My brother died in 1995 as a direct result of using crack and heroin. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1989. He was disraught. He never shared his feelings with thefamily. And at the time his family was very ignorant to the disease of addiction and HIV. We did not console my brother because we did not know how. Nevertheless, my brother left the state of Maryland for Floridaafter his diagnosis in 1989. No one in the family knew he had left. My motherfiled a missing persons report to the Baltimore City police department about a week after she noticed my brother missing. One year later, my motherreceived a call from my brother. Hetold my mother that he left because of the reaction he received from the family when he toldeveryone that he was HIV positive. We cried and apologized continously begging him to return home. My brother declined the offer but thanked us and asked that we love him despite the disease. Myself and my other siblings began to change our lives as our brother requested. He informed us that he was using drugs and would not return home until he was dead. I became angry with my brother because I felt like he was punishing us all for the way we behaved. My brother called weekly to say how he was doing and he also wanted to know how we were doing. We would share about the things we were doing at that time in our lives. I would like to state that prior to GOD calling our brother home, we all were given an opportunity tobecome honest about our fears of the HIV virus and we made amends to one another. We cried and cried and laughed and laughed. He never -- not once --asked us for anything. My mother received a call from a lady my brother befriended to inform us that he took sick and was hospitalized. My mother immediately went to Florida where the lady met my mother. She accompanied my mother during her stay. My mother returned a week later to informthefamily that "Tommy" had died. Loosinga loved one is not easy, but what makes it better is making amends immediately. Not knowing when GOD will call us to die is one thing, but never saying I'm sorry to a person who has passed on is another. I thank GOD that he gave my family an opportunity to make amends to Tommy and him to us -- it made the letting go and letting GOD much easier. Love you, A.O.A
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