Tribute to Bonnie
By Enrique A. Franco
January 10, 2012
When I was diagnosed with HIV in 2007, the news was devastating. For the first time in my life I felt totally alone and defenseless. My mind immediately shifted from helplessness to acceptance. I made a personal decision to carry on with my life and do whatever necessary to fight my HIV. That meant learning everything I could about my disease. I began educating myself. I obtained as much medical information from every possible source. That's when I discovered TheBody.com.
I instantly became attached to what I learned and read here. All of the personal stories, the public chat forums, the medical advice and research was empowering for me. I discovered a place that I call ground zero. TheBody.com is my base. That was established by me back in June 2007. Time began to go on and I continued to read and learn. Then, I think it was around August or September 2007, there was a piece for which they were asking for personal stories. So I began writing mine.
My initial intention on my story was a sarcastic remark about my life and its events. I wrote things that compelled me to speak out. I needed someone, ANYONE, to hear me. So I sent it and received a response in no time from someone at TheBody.com.
That someone said she noticed something in my story. That someone wanted to conduct an interview and share my personal testament with the HIV/AIDS community. This is how I was introduced to Bonnie Goldman.
That initial phone conversation we had left a significant impression on me. She was very warm and sincere. Her attitude possessed a sense of hope and sincerity. She would continue to encourage me through bravery and courage. So I began to blog for TheBody.com. It is primarily because of her that I took an active role in the HIV/AIDS cause. Bonnie possessed inner qualities that I deeply admire and emulate. She had the ability to recognize the greatness and potential in people. She possessed a solid line of integrity. And she lived her life fearlessly. That is why I consider her my sister. It is why I am moved to write this tribute for my friend.
In a time in my life when I was thrown onto a raft in a sea of hopelessness and despair, Bonnie heard my voice. She welcomed me into the fold without question. If she acted like this toward me, an absolute stranger at the time, there is NO DOUBT Bonnie was like this toward every human being. Bonnie was a beautiful person. Her memory will reflect that. Her actions and efforts will reflect that. She was compassionate and selfless. And so, here I am writing about a great friend who is gone. Although she has left us, EVERYTHING she has done will remain. EVERYONE she has touched will remember. Her impact on my life leaves a permanent impression in my heart. I ask everyone to celebrate her life. Remember the good times. And keep smiling, knowing that this silent warrior is watching over us from the calmness and serenity of Heaven. God Bless you Bonnie.
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A Brighter Vision
The U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy got Enrique Franco kicked out of the Army. It also, oddly, was the reason he found out he was HIV positive.
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