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My name is Merel Duursma. I am eight years old. I want to talk to you about my Uncle Bobby. He died of AIDS. He died on Christmas Eve, 1998. I miss him very much.

The first time I saw him in the hospital it was very scary. There were all these machines around him making weird beeping noises. He was in intensive care.

He went into the hospital in August. By October he was better and went home but then at Thanksgiving he got very sick again and never came home.

At the very end, only my Mom and Dad could go in to see him because he was so sick. We were in the parking garage and saw the brightest star and later found out that at that time, Uncle Bobby was dying. He was not really my uncle but we called him that because he was such a close friend.

You don't have to be afraid of people with AIDS, there are many different ways you can get AIDS; but you can't get AIDS by being someone's friend.

Uncle Bobby was suffering on earth and I am glad he doesn't have to go through that now, because he is in heaven. But I miss him very much.