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When I was a reporter in North Carolina, I wrote a story about a choir made up of people with HIV/AIDS. I sat in a church pew and interviewed one of the members. He was a young black guy who you couldn’t help but like. He was soft-spoken, slow-moving, always smiling.

I asked him how he got HIV.

“From a girl I was dating,” he said.

“She didn’t tell you she had it?”

He shook his head no.

I put down my pen and notebook.

“She knew, and she didn’t tell you?”


“We’re still friends,” he said.

“How can you be friends with her?” I asked.

He didn’t have a good answer; said he was mad at her for a “few months.” Then, they got back in touch. They started talking regularly on the phone.

He’d forgiven her.

I can’t even remember his name, but I think about him a lot. I think about how we can’t ever change the past.

It can burden us; bow our backs. Or we can let it go; rob it of its power. We can join choirs that tell the world we have a terrible disease. We can put on red and black robes, stand together behind the pulpit, and we can sing.

Fredrick Marion

Fredrick Marion

I like books that refuse to let you sleep at night. I like coffee, talking animals and hearing from readers. Sign up for my email newsletter, and I'll send my latest blog posts to your inbox!

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