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For some of us, World AIDS Day is not just on December 1st of each year, but rather each and every day of the year.

The phone conversation occurred in 1995. Frank, my very best and only surviving friend of a group of 22 men, called from the hospital in San Francisco. Immediately, I knew something was very wrong.

In 1985, I moved from San Francisco back to Bakersfield, when in October of that year I surrendered my life to Christ and everything got turned upside-down – actually, right-side up.

There was nothing short of a miraculous desire to get to church and remain in church. The only thing I wanted to read was the Bible, attend classes and always be among Christian men and women, worship, and talk, talk, talk, talk, about Jesus.

Occasionally, I would talk to Frank on the phone to check on how life was going. However, our conversations became more and more strained because all I wanted to talk about was the Bible and what was going on at church. Frank, on the other hand, wanted to talk about the party last night and all that went on.

Drifting apart we most definitely were but continued to maintain a long-distance connection if only to hear one another’s voice for a few seconds. We had been close good friends for many years in San Francisco.

One afternoon I received a phone call at work from Frank. His voice was extremely weak but he still managed to say, “Phillip, we don’t understand what has happened to you but you have found something, and whatever it is, keep it up. Keep it up because you have found something. Do it for me and the others. Whatever you do don’t ever come back to this. Promise me, Philip.”

I promise, Frank.

Two days after my last phone conversation with Frank, his mother called to tell me he had passed away.

So, so many are gone, and they left much too soon.

I made a promise. A promise I intend to keep.

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