The Conversation

Robert: The woman that I vowed to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith... How do I tell her that I cheated on her and that is why we are sitting in the doctor’s office being diagnosed with HIV?

Jerilyn: What in the world is going on? Why you are holding THIS kind of information from me? This affects me in a life or death detrimental way! God HELP ME. I am so ANGRY. I can barely function.

Robert: That was the situation that we faced in February 2001, 20 years ago this year of 2021. Looking back on that moment, along with many visits to the hospital, many different types of medications, and walking as the untouchable married couple to our families, friends, and fellow church members-- it can sometimes be overwhelming if it wasn't for our faith in God.

Jerilyn: This health crisis in our marriage was so devastating to me that I know it is a MIRACLE that I am still here today. I also know that it is a MIRACLE of God that we just celebrated 30 years of marriage on July 30, 2021.

Robert: We stand today with the desire to be a beacon of light for couples living with this disease, but are hidden because they don’t know how their families, friends, co-workers will react, or if they can belong to a church. Will they be accepted by their fellow church brothers and sisters?

Jerilyn: We stand for every individual in the middle of this situation deciding if they want to live or not. We say LIVE! You must live. LIFE is worth living. Find your purpose and live, even if it’s only to make sure you walk your dog every day. LIVE!!

Robert/Jerilyn: We’re here to tell you that your life is not over. You can live.

By Robert & Jerilyn Ward

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