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.