The bestselling author of the novels Soul Food and Web of Deception, LaJoyce Brookshire tells a true story more shattering than any work of fiction. Its her story. A memoir of survival against the odds and courage in the face of a troubled relationship and a terrifying illness. A chronicle of faith under fire. Imagine the joy of being swept away by your very own Prince Charming, and the excitement of marrying him. Imagine starting a life together. Imagine discovering a side of him that you never knew existed -- a controlling and explosive side. Imagine watching him slowly, inexplicably dete-riorate before your eyes. Imagine his doctors telling you, He has AIDS. That was the reality for LaJoyce Brookshire, and in this page-turning, astoundingly moving memoir, she tells the full story of her marriage to her first husband, who knew he was HIV positive at the time they wed but kept this information hidden from her -- until his body betrayed him. Imagine how you would react. What would you do? Contemplate murder? Divorce? Live in denial? Or would you turn to God? Thats what LaJoyce chose to do in the face of her husbands health crisis -- and every other challenge life has presented: With her faith firmly planted and with God beside her at all times, LaJoyce faced the deadly secret that had been kept under wraps by her husband -- and by his family, who knew of his condition but revealed nothing. She stayed by his side, coordinating his care and even changing his diapers, until the end. Faith Under Fire tells the story of a marriage tainted by lies, but it also tells much more: a capsule portrait of the specter of AIDS facing African-American women today, it reveals how fear, ignorance, and secrets perpetuate the disease. In a poignant narrative overflowing with her gutsy humor and vibrant spirit, LaJoyce Brookshire shares her faith in all of its richness. She offers a living testament to relying on Gods strength through any ordeal, and shows how His truth is all we need to believe in, every day of our lives.
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Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing
February 09, 2006
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Excerpt from Faith Under Fire by LaJoyce Brookshire
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
-- Matthew 6:33
It happened quite suddenly, my falling in love. You know the kind I'm talking about -- that bam, love-at-first-sight kind of love.
It was January 30, 1990. I was a part-time speech teacher at the Queens Broadcasting Center, in the Jamaica section of Queens, New York. My full-time job was as writer/producer of entertainment and information programming at the Sheridan Broadcasting Network at One Times Square Plaza in New York City.
The day before, I had decided to take a "sick" day. I cleaned off my desk, returned all phone calls, and handed in the weekly scripts a day early -- much to the delight of my executive producer.
On my "sick" day, I took a lengthy bubble bath, washed my hair, and lazed around until it was time to get to class. For some reason, I dressed carefully, in a red silk blouse, leather pants, and high-heeled pumps. It was quite snazzy attire for a teacher who was about to spend the next four hours correcting speech patterns for on-air hopefuls.
About an hour into my class, I excused myself to make copies of handouts. On my way to the copy machine, I glanced into the recording studio and saw the tallest, finest honey-dipped colored man I had ever laid eyes on in my life. I ran to the office of the director, longtime on-air personality Johnny Allen, of New York City's KISS-FM, to inquire about the eye candy I had just glimpsed.
Johnny replied, "Oh, that's Steven. He's a really nice guy."
"Hmm, Steven," I said. "I have a brother named Stephen; what a coincidence."
While at the copier, I took another long look at the honey-dip, giving him points on his name alone, before returning to my class.
When we were saying good-byes for the evening, Johnny introduced me to Steven and I turned as red as my blouse, overwhelmed by his charming demeanor. Johnny announced that he had arranged for Steven to take me home.
"Take me home? All the way to Brooklyn?" I asked.
We were in Queens -- a forty-five-minute train ride and easily an hour-plus drive away.
"I'll take you all the way to Pennsylvania, if that's where you live," Steven said.
I raised an "is this guy for real" eyebrow at Johnny, and he winked a sign of approval.
"Let's roll," I said, gathering my things.
On the ride home, Steven and I exchanged regular pleasantries, asked typical questions, and laughed a lot. He kept thanking God. I liked that part. Since I come from a Baptist-born-and-bred background, God is indeed at the top of my list.
"Why do you keep saying 'Thank you, God'?" I asked.
"I wasn't even supposed to be at the school tonight," he said. "I missed my final because I was in the hospital and I had to complete it tonight. So I'm saying 'Thank you, God' because I wouldn't have met you if I hadn't been in the hospital."
The reporter in me was piqued. "Why were you in the hospital?"
"Bleeding ulcers!?" I asked in disbelief, contorting my face. "How old are you?"
"Thirty-one," he answered. "I've just had a lot of problems -- a bad marriage and lots of stress in my job. But now that I've met you, all of that is about to change."
We continued with pleasant conversation and before we knew it we looked up and had no idea where we were. We were lost somewhere between Queens and Brooklyn. The only way he knew how to get us out of the circle we seemed to be driving in was to go all the way to Manhattan and then to Brooklyn. Our one-hour ride turned into three hours.
We finally arrived at my front door, where we exchanged numbers. He waited at his car to see that I had made it safely into my apartment. I looked out of the window to wave and he was still there, leaning against his car, looking up at my window. He acknowledged my wave with a beep of his car horn. As much as I hated to admit it, I was soaring from my evening with Steven.