You spend hours scouring the web, flitting through thousands of articles. Blog posts. Bulletins. Some are packed with humor, others compelling. Every so often you will come across an article that will remain in your thoughts for some time. Maybe at first you won't realize the impact it will have, but hours after you have absorbed its content, you find yourself lying awake at night. You can see the words, transferred from the screen and now imprinted in your mind. You've no choice but to mull it over, stroking each word and analyzing each paragraph. Such articles are few and far between, but recently my life was enlightened by such a piece.
Beth Broderick. An Goddess of a woman with a heart in every realm. Ms Broderick is a cherished writer for 'The Huffington Post' and just short of a week ago I stumbled across her most recent post on the website. Entitled simply 'Larry 1984', I wasn't sure what its focus was. Thus I wasn't able to prepare myself for any unexpected emotions. My barrier was left down. With an open heart and an open mind, I began to read...
I found myself sucked in to the article from that very moment. Beth wonderfully sets a scene for us. A fairly pleasant little story about a young man in New York City who dreams of his acting career. He has the determination, the passion, the commitment. This is clear to see. It would seem that nothing could stop him.
I only wish I could say it carried on that way. The 'story' takes us to the 1980s, a time when the disease known as AIDS was only just beginning to surface. There wasn't a clear understanding. People were scared. Scared of being infected. Scared of people already suffering.
Beth goes on to tell us of Larry's painful battle, as we watch him grow weaker with each day. You can see him, lying there. So weak. You want to reach out to help him. Save him. But you cannot. You just sit there. Your heart is racing as the words continue to sink deeper. You can feel the back of your eyes pricking as you approach the end of the article, knowing all too well now that this story has just one path.
You read the closing words and a single tear rolls peacefully down your cheek. This is followed by another. And another. They are streaming down your face, cascades of emotion pouring out as you are left feeling helpless, distraught.
I've found myself thinking about Larry frequently since. Even now, I sit here and struggle to put words together - they seem to lose all meaning when you take the time to think about what sufferers have to go through, how impossibly painful it must be in every which way. I praise Beth in all that she does with raising awareness. I think even now, people are too afraid. AIDS is still considered by many to be a filthy disease, something they don't want to be associated with. They do not fully understand how it is contracted. They do not for one second take the time to consider those who are struggling to cope each day as they fight against it, how unbelievably agonizing it must be.
Please do not think that it is just Third World countries have to suffer this ordeal; the disease has spread worldwide. While it seems all is at a loss, we must not think like this. We cannot. We may not have been affected directly, but this does not mean that this is not our problem. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, you can do something today. At the very least, spread the word. Tell others about the epidemic. If you can, make a donation however small. And learn. The more we know about AIDS, the more we can help. People are still often afraid to speak of the disease, but we cannot be. This will not solve anything. If we put all our powers as one, together we can fight this disease that has plagued us all for far too long. We just need to have the strength - the strength to believe and the strength to take action. With Unity, we can overcome AIDS once and for all.
Beth's 'Larry 1984' for 'The Huffington Post':