Father rebuilding life after HIV wife passes away
By Rawle Nelson
BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Wednesday March 9, 2011 - There is the saying that exaggeration is the hallmark of human beings, however when Peter talks about his life which seems to be punctuated regularly with various ills and disasters he is not exaggerating. The father of four who related how his wife of 13 years passed away recently leaving him to fend for four young children and also infected with the deadly HIV virus.
“I have learnt to accept the cruelty and unfair acts that life has given to me and I do not know if God doesn’t like me or rewarding me for sins of my fore parents but I stay alive and sane because of my four children as they feel the pain as well,” he said.
Peter lost his wife Lavern in early 2010 to AIDS.
She had plunged into deep depression after learning she had been infected with HIV.
She and Peter migrated to St Maarten from Dominica in search of a better life and it was here that she had become infected.
They left their two children back home with the in-laws. Peter found work quickly as a construction worker while Lavern got a job as a shop assistance.
Peter said that for the first eleven months things were going very fine as both he and Lavern was making enough to send home to their children and had started saving for their dream home.
“We knew what we wanted and were working very hard to acquire our dream,” Peter said.
However, by the 12th month things started to change. Lavern started coming home late and they began to get into “stupid fights”.
“We started to fight almost for everything and that was confusing.
“She started to speak to me in ways that she never used to while whenever she came home late and I complained, she'd remind me that she was working for her own money,” Peter said, his voice cracking with emotion.
Because of his undying love for he he stuck with it but he never once thought that she'd be having an affair.
There were warning signs but he was blinded to them.
“Now looking back I see where I had messed up as it was right there staring me in the face. All I had to do was to match two plus two and I would have known what was happening,” a visibly upset Peter said.
He became suspicious after their fights turned serious. Some nights his wife would sleep out and she'd tell her friends that he was very violent and abusive.
“I never hit my wife,” he swore, “but she created the impression that I was this monster who was always hitting her”.
He said that on one occasion a neighbor threatened to call police on him after he had gotten into a verbal war with his wife on one of the many mornings that she came strolling through their door.
“I told Lavern that I rather kill her than to face embarrassment in this country as we had came for betterment and not for her to be parading as a prostitute because she was married and paying around,” he said.
His neighbor hearing his comments threatened to call the police.
He later moved out and returned to Dominica struggling on his own to raise his two children. One morning his wife telephoned him and after an almost hour long discussion he agreed to return to St Maarten with the view of mending his marriage.
“My pastor at the time told me that I should give the marriage another shot as there were four children involved and taking into consideration that I still loved my wife I decided to return,” he said.
Two months later, she broke the news to him. She was pregnant and he knew the baby was not his. She confirmed this two months after the baby was born.
She had told him that she was living with the lie and wanted to get it off her stomach.
Their marriage had gotten better and he forgave her but he wanted to know who was the father. She refused to say.
A year and a half later, Lavern was constantly ill. One day after taking her to the doctor, he got news which was to him “a massive earthquake”. She had contracted HIV. She'd been infected by a man who had promised her a better job.
Three months later, when he mustered the courage to do so, he took the HIV test. He was positive also.
Peter and his family returned to Dominica as he knew his wife needed personalised care which was expensive in St Maarten.
“I had to forgive as I did not want her to die knowing that I was still angry or upset with her so I had asked God to help me to forgive her. I should have known earlier that Lavern coming home late with flimsy excuses meant that she was possibly having an affair and that I needed to pay closer attention. I failed,” he said.
On top of the pressure of her illness, imminent death and his illness, he also had to deal with pressure from his neighbours and in-laws. They still believed Lavern previous allegations that he was abusive to her. They thrashed his character and called him everything from a bad father to an abusive husband.
Only his parents knew that Lavern died from AIDS. He could not reveal it to others because the society would naturally blame him for given it to her. His society rarely believes that a woman can infect a man.
He worries about the welfare of his children, should he die, before they are grown. But he wants to tell the older children some day the full truth and he wishes that the preconceived notions and the ignorance about HIV/AIDS could be righted in his society.
This is the first edition in a series of interviews with people living with HIV AIDS in an effort to reduce stigma and discrimination while giving the public an insight as to how people living with HIVAIDS are coping with the difficulties and challenges of life.(Me, You and HIV)