This article is dedicated to the millions that we have lost to AIDS. Today, World AIDS Day, December 1, 2017, we remember you for the life you lived and not the virus you contracted.
I am sure that time and time again the thought of death has crossed the minds of people like me, people living with HIV. Most find it taboo to talk about their imminent death while others who feel that it is only human nature to think about death and the afterlife converse and plan out funerals without any certainty of leaving this earth any time soon. I have thought about my death more than time and time again. I actually think about it on a daily basis, but it is not so much of my death that I am thinking, but how I will be remembered. Who would show up to my funeral? Who would I want to perform the eulogy? What music would be played?
These are the things that run through my head, but none of them is more important than, “How will I be remembered?”
For the past year I have worked hard to place my stamp on this earth and I did that when I published my first book, The Epidemic: Living with HIV in the 21st Century, beginning my journey into the world of activism, advocacy, authorship and journalism. So in my death I hope to be remembered just as an activist, advocate, author, and journalist. But too many times when a person living with HIV succumbs, our life is overshadowed by the illnesses that may be AIDS-related and the great things that we have done in the community go unnoticed.
Sure, we want to say AIDS because it is important for us to remember that AIDS is still a killer, with 1 million people dying from AIDS in 2016. It is important to understand that we have lost people to the disease but instead of remembering them for the virus they carried, they should be remembered for their works in community.
No one living with HIV wants to be remembered as the person who died of AIDS or AIDS-related illness.
When I go, I want people to remember me as I am; a son, brother, uncle, friend, partner, activist and advocate who fought to dismantle the stigma that surrounds HIV and people living with HIV. I want to be remembered as an author and journalist who tirelessly typed millions of word in an effort to educate people on the subject of HIV and living with HIV in the 21st century. I want people to remember me for the life I lived and not for the virus I contracted.
How would you want to be remembered when you go?
If I die young bury me in satin, lay me down on a bed of roses, sink me in the river at dawn, send me away with the words of a love song – The Band Perry, If I Die Young