Dear Monique Bousquin

I’ve been trying to write this for about 4 days now. To be honest, I’m not completely sure what I’m trying to say. Talk about our JoJo? Yes, but…no? She was our best friend – no – our sisteris our sister. She’s been gone almost two years and we both know you’re not completely okay with that yet. We both know that you keep hoping the hellishness of the last two years without her has been one of her looooooong standing elaborate pranks and she’ll pop into the room, hands covering your eyes, and squeal “GUESS WHO?”

Joanna’s birthday in 2013

But that hasn’t happened, despite the fact that your keys keep going missing (she did like to hide them) and her things keep showing up at the exact moment you need them to, I think you know that won’t happen. She isn’t coming back, but she never really left. And, for now, that will have to do.

But, the past 709 days since she left haven’t just been rough because you’re grieving. She died, and you shattered. And, as much as you tried to pretend you could hold it all together, you came completely undone and the life you tried to maintain came toppling with it. The anxiety. The depression. Clearly, you were going to have to start building again, starting with whatever pieces you could fit back together.

But, that’s just it, isn’t it? The pieces. They weren’t as shiny as you remembered. They didn’t fit together so well. Growing up in a family of people actively engaged in  the Pittsburgh Christian community certainly influenced the shaping of your life, but sitting in the pile of what was you, things changed. Or, rather, the things that always were showed back up.

That time in 4th grade when you doodled your best friend’s name all over your pencil box and Mom threw it at you angrily screaming and wanting to know if you were a lesbian. Nine year old Monique had no idea what that meant, but she knew enough to know how Mom felt about it. Or the time in the middle school girls’ locker room when the girl who bullied you all through elementary school suggested that maybe you were looking at the other girls’ bodies too much. Or again in high school when mom knew you liked that boy from Chicago, but she also thought you might like the friend you kept bringing over. The girl. Who was bi. And also flirted with you.

But, I mean so what, right? So, the alter ego you’ve had since high school – the one who is confident, sexy, flirtatious..and bi – maybe, she’s a little closer to the truth. Maybe, you’ve always known that. But, what difference does it make? That’s what you kept asking, right? You’re happily married to your husband – and god knows that was a relationship you had to fight for anyway. But, you guys are good, your kids are good, your life is…well…getting better. You’re reaching stable again after the chaos that was a chronically ill child and dying sister. Things are looking up. So, if things are okay, why bother? Right? Isn’t that the question?

Well, um, me, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve figured out the answer. It matters because you do. Because, you can still see the pencil box. You can still hear the anger. You can remember your fear. And, who you love now doesn’t negate any of that. It matters because you spent most of the last two years asking if it had the right to. Because, so much of you is still afraid that you don’t.

So, Monique Bousquin, know that you can embrace your identity as a bisexual black woman who is married to an amazing man. Know that you don’t have to keep comparing scars to know that yours are real. And, know that the people who chose to be your family always will be. They’re still here. And, they will always hold back the floodgates when your arms are too tired and break out the wine when the joy pours in.

More than anything, know that today you’re you and that’s more than enough.

I love you.



Note: I updated the above video when I moved my site from its previous host which explains how a moment from the Thanksgiving Parade 2018 can be on a post from earlier in November.

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