When I first learned I was HIV+, I visited a clinic once a month for blood work and counseling. Having just been deported from Korea, having lost my friends, job and relatives, those monthly visits provided comfort and security, and most importantly, a schedule. They gave me something to look forward to. And someone to talk to. The clinic has a number of doctors--I only have to go twice a year now--but my favorite was an Indian woman who found a way to talk to me about so many other things besides HIV. Family. Literature. Life in New York City. But on one visit we had a sobering discussion about HIV. But she was still encouraging. Telling me that HIV was manageable (which it really has turned out to be.) Not unpredictable like cancer. That if she had to choose between HIV and cancer, she would choose to be HIV+. I tried to smile.
Today I cried. My dad is in the hospital. The doctors think he may have stomach cancer. My aunt died of stomach cancer this past fall. It was a slow, painful death. Her final days were marked by dosages of morphine. Life is just so full of sadness. And unpredictability. Dad's birthday is in a few days, and this is really not how we had planned to celebrate.
Before I left him at the hospital tonight, I leaned down to give him a hug. He couldn't lift his arms. So he reached up his lips and kissed me. I love you Dad.