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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Story Worth Telling...


I want to share a book with you that greatly impacted my life. The book is, In the Absence of Angels by Elizabeth Glaser. It's the story of the Glaser family and their harrowing journey with AIDS. This book was first released in 1991, but I didn't find it until 1996, only a few weeks after my children and I had been diagnosed with AIDS. If you don't believe in angels... Well, maybe you should.

My world was collapsing in 1996. My children had AIDS, Alee'd had a stroke, and the medicines we'd just started taking were toxic. I was lost, in a deep state of sadness aimlessly wondering the aisles of a small rural library in Kentucky. I wasn't looking for any one book, just trying to avert my mind off my terrible situation. I found myself in the library's small biography section, my fingers tracing across a line of book spines, when I stopped. Right at eye-level was Elizabeth's book. I pulled it off the shelf, opened it to a random page and started reading. It was the chapter about Ariel's death at the age of seven. My Alee at the time was six. Overcome with emotion, I closed the book and somehow got through the check-out and to my car before bursting into tears.

Once safe in the privacy of my home I read the book in a matter of hours. Her words, her beautiful story, stay with me to this day. It also pointed me toward The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, an organization that has been like a steadfast rock in a bumpy sea for my family and I. For those of you who don't know, before Elizabeth passed away she, along with two of her closest friends, started The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, an organization dedicated to stopping mother to infant transmission that's still going strong today.

The similarities between Elizabeth's story and mine are uncanny. We share the same birthday, both our husbands remained HIV-negative, we both had two children (girl first and a boy second), and we both unknowingly contracted HIV and passed the virus onto our children. Her story touched me in a way that no other can. I'm not the only person who Elizabeth's book has touched. I recently became acquainted with a wonderful young woman, Courtney Sheinmel, who is the author of a book titled, Positively, among others. Please take a moment to read how Elizabeth's book had a profound effect on Courtney, and how this author actually came to meet Elizabeth one life changing summer when she was just fourteen.

Elizabeth and Ariel aren't here today, and that hurts and always will, but everything they did in the short time they were here on this earth continues to blossom and that means something. I like to think that Elizabeth is my angel, and that somewhere, right now, she is smiling.

Elizabeth's book, In the Absence of Angels can be found on Amazon.com.

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