The HIV+ Announcement – August Farewell Excerpt

An Excerpt from August Farewell

We were always pretty candid with each other, certainly about the important things. If either Bill or I had a problem, whether it was physical, emotional, or spiritual, we let each other know what was going on.

There was one instance when I was determined to abrogate that transparency principle. On Maundy Thursday 1993, my doctor told me that I had tested positive for HIV. Sometime earlier, I had been careless about taking adequate precautions when looking after a friend of ours who was dying of AIDS. I was cleaning him at his apartment after a particularly messy session of bloody diarrhoea. I had a cut and I wasn’t wearing protective gloves. He was emotionally distraught and I thought that if I put on gloves, it would make him feel even more ostracised than he was already.

I had forgotten about the incident.

The angst that I now experienced on receiving the news that I was HIV-positive was multidimensional. Of all the implications, my biggest worry was how Bill would react. I knew that he loved me intensely and that he would be traumatised by the prospect of me suffering what in those days was still anticipated to be almost certainly an excruciating deterioration to death. I couldn’t stand the prospect of inflicting such pain on him. So I resolved not to tell him. We always practiced safe sex so I knew I posed no threat to him.

That evening we went to a Maundy Thursday worship service with a friend at a high Anglican parish. The music was exquisite. My internal turmoil was wrenching.

I was able to maintain my personal vow of silence for all of twenty-four hours. By Friday evening, I could no longer preserve this secrecy. It was too profound a deception. After dinner, I made coffee and as we sat down in the living room, I said that I had something to tell him. He looked at me with benign curiosity. I hesitated. Not that I was reconsidering my decision, but I wanted to relish for a moment longer this time in our lives when he would be in ignorant bliss.

“I’m HIV-positive.”

Silence.

Then an anguished cry burst forth from the depths of his being. I hugged him as we both dissolved in tears.

I was back at work the Tuesday after the Easter holiday weekend. About midday, a delivery man walked into my office and handed me a long white box. I sat staring at it for several minutes and then slowly undid the ribbon and lifted the lid. A dozen red roses. The card read, I will always love you. Bill. To this day, that card and the dried rose petals sit on my desk.

* * *

August Farewell can be purchased through http://amazon.com and other on-line book retailers.

More information, including YouTube video on why I wrote August Farewell, on my website at http://DavidGHallman.com

 

 

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