Friday, January 28, 2011

The Privilege of Struggle

In Memory of Sthandiwe
When I first travelled to Nkosi’s Haven in 2006, Sthandiwe was too sick to come to the computer lab.  I became acquainted with her through the photos taped to Heather’s office wall.  A little bushy haired girl in a pink sweater.  A slight child holding a teddy bear.  A little girl who crayoned words of affection and love for Gail, Heather and the staff at the Haven.

Standiwe struggled through her short life.  Struggled with an illness that takes so many.  Struggled with the challenges of being a teenager without a direction.  Struggled to find the love she so craved as an orphaned girl who’s heart never seemed to find enough…enough attention, enough love, enough loyalty to fill her up. 
Sthandiwe struggled.  Like so many teenagers all over the world, Sthandiwe struggled.  Her hard choices and missteps were not unusual or unique. 

But Sthandiwe’s struggle ended too soon.   Today, Sthandiwe is at peace.  

Being at peace is not a goal the living should fulfill at the age of 20-anything. 

Being at peace is the absence of struggle.  And struggle is part of living.  Struggle is what we do.  Struggle is a symptom of the resilient, always-seeking human spirit.  Sthandiwe’s young soul would not let her settle.  It pushed her to seek out the answer to questions that are planted in all of us.

Who will love us?  Will we realize and use our God-given gifts?  Who will admire us for our strengths and in spite of our faults?  Where will we find fulfillment for our restless spirit?  

Sthandiwe did not get to answer those questions. 

Sthandiwe’s struggle ended too soon, before she could find the answers, fill her spirit, live into her promise.  

That is the fault of the virus, of AIDs.  Not the fault of Sthandiwe.

So, please, do not blame her struggle for the shortness of her life.  Blame the virus.  

We will miss her.  We mourn that her questions will not be answered, her gifts unrealized, her love left unfound.

Sthandiwe‘s struggle was rewarded with peace. 

Peace is the reward of the dead. 

Let us strive for the reward of the living.  Let us be grateful for the privilege to struggle and strive and live into finding our own answers for the questions planted within us.    
 And in our struggle, let us strive also for a cure.  An end to the bringer of untimely peace.  An end to HIV.



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