In February 2012 I was diagnosed with AIDS at 50 years old. I was middle aged and it was apparent my virus was as well.
So began a journey that continues two years later. My diagnosis wasn’t the only change, not by a long shot. The net effect is that today I believe I have actually begun a new life. I mean this literally and not in the figurative, overblown way some use the concept. I am not the man I was and I am still searching for the man I am.
I became an avid contributor to Facebook. I love it and I defend it against those who minimize its worth. I believe it is quite simply the most amazing tool developed to bring people together. That is what our tired world needs to heal.
My good friend Gary Nelson, a contributor to PositiveLite.com, suggested I submit a Facebook post I made February 19. This post is my second annual recap of my life and adventures for my many friends online. This ritual has been important to me; I want them to know I am alive, well and unbowed.
I will share it with you. Perhaps some references will be unclear, but I share it more for the tone than the content.I share it to make the point that AIDS is not an end. It is a beginning that can be wonderful, magical even. As I say, life has a rhythm. If we can catch the beat, nothing can defeat us.
To my friends:
Last year at this time I posted a note on the first anniversary of my diagnosis with AIDS. The date has rolled around again and it gives me the chance to say some things that need saying.
Perhaps the most important feature of this last year is that I was all over the map, wasn't I? I restarted my law practice and closed it down. I sold my house and decided to leave my home. I came up with the hare brained idea of traveling cross country by covered wagon and then abandoned it when I realized I wasn't 25. I settled on a more traditional though no less frightening choice and I moved to New York. I became ill, more ill than before. I recovered spectacularly and today am healthy and growing stronger. I fell in love with a dear old friend, was married twice and blessed with a showing of friendship and love that filled my heart with joy.
What a year! Two years ago I could not imagine what the future held. I still cannot because the one constant in my life is change and I haven't finished changing.
But entering this next year I am hopeful and happy and loved. God bless you all for your good wishes and for your patience as I took you for a ride. I hope you understand though. Two years ago I lost my map and anyway it's the Journey that matters whatever the destination.
I don't think there will be a third note, not on this anniversary. One other change is that I no longer worry about my disease although of course it still affects me. Life, I've learned, has its own rhythm and plan. There are better things to do.
I love you all and am grateful for your friendship.
So ends my Facebook post. So what does all this mean? What does the future hold?
To the second question the only answer possible is “Who the hell knows.” But that answer begs the question of the first. My experience these past two years has taught me the most important lesson I can image. It is that Jesus has my back.
I became a Christian just more than a year ago, at the darkest point in 2012, a year more terrible than you can imagine.My late life faith surprised me in its vehemence. My custom-cut theology gave me comfort and someone intelligent to talk to.
I’m not a fan of most theological dicta. One teaching struck me, though. I am taught that God loves me and that his Son is tasked with job of overseeing my life and guiding me to redemption and affirmation. I like that. t makes me happy.
And so it is possible to have AIDS and be happy. That’s my lesson two years into this journey. I can rest with that.
About the author: Jay Squires is an LGBT activist in Virginia. He served Equality Virginia as its board chair from 2005-2008 and in 2006 served as Campaign Chair for the Commonwealth Coalition, formed to defeat the Marshall Newman marriage amendment to Virginia's constitution.
In 2008 Squires founded the Gay Community Center of Richmond in his capacity as President and CEO of the Richmond Gay Community Foundation. Today he is a retired attorney building a new life in New York City. He took advantage of his new home's laws to marry his love, Angelo, in October.
You can find Jay Squires on his own website jaysquires.com. On Facebook he's here nad on twitter he's @va_dem.