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Colin This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   A s a sophomore in high school I became ifriends with a girl whose brother, a homosexual, was afflicted with the AIDS virus. At that time in my life, like many others, I was quite ignorant and misinformed about the disease. My ignorance probably prompted my friend Sheri to be dishonest. She asked me to stay with her and her brother Colin, but told me he suffered from cancer, not AIDS. Although I had no reason to doubt her, when I met Colin, I knew in my heart that he did not have cancer. I felt greatly betrayed by Sheri, yet I never told her I knew the truth. I believed that if she wanted me to know, she would eventually tell me. She did, in fact, admit the real illness, but not for many months. As I recall the whole experience, I regret that Sheri and I could not have been more honest with each other. Everyone needs to be truthfully informed about the AIDS epidemic.

I spent a good deal of time with Sheri and Colin that summer. We used to hang around the house, talk, and listen to music on his "good days," which weren't that frequent. When Colin felt ill, Sheri's home seemed quiet and depressing.

When I saw Colin smile, I never thought about the fact that he didn't have long to live. We would carry on as if it were just another routine day. I think Colin appreciated the fact that his family and friends treated him as "Colin," the stubborn brother, friend, and son whom everyone loved.

Colin was, in fact, a very strong individual. One of his wishes was to live until his thirty-first birthday on September 1. That day he received gifts, and his family prepared a lobster dinner to celebrate. So full of vitality, he didn't seem like a man afflicted with this deadly disease. The situation didn't seem fair to me.

As time passed, Colin changed both mentally and physically. He gradually became more ill and slept constantly. His weight, as well as his vision, deteriorated dramatically. He grew farther apart from his friends and family. When I looked at Colin during this time, he always had a sad expression on his face and he had become extremely depressed. He was soon admitted into Hospice, a hospital for cancer patients.

On a cold and rainy day, November 9, 1989, I said my last goodbye to Colin, who touched my uncomplicated life in a way he would never know, and I would never be able to tell him. I discovered firsthand that life can turn on you at any moment and you may not be prepared for its outcome. I was a much stronger person than I thought I would be in a situation like that. I have come to the realization that discrimination of any kind is wrong.

Unfortunately, my experience does not give me the right to preach to others. I feel each individual must go through his or her own growth experience and decide personally what is right and what is wrong.

In response to my experience, I volunteered at Hospice and learned more about AIDS and how it has affected many people. I feel extremely lucky to have known Colin and I will never forget what he taught me about myself and others. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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