- Posted September 25, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
The whispers were so low; my mama and daddy were talking and it was hard to
hear them, even with my ear right on the door of their room. But, I kept trying to
hear since the word AIDS and the name of my best bud, John, were being said
over and over. I couldn’t quite figure out what they were saying, but because
John was sick and they worked at the hospital, I thought maybe they would help
make him well.
When my friend John became real, real sick I couldn’t understand. It seemed
like it had been just a few days before, I was over to his house and we played
catch with my softball in his backyard. Afterwards, his mama fixed hot dogs and
fries. We had strawberry ice cream for dessert. John always said the strawberries were juicy and red, just like the blood that Jesus had shed for us on
the cross. I told him I didn’t want to eat no blood. He always said that it was
good that Jesus had shed his blood and that’s why strawberries tasted good.
Being fourteen, he was six (6) years older than me—so I took his word for that.
Heck, if our mamas hadn’t grown up together, he might have thought I was too
little for his friend, but shucks, we didn’t have no brothers.
The next time when I went to John’s house, I just asked him. I go, “John, is my
Mama and them going to make you well?” He looked at me. For the first time, I
looked at him, too, real good. I saw that his hair wasn’t as dark as it used to be
and it didn’t look quite as much like curly fires, it was a little straighter. Plus, I
guess he must have scratched his mosquito bites real bad ‘cause he had some ugly spots on his arms and legs. Finally, he said, “I have a sickness called AIDS. It means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.”
Humph! I didn’t know all those big words, but I did know I needed John to play
catch, to help clean Ham’s cage, to talk to about going to Mars and other stuff. So, I said, “Anyway, so what’s up with AIDS?” Very slowly, John said, “A-I-D-S means to me, And I Discovered Solitude. He mumbled something about solitude meant he was by himself a lot because some of his friends had stopped visiting.
Weeks later, John looked kind of small, even in his twin bed. I took my ball and glove. I talked about how hard it was to play catch with my sister who always hollered when she caught the ball. I guess she was her own cheerleader.
Later, my mama sat me down and told me that John was sick. But she told me not to worry about catching AIDS from him. She said that the things me and John do couldn’t make me catch his sickness, things like huggin’, or wearin’ his jacket. I told her the only thing I was thinking about catchin’ was the ball when he threw it.
During the next few months, John’s doctors changed his medicine and he got a lot better. They gave him a drug cocktail. And he is not even old enough to drink! Grownups sure are funny!
After a while, John got the strength to become the best catcher and pitcher. Even my sister hollered when he pitched a good ball. Ham, the hamster, started
runnin’ around again. When we looked through my daddy’s telescope, we made
up new stories about being the first two men on planet Mars. Everything came together when we ate our second bowl of strawberry ice cream.
Full and tired from playing ball, I said to John, “So, what’s up with your AIDS?” He said, “Now A-I-D-S means to me And I Discovered Solomon, ‘O that you were like a brother to me. And none would despise me’” (Solomon 8:1).