Parrie knew Richard was the one when he dropped everything to be with her in the aftermath of her mother’s debilitating stroke. He drove out to the desert in the middle of the night where Parrie was packing up her mother’s things, and immediately asked her to pray with him. “There was nowhere to sit because everything was packed up,” Parrie said. “We just sat on the floor and prayed. And it was just amazing to me. At that moment I knew, this guy was going to be ‘my guy.’”
Parrie and Richard married, and began trying for a family. After suffering several miscarriages, they decided to adopt. “We always wanted to have a child, but after so many problems conceiving, we decided that it must be God’s will.” Then last fall, Parrie felt nauseous and assumed it was the stomach flu. “It took several tests to convince her,” Richard said, laughing.
Richard and Parrie celebrated their miracle, but were also dealing with some family tragedies. Richard’s grandmother, who lives in the Philippines, fell ill. They traveled to handle her health care, and eventually, her funeral. Soon after, Richard’s grandfather died suddenly after a fall. “I’m the oldest and I’m the favorite,” Richard said. “I needed to be there, paying for funerals, food, caregivers.”
These costs took a toll. “All of our savings was gone, depleted,” Parrie said. “We were still making it work though. We were going to make it.” A few months into her pregnancy, Parrie felt sudden, intense pain in her abdomen. Her baby had started kicking, rupturing her placenta and tearing two stomach muscles. “I was on bed rest from that minute.”
Parrie, a hospice caregiver, couldn’t work, and it took months for her disability benefits to kick in. “We just weren’t able to keep up,” she said. “There were so many costs, and we had to do it all on his income.”
“When she approached me with the idea of going to a shelter, she was actually thinking that I wasn’t going to go for it,” Richard said, “I’m a military guy: Adapt, improvise, overcome. You got to do, what you got to do.”
Parrie and Richard moved into the shelter on June 4. Less than a month later, their baby boy was born. “This place has been such a blessing to us, and to him,” Parrie said, looking down at her newborn son, Zion.
Just four days after Zion was born, Parrie was having trouble catching her breath. Richard insisted she go to the hospital, and there they found a large mass in her lung. After a biopsy, it was confirmed: “In a week I had a baby and was diagnosed with cancer,” she said.
“The stress of it all is hard. I think the ladies here understand that. I think they try their best to help us with it. I think that’s what makes this place special. They care. They want to be a part of your journey, to make it easier for you.”
Parrie had surgery and doctors were able to save half of her lung and remove the cancer in its entirety. She’s healing up at the Mission.
“I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve had in my life,” Parrie said. “We didn’t see this coming—we couldn’t have. Our story is unusual and hard. And I know now that I didn’t get here just by happenstance. God needed me to be here for a reason.
“There are two types of people in the world: you’re either a victim of your circumstance, or a survivor of your circumstance,” Parrie said. Richard looked over at his wife and newborn son and said: “We’re survivors.”