All Paths . . .

Probably a long post ahead . . .suicide widow post, things I’ve learned, things I forgot, things that I remembered, how things changed . . blah blah . . .

One of the things about being a suicide widow . . maybe a widow in general but definitely my experience as a suicide widow is that my perception of my relationship with Parker constantly morphs and changes.

I loved her. I love her. Anyone who knew us couldn’t deny how much damn love there was and is and will always be.

And everyone knows how much I will stand up and scream from the rooftops about mental health and the wording used around suicide and stigma and all of the everything’s about speaking your story, etc etc.

But, the fact is, no matter what I know logically, emotionally there are so many layers of what has to be processed when both the victim and the person who caused the death are both within the same body.

That’s the long way of saying that one day I see hearts and roses and love, and the next day I see an abusive dynamic that was completely unhealthy, and the fact is, it was somewhere in the middle and at times it was both. We went through a lot of shit, and our way of coping was not always healthy.

That’s the long winded way of bringing me to a memory of the early part of our relationship, and just how much we worked together to meet in the middle of so many things. And how much trauma had changed that part of us.

This Mother’s Day at brunch we started talking about churches somehow and I remembered how when we first met, Parker mentioned how she went to church every weekend with her family.

I actually said out loud. Oh, that’s a deal breaker.

Before that we had talked on the phone around the clock for almost a week. Hanging up the house phones when batteries died to call back on cell phones. But on the mention of church I was ready to walk away because I believed in a lot of things, and that all paths were equally valid . . .but Christianity was one thing I was NOT going anywhere near cause I did not need to be tolerated, been there, done that. I wanted more than that.

Fuck That.

And then we talked more about beliefs and over the next few hours I realized that we had similar beliefs actually. And the first time I went out to Gainesville I went with her to her family’s church. And I felt tolerated.

I told her, I’ll go to church with you, but only when we find one where we are accepted, not just tolerated. And so when we moved to Gainesville I got on the internet and found the website gaychurch.org and we went to a few different churches and eventually I found one that we fell in love with. We were completely accepted there. Kidlet loved it, I got involved, we even helped with the summer program and volunteered on Sundays and were involved with the young adult groups.

When we moved back to Palm Coast I did the same thing and we visited at least a dozen different churches together until we found one that we were both comfortable at. We ended up driving over an hour each way to go to FirstCoast MCC in St. Augustine. We got involved.

Church was important to her. I found a way to make it work for me and she understood my need to find the ‘right church’ even though that meant I researched and we visited a dozen different ones to find the right one. I found the one where we fit, the one that wanted us as part of their family as much as we wanted to be there. Church became important to me. I enjoyed the family and also the insights I gained from the sermons.

When she first said church, I could have just stuck with “That’s a deal breaker.” But instead I looked for the common ground.

I’m glad I didn’t, but I’m sorry that she’d spent so long being tolerated before finding places that accepted her.

This post has nothing to do with church or religion. I don’t want responses to this about how I need to find God again, or how happy people are that she brought me to the church, this isn’t about that. I’m still the same, “All paths are equally valid” person that I was when I met her.

2/3rds

Ericka was one of the women Parker and I met in the shelter. She was young, maybe 20 or 21. Such a sweet kid and adored Parker and I.

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Look at this Facebook post. She’s talking about a Mother’s Day potluck, in a homeless shelter. Waking up to make breakfast for 80 people, in a homeless shelter.

We took buses to the light rail to go to a church in the city and then came back and hung out at a crappy little pond that was pretty damn gross but it killed time and gave us something to do. And bread was cheap. Broken wing (Gregory House) was a mean little cuss but he kept going and the other ducks knew to follow him because the humans felt sorry for him and always threw the food to him. Also, there were more geese than ducks, but it was still the duck pond to everyone in the shelter.

Look how normal it all seems in this post. It all became almost normal to us. Wake up, fold up your mats if you are on the floor in the hallways, put away your bins, do your chores.

Ericka died about a year or so later. My heart broke. She fought so hard to overcome her mental health shit, but she lost. Two out of the three people in this post are gone…..