once per week – every week in a different location so that others would not get suspicious. She said it consisted mainly of persons infected with HIV, or family members or friends of persons infected with HIV. She said that the members of this group find support among themselves, they listen to you and they don’t discriminate. Still I was hesitant, but I decided to give it a try.

More next week.