Many of us people living with HIV call this virus a “gift”. I really don’t know the reason behind this name calling. A gift is similar to a present. A thing that makes people happy. A thing given in most celebrations. A thing that many people are looking forward to have. However, I don’t think the word “gift” really symbolizes any of the things I’ve mentioned above.
It definitely doesn’t make people happy. It’s not something to look forward to in any occasion. I’m really sure that everyone told themselves that they shouldn’t have let this gift be accepted. That they should have been very cautious. But hey, the virus is already here!
Whenever I receive or give “gifts”, I always say this. "It’s the thought that counts." No matter how a present may look very simple to you, the thought behind it matters a lot.
The symbolism it has is the most important. Many of us fail to appreciate simple gifts. I am going to include myself. When I was young, I received a photo frame from a close friend of mine. It was Christmas time. I gave my friend an expensive gift that I’m sure she’s going to totally appreciate. I gave her a set of books. I have to admit, just like the others, I really feel excited when I do receive gifts really big in size. I do open them last to increase the excitement, of course.
When she gave me her present, to be honest, I felt a little disappointed (you can hate me for this but it happened). I wanted to ask her about the present she gave me, but I don’ want to disappoint her or make her feel bad. To make it short, she told me that it was the greatest present she can think of. I still do have that picture frame, and I realized something after three years. I can use that to put our picture together on it. She’s now living in the USA. She moved after graduating college. I was so foolish not to discover the real meaning behind her gift. I do miss her. A lot. We still talk, but not that much. All I have is this picture frame with our picture together.
So how is this even related to my HIV status?
A couple of month after I got discharged from the hospital, my mom and I had more time to do our “heart to heart” talk. She was still in pain about what happened to me. The virus has become our family’s greatest enemy, but my mom said something which really opened my eyes.
“Son, the pain we experience is inevitable. This virus is a very tough enemy. It can kill you anytime if you’re not careful. Even though I felt so bad about what happened to you, I never asked God “Why?”. I just thanked Him that you’re alive. That you managed to survive. Your HIV status is something that I have to thank for. It’s not because it almost killed you, but it’s because it taught us how to keep out faith really strong. It brought back the family bond we used to have way back. Your father and I loved each other more, and it showed your brothers did care for you all this time. You are different from them when it comes to sexual preference, but one thing is for sure. You guys are brothers. You are there to protect and take care of each other no matter what happens.”
Whenever I try to remember that conversation with my mom, I always cry. When my mom didn’t ask the Lord, “Why”, I kept asking Him that question. I had to get the answers from myself. I get them every single day I look at myself in the mirror. But as I felt myself recovering from what happened, the Why’s were changed to Thanks. I still continued to thank Him for what he has done. I know the virus isn’t something to be thankful for, but this virus taught me the life lessons I’ve started to miss.
“Be thankful for the bad things in life. For they open your eyes to the good things you weren’t paying attention to before.”
This article first appeared on the blog Optimistic Ryu (Everything about my POZitive life and more) here.
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