My name is Tracye and I'm 29 years old. I first found out that I was HIV positive when my son, Shoney, was diagnosed with AIDS. I figure that I got HIV through unsafe behavior when I was using drugs. Shoney was born in September of 1992. He was an only child. He died of AIDS on July 4, 1993. I miss him very much. Shoney had a very beautiful smile. When I was feeling down, he would always cheer me up.
I have been in a recovery program for nine months. With the help and support of women in the program and my counselors, I have come to terms with going through the grieving process over Shoney's death. I didn't have any money to buy Shoney a headstone for his grave. This bothered me a lot. I felt that without a headstone there was still no closure around his death, and there was so much emptiness inside me. I felt it was important for him to have a headstone on his grave. To me it is a symbol that his life had meaning and purpose, even though he was here for such a short time.
I want to thank all the staff at Prototypes and especially my counselor for helping me to do the footwork with the cemetery in ordering Shoney's headstone. I want to thank my friend who called all the AIDS agencies and asked them to donate money so that I could pay for the headstone for my son. The AIDS community really pulled together to help me. People from different agencies donated money out of their own pockets, and they didn't even know me. That shows me there is help and support out there for women like me. Women with HIV and AIDS. Women who have lost their babies to AIDS.
I am very grateful to all of you. Shoney's headstone is in place and it is very nice. It has a little teddy bear in the corner. I know he would show all of you his sweet beautiful smile in appreciation if he was here.