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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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'Kevin sent us back to God's house'

In the beginning" of the AIDS epidemic, 1981, our son Kevin lived in New York City, designing clothing. He told us about this strange disease, which seemed so foreign, something that was happening "there."

Over the years we heard more about its spread and of symptoms and treatments. Kevin began volunteering at soup kitchens that served people with AIDS and at hospitals where he held and fed newborns with this disease.

Then Kevin found out he was HIV positive. His life took on an urgency. He exercised more and stopped smoking and drinking. He stayed strong and healthy for almost five years.

During those years, Kevin's dad, Charlie, and I were delinquent in our worship at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hainesport, N.J. We had fallen into the habit of doing other things.

When Kevin got sick during the holidays of 1990, we were optimistic that he'd throw off what appeared to be just a bad cold. Not so.

Kevin refused conventional medicines, deciding not to go through what he had witnessed with friends and co-workers. He had taken faith-based courses during his illness and had a great sense of peace and assurance of where his future lay. He wasn't afraid.

Head and neck pain that turned out to be meningitis finally sent him to the hospital on Jan. 5, 1991. He died two days later, at age 32.

We brought our son home to St. Paul's cemetery. And we went home to our church too. We reunited with friends, made new ones and now worship regularly.

I feel that Kevin brought, or sent, us back to God's house. Or was this God's doing? I don't know how to define faith — especially my own, which I never felt was overly strong because of recurring doubts. But this I do know: Returning to our church was the good that came after Kevin's death.


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