Loving my child whose father died of AIDS
Picking up the pieces, forgiving, for her sake
August 3, 2012 | 1:00 pm
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 12:48 pm)
I never thought that our last words would be an argument over who our beautiful daughter looked more like.
He was charming. He was handsome. He was a minister. He was perfect to co-create with. We both agreed that we wanted children. Best of all, he didn’t have a problem with me being gay.
What he wasn’t, was honest. He didn’t share with me the fact that he was HIV-positive, let alone diagnosed with AIDS, and I didn’t find out until after he passed.
I would spend the next two years having myself and my daughter tested every six months. It was followed by another year of my doctor’s attempts to convince me that it was OK to stop getting tested.
My daughter had a lot of questions about her dad, which I was able to answer. What did he look like? What did he say about her? Who won the argument? When was his birthday? What was he like?
We made it all the way to middle school before I had to discuss, in detail, her father’s death and what exactly HIV/AIDS was. One day she came home in tears and plopped down on my bed in great despair. The dreaded day was upon us: My daughter told me that the kids in her Health class scooted their chairs away from her when told them that her father passed away of AIDS.
The teacher did nothing to help the other kids understand that is was her dad that was infected, not my daughter. Nor did the teacher provide comfort in my daughter’s time of need. I put my arms around my daughter, and at the same time found myself engulfed in anger. Not at the teacher, not at the students – but at myself. I should have had this conversation years ago, but instead I ran. I’d been full of bitterness, outside a place of forgiveness and lacked understanding of the disease – I didn’t feel that I was “fit” to have the conversation.
Although the opportunity to become enlightened and educated on the issue had presented itself, I still chose to run which provided enough comfort to not have to answer the tough questions.
Now, 15 years later, I am ready to grieve the loss of the “other parent.”
As I go through the grieving process, I am able to support my daughter through her grieving as well. The bond that is being created through this difficult time is one I would never exchange.
I am learning that forgiveness is essential to my emotional, mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. I now understand that forgiveness is not for him, but for me. I am now available to answer questions that my oldest daughter has about her father, AIDS, and about her father having AIDS.
I am able to be thankful for not testing positive and the fact that my life and my daughter’s life were spared that ordeal, instead of sitting in bitterness over a situation that I would never be able to change.
I can only give what I have. If I don’t have the knowledge then I can’t provide the knowledge. Being able to provide support to my children is priority to me even if it hurts. Knowledge is power.
It is OK to love someone, but it is more important to love myself. It is my responsibility to care for myself including my physical health.
Love is a lot of things, but ignorant is not one of them. If you don’t know, then ask. If you want to know, then ask. If you are unsure, then ask. The point is to just ask. Educate yourself and save a life.