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“You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty, and irresistible for the rest of your life.” So said Coco Chanel.

I’ve had another birthday this year. Not an unusual occurrence; it happens once a year. Most people experience the same thing. According to the World Population Clock I probably share this birthday with about 20,535,940 other people. That’s a lot of people! So I’m not alone. But perhaps what is a little bit more special about my birthday to me is that I shouldn’t be here. As I count down (or up?) to the fast approaching next big one, each birthday becomes more of a time for reflection than for a merry round of social activities.

I shouldn’t be here because when I was given a surprise diagnosis of HIV and AIDS nearly twelve years ago, I was told I had two weeks to live. Being hit with that kind of information tends to stop you in your tracks. It stopped me in mine. It makes you realise the fragility of life. The shortness of it. The importance of it. And yet, at the same time, how unimportant it is in the grand scheme of things. It only becomes important if we can make something worthwhile out of it. Leave some kind of legacy. For some, their children may be their legacy. I don’t have children. So, for me, my legacy will be the positive impact that I have on others. I don’t want my name in lights but just for one person at least to remember me by saying “yep, that Roland really helped me”. Hopefully not too much to ask.

How many of us are given the opportunity of that moment of clarity to think about what your life really means? To rise above the daily drudgery and evaluate the purpose of being here?  To simply wonder why? And in the moment of calm stillness to understand what it means to be here, to be alive.  I feel very lucky, and very grateful, to have been offered that opportunity. And now I will make the most of it.

One Comment

  • O B A. says:

    This is in line with how I view each yearly journey. I know I am not a total waste of space or just any other matter seeking to occupy space and time.
    Many see it as melancholic in nature but I see it as a time to “Bee-More” than I was in the previous year. (work harder despite failing health and family life structure, A lone wolf ).

    Slowly this withdrawal has positioned me into a valley of decision of loneliness to a place where I rarely have birthday wishes. I could turn up and make others have a jolly one but seems no one ever remembers mine no matter how many times I tell them,

    Curse or a blessing, it is has been my life since I was diagnosed.
    No one knows the real me and I am afraid to find out who the real me is.

    My story , My life
    …they say I am a cursed child, but here I am today despite it all.
    I still give thanks.

    This article only tells me that I am not alone.

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