Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eliminating Pediatric AIDS–Yes, We Can!

The task of eliminating or curing HIV/AIDS may look like a daunting task, but today more than ever it's an achievable goal. We already have the tools to keep people with HIV living healthy, productive lives, but we also have the capability to prevent mother-to-infant transmission––not only here in the United States, but everywhere around the world. All it takes is access to medicines; a couple of pills a day! As a mother with three children, two biological and one adopted from Ethiopia (all of whom were born with HIV) that means so much to me. Most of us can't imagine being a mother whose only hope is to have a child born free of HIV. Back in 1990, when I was pregnant with my first child, even if I'd known that I carried the virus, we didn't know how to prevent transmission. Not so for women today. With the technology now available, no child should be born with with this totally preventable disease. I'm here to say that we can help make that a reality.

Elizabeth Glaser once said, "Sometimes in life there is that moment when it's possible to make a change for the better. This is one of those moments." That was such a profound statement and one that still holds true. Elizabeth was a wife and mother who made it her mission to fund the very research that's made it possible for children to be born HIV-free. There's no one that worked harder, and what she started so many years ago is still going strong today. If you want to make a difference in the lives of children and families who desperately need our help visit The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation to learn more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Making AIDS History"

What an unforgettable experience... to be a part of amfAR's "Making AIDS History" Campaign. I'll never forget the people I met and the bonds that were forged in the two days it took to shoot this video. Their stories, as you'll see, are truly amazing and full of are they. To view my family's story, along with six other stories that are sure to fill you with hope and inspiration please visit:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Pencils...Crayons, and Glue-Sticks, OH MY!!

Seeing these two boys go from being complete strangers, just five years ago, to being true "brothers" has been one of the most profound experiences of my life, but I'll get mushy about that later. Right now, I'm too busy! With school just around the corner I've been doing the mad dash to get everything done. Yonas, my little guy, will be a big 4th grader this year! He is the best kid ever, and as you can see by the fuzzy cell-phone pic (sorry, can't find the camera) he's growing very tall, very fast. He also loves football : )

It's been a really great summer, but still I think we're all ready and excited for the year ahead.

Yesterday was Mitch's registration at his high school. While there, we got a moment to talk to one of his school guidance counselors who was extremely helpful in mapping out his course of study. Mitch, at only fifteen, has big dreams. He's very mature and thoughtful for his age; a whiz in Math, Science––part writer, part artist, like me. At only age fourteen, he had his first story published in a literary magazine that his school puts out once a year. Talk about a proud mom moment. He's also musical...likes to listen to Mozart...symphonies even, and is a self-taught pianist. We'll be in the car and I'll say, "Mitch, can we please turn off the Beethoven and put on some Michael Buble or something?"

"But mom, listen...this is so amazing!"

I think he is amazing. Anyhow, Mitch's dream is to be a pharmacist after he graduates and we found out through his counselor yesterday that his school offers a pharmacy tech program that he'll be able to enroll in his senior year. He'll have to double up on math next year as his goal is to take a calculus class before graduation. I tried to talk him out of the heavy course load. "Don't you just want to have fun your senior year?"

He just smiled, "Mom, math is me."

Yeah, I'm still shaking my head over that one!

Three years and I've got another one college bound. Wow, this beautiful life really is flying...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Guardian Angel Story

Woman's World Magazine-August 2011 issue #32
My Guardian Angel by Suzan Stirling-Meredith

When we pray for help, help always arrives--often in the most remarkable way.

As I sat beside my baby boy In the hospital, I suddenly knew what it meant for a heart to break.

There he lay in the NICU, a thick tube jutting from his mouth, his tiny chest rising and falling to the rhythm of a machine. Diagnosed with asthma and RSV, a respiratory virus that his newborn immune system couldn't fend off, he'd been fighting for weeks. Now, doctors were candid: Things weren't looking good.

Though I'd prayed constantly since the day Mitchell had been born, my hope was running on empty as I left the hospital that evening, planning to make a quick dash to tuck my daughter in for the night at my mom's before I returned.

But the roads were still covered in ice, and it was going to take forever. Tears welling in my eyes, desperate to see my little girl and equally desperate to return to my baby, I began to pray: "God, We've done all that we know how to do. I'm giving this to you now. Please make him well, or take him. Just don't let him suffer anymore."

Now, my tears streaming so hard I could barely see, I pulled to the shoulder, where I lay my head on the steering wheel. "And please," I whispered, "help me..."

Just then, the car filled with the glorious scent of freshly cut summer lilies.

The fragrance was so clear, so strong, that I stopped crying. I scanned the car, even rolling down the window to find the source of the scent. But there was nothing around to explain it, nothing but snow. And suddenly, a deep wave of peace poured through me.

He's going to make it, I knew.

Later that night, I told my husband, "It was Mitchell's angel. I know it was." And it must have been, because from that day forward our son began to improve.

Though the long battle he'd fought had left him with cerebral palsy, Mitchell was alive––a blessing of love, and a warrior who has bravely overcome every obstacle he's faced since. And I never forgot the beautiful message the angels sent to me.

Still, I'd never shared the story with my children. Not until last summer...

"I'm thinking of getting a tattoo." my daughter said. "A yellow lily."

Just then Mitch, now a strapping tall teenager, walked into the room. "Like these?" he asked, placing a vase of the blooms, cut from our backyard, on the table. And as the flowers' perfume wafted through the air ... I remembered.

"Why are you crying, Mom?" Mitch asked, slinging a protective arm around my shoulders.

Overcome, I said, "I have something to tell you ..." And as I shared the memory of that night, and how the scent of freshly cut lilies––the very scent that filled the room now––had carried me through one of the most difficult times of my life, I thanked the angels once again for that long-ago beautiful message, letting me know my boy would be just fine.