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Meditations on Love and Death (or "Day Spa")

By Shana Cozad

July 19, 2011

I remember when I was growing up, my pediatrician father used to come home and drink himself into oblivion; a place I always wondered why he frequented so often. One day, he said plainly that as a doctor that he just hated all the dying and that he thought that by him becoming a doctor that he would have a hand in helping the dying of innocent lives come to an abrupt stop.

He was so sad. His patients were all children with cancer. I remember making rounds with him at Children's Hospital. The children did not look sad to me, almost the opposite in fact. There was pain, yes, and no child liked being bald, but mention the idea of death to a child and you will find and amazing grace and acceptance and excitability to the very idea. They were not sad, like my dad, or like their own parents.

So death is a promise, for each of us. Don't you ever wish there was a prettier word for death, rather than death? Like say, "Day Spa"; you instantly get all relaxed inside and know it's such a good thing. There needs to be a better word for it someday, like Day Spa.

So, I might die from getting hit by a bus. Or I might die by getting stung by a fatal spider bite. Or perhaps, I'll fall off the roof one day. Maybe I'll die laughing, maybe I'll die having an orgasm, maybe I'll die in prayer, maybe I'll die in my sleep, maybe I'll die sitting on the potty. Or maybe I'll die of old age and/or AIDS. And it's all okay, I know and you know that my "Day Spa day" is coming eventually. Let's hope I get a late morning/early afternoon booking.

Going back to the part about the opportunities this disease presents, love and death are the big ones. Loving, with this disease, becomes so incredibly profound. My parents did not know how to love me after they found out I had AIDS. I was dead to them for the first seven years and the sickest years of my diagnosis. We had no contact with each other during those seven years. And the strangest part is, they still loved me and I still loved them, even though our hurt prevented us from overcoming our fears and our shame.

Loving partners, now there's a subject I could go on and on about, but it all boils down to "can you love me for me." So many lovers fear our bodies, fear our intimate abilities and freak out at the very idea that we are and can still be sexual human beings. And so the pain and fear that prevents couples from being able to embrace a person with HIV, gives rise to abandonment, loss, and lots and lots of being alone.

So, then there is also death. And with my raw, open feelings bleeding a woesome familiar pain because today I found out about another person in my HIV+ community who died just yesterday.

We humans were not meant to be alone. I believe we all have incredible gifts. I think I have learned many of my blessings because of this disease, called AIDS. I have learned who my friends are. I have learned that you can still love your family from afar. I have learned that love and relationship is totally possible. I have also learned that listening to your body, first and foremost is a vast and intelligent resource to learn from. Your body always knows what it needs, even if it does not say it in the language you like to hear. There are so many lessons and opportunities to be learned from this disease. So many lessons ... I realize we all have different lessons in life and that my lessons are not the same as yours ... but somewhere in between, there is still a common thread that runs through us all in the soul lessons we must each learn and embrace.

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Mother Earth

Shana Cozad

Shana Cozad

Shana Cozad is a full-blooded Native American enrolled with The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. She is also of Caddo, Delaware and a smidgen of French decent. Shana has been a noted, recognized public speaker, HIV/AIDS prevention educator and CTR counselor since 1994. Shana has spoken at numerous schools, universities, AIDS memorials, AIDS Walks and World AIDS Day events. Highlights include POZ Magazine, Keynoting for the 3rd Annual Circle of Harmony Conference and (Keynote for) the Mississippi State Department of Health HIV/STD Service DIS Conference and Update. Shana's story is also among the women's voices in River Huston's book A Positive Life. Shana is currently married to a wonderful lawyer and together they are raising three children in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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