THE HEAVINESS OF IT ALL
As a young woman embarking college, I was scheduled to attend Morgan State University, a HBCU. At the time, my mother suffered a hemorrhagic CVA. I attended orientation, but I did not return for fall classes. I truly regret not having that experience. I make mention of this minor diversion to transition into my current position as a RN for one of our prominent HBCU.
As a nurse in the health service department, I see and hear a lot of what the younger adults are experiencing. One particular day, I had a male student to come into the exam room to request a STD screening. I paused and looked at him with my motherly stern glare that was filled with the same love and support that I have for my two sons. When I looked over to him to make eye contact there was something so profoundly different about his demeanor compared to the countless others that parade in and out of health services requesting STD screenings. His lowered head, his soft spoken words and most memorable, in my mind, was the heaviness of his shoulders were the things that stood out in my memory of him. I immediately changed my approach and my voice became softer and more soothing. I told him we only screen for gonorrhea and chlamydia. I questioned if he had unprotected sex and if he received confirmation from his partner that he may have been exposed to a STD. He responded yes to both questions, but it was not one of the two STD's that I had mentioned. He needed to be screened for HIV. His partner phoned him the previous night to tell him, she tested positive for HIV. She tested positive for the initial mouth swab and had to return for the blood draw to confirm the swab. I immediately felt weak in my knees because this was the first time as a nurse, as a mother, as a black woman, as a human, that I had to prepare one of my children for a life altering oddyssey and regardless of the results this was truly a moment in his life that would alter every facet of his being. This was the fork in the road and it required some hard choices.
I gathered the information and resources on campus that he needed to contact to screen for the HIV test, as well as, counseling that would be needed. After I gave him the information, I asked if we could pray together and I prayed with him and I asked his permission to hug him. We hugged for a few seconds but I didn't want to let him go. While we held hands during prayer and hugged, I felt those heavy shoulders release some of its heaviness unto me. The need for him to be vulnerable was palpable. He could no longer hold in those tears or stop his shoulders from moving up and down from the heaviness of it all. At that moment, I too started crying because the innocence of his youth had been tarnish and compromised. From this point on, he must be accountable for his actions and the impact of these actions to others, the heaviness of it all. We both took a moment to gather ourselves before we opened the doors to the exam room into the main waiting room. As my son departed, I called out his name and he turned to me and I said I am here for you, come back if you need to talk. He struggled to fight back the tears and in his weak soft voice he said "I will". The heaviness of it all.
I have tried to reach out and contact this young man, but I have not been able to contact him. My life has been effected by this chance encounter. The humbleness of this young man during this life sobering news was life altering.
Update, I started writing the particular blog a few weeks ago. I just could not find the right ending to this story. My brave young man reappeared. His stature and demeanor was no longer of a boy but a man. We hugged the moment he entered the exam room. I gave me the great news that his initial test is negative. He does have to retest in 6 months but I have no doubt the results will remain the same. Unfortunately, his girlfriend's blood test was positive. We talked and I could hear the maturity in his voice. I reminded him that as a man, it was imperative that he employs his God given sense of discernment. He mentioned that he keeps in touch with the young lady and he is there to support her during this transition.
I felt relief and sadness after seeing this young man again. I truly believe that his life will yield greatness for him. Not every story ends with this ending. I have a dear friend whose daughter died in February of complications from AIDS. The Heaviness of it all was shared with a father who cared and loved her to the end. I know for him, he never thought once about his only role and responsibility to care and love for his daughter. It was never heavy or any doubt about how he would be there for her.
I only hope that this blog touches someone and resonants in their heart to allow this to be a turning point.
Peace and Blessings,