My grandfather broke the silence: "What are you going to do with this thing?" He never used the letters HIV or the word AIDS, and he never talked about sickness or disease. But I knew exactly what he was talking about.

"I don't know. There's no cure," I said, looking down while messing with a blade of grass. "There is not much of a choice."

"You always have a choice," my grandfather said, his voice steady. He was straightforward in his words but not gruff or difficult in his tone. He just wanted me to hear and pay attention.

"What choice do I have?" I asked. There didn't seem to be many choices on my end. In fact, the doctors had not given any, and most, if not everyone in my life, were walking around as though resigned to the fact that there were no choices available. "Sometimes," I finally added, "I feel like running as fast as I can. I am not sure where I would go, but just to see if I could outrun this feeling of loneliness and dread in my life." My grandfather was listening.

"And then there are times when I just want to lie down and let it be over. Some days it is hard to find a reason to feel joyful again. That scares me more than the disease."

I was trying to be honest with him about where my heart was in this news and in this whole fight. I had gone through a lot in my life, but this was different. The face of this disease was bigger than all of us put together.

My grandfather shifted to turn more toward me. He leaned against the ground with his left arm so that he could look me in the eye. "If anybody has a right to get in the corner and have a pity party about this, it's you. It's a very raw deal, and I can't tell you that I understand it or have even begun to confront my anger over it. But as bad as this seems—and I know it's bad—you have a choice to make.

"I know what is in your heart and deep in your soul, and I think you are going to make a choice other than pity, retreat, or surrender. I think you are going to live each day to the fullest with everything you have. I think you are going to take each day, no matter how many you have, and make something of it. No one can ask any more of you."

He stopped and looked into my eyes. "And son, I think your making that choice will mean something someday."

Copyright © 2010. Adapted with permission of Zondervan ( All rights reserved.

Related Elsewhere:

A Positive Life is available at and other book retailers.

Previous articles on HIV/AIDS include:

Less Aid for AIDS? Groups fear impact of Obama administration's PEPFAR stance.
(February 16, 2010)
HIV/AIDS: S.L.O.W. It Down, or S.T.O.P. It? | Saddleback's Kay Warren offers a dual framework for fighting the virus. by Kay Warren (November 2, 2007)
Bono's American Prayer | "The world's biggest rock star tours the heartland, talking more openly about his faith as he recruits Christians in the fight against AIDS in Africa." (March 1, 2003)

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A Positive Life: Living with HIV as a Pastor, Husband, and Father
A Positive Life: Living with HIV as a Pastor, Husband, and Father
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