A Once-in-a-Lifetime Love Story, Interrupted

Cindy White visited a StoryCorps booth with her friend Eric Ernsberger.

Cindy White visited a StoryCorps booth with her friend Eric Ernsberger. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps

"Falling in love does not save us from the bad things that can happen in the world," Cindy White says when she thinks about Dan Driggers, the love of her life.

The couple met in August of 1990 and started dating. Six weeks later, Cindy learned that she was HIV positive. She visited a StoryCorps booth in Omaha, Neb., to share her story with friend, Eric Ernsberger.

"This phone call came from my ex-husband," Cindy recalls. "So I called Dan and said, 'Hey, my ex-husband says that he tested positive for HIV. What do you think?'"

Dan tried to reassure Cindy that she wasn't infected and encouraged her to get tested. About three weeks after her test, the doctor's office called and asked her to come back in.

"I'll never forget that room," Cindy says. "The doctor said, 'I've just got to tell you that you're the first woman I ever have had to say this to and I hope the very last: Your test came back positive for HIV.'"

Cindy recalls that the doctor came over and held onto her because she was crying so hard. Then she realized that she would have to tell Dan.

"When he got diagnosed HIV positive, he told me to knock off the guilt thing," Cindy says. "That's hard to take when you're the one who has dealt out the disease."

But even on their sickest days, Cindy says, there still was always something to smile about or some important moment between them.

"Dan's philosophy about life was that we only had this one to live and that no matter what this life was about, we were going to live it to the fullest we could."

Dan died the morning of Dec. 26, 2001. He had promised Cindy he wouldn't die on Christmas.

"Falling in love does not save us from the bad things that can happen in the world," Cindy admits. "Yet I don't believe I'm here because of anything less than his love for me. I miss him all the time."

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