Have you ever thought about how you would die? I try not to as much as possible but these past few days, the thought seems to be following me around. It was beside me in the movie theater. It was swimming in my morning coffee. I tried to ignore it but it wouldn’t let me.
It started when a friend of mine called me up. He said he was watching the news and he wanted to get tested for HIV. It’s funny how these newscasters often lace the truth with their own opinions. The thought that this disease has become endemic to us night crawlers is hardly fair. Now everyone everywhere is scared. My own mother told me I should leave soon if I wanna make it out alive. I would’ve chosen awareness over fear when it comes to educating the public but if my friend is any indication, the latter is often faster and more effective.
I’m not scared of it. I don’t know why but I’m not. I can understand why some people would be though. After all, our society is not exactly that welcoming to people living with HIV. He wanted me to hold his hand metaphorically and physically as he got himself tested. Suddenly, I envisioned my friend and me in a scene ala The Hours. I was Meryl Streep visiting Ed Harris, trying to be hopeful but gently succumbing to the hopelessness of the situation.
“If you think about it, we’re all dying anyway. In one way or another, we’re all going to bite the dust. Do you really need a bunch of doctors telling you when?”
“But wouldn’t you want to know?” he asked. “I saw this thing on When Harry Met Sally. Billy Crystal said that when he buys a new book, he always reads the last page first. That way, if he should die, he would always know how the book ends.”
“That’s silly. That’s like saying everything prior to the end is unimportant. The ending is just one part of the story.”
“Wouldn’t you want to read your last page?” he asked.
“Are you saying you want to read your last page?” This conversation was starting to confuse me.
“If I have it then yes, that would be my last page. I wanna be sure my book is as thick as possible. I’d start living healthy. Stop drinking, smoking, maybe start eating more vegetables. I don’t know.”
“Why don’t you start now? I mean, today’s as good a day as any. Why do you need a deadly disease to tell you to start making better choices?” He was quiet after that. My neck started to hurt from holding the phone against my left shoulder too long. My fingers held the page in the book* I was reading. I should really buy a bookmark.
“I think you’re scared,” he said. I thought the line had gone dead. Good thing he finally said something. “Your mind is telling you to fight it and that’s not a bad thing. I mean, I’m scared too. That’s why we should do it together.”
I told him I’d think about it. That’s when the signs started coming. I started becoming more aware of my mortality with each movie I see*, each song I hear or even with certain blog posts I read*. It took me some time to realize it but yes, I guess I was a little scared of my future. Did I have a reason to?
I was cleaning my room when I saw the book I was reading the day my friend called. It was under my bed. I must’ve dropped it one night when I fell asleep. I dusted the cover a little and tried to find the last part I got to read.
I don’t know what got into me but I suddenly flipped to the last page.
She was here because he said he’d run away with her, and she believed him- believed, for a few brief, intensely sweet moments, that she was something special, one of the lucky ones, a character in a love story with a happy ending.
Would I have a happy ending? As they say, there’s only one way to find out. I picked up my phone and called my friend.
“Let’s do it.” I said when he finally answered.
“Do what?” He sounded like he just woke up.
“Let’s get tested.” Though I could not see him and we were miles apart, I knew he was smiling. Would we still be smiling after everything is through?
Photo Credit: positivism.ph
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