I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a sophomore in college, making good grades, not getting into trouble, but still having fun. I was living the life… if you catch my drift! To put the icing on the cake, I was in love! Not that puppy type love those Bow Wow, Justin Beiber and Lil twist types sing about, but real love! He was my one and only, and I his (at least that’s what he told me).
I can remember the day we professed our love. It was a cool September 3. We spent the night together and I woke up glowing all over and feeling complete. A few weeks later, I began to get sick. Pain shot from every crevice of my body. It felt like my body was working against me, and I knew I needed professional help. So off to the doctor I went.
At the hospital they stuck me with needles and under a machine, and then sent me on my way with some ibuprofen, promising to call me with the results.
Two days later, RING, RING, it’s the doctor.
“We have some news for you and need you to come immediately,” he said. I dropped everything, and left at once.
At the hospital, I signed in and sat in the quaint waiting room, watching the various patients and nurses walk in and out of the office. It felt like déjà vu being in this place again. I remember feeling scared but anxious because finally I was going to know what was wrong with me and be back on the road to recovery. As if by habit, I found myself constantly glancing at the clock, my eyes fixated on the minute hand. Tick… Tick… 10… 20…
“Miss Faith,” a voice boomed from behind me. The nurse was calling my name and it was my turn to go to the back.
Nothing about that back room escapes me. Just the casual whiff of antiseptic will quickly trigger the memory and I am transported back to that place. The bang from the heavy oak door as it closed behind me echoes in my ears, and instantaneously I get goose bumps from the chill of the sterilization temperature of the room. Then the doctor appears, and we exchange pointless casualties. Afterwards, he takes a deep breath and I hold mine because I knew at that moment this was nothing good. At that point everything gets narrow, I can’t hear but I can see his lips as they mouth the word positive.
“Oh, No! This has to be a mistake! Not me,” I shrieked through tears. The doctor just nodded his head, placed a heavy hand on my shoulder, and walked out the door. He did leave me with a painful gift- the newfound knowledge that I was HIV Positive.
Every emotion a person can feel in life, I felt through this ordeal. Immediately, I wondered how long it was going to be before I died. Next, I wondered how I was going to tell the ones I loved. No one would treat me the same. I would forever be the stupid, dirty girl with the incurable disease.
I went through life numb and indifferent, on a downward spiral to my demise. But my mind kept drawing back to this photo that hung at my parent’s house over the fire mantel. This picture featured a man being carried across the shore by a ghost like figure. He was overwhelmed and physically beaten. In the background the sky had transformed from clear blue to stormy purple. The particularly interesting thing about this picture was the footprints. Through the calmness there were two sets of footprints, but as the tumult arose the prints molded into one.
What does this mean I wondered? And then it hit me. That old scripture, “he will never leave you or forsake you” spoke to my heart. I knew God was with me all along, guiding my every footstep and there to catch me when I fell. The reason I was making it was because he was carrying me through this impossible moment. He would continue to carry me until I regained my strength, and the storm clouds ceased to roll. We had come too far for him to desert me now. Everything was going to be all right, because God had my back.
And it was.