Jacksonville, Florida

Positive since 2009

I’m Garlyn, and my husband is Timm. I’m the dumb ass who lost the ability to walk because of a little thing called denial. Denial can get you killed. In my case, the virus got into my brain and damaged my cerebellum. The doctors told me that I would never walk again.

For me, it was the strangest and most confusing thing. My legs were strong, but when I tried to get up, I just fell down. My world was always spinning. One can only handle the “teacups” for so long. I was determined that I was going to walk again, so I started therapy. And then I met “the one.”

Life can really amaze you. I felt like I was so broken as a human. I had AIDS. I couldn’t walk. I cried a lot when I was alone. Then I met Timm. Timm loved me for who I was—broken goods and all.

We worked as a team for years, believing (and still believing) I will walk again. Now we are trying to get me off the walker. I can walk some on my own.

Our mission now is to share our story with others every chance we get. We want to inspire others and let them know that your dreams can come true even if life does blow you down. I rode a horse last year, damn it!

What three adjectives best describe you?

Goofy, determined, honest.

What is your greatest achievement?

Getting married.

What is your greatest regret?

Moving to Atlanta.

What keeps you up at night?

Insomnia, LOL.

If you could change one thing about living with HIV, what would it be?

Nothing. The virus made me a better person. It made me appreciate life and the people around me.

What is the best advice you ever received?

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

What person in the HIV/AIDS community do you most admire?

Her name is Frieda Saraga. She founded the chapter of PFLAG in Jacksonville. She is peace. She always has a different way of looking at things. If you are troubled, she is the one you call.

What drives you to do what you do?

Always striving to accomplish dreams.

What is your motto?

Stay positive and you can accomplish anything. The word can’t is not in our vocabulary.

If you had to evacuate your house immediately, what is the one thing you would grab on the way out?

Underwear—because if (by chance) you have to go to the hospital, God knows you have to arrive with clean ones!

If you could be any animal, what would you be? And why?

A manatee because they have gentle souls.

Editor’s Note: Tim Purcell told POZ that his husband Garlyn died on January 12, 2018.