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My husband has AIDS. I miraculously don’t. How am I going to survive? …I try to keep from screaming, “Dennis, you can’t do this to me now. I left my family, my friends, my job, pulled the kids away from their school and friends—you can’t quit on us. You can’t.”
Through clenched teeth, he controls his response, “Scott, I’m tired. I’m dying.” Dennis is walking away and does not sound tired; he sounds angry.
“Have you not heard anything I’ve told you for the last twentythree years? I love you; you are my life. Don’t you dare think I’m not dying here, too. You may be the one who gets buried, but I’m the one who has to figure out how to keep living. I’m dying, Dennis; I’m dying with you.”
We stand there, energy spent, emotionally depleted, tears falling. I take him in my arms, and we hold on to each other as if we draw life’s breath from the other—because we do.
He sits on the sofa, and I go find the Dallas phone book so I can call Restland, the place where we will bury his body.
When Joan Scott Curtis was 43 years old, she found out her husband was dying of AIDS. He had been infected for thirteen years. She tested negative. None of this was possible.
It was the mid 1990s. All the prejudices about AIDS are not supposed to exist anymore, but they do. Just Keep Breathing is the remarkable story about finding courage in small victories, on taking solace in helping others, and knowing that even though the major battle will be lost, the ability to live on with grace and dignity is what defines the war.