My old friend "Ben" stopped by to see me earlier this week.
Ben and I met over ten years ago, I guess. He first came to our Food Pantry back in the early days before things got so complicated. Back then I was spending most of my time interviewing people who came seeking assistance of one kind or another.
Ben used drugs when he first came our way. Lots of drugs. He probably sold as well.
I remember how much he wanted to stop. The whole scene of his life at that time was negative, destructive, lonely and sad. He was going no where fast. The best thing was, Ben knew it.
Somehow he quit. Treatment. Our little church and our minister and the many new friends he made here all combined to give Ben the traction he needed to get going in a new direction.
Ben stopped coming by as often. That can be a good sign. In his case it was.
He started a tree pruning business and he added landscape services to what he offered the public. He struggled, but he was doing so much better. He was on his way to a better life.
His personal life began coming around as well. He reconnected to his wife whom he had divorced years earlier. They made plans to be remarried. The last time I had seen Ben he was working hard and all smiles.
Until this week.
He dropped by to talk.
He came into my office, slumped in a chair and began our conversation with these words, "Larry, I got some bad news a couple of weeks ago. I haven't been able to work or sleep and I haven't told anybody. My wife and I both tested positive for HIV."
Mistakes often follow us, don't they? Even when we are back on track and trying hard and working hard, the consequences of bad choices long since abandoned can knock us down.
This is true for all of us.
I tried to offer my friend some hope with information about advances in treatment today as compared to the early days of the epidemic. I promised to be with him through his journey. We prayed.
Sometimes folks like Ben can't win for losing. It is just hard.
Think of Ben today.