A young man mourns a disease and a lie
By Denzel Xavier Scott
Hospital intensive care rooms are white cloisters where dying patients are erased. Eleven years ago, when I was thirteen years old, my stepmother died in an intensive care room.
Four months ago, just before my twenty-fifth birthday, my father, my pastor, died also. He disappeared from the same hospital she disappeared from. He disappeared as a consequence of the same disease, and nearly in the exact same room.
An HIV-related stroke stole my father’s tongue and deadened his eyes. He became a fat, black, drooling eggplant, swathed in white.
Even years after he heard Jesus’ call, he still refused to confess his ten-year-plus HIV diagnosis to anyone.
I only learned of all of this because the hospital’s head ethicist had to tell me, making removing him from life support much easier. I couldn’t save him and I couldn’t care for him either. HIV took both options away from me. All that was left was to watch the last moments of his life and hope that the scar it would make in me would last forever.
I thought his secret, his death, and my decision, would finally collapse that alabaster slaughterhouse and stain it with rainbows, but the room, as always, remained as before.
Denzel Xavier Scott earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. He currently works towards a Writing MFA at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in his hometown of Savannah, GA.