If only I had one hour to live
People often look at my wasting body and ask me if I am ready to die. A colleague recently asked me at a seminar what plans I had in case I died. He told me I looked so thin and frail and had no business attending a seminar. “You look like you have one hour to live. Go home and rest,” he said laughing.” So, my day having been spoilt and forgiving him for his ignorance, I went home and thought deeply about it. I should have died 25 years ago but I have live on. It is indeed a very insensitive question but just a mark of how Kenyans deliberately stigmatise people with the HIV virus. If I had only an hour to live, there are things I would do if time allowed me to. I have been HIV positive for the last 25 years during which time HIV and I have agreed to co-exist and not to inconvenience one another. I take my antiretrovirals faithfully and HIV allows me to continue with my life normally. That is my deal with the HIV virus.
I have written a will. In my culture, people do not write wills as this would mean you are trying to commit suicide. I have written one anyway so that my child does not suffer the plight of orphans long after I am gone. I have a Memory Book Project with the things that are important to me, my little riches and what I would like to be done when I am dead.
I would like to be taken to Lee Funeral Home and be buried in a Light pink coffin. I have never seen one but I think I would look good in it. I think I would look nice in a makeup. I would like to see all my friends around both at the Church Service and at the burial itself.
I feel that there are certain family members that have caused a barrier between us. I still love my late husband but his family has made life impossible for me and accused me of his death yet he was sick too. I do not know who between us infected the other since we were both unfaithful. But we talked and forgave each other before he died. Yet because of that barrier between me and his family, there is nothing I can do about it and I do not intend to reconcile with any of them. If there is something that is a cause of my stress, I normally keep away from it (I play avoidance) and that is why I have deliberately kept my distance from his family members.
I would want to see a world that is free of stigma because I have seen people who have gone down because they were not able to deal with stigma. I would want to go out of my way to be a leverage to those stigmatised because of HiV and other related issues.
I would call my son and thank him for being so kind and understanding since his father’s death. If I had an hour, I would rush through the traffic jam and look for him. I would just look at him and confirm with him if he is going to be alright. I would tell him that in terms of what I have seen in life, the things of this life pass by.
I would look out for my dad and seek to reconcile with him. I would call my doctor and just thank her and finally I would kneel down and give God three minutes. I would thank God for giving me the opportunity to do the things I have been able to do as a mother, a counsellor, a teacher, administrator and advocate for HIV positive women.
I would call some of my friends and just hear from them for the last time. Then I would smile, close my eyes and sleep. But for now, I am sorry. You are going to see me around for awhile. The battle to fight the stigma battle continues.
(From an HIV Positive mother to all HIV positive mothers on International Women’s Day)