In the mid-1980s, Melanie writes in her new memoir A Hard Silence, “catastrophic mismanagement by the Canadian Red Cross. . .allowed blood containing HIV to be knowingly distributed nationwide, causing close to 2,000 Canadians to contract HIV.” Melanie’s father was among those victims. At that time, public perception of HIV/AIDS was widely misunderstood and shaped by fear, prejudice, and homophobia. Afraid of this stigma and wanting to protect his family, Melanie’s father, a renowned Canadian surgeon, decided to keep his illness a secret—a secret they’d all have to keep for the ten years before his death, when Brooks was twenty-three. Living in the shadow of AIDS for a decade, Melanie carried the weight of the uncertain trajectory of her father’s health and the heartbreaking anticipation of impending loss silently and alone. It became a way of life.
With candor and vulnerability, Melanie opens her grief wounds and brings readers inside her journey, twenty years after her father died, to finally understand the consequences of her family’s silence. She writes that “Living with that secret during the formative years of my life shaped my sense of self, worldview, faith, and family.”