The Best and Worst of the
Summer of '89
by Keli'i (Chris) Kahau
This was the summer he found out he was HIV+. This is as written, the only changes I have made are deletions of names.
Since we were nine years of age, Julie and I have been 'best friends' of sorts. We would have philosophical debates with each other because we could not find anyone else our age who would talk with us on that level. At night, when the stars were out, we would sit on the washer and dryer at her house and listen to the crickets while the cars whizzed by. We continued to be good friends, only talking on theoretical plateaus, never delving into real life situations with real people. When she was twelve, she announced that her family was moving to Utah. We made the standard promises of writing to each other faithfully every week and calling; of course, we rarely kept this promise.
During March of 1989, Julie came back out for a visit. I had not seen her in almost five years. She was only staying for a couple of days, but we made those days the best. It was not until the third and final night that anything came of this friendship other than the friendly bickering we enjoyed so much. She had made mention of the fact that she had had a flashback involving her oldest brother molesting her. To comfort her, I told her that from the ages of nine to fifteen, I had been molested. Until the wee hours of the morning, we talked about how we felt on a factual level; theory had become a tool to understand instead of a way to pass time.
That morning, she left to go back to Utah. I was saddened to see her go. She was the first person I told of the incidents of abuse. Up to that time, no one else had known. I had kept it locked up inside, which caused behavioral problems. I had never thought I would see her again, but as fate and God both had it, she was to come back to me two months later in May.
I woke up one morning to find Julie in my room. I felt very confused and disoriented, and fifteen minutes later, I was in shock. She explained to me that her second oldest brother had committed suicide and she had come out here for the funeral. Tears slowly made their path down her face. She had a natural beauty that would only be ruined if she had make-up on. Her usually well kept, back length, sandy brown hair was everywhere. I quickly got up and we went out and talked until she felt better. After the funeral she went back to Utah. Again, as I watched her go, I felt I would never see her again.
One week later, I woke up to see Julie in my room. She had finished her finals and came back out here to live in California. I was so happy to see her. Our friendship rapidly developed. The two of us were inseparable from June to September of 1989. She got a job out here and lived with friends of the family. However, this was not to be a fun-filled summer, but it was to be a memorable one.
Every night, without fail, we went to coffee at a twenty-four hour restaurant to discuss our problems, both past and present. Those restaurants became our haven of comfort; the coffee was our sustenance. We especially explored our past problems involving molestation and the psychological problems stemming from it.
At the beginning of July, Julie decided to see a Christian counselor. Within two weeks, her life was in shambles. The counselor had opened up her memories and with them some wounds. She began remembering some other flashbacks. Before the summer was to end, we found out that others had molested her. Up until that point, she had blocked it all out. Together, we shared the pain. She helped me bring my problems out that I had stored away, decaying and rotting in my mind and in my heart. I helped her deal with the new pain. We grew closer and closer.
I was feeling a little sick, so Julie and I went down to the free clinic and got some tests run. Right after that, we took a trip up to San Francisco. While we were there, we talked about marriage and children. We had so much fun. It was nice to take a break from reality and just relax. The trip was a memorable one and will be something that I will always cherish. When we arrived we went back to get our test result. Just as Julie's world had come crashing down a month ago, mine seemed to explode. On August 8, 1989 at 10:23am, I was diagnosed HIV positive. I could not believe it! I had tested positive for the AIDS antibody. I felt numb. I could not think or feel anything. Julie held my hands and together we walked out of the clinic.
I drove down to the beach and picked up a pack of cigarettes. Julie remained silent, holding my hand all the way. I was afraid if I looked at her, I could never stop crying. All the things we had talked about were no longer possible. I would not have kids, we would not get married. How could God do this to us? As I stood defiantly on the shore looking out to the horizon, Julie held onto my hand. As I screamed and shouted at God for letting this happen, Julie stood silently holding my hand. Through four hours of sheer emotional trauma, she supported me. She comforted me emotionally and spiritually. I honestly believe that if she would not have been there, I would not be here, alive.
The weeks following were devastating. Two days later I got a job. It became my escape, but Julie helped me through it all. I had decided not to tell anyone, and suffer alone. Julie became my Rock because I felt God had let me down. But through it all, Julie slowly helped me back. We began attending a church and letting God take control of our lives. Everything returned to normal, well, almost.
It has been a little over a year now since I was diagnosed as HIV positive and I have let God take control of almost everything. Last June, I had gone up to see Julie and stay there for the summer, but we fought and I left her and came home. I still remain strong in my stand in God because of Julie. I can face anything that Satan throws at me because God will take care of it. Last night, Julie called me up and told me that she was getting married to a guy she had known for two months. I praise and thank God that she was in my life because otherwise I might not even be here to serve God.