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On Monday morning of the 22 July, little Michael, passed from our arms into the arms of Jesus. Leaving myself
and the Sarnelli staff devastated.
Michael was born with AIDS. His story is similar to the stories of most AIDS kids in Thailand. And I'm
overwhelmed with grief by the knowledge that most of my little friends from Sarnelli will die in the same way.
After his last breath. After his little fingers ceased gripping my own. My heart was seized by a sorrow so
consuming that I know I will never be the same again.
We all knew that the end was near. So we set up a vigil by his bedside. But little Michael didn't want to die. He
kept fighting hard. He fought with everything in him. His every breath in the last night was a struggle.
The Saturday night we all thought he was going to die within a few hours. The staff stayed with him all night and
I went to bed-on call. But he was still fighting the next day. On Sunday night I stayed awake with him until he
died in the early hours of Monday morning. I hardly moved from his side. I was so scared that he would die
without having someone hold his hand or stroke his head.
There were a few of us in the room with him. Sleeping on the bed with him or by his bed. I spent the whole night
holding his hands, stroking his head and talking to him. I prayed, I sang and I wept.
Then his breathing progressed from intensely labored to what breathing becomes when someone is drowning. I
woke up all the staff and we all surrounded him, and held him. Within a minute, his little chest stopped heaving
his eyes closed and he died. Time stood still. Michael was finally released from the ravages of AIDS.
I have never been sadder in my life. I left the room, barely being able to suppress my sorrow. As soon as I left
the room, my chest exploded and I cried like I have never cried before. I sat in a corner somewhere away from
everyone and lit a cigarette. The darkness was making way for dawn, a new day. God's way of telling me that the
night has passed, death has passed and now Michael has come to a new life in Heaven. I noticed a soccer ball
on the grass outside. It occurred to me that Michael was probably playing football with all the other little angels
who didn't get a chance to play much as they were too sick to. Oi, a 17-year-old staff member said that she had a
dream of Michael with a huge beautiful smile on his face. I guess his team won.
So why tell you all this really sad stuff....... I don't see why you should be spared from it. Not because I wasn't. I
chose to come here and this was part of the experience of being here. I just wanted you to know that a little boy,
only five years old, died from AIDS and his name was Michael.
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