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Heart and Soul

I stopped by your website on my search to find information on HIV+/AIDS. I read a lot of the feedback letters that were posted. It has only been recently that this awful illness has touched my life personally. I wrote a letter to someone recently about this individual and how we met. I wanted to send it to you. It is only part of the letter I wrote. It may be too long even now, to post it but I just wanted to let people who come to your site who are lucky enough to be healthy, to think about others and that, in spite of all the myths and prejiduces out there about HIV/AIDS...those who suffer from it still have a heart and soul. If we just open ourselves up to experiance what they might have to offer, we would all be living in a different world. A much kinder and gentler world.

It was Saturday night, two weeks ago. My husband and children were downstairs watching a movie while I was upstairs on the computer. I was watching a conversation on the screen in front of me. I casually looked down the list to see if there were any of the regular people there. I did not see any I recognized and was about to click off that room and go to another one, when a name on the list seemed to jump out and grab my hand as if to stop me from leaving. Since I do not speak to anyone on line unless they have a profile, I first checked to see if there might be any information on the Friends Profile for this person. I was not prepared for what I saw. It was the picture of a man in his early thirties, dark eyes a piercing brown, looking at me as if he could actually see me, through me. There was no smile on his face and there was a quality of deep sadness and pain about him. His haunting stare sent a shiver through me. It was nothing that I could put my finger on, just so hurt, so lost and so very much alone. Helplessly, I sat there staring at this man child on my screen, drawn ever deeper into the whirlpool of his sad eyes. His pain was tangible. I could see it, taste it, touch it. I felt a compelling need to envelop him in my arms, to hold him, to comfort him. He was a man, yes...but he was also a boy. Although I had never sent a chat invitation before, I knew I was going to now. Even if I had tried to stop myself, it would have been an effort in futility. I was not controlling this situation anymore. A power stronger than I had ever known before, easily overrode any bit of sensibility Iso desperately clung to. I had fallen into the web he unknowingly was spinning around my heart. Without weighing the costs or even caring what they might be, I surrendered to him. If I had thought that I could provide him with the benefits of my life‚s lesson, I was badly mistaken. If I had thought that there were some pearls of wisdom that I could impart to him, that could help and teach him, lead and guide him, I could not have been more wrong.

His name was Peter and he told me his life‚s story. He spoke as a child, simply, sometimes in broken English and was easily confused trying to express himself. He repeated statements and constantly asked the same questions, like it was the first time he was asking them. He spoke about his birth, childhood years, being a teenager, becoming a man. He told me his secrets, his dreams, his heart‚s desires. We spoke long into the night never aware of the minutes slipping by one into the next. We had entered into another dimension where time had no hold on us. I was wrapped in his stories, telling him mine. As I listened to him, I began to realize one very horrible truth. He was a man...but far more a boy than I could have ever imagined. He told me of his sorrows and pain. Revealing to me things that are so unimaginably wicked and cruel. He spoke of his own childhood experiences of sexual molestation at the hands of a relative. The gruesome and degrading things he was forced to endure only because he tryed to tell someone, anyone, what was happening to him. But it was all for nothing. No one believed that this relative would ever do something so hideous. He suffered alone with this pain and torment for many years. No one believed him...no one protected him. He told me that twelve years ago he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Without hesitation, he calmly told me he was very aware that his life would be cut tragically short because of this awful disease. It came to light that he had contracted this deadly disease from his molester during the course of his abuse. His is a death sentence, handed down to him by a most vile and evil man. He told me how he was forced, by his own family, in his own home, to eat off paper plates with plastic utensils drinking from paper cups, while everyone else used fine china and sterling silver. He told me of how his own parents abandoned him when he needed them the most. He shared his secret that he had never been intimately involved with a woman, embarrassed to admit that at thirty two, he was still a virgin. He spoke of his short lived marriage. How his wife cringed every time he tried to embrace her and eventually demanded that he stop touching her all together. He told of how some of his best friends now crossed the street to avoid him. He told me about not being allowed to hug any of the children within his extended family for fear that he would infect them. I would have never thought myself capable of feeling the anger and rage that I felt, and the overwhelming pain and anguish that tightened its grip upon my heart. Then very simply, with the innocense of that child within his spirit, he taught me the greatest lesson that I have ever learned. In doing so, he gave to me, the most precious gift I will ever receive. As I sat transfixed in front of the computer screen his questions took shape, and appeared before me. "Would you let me hug your children? Would you be afraid to hug me? What does it feel like to be hugged tightly, held close, loved? What does it feel like to hug your children. I have never been allowed to do that. Please, can you describe the joy of that experience to me?"

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