When I (Sarah) was 23 years old, I thought that I could conquer the world! Fresh out of college and traveling the world, I became fired up about HIV/AIDS while spending time in Africa (the continent with the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world). I started telling anyone who would listen that they should be tested for the disease. I thought I should walk the walk I was talking, and went to be tested myself. The tester was skeptical as I was technically not "at risk," being a young woman and having a short sexual history. I insisted. The test came back positive.
I thought my life was over. Nobody would ever love me -- I was damaged goods. The thing that I mourned the most and the deepest was that I would never become a parent. I knew that 1 in 4 babies born to untreated women would have HIV themselves, and I didn't want that for my child. I didn't know that the statistics are much brighter for women and children who undergo treatment while pregnant, at delivery and in the baby's first days; and that less than 1 in 100 babies born with proper care are positive. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I was hurting, grieving, and lost. That's where Carmen Anthony enters my story.
I (Carmen Anthony) met Sarah in 2003 at a support group for people living with HIV/AIDS. I was frail and afraid to live. In 2000 I was lying in a hospital bed with thrush, MAC, night sweats (they were the worst, man), and a weight of 85 pounds. The doctor came in and said I had AIDS. He gave me six months to live, and it turned out I only had 5 T cells. I ended up in an assisted-living home for three months before I moved into an apartment. Over the next two years I slowly, with lots of ups and downs, regained life.
I had already been a songwriter for 25 years. My AIDS diagnosis caused me to focus more on the music, which the Lord has used to bring healing to my body and soul. My cousin became an advocate for me and helped me get some recording gear, and I immediately sat down to write the song "Dead Man Walking." I made a CD of it to come out on World AIDS Day -- December 1, 2003. That's the week I met Sarah. I handed her a CD like a puppy dog with big brown eyes (hey, what do you know -- that's what I have!) She gladly accepted it, but did she actually listen to it or use it for a dog toy?
(Sarah) YES, I did listen to it! And I cried! And cried, and listened to it again and again. It is a depressing song, really, but it hit where I was. To me, I was a dead woman walking, and the part of the chorus that says "It's not supposed to be my fate" really hit home. I know, I know -- I'm the wife. But it is TRUE! The recording stunk- it was all crackly and poppy, but that song started me dealing with life with HIV, and it started my relationship with Anthony.
Be sure to check out Sarah and Carmen Anthony's next post, which includes a recording and lyrics for "Dead Man Walking."