How does a sixteen-year-old boy react when he is told he has less than a year to live? When Brent developed pneumocyistis pneumonia, a complication of AIDS as a result of HIV infection from contaminated AHF he had infused many times to treat hemophilia, his doctor soberly told him that at most, he had a year to live.
Brent became discouraged and told his mother that maybe his life was not meant to have any meaning. Hemophilia was not too bad, he could live with it, but AIDS was a death sentence. His mother responded saying to him that what keeps people going when confronted with hopelessness is the recognition of the meaning of their lives. The meaning of his life was more than making him happy. It was about making her and his family happy. She reminded him that his life had contributed a great amount of pleasure and happiness to others.
Brent responded by suddenly quitting school when a meeting was scheduled with the high school principal and teachers to inform them that one of their students, Brent, was infected with HIV. Rather than surrendering and let them expel him from school, when they learned that he was HIV infected, he would choose his own destiny. He could not choose the circumstances or conditions of his life but he could choose how he reacted to them. He discovered that his life had meaning and he would choose his own existence. During his short life he had enriched the lives of his family and others. He chose to be upbeat rather than downbeat. Recognition of the meaning of his life empowered him.