Drinking from the Same Cup

World AIDS Day 2015

To mark our 20th anniversary in 2012, ACET (AIDS Care Education & Training), a charity working with people affected by HIV (and where I am administrator), compiled a book of 20 stories from clients, volunteers, staff and others who had been part of our journey.

The ACET staff walked through the gathering of the book together the summer before our anniversary celebrations. We had just come through months of change and challenge: five client deaths within the first six weeks of the year, several months without a CEO during which each of us – including two very new young care workers – tried to cover each other and make sure everything kept going. That summer as we read, we remembered the familiar stories told like family folklore, for in life and loss there are always smaller stories of joy and hope and brokenness weaving through. We missed people. We laughed. We were astonished by the love and trust that shone through so much of what was written. We cried remembering.

We took the book’s title, Drinking from the Same Cup, from one of the stories. A reference to one common misconception of how to contract AIDS, it became a larger symbol of the endless cups of tea we share, the sorrow we also carry, the losses we feel, the family stories we wish had different endings, and the ones where the ending is so much more than we ever hoped.

The first story in Drinking from the Same Cup is from one of ACET Ireland’s founders, Terrie Colman-Black. She starts: “The beginning 20 years ago seems so far away now. Thinking back, it reads like a story: one made up of individual stories with many characters, events and chapters.”

I wrote the following in response to Terrie’s entry.

No Word for It

In the beginning there was no word for it,

there was no word in the beginning; there was no end

in sight, in the beginning.

(This is a story of stories, of chapters without closure)

There was no cure, no end, no words for it:

they were all dying, all in families, all the words

we could say would not comfort

Their story moving into a new chapter, a new life

of deaths and loss, of deathbed vigils, of nighttime sweats

daytime tears, endless tears, without words

Sitting in the hospital, standing at gravesides,

holding hands, holding back tears, holding hope

our story, their story, becoming the one story

and we find we can live

The story goes on, without words,

with hope, with tears, with laughter

We are together in this story.


Terrie’s story can be read here: https://drinkingfromthesamecup.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/drinking-from-the-same-cup-story-1-terrie/

ACET Ireland is at www.acet.ie and www.facebook.com/ACETIreland

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