An Excerpt from “Unlocking Secrets”
It was 1987 and my husband Larry was drug free for a year and a half. It was something of a miracle, and I could almost believe that our lives were falling into place. Almost.
Larry was working, little Larry at kindergarten. I was home alone, with our new baby boy. The phone rang, and I rushed into our dated country-style kitchen to answer the call. As I ran into the room, I pictured how it would look after we renovated it.
There’s plenty of time for that, I thought.
It was our insurance agent. “Larry’s life insurance policy has been denied,” he said.
My heart immediately sank. I instantly felt in my bones that our happy little life was in jeopardy.
“Why?” My throat tightened as I braced myself for his answer.
“Only a doctor can give you the results,” as he assured me everything was probably fine.
When we arrived at the doctor’s office, the doctor wasn’t very friendly. Actually, that’s an understatement. He barely looked at us as we sat down across from him. Instead, he focused on Larry’s file. There were no pleasantries, no exam, and no hint of the Hippocratic oath. He just read us the results of Larry’s test without the decency of even trying to hide his lack of compassion.
“Your blood work shows that you have AIDS,” he said. “There’s really nothing we can do for you. There’s no cure, and there’s no treatment. The only advice I can give you is, if you have kids, go home and hold them tight. Keep your family and friends close, and get your life in order because you’re going to die.”
We sat there speechless. I looked at my husband. I looked at the doctor.
Time seemed to stop. What had he said?
The doctor wasn’t remotely interested in comforting us or answering any questions. Before we had a chance to fathom what we’d just been told, we were ushered out of his office.
Moving in slow motion, we made our way back to the parking lot and climbed inside our old Volvo. We sat there stunned, unable to make eye contact as we tried to absorb the news. My heart felt like it was exploding, and I wanted to roll down the window and throw up. AIDS?
Larry was going to die?
I loved him so much, but I also hated him in that moment. A selfish and careless man who had destroyed our lives with dirty heroin needles.
Maybe the smartest thing I could have done in that moment was to run! Run as fast as I could to protect myself and my boys. Who would have blamed me for leaving? I had my kids to think about and protect. But at the same time, I couldn’t think of leaving him. Who would take care of him and love him as I could? He was my husband and the father of my children.
No, I’d never leave him—not ever.
As the tears streamed down my face, I looked at this terrified man, and our eyes finally met, though no words passed between us.
“We’ll figure this out together,” I told him. “We’ll do whatever it takes. I won’t let you die!”
I wished we had more time to talk, to comfort one another, and to hold each other. But we had to get back home to the kids. As I started the car, Larry said one last thing to me. “Until we figure this out, please don’t tell anyone.”
And like the good little secret-keeper I’d grown to be, I said, “Of course not. I’ll never tell anyone. I would never do that to you or to us.”
And in that moment, I became infected, not with HIV, but with the secret. An innocent act of love became my silent killer.
What I have discovered by sharing my own secret is that we all have secrets. We all have a story. Most stories are fueled by shame, guilt, or the big one, fear. Often, we keep the real story tucked away buried deep inside our souls, and then create a new narrative to protect us from the real truth.
It’s not until we rise up and speak from a place of truth that we can begin to heal.
About the Book:
Kathe Crawford was barely 31 and had two young sons when her husband received devastating news—news that they agreed they must keep secret from everyone in their lives, even their families. This secret became a heavy weight for Kathe during the next eight years until the death of her husband…and heavier still as she continued to respect his wishes for more than 20 years after his death.
As she pushed forward and raised their two sons as a single parent, determined to build a successful career and stable home, the secret became an increasingly exhausting façade. For so many years, survival had meant hiding the one thing that she thought would harm herself and her family the most. But when she could no longer maintain the protective wall she’d built around her heart, she realized that keeping secrets was a legacy she’d inherited from her family. The only way to heal would be to open her heart to herself first and then find the courage to allow others to see her as she was, secrets and all.
In her debut memoir, Kathe shares her brave spiritual journey from hiding to absolute authenticity, learning that self-love is perhaps the most important love story of all.Click here to order Unlocking Secrets.