Saturday, May 25, 2013

    In the past year, my life has changed completely. I never for one minute thought I would be where I am today. I never expected Mandy would be gone. I never really thought I would have the courage and the strength to go on without her. And yet, here I am finally sitting down to write this down..
     At first when Mandy passed, I was angry and bitter. The way she died was so wrong and so unfair. The powers that be took advantage of the fact that she was a Lesbian. Texas law is so archaic and out of date that it makes Texas one of the worst states to live in if you are an LGBT citizen. The best advice I can give you is DON'T WAIT! Get a will now! And make sure it is air tight! Make sure no one can contest it! Make sure it is everything you want. You have no idea how important this is!!!!
     When I felt the depression pulling me under I got scared, I had been there before after a particularly bad break-up, and after my mother passed away. It is not a place anyone wants to be. That anger and bitterness can drag you down until all you feel is anger and resentment. It can affect every aspect of your life and make you so miserable you have no idea how to come out of it. I know I've been there.
     One day I was sitting in front of my computer and I could not stop crying. I kept thinking about Mandy and how she died. I kept hoping she didn't feel any pain, that she had no idea what was going on. Suddenly I felt a pair of arms wrap itself around me and a sense of peace that I hadn't felt since Mandy's passing. I knew that Mandy was with me. It was then that I knew I was headed down the wrong path. I realized this is not what Mandy wanted for me. Many times we had spoken about what would happen to me if something should happen to her. Many times she told me what she wished for me and what I was putting myself through was not it. Mandy and I still had so many plans together. We wanted to travel and spend times with friends and family. My birthday was 3 days after she passed and I could not get into the birthday spirit. Somehow, I knew that I had to find a way to enjoy my life. The best way I knew how to do that was to live for her, for me to do the things she still wanted to do. I felt sure that by doing that I would find a way to get on with my life.

More to come.....

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"Ignoring us, will not make us go away." ~ Lanie Rose Gonzales
With faith, trust, and belief we can achieve equal rights for same sex partners in our lifetime.

The following is part of my story:

On July 12, 2012, I lost my best friend, husband, partner, and soul mate Esmeralda S. Gonzales. Her family and friends called her Mandy. Although I am not at liberty to divulge the details of her death, I can say that her death was caused by a horrible accident. Due to the fact that we live in Texas: Mandy had no children, her parents were already deceased, and because Texas does not recognize our marriage, my hands were tied as far as what I could legally do for her.
I have been beyond disappointed, beyond disillusioned, beyond heartbroken by the fact that we as human beings have no legal rights to fight for justice for our loved ones because the legal system refuses to open it’s mind to change.
I spoke to three different attorneys before I found one who was willing to try to help me. The first upon hearing that I was a Lesbian promptly told me that in the state of Texas I have no rights and should just get on with my life. The second being a Lesbian herself who had been with her partner for over 10 years, stopped returning my phone calls. The third never bothered to return my call. Just when I felt hopeless there was one man who heard my story and asked to speak to me. He was concerned that I would be taken advantage of because the law is not on my side. He treated me as a human being and not some kind of freak. He was the only one who not only cared about my rights but, Mandy’s as well. He wanted to help me, to help us. I will be eternally grateful for all that he did for Mandy and I.
Yes, he took the case. Yes, we won. I feel lucky and blessed. But, it was not enough. I am not referring to monetary amounts because as far as I am concerned you can’t put a price on life. What I am talking about is justice. If we had been a straight couple there would have been a wrongful death suit. There would have been no question as to who her rightful beneficiary was. There would have been more punishment for the parties responsible.
Mandy had many medical issues. She was in unimaginable pain 24/7. Most recently, she had a toe amputated and was on kidney dialysis. But, she was a fighter, and despite her problems she made me laugh everyday. I believed in the vows we spoke in 2006. When we said until death do us part, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, I meant every word. I saw to her needs because I loved her, not out of pity. I wanted her to be cared for by me, her spouse. I was NOT her caregiver. I was her wife and I am fiercely proud of that fact.
Mandy was an amazing person with a great big heart. She loved to laugh and make people laugh. Upon first meeting her, one might be intimidated by her but, she was a teddy bear. She was extremely protective of her family and friends. She would give them the shirt off her back even if it was the last thing she owned. Mandy was giving and supportive. She believed in helping others especially when they couldn’t help themselves. She always supported me in anything I wanted to pursue. Mandy didn’t care what people thought about her or her sexual preference. She taught me to be a fighter. She taught me to love myself. She was my soul mate. Why is it that someone like this doesn’t deserve justice in the eyes of Texas law? How is her life worth less than a heterosexual person’s?
I am sharing what I can about our story for all those victims out there who can’t speak for themselves. I hope I can help someone speak out or understand that we are human beings who deserve the same rights as everyone else. We deserve health benefits and marriage licenses so that we can take care of each other in the same way others do. We deserve the right to fight for justice for the ones we love if only for our own mental benefit and some kind of closure. Mandy and I had always hoped and prayed that we would see Gay Marriage legalized in our life time. We had planned to travel to a state where it is already legalized and say our vows again. Sadly, she did not live to see that happen. I hope and pray that I do.

Melanie Rose Medrano Gonzales