[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat do you do, when you’ve done all that you can do? Pastor Donald McClurkin says, “Stand.” Oftentimes, it seems as if life is dealing us a hand of cards that is meant to be lost. Nevertheless, you must always keep your poker face straight with a mind to convince your opponent that you have a winning hand. And, also, you must take Kenny Rogers’ advice and know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
Recently, I had the privilege to meet and encourage a young man who had given up on life. After hearing my testimony, this young man, who has been suffering from the effects of AIDS and by his own powerless hands that left him with no will to live, decided to fight back and strive to live life to the fullest. I must humbly say that this is a great honor and privilege to be a part of these events in a man’s life. To stand and tell someone you completely understand what they are going through because you too have HIV creates an atmosphere of HOPE. Especially, when the person you are encouraging is suffering alone and has no support, mainly because they don’t have the courage to tell loved ones their HIV status. For me, telling someone my HIV status and knowing it brings them hope is not a total loss; without boasting, I must say, it gives me hope that one day we can live in a generation that is free from AIDS.
This small-framed man, who smiled through the struggle and laughed through the pain, enriched my life to do what it takes for me to live an unselfish life. This world has enough selfish people but not enough selfless people that go about spreading the gift of hope. The one thing that every individual on the face of this earth needs just as much as they need air and water is HOPE! Hope uplifts and edifies a person to the point of victory, beating defeat with the driving force that is dedicated to beating all the odds.
Well, my heart is hurting right now, as I am sitting here writing this article because this young man who decided to fight to live, withered away in a matter of days, to skinny bones and several weeks later, he was gone. This past week, after months of fighting to survive AIDS, he was overcome by another vicious disease—cancer. So, again I ask, what do you do, when you’ve done all that you can do? It’s easy to tell someone to “stand” but truth be told it’s easier said than done.
My advice is that you must have something or someone to believe in. For me, my faith in Jesus Christ offers me that hope. So, I encourage everyone to find something or someone to believe in that gives them that gift of HOPE that everyone desperately desires and needs.
Next, I encourage you to acknowledge your pain. It is ok to hurt, to cry, and to be disappointed, scared and even ashamed. After all, you are only human and these feelings come along with the human life.
Third of all, seek support. If you are unable to manage your feelings and your thoughts than find a place where you can obtain the support that you need. In many states, people living with HIV/AIDS have the option to talk with a counselor and to get into a peer support group that shares in your pain. Why, because they are your peer. Remember, somewhere down the road they had to face head-on the same grief that you are facing now. You are not alone!
Last of all, get motivated to HOPE! Hope to survive. Hope to win. Hope to be successful. Even, hope to overcome HIV/AIDS. In the words of President Obama, “Yes, We Can!” Yes, you can live a long meaningful and successful life with HIV/AIDS and, yes, you do have the right to be a part of victory. Therefore, allow yourself to love you and to be loved. Allow yourself to be driven by the force of the gift of HOPE to a point that you will survive.
This small-framed man, whose life was stricken with sickness and diseases, taught me to smile through the struggle and to laugh through the pain. He showed me that a person must learn to find peace in whatever situation they are currently in. As he laid there in hospice care, he took pictures with what we call a “Kool-Aid” smile as he peacefully transitioned over to a place of rest.
This column is dedicated to a small-framed man who unknowingly spread the gift of HOPE!
Tyeshia Alston is a native of Dallas, Texas, and an HIV/AIDS activist, who “will go anywhere where people will listen.” She has done everything from travel to D.C. to speak with legislators about better healthcare access and how the disease has impacted communities to serving on panels for NMAC and other organizations and bringing her message to talk shows. In 2005 at the age of twenty-five, Alston was diagnosed with HIV and she has been on a mission since 2006 to educate people (especially our youth) about HIV/AIDS. Visit www.saaved.org to learn more about her community-based work. Also, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to email Ms. Alston at [email protected].