I never thought I would be sitting here at your funeral, listening to the cries of your family, watching you lay there through the tears in my eyes. This is not how we planned it. This is not how our lives were supposed to be. It was just us against the world, the dynamic duo, no one could ever separate us two and we even looked, acted and spoke as one. This has to be a bad dream; a nightmare. I pinch myself but I am still here looking at you lying in the casket. Dead at eighteen of AIDS related condition. My sixteen year old best friend, you were not a drug user, did not have a blood transfusion. You were not promiscuous. What you were however… was an innocent 16 year old who did what so many others had done; you fell in love, or what you thought was love.
You fell in love with “Mr Popular” at college, all the girls wanted to be with him, all the guys secretly wanted to be him. He was “Mr. Big Man” on campus; “Mr Popular”; smart, good looking, nice body, nice family just the type of guy that her parents approved of. What you and your parents did not know was that he had something that you all would not approve of, he was HIV positive. What was even more egregious was that he knew his status, but he did not care because in his words “if he was going to die he would take as many people with him as he could”. One of those he took with him was you, my 18 year old best friend. You were a virgin until you met him and like so many other women fell for his line of wanting to feel her and to be natural….. there was no for condoms as you were on the pill and he was not with anyone else but you. But nearly nine months into their relationship you received a call from the clinic at the local hospital, a cryptic call; asking if you could come in for a test?…. a test for what?, no answers but just a request. Confused but too afraid to tell her parents, I went with you, we went to the infamous yellow clinic where you received the news; that you had been listed as a sexual partner of someone who was HIV positive. There are no words to describe your reaction and even less words to define when you and your parents returned to hear the results. You had HIV.
Twenty years ago an HIV diagnosis was an almost instantaneous death for nearly a year later, I sat with your parents, our classmates, your family and friends and watched as they lowered you into the ground. Dead at the age of 18….dead because you chose to believe your partner’s lies… dead because you did not protect yourself because you trusted someone you should not. Tasha I refuse to let your death go in vain and so now I write some words to other friends who would have been your age. I tell them your story Tasha hoping to catch at least one ear. Friends it’s 2012 and I am now telling you, my friend died but you do not have to….. don’t repeat the mistakes my best friend made, get tested, have protected sex always, do not trade intravenous needles. Life was meant to be lived; no man is worth dying over….