August 5th, 1998 was the day that I found out. It was the day after my birthday, and I remember that I had cut the party short the night before so that I could go to the clinic the next morning at 8.
I had decided to get tested just for the hell of it. Hey I was indestructible, so I was sure that I would be fine. Until that night … I remember going to bed the night before and having, that feeling, like something just wasn’t right I walked into the clinic the next morning and was escorted back to the room that I was to wait in, and was told that the lady with my results would be in soon.
To my dismay there was a very conspicuously placed box of tissues. Hmmm. Stupid little details. In walked Ellie about 2 minutes later. She sat down and very matter of factly told me that I was positive.
The shock, the stun, the void of emotions, and then the terror, anger, and all the other fun stuff that happens in those 5 seconds after you’re told you are pos. After calming myself down, we went through all the formalities, the partner notification information, the counseling, the how are you feeling now thing, and finally, most importantly, the do you need a hug portion. I desperately remember that hug, one of the best and most needed hugs I have ever received.
I calmed myself down, and walked to my car, I thought the worst was over, but when I finally reached my car and was by myself away from everyone else, that’s when the real tears came. I remember not just crying or bawling, but wailing, uncontrollably. I got a grip and headed home.
My mom was at work and my dad was home so I figured I would tell him first so I would have someone to tell my mom with, cause she was going to be the tough one not my dad.
Almost home, something made me turn up the street that my aunt lived on. Went to her house and rang the bell. I barely made it in the door when again with the wailing. I couldn’t catch my breath long enough to get the words out so I had to do it in amongst the gasps and wails. “I’m HIV positive” is what came out. Works well, says what needs to be said, but has the weight of a proverbial ton. After my aunt’s house I drove first to see my dad, but when I got there mom had come home early for some reason or another, and was getting out of the car and walking towards the door. I got out of the car and walked over to her.
Hugged her from behind and started crying again. I tried to get up the courage to tell her, but couldn’t do it until she said … “Trav don’t do this to me, what’s wrong.” Again, the same words, “I’m HIV positive.”
Oh no, was all she really said, and we went inside. Dad came in, and he was a little easier to tell. We all just sort of sat in silence for a while, until my mom finally said … “Ok, So where do we go from here.” A much better response than I had expected from my mom … no tears, just concern.
That was over with, and the next, and what turned out to be the hardest hurdle was next. My sister. She came home from work, and went to her room. I told her that she needed to come out and sit so that we could talk. I had had some time to think so was much more controlled this time. She knew what was coming though. I have HIV.
Again the same statement. Only this time the reaction was much more emotional than the previous ones had been. Immediately her face contorted and twisted in pain. Tears started flowing she just repeatedly pawed at my chest saying, “No you’re not, no you’re not, no you’re not …” She hugged me and my mom hugged the both of us.
We all eventually calmed down and talked about it better. We are all great now. We deal with things a lot better, cause hey, Once you’ve dealt with what you consider the worst possible situation in the world, the rest is easy.
The things I learned in the process were well worth it. I learned to never take things for granted, and I learned there are people in this world who love me more than I had ever dreamed possible.