I was able to finish the AIDS walk along with my friends. It was a relief, physically; as my calves were hurting. Halfway on our walk, I’ve experienced some leg cramping. Had to stop for a while and do some necessary stretching. Duh! I should have done that before the walk. Inside, there’s a sense of accomplishment. I’ve never walked six miles before, so it felt like a bit of a milestone for me. This just proves my lack of physical activity, that I’m too lazy.
While I was experiencing leg cramps, a good Samaritan came to my aid. My friends were with me, but I told them to go on and that I’ll just catch up with them later. Ken stayed, but he was clueless. A lady came out of nowhere and started massaging my legs. What a relief! It went on for a good five minutes, my legs are better. I can start doing my walk again.
I asked her what her name was, she said Gloria. She really is a glorious angel in disguise. I just had to thank her, I offered to treat her out for dinner after the walk for her kindness. I told her I wouldn’t take no for an answer, and she nodded in agreement. Ken, Gloria and myself finished the walk at the same time. We didn’t realize that we’re crossing the finish line, we were too busy conversing. I was born a gabbler (so is Ken) and I enjoy every exchange of words even from strangers, Gloria was no excemption.
After the walk, we headed for Mission Street. Lisa and Cee Cee were too tired to have dinner and decided to just go straight home. Ken on the other hand wouldn’t miss a free meal (Love you, Ken. If you’re reading this) for the world, so the three of use went to Roy’s. We ordered our food and a bottle of wine, gabfest has officially started.
Found out that Gloria works for a non profit organization called, AIDS Emergency Fund. She works as legal counsel for them. A lawyer, I was very impress. Always been astounded of successful women. The conversation went on, started talking about our personal lives, career, investments, fashion and even retirement plans. It was like we’ve known each other for years. It wasn’t hard at all to trust, Gloria. She’s an impeccable lady with so much to offer in life.
Then we talked about the AIDS walk. She asked why we’re doing it, and we told her of our friend Maggie (her story and all). She smiled and we asked her the same question. Took her a while to answer as she was still chewing her food. Then, she mindlessly told us that she’s HIV positive. Claiming that she’s had it for about four to five years. Ken and I reached for her hand, in return she gave us one of her innocent smile. I didn’t want to push the conversation much further. Nor do I want to say sorry, afraid how she’d take it. I don’t want my words to be misinterpreted for pity, since I honestly don’t feel that way. Thought to myself that it may also be a touchy matter, that I should shy away from discussing it further. But she kept telling us her story, it was like her life was an open book. I then told her of this special friend, the one I was close to loving intimately. Turned out he was positive, too. I got a bit teary eyed, never saw him again after that. I told Gloria that his HIV wasn’t an issue to me. I may have felt appalled at first, but I wanted to remain friends with him.
” You see, Nell. Not everyone would have the same reaction to this. Took me a while to accept mine, but I finally did. Give your friend some time, he may come back to his senses. “ Gloria said it with so much love and concern. A stranger, yet not a stranger.
I just had to ask her, how she did it? How was she able to succumb to this demon? Her reply was … ” HIV is not me, Nell. It’s just a part of me that I need to dealt with. “ Such a bold answer, uttered with courage and hope for others who’s battling the same ghoul. ” Not everyone is built for this. Eventually, I will die like everyone else. But I refuse to live in self pity. I only have one life to live! “
The restaurant is about to close, it was almost 10 pm. We had to break off the conversation for now, at least. Gloria and I exchanged business cards along with our cellphone numbers; we promised to see each other again. Gave each other the biggest bear hug ever and then, said our goodbyes. Gloria, may have been a stanger at first. But I’ll never forget her (not in this lifetime) and her inspiring story of courage. Made me realize that my demons are far too little than the ones she endured.