i know her name.
i know her age.
i know she came to the hospital to have a baby, and she found out she had HIV.
i know they sent the hospital social worker to see her, to see how she handles the news.
the social worker's note documents tragedy.
father of the baby died 4 months ago. (street violence?)
two more little ones, ages 1 and 4 at home.
year-old babe should get HIV testing.
patient's mom and stepfather died in the past year.
no other social supports.
patient seems depressed...is she safe to take home this new life?
the babe's chart is somewhere else, but i remember the hospital's collective sigh of relief when he came back negative for the virus.
i know all these facts. but i don't know her.
i don't know the joy she feels when her new babe wraps his hand around her finger.
i don't know the agony of figuring who gave her an infection science has only figured out how to suppress but not cure.
i don't know the guilt that builds, realizing she could have passed the virus to this new life.
i don't know if there is anything in life that has made her resilient, that gives her hope, that strengthens her in the face of these injustices, if there is a god she clings to.
i hope for her.
that someone would come alongside her in this now increasingly difficult journey.
that year-old babe would be virus-free.
that echoes of hope, bouncing off unknown walls, would strengthen her soul.
that she would know she is loved.
and, as always, that hiv would end.