AIDS



Jessica Lizzio



My cousin Christopher was 16 years old when he died. Christopher had been fighting the disease known as AIDS throughout his life, and I didnít know. I had always known when I was young that Christopher was sick in some way. His right hand was malformed and he had to receive a variety of injections each day from his mother. But as young as I was, I was never afraid of Chris or his sickness. Chris and I were friends as much as we were family. We would play spies together and hide on his steps as we watched our parents play cards.
To me, Chris was a normal child who just needed some extra medicine. But after his death, I learned that his condition was much more serious then it appeared to be. The day after Chrisís death I asked my mom what Chris died from, and she told me that Chris had died from AIDS. I couldnít believe what she had told me. I never thought a disease like AIDS could hit so close to home. Chris had caught the disease form a blood transfusion that he received when he was born with cerebral palsy.
I wasnít at all worried when I learned of his disease; the only thing that truly bothered me was that my family didnít tell me until he was gone. They were afraid that my other cousins and I would be afr4aid of Chris and his disease. I donít think I would have been afraid of Chris, but we will never know for sure. After Chrisí death, I learned more about his life. I learned that when it was time for my cousin to go to school, there was some debate between school officials and other parents surrounding the issue of other children going to school with my cousin Chris who had AIDS. After I learned this I was upset, but I decided that I wanted to do something about it. Three years after his death, my family and I walked in the AIDS walk of New York City to support AIDS awareness. I also helped girls in my school learn about the disease by having my Aunt Dorothy (Christopherís mother) and another speaker come to my school to speak to the eleventh and twelfth grade about awareness and prevention.
I did these things because I want to make a change. When I learned about the pure stupidity of those parents in my cousinís school district, I realized how jaded our world really is because this is something that happens across our country. People are afraid of what is different, whether it is sexual preference, race, gender, or appearance. I believe that if people became more educated, our world would be a much more happy and peaceful place.
I have also learned something else form my cousinís death and that is that life is to short and precious to be wasted. I count myself lucky to be alive each day and I truly live each day to it fullest. This lesson that I learned through such a tough experience has really helped me shape and decide what I want in my future. Since Christopher died at such a young age, he didnít get to fulfill his dreams. I want to fulfill my dreams and take advantage of my life and time here on earth, so any opportunity that comes my way, I take it to the max. No matter is I am 16 or 61, whether I am at the peak of my health or suffering from cancer, I should take advantage of my life and live it to the fullest and Chris taught me this.




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