Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

First Hello, Last Goodbye

Hello & GoodbyeOn most Sundays, I’d just stay home and rest. But this particular one had me anxious. The kind of anxiety that only unconsciousness could stop.

But... I was on a mission.

I was to meet a fellow pozzie for the first time. Not the kind of eyeball you would expect. I would be meeting him... at his own wake.

I’ve been chatting with an old friend abroad, and someone to whom I had disclosed my HIV status. I just really trusted this guy enough to tell the truth when he asked how I was doing, but was relieved as well to know that he and his partner had been getting tested as well. Negative, thankfully. Yep, I had had sexual contact with them both when they were still in the country years and years and years ago.

It was late April that he asked for advice, saying a friend of his had a CD4 count of less than 100, but whose HIV test result had not been released yet. A CD4 count of less than 100? I remember thinking, AIDS?! At first I found it odd that his CD4 got measured before an HIV screening, but apparently a low CD4 count can also happen in cases of autoimmune diseases like lupus and in organ transplantees.

So at the time, it wasn’t confirmed just yet, but I gave him all the information needed in case some bad news came in. But sadly, shortly after, it did. In May, his friend had been hospitalized with a number of infections like meningitis and tuberculosis, just some of what are known to be opportunistic infections.

Though I didn’t know him personally, I had been able to text the guy to introduce myself, in case he needed to talk with someone in the same situation. I had also been able to get in touch with his sibling who was taking care of him, sharing my own story of living with HIV. I reassured her that people with HIV have been known to recover from such infections. But alas, last week, I received the news that he had passed away. He was, like me, just in his 30s.

So Sunday, I dropped by his wake. I was anxious because I’ve never been comfortable being at wakes, in addition to this one being that of someone I really did not know personally and one that I was going alone to. I know, paranoia again. But I was hell bent on meeting his siblings, as well as representing his friend who could not be there.

Getting there, the sibling I was in touch with was not around. I introduced myself and chatted a bit with the dad. He expressed how happy his son would be to know that his friend sent a representative, and it was really touching for him to acknowledge that. He told me about how his healthy and athletic his son was, and how unlikely his demise had been.

I was not rambling about anything HIV just yet, as I didn’t really know who knew what. I waited quietly for the sibling I had been in touch with to arrive. The ambience was light, apparently upon request of the deceased. After about half an hour, I finally shook the hand of the person I was waiting for.

Apparently the immediate family knew the truth about the condition, but as to who understood, the only ones I am sure who did so were his siblings. We talked in lowered voices amidst the other guests and relatives, but I was pleased that the siblings were really opening up about the situation. They were open-minded and it was evident that HIV was not an issue for them in their brother’s death. I never heard any judgment.

As I understood from his sibling, this guy may have already had an inkling up to a year ago that he had it, but didn’t take action. As such, he may have found out too late. It still scares me a bit to realize it was just a month since confirming he was HIV-positive that they lost their brother. But the battle is far from over. The virus hasn’t won.

As I shared with them my own story, which is nothing compared to what their brother went through, they shared with me that they realized how much more advocacy is needed for the issue of HIV. And that was one thing that they, as well as some friends, were willing to be part of. It’s ironic that this person’s fight against the enemy will probably be more vigilant after his death.

After staying for about three hours, I mustered up the courage to leave. It was raining hard outside, which just helped set the mood to get my mind to process all the information for the day.

If it indeed was true that this person may have known that he possibly had it up to a year ago, I think the lesson to learn here is that there are certain attitudes to dealing successfully with HIV. You may be athletic, strong and healthy, but your body can only take so much. You either eat your humble pie and get the help that you need, or you continue to act like a superhero and beat the hell outta the virus. Either way, you gotta acknowledge that there is an adversary. It’s when you take the deadma approach that this virus can really get the upper hand.

So there, I didn’t know how much I can say without endangering the privacy of the family, so thanks for bearing with my lack of details as I tried to tell my story. I was his last eyeball. Our first hello was also our last goodbye. Condolences to his family, and may he rest in peace.

8 comments:

Ming Meows said...

as they say, in order to win the war you have to lose the battle

Turismoboi said...

kakalungkot!

rubypurple said...

Again, condolences to the family.

We'll never know what life has in store for us.

I want to say something but I don't want to be emo. YM na lang siguro.

YOU take care ha. *hugs*

Angelo said...

Will say a prayer for him.

Hey, I just want to let you know that what you're doing is really great. You know, reaching out to people and letting them know about the disease and that we all need to take action.

That's really something.

Ryan said...

that's so sad... :(

condolence to his family.

and more power to guys like you who continue to educate people about the virus. stay strong and healthy!

--it's me again

wanderingcommuter said...

i lit a candle inside my room now, for him...

bampiraako said...

He's blessed to have an understanding and open-minded family.

My deepest sympathy.

The Green Man said...

Things happen for a reason... even death. I learned that it's not something to be sad about.

I believe that people die because they've accomplished the purpose of their existence. Even a new born baby of a workaholic parents (too long of a story to tell but essence is they neglected their health and well being)dies. The baby left with a lesson for his parents... they should have been taking care of their body/ health in general before they decided to have a baby... that's the baby's sole purpose to leave a good lesson to people who do not take care of their selves.

My sincerest condolences to the family of the dead.