Thirteen years: Taking Isaac home

AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.

~ Hervé Guibert

Taking Isaac home

Continued from… The show’s nuts and bolts

“Shall we leave too?” Jacques asked, after Margaret had left. He glanced at his watch and rubbed his hand over his forehead, the tell-tale sign he was nervous.
“Yes, it’s time to leave. It’s late and Isaac must be tired too,” Grace agreed. “Kids, are you driving back with me?” she addressed her grandchildren, who of course couldn’t wait to get in the car with their grandmother.

In the car on their way home, Annie had a million questions for Isaac.
“When did you arrive at the airport, Isaac?”
“Early this morning. The plane left late last night.”
“You must be tired then. Or did you sleep on the plane? Or during the day?”
“I am not as tired as I thought I would be,” Isaac answered. “I slept some on the plane, but not during the day. They booked me into a hotel where I had a late breakfast. Or an early lunch – whatever you want to call it. In the afternoon Margaret came to get me and then they told me about the plans they had to mislead you. After the video, I had just enough time to have some sandwiches they had arranged for me, and then it was time to wait behind the stage until Henry called me.”
“So you saw nothing of the show?”
“Oh I saw everything. There was a big screen where I could follow everything. I even saw myself on the screen. I looked terrible!” he complained.
“No you didn’t. You looked tired. I really believed you were still in South Africa. I was concerned when I saw how tired you looked. Did the doctors really give you permission to travel?”
“Yes, Annie, they really did. The Dream a Wish Show required a letter from a doctor that declared I’m healthy enough to travel. They needed it so they’re not liable if anything happens to me during this trip.”

“How did they approach you?”
“By e-mail. Apparently your mom had given them my address,” Isaac answered, and Annie vaguely remembered months ago her mom had asked her how she could reach Isaac. “At first I thought it was a prank, until I received a second e-mail asking for a reply. I decided to see if it was for real and replied to their e-mail. You can’t imagine my surprise and excitement when I realized it was for real. I couldn’t believe someone would be willing to pay everything just for me to make the trip over here! Really, up to the last moment, even when I was about to board the plane, I thought the bubble would burst in my face!”

Annie smiled at him. “It’s really true, you are here!”
“All thanks to you,” Isaac said.
“No, I just made the request. The Dream a Wish Show made our wish come true.”
“Oh Annie, it was so difficult not to tell you about it. I got so used to telling you everything. In the last couple of weeks I had to carefully choose my words, because all I could thin of was that I would soon see you!”
“How long will you be staying, Isaac?” Annie asked.
“Three weeks, if that’s okay with you? If not, I can go stay in a hotel. I don’t want to cause you any inconvenience,” Isaac said.
“Are you crazy? You can stay for three months if you want!” Annie exclaimed. “There’s so much I want to show you! It’s a pity you’ll leave before Christmas though. I would have loved for you to experience Christmas and even New Year’s over here.”

“The people of the Dream a Wish Show did ask me when I want to come over here. I have to be home for Christmas, Annie, or my mom will not forgive me,” Isaac explained.
“No problem, my friend, I understand. At least you will be able to experience the run-up to the other December celebration – St. Nicholas. We are going to have a wonderful time,” Annie said as her husband pulled up in front of their house. “But first we’re going to have a good night’s rest. I think you must need it by now.”

Jacques was busy taking Isaac’s bags from the trunk of the car when Grace pulled into the parking space next to their car. Annie’s children and their grandmother got out of the car.
“Did they behave, mom?” Annie asked.
“Of course they did,” Grace said, smiling first at her granddaughter and then at her grandson.

“Who would like something to drink?” Annie asked and everyone nodded.
Once they were inside, and all of them had taken off their coats, Jacques suggested Annie show Isaac his room for the next three weeks, while he put the kettle on to make some tea. Annie led Isaac to her son’s room, where she had made a bed for him that morning. For the duration of his stay, her son would sleep on an air mattress in his older sister’s room.

“Oh, but I don’t want to chase Kevin out of his room. I can sleep on the couch too!” Isaac complained.
“I don’t mind you sleeping in my room,” Annie’s son, who had quietly followed them upstairs, said behind them.
“And I will definitely not allow you to sleep on the couch for three weeks. You are more than welcome to use this room for the duration of your stay,” Annie said firmly.
Isaac smiled at Kevin, then at Annie and walked into the room to put his bags down.
“Jacques is making some tea. The bathroom is down the hallway. Take your time, we’ll see you downstairs. Come on, Kevin,” Annie said and turned around to walk downstairs. She glanced back over her shoulder and looked at Isaac.
“I am very happy to have you here.”

Half an hour later Isaac joined them downstairs. He had a plastic bag in his hands.
“I have to take my meds before I go to bed. May I have a glass of water?” he asked.
“Come on,” Jacques said, “I’ll show you where everything is in the kitchen. Just make yourself at home and take whatever you want. Do you want a big glass or a small glass of water?” he asked friendly.
“Make it a big one, because I have an arsenal of tablets to swallow. I’ll join you in a moment,” he said to Jacques, as if wanting to dismiss him from the kitchen. Isaac didn’t know how they would react if they saw how many tablets he actually had to take to control the virus inside of him. After he swallowed the handful of pills, he joined the family in the living room. Mindy and Kevin soon went to bed, as they had to go to school the next day. It was far after midnight when Grace left to go home. Not long after that Annie, Jacques and Isaac, who looked very tired, went to bed too.

To be continued… Planning the day trips

Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay

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