World AIDS Day 2016 | Jenngem

....what did he die from? AIDS, I tell them, when they ask. Then comes the usual conversation afterwards, well, he had a transfusion then? No. Was he...? No. So the only logical other conclusion one can come to is that yes, my father had done drugs when he was a young man. Obviously, before he met my mother and had my sister and I. 

World AIDS Day is December 1st. It seems that the theme surrounding many organizations this year is stigma. You hear the word "AIDS," and there are people out there that believe that because my father had it, that I must have it. Or that my mother must have it. But even though I do not believe in a higher power, I think fate may have had a hand in our tests always coming out negative. 

We've come so far medically, yet are still so stuck when it comes to the stigma that is surrounding AIDS. There are people that still believe that if you give a person with AIDS a hug or a kiss that you can contract the virus, which simply isn't true. 

No one ever knew that AIDS would touch our lives in the sad way that it did. My father was diagnosed in 1993, and only lived 9 years after his diagnoses, dying March 18th, 2002. No one ever knew that we would lose our father to this horrid monster. No one knew that he wouldn't be around to see his daughters grow up, learn to drive, graduate high school, get married and have children of their own. 

What do you tell a six year-old when they ask what their "Pop-Pop" died from? The best we can do right now is tell him that "Pop-Pop" got sick and passed away. And just imagine the tears that flow when Syrus looks up towards the sky and says "I love you, Pop-Pop. I wished I could have met you," and blows a kiss into the air. 

In 2017, he will have been gone 15 years. Boy, where do those years go? How do they fly by so fast? How is he gone for so long? If I could have one more minute with him, one more second, I would give anything in the world for him to meet his grandson. I know he would have fell in love with him instantly. I know he would've shown him his love of music, just like he passed down to me. 

But the reality is, he is gone, forever. He is not ever going to come back. It's funny, sometimes you look at the front door of your home and wish with all your might that your loved one will come bursting through it, but that is simply not to be. But, as I have been told so very many times, I cannot live in the past, and I must live with the living, not the dead. But I can miss him. I can grieve the fact that he will never meet his grandson, who looks a bit like him. 

I guess the point that I am trying to make here, that I always try to make every year is that AIDS RUINS LIVES. DRUGS RUIN LIVES. Even though he was young and didn't even think about having a family when he did drugs, it happened, a dirty needle was used, and like that, a family was destroyed. 

I'm including some worthy causes that support those living with AIDS. Please consider learning more, donating, or even sharing a graphic will help. Thank you. 

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