Christmas has been one of the most favorite holidays of the year ever since I was a child. As a Born Again Christian it is an important day for me as it marks the day of my Saviors birth, Jesus Christ. Not only that but it reminds me of my childhood and a joyous time of year to be surrounded by the family that I love, my support system. The Christmas trees, neighborhood lights, and carols of old ring through the season as we are reminded about the importance of giving to others.
As a child my grandfather would visit every year bringing along gifts with him from all over the world. He was a traveler, spoke multiple languages, and a lover of cultures. I miss him so much and as I reflect on my own life, I see the influence he had in my life as I am alike him in so many ways. A kindred spirit with a love for life and people above all.
As I would skim through the pile of presents that awaited me to open them on Christmas Eve and read the “hints” written on the name tag, excitement would brew from within. Opening a present as a child is such an exciting thing, its auxilerating actually. Trying to guess what might be inside, hearing the wrapping paper crinkle, as a smile of pure joy comes across the face when the gift inside is revealed. Well that’s if it’s something you want right ? If it’s something that you didn’t want then a different reaction tends to ensue.
I understand not everyone has had the same upbringing, maybe don’t celebrate Christmas at all, or do not care as much about the holiday times as I do. Aside from the religious aspect and meaning of the season, giving to others in general gives us a good feeling inside. As someone living with HIV there would be nothing more than I would like to wake up to one morning and see a box wrapped with a hint “Cure” written on it. Finding out that medical research has ‘cracked the code’ and to see us all free of this virus.
The gift of life is something that we should all be joyous in receiving. An HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence and that is amazing ! It’s more than a phrase but a powerful reminder of how far we have come in this epidemic. The truth is if I was diagnosed 30 years ago and had received a diagnosis three years prior, its highly probable I wouldn’t be alive years after to write about my experiences. It was a different time and one that only those who went through can truly know what it was like to the fullest extent.
With ARV treatment those of us who are positive have a second chance at life. This is often something that we over look in the hustle and bustle of our every day routines but it is an important one to remember. It’s a humbling experience for myself and one that I cherish daily, especially at this time of year. As I look at my pill every night it is a reminder that I have the ability to live a normal life span.
It’s a gift that has been given to us through years of research and brave one’s who fought before us. Not everyone has access to treatment and as time goes on it is a gift that we wish to spread to all those living with HIV. A present that keeps on giving throughout the year as it allows us a second chance at life. While medication is simply part of the equation, we have more tools now to fight this virus than ever before.
For those of us who can access medication, life is in the palm of our hands and it’s our choice wether we decide to accept it or not. We can live our whole lives wishing for something else but the reality is, this is the situation we are in.
Our perception of how we view our condition plays a big factor into wether we accept it or not. It might not be exactly what we were expecting under the tree but it is something that benefits us in so many ways. Not only does it improve our personal health and assure a long life but it has also bridged the gap into between status’s through TaSP.
The crisp mountain air and fresh powder of winter snow within Big Bear remind me of the beauty that life provides. The song birds are singing and the Christmas carolers spreading joy throughout the town, bringing a warm sense of unity that Christmas is here. Childhood memories spring in my head as I come to the realization that because of ARV treatment, I have many more memories to make.
This is a gift that not all my brothers and sisters who have passed due to this condition, had within their lifetimes. I take my pill daily while focusing on maintaining not only my physical health but mental health as well. I read a quote the other day by Charles R. Swindoll “Life is 10% of what happens to you, and 90% of how you react to it”. This hit home for me as our reaction to our diagnosis plays such a vital role in what the outcome will be.
We now have the opportunity to live and that to me is the greatest gift one could ask for. For those who do not we will continue to fight for you until treatment is available world wide. I gladly accept this gift and am excited to see what the future holds, HIV is simply along for the ride. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.