april 25 2017
I wasn’t doing anything special, just sitting on the bed binge watching Luke Cage and crocheting. I needed my mind to take a break. I was doing the job of 3 people at work and still sorta mending my broken heart. Solitude in its best form. When my phone rang and Deia’s face popped up, a picture of her before she left NYC to return home to Memphis, I happily welcomed the interruption. I mean my friend, bka BabyMama, was calling me from Tennessee.
“Hey BabyMama. How are you luv?”
“I’m doing alright. How are you?”
“I’m ok sitting on the bed watching Luke Cage and crocheting,” I said.
“Huh? Bouquets and what?” She hadn’t heard what I said too well and we laughed at the misunderstanding.
Because that’s what we did. We didn’t speak every day maybe every few weeks or so, but we always shared a good laugh.
“So I am calling to share some news. You know there are only a few people that I trust and I’m glad to call you one of them.”
Everything else she said is jumbled in my mind. I put my crochet down, my hands were sweating and my heart was racing. What could she really be telling me?
“So I went to the doctor…blah blah blah…and I found out that I’m HIV positive.”
Again, the words in the middle sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking but I heard Deia loud and clear.
“Umm, excuse, BabyMama say that again for me?” Her southern drawl repeated everything and she stated her status.
“Oh, friend. Ok, so what does that mean for us?” I wasn’t about to let my friend think that this was her walk alone.
It didn’t matter that she lived 890 miles from NY. This was where you show up for your friend.
We talked more and she explained finding out and what that experience was like.
Now, let me say this, if I lived there or it wasn’t Saturday evening, I would’ve found myself at that center raising all kinds of hell for how they treated my friend. I was mad at the poor treatment she received. But I was also angry that they offered her this news. I needed them to be wrong so I could be mad about how they traumatized her with the wrong diagnosis. I needed a bunch of things at that moment because I couldn’t wrap my mind about what was going on. You know the statistics but those things don’t matter until it hits close to home and that day it hit far too close to home.
At some point in the conversation, Deia said “You know it’s ok to cry. I give you permission, you don’t have to be strong.”
I paused to look at the phone and confirm that I had heard her correctly.
This is the person that I had spent a few short years learning, knowing and loving. Here she is finding out that she had this life-threatening, life-altering condition and she’s giving me permission to cry.
Nope, not today.
I haven’t cried, yet.
My stomach knots up every time I think of her.
Not for any other reason than knowing her heart, as much as mine, wants to be a wife and mother and live past 65 to see her grandbabies, and now that picture seems ultra-tainted, skewed, and unattainable. We’re supposed to be able to call each other or facetime each other during the seasons from now until forever, now it doesn’t feel the same.
Our version of forever isn’t gone – its just shifted.
I will be ready to hold her hand and answer the calls, even if it’s just so she can breathe on the phone, finding comfort in knowing someone is there.