“I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind…”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
By now everyone has heard about the downing of MH flight 17 and the tragic loss of life. On board the aircraft were a number of people going to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne. The AIDS movement lost researchers, advocates and others that were dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV and ensuring the lives of people living with HIV are improved.
I wonder sometimes if we who are connected to the HIV movement aren’t somehow living in a bubble. While we pay attention to the news – the bombings, local fires, good news stories and weather forecasts, I think that the bubble extends to surround us in the comfort of our medications and the ongoing research that will one day provide a cure.
The downing of the flight brought close to home that events in other countries can clearly impact those of us living with HIV. We know what death is, we’ve seen people pass on over the past three decades. But most of those deaths were expected. It takes a violent tragedy such as this to wake us up and realize that we are not disconnected from the horrors of wars and bombings. These events can affect us and in a dramatic way.
What if the cure for HIV was buried in the mind of one of those researchers? What if their attendance at the conference inspired someone to invent a new approach to HIV education? What if…?
We’ll never know. That’s something for an alternate universe to figure out. And in the end it doesn’t matter. What happened is what happened and we are left to wonder about how much potential has been lost. We are reminded of that fact every time a gentle passing occurs and we lose one more voice from our community.
I think the most important thing to come of this heartbreak is that those of us living with HIV may now be more aware about how truly interconnected we are and how events on the other side of the globe touch us all. We are all a part of this tiny blue planet no matter where we live, what language we speak or the colour of our skin.
Grief has no borders and no boundaries.