I lost my father to AIDS in 1992. My mother died of the disease three years later in 1995, the same year that the first antiretroviral drugs came to market. Within two years death rates due to AIDS related illnesses had plummeted in the developed world. If Mum had lasted another six months, she may still be alive today.
In recognition of World AIDS day this December 1st, I am posting an exclusive excerpt from my memoir in honour of all those who lost their lives and of their loved ones who suffered along side them.
Excerpt from my memoir – Becoming Red Bear
The next few weeks were spent at home nursing Mum. She was now very weak and was suffering from extreme nausea most of the time. She needed help to walk and was laying on the bed or sofa for most of the day. One afternoon we were up in her room, I was helping her to get dressed. Sitting at her dressing table she was looking pitifully at the unrecognisable image of herself in the mirror.
I sat down beside her and she took my hand.
“I don’t want to go on.” She began to cry.
“I just want to die, I want it to be over.”
I held her tight as if trying to press some of my life-force into her fragile frame. My throat froze in anguish, desperately searching for the right words to comfort her.
“I know Mum, I know, but you are strong, you can do it. We are here with you.”
I was trembling with her, feeling numb with sorrow. I desperately wanted to take her pain away and see an end to this unbearable suffering. All I could do is hold her until she stopped crying and we both dug deeper to find yet another day of strength.