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Goodbye To A Photograph

I got this from my good friend Eric who retrieved it from Daily Kos. Read it. You won't be the same afterward.





If you really don’t feel like maudlin or depressing diaries, steer clear from this one. I am getting drunk, and I am angry and heartbroken for my friend, so don’t expect much prose or coherence. It will be what it will be. I need this out of my system, so damn be to diary etiquette or protocol.

Tonight, surrounded by his family, my best friend Kenneth took his last assisted breaths in a hospital known for its “compassion and care” in the area. His family held his hands and whispered their loving goodbyes while the life slipped from his body and he went to his rest. A sudden heart attack claimed him.

But someone was conspicuously absent…

* Brubs's diary :: ::
*

In the parking lot, Bob, his partner of 26 years, said goodbye to a photograph. It was a photograph of he and Kenneth on vacation celebrating their honeymoon 6 years ago after having been “married” in a ceremony that meant nothing more than symbolism to a society that was, at turns, benevolent about the whims of a few gay folk, yet smirking about his love for another person of the same sex. “Have your fake ceremonies, for what they are worth, but don’t get obnoxious and ask for anything actually bordering on legal or realistic.” society told them. But Kenneth & Bob took it, because validating it to one another was really what counted. But tonight, it ended up needing to mean so much more.

Bob carried that photograph in his wallet as a reminder of his relationship and what it meant to him. Tonight, he said goodbye to a smiling face in a picture because he had no legal right to be present to say goodbye to his loved one in person. So Bob sat in the parking lot in the passenger seat of my car and wondered the fate of the man he had given his love and life to. He held the only thing at that moment Kenneth’s family could not take away from him – that photograph.

The hospital, at the behest of Kenneth’s family, had banned Bob from Kenneth’s room, or seeing him in the hospital at all. 26 years treated as though they were mere passing acquaintances or work colleagues. Simply because Kenneth’s family could never accept their son’s orientation (NOT “lifestyle” as some refer to it).

Tonight, a nurse sympathetic to Bob’s situation and in violation of the hospital policies, came to the car window and delivered the news to Bob that Kenneth was gone. And Bob said his goodbyes and wishes of love and peace to a picture. A fucking photograph. Held to his chest as though he were holding his loved one in tears. Because that was all he had.

His partner is gone and his partner’s family took away the dignity that Bob had a right to as Kenneth’s lover, confidante, and lifemate to say goodbye. His husband. There, I said it. HUSBAND. WAS THAT SO SCARY YOU HOMOPHOBIC BIGOTS?????

To his family:

You took away Bob’s right to say his goodbyes because of your own misguided fears, but you can never take away his love or his memories. Your son deserved to hold his partner’s hand as he went away, knowing Bob loved him and was there to see him to the other side. You heartless bastards…I hate you right now. You may laugh at our relationships and dismiss them, but your God weeps for your ignorance and cruelty.

You will never take Bob’s devotion to Ken away from him…or the smiling photograph of he and Kenneth in happy times.

Ken, tonight, we say goodbye to your photograph. But we know you understand and forgive us.

You will be missed.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
marian333
May. 18th, 2009 01:55 pm (UTC)
I know more than one person this shit has happened to or similar. So many people wrongly believe that there's other legal steps people can take to secure these rights, and while there IS a lot of hoops people can jump through legally, at the end of the day when this shit goes on, it's made far too easy for the 'legal next of kin' to pretty much do whatever the fuck they want.

I've had scary medical problems and one time in particular almost died during surgery and woke up with my husband by my side. The security that filled me with is beyond price. I cannot imagine him not being allowed to have been there, or staff trying to keep him away from me because someone didn't approve of us.

No one should have to imagine that, let alone live it.

My heart goes out to Bob, and everyone else who has.
anasteuart
May. 18th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing. I linked to this in my journal. My heart goes out to Bob and everyone like him who is fighting to be treated the same as the rest of the country.
bigbear4xl
May. 18th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
When my partner of 11 years passed away suddenly last year (May 15th) from a blood clot, he was in a nursing home that had specialized physical therapy. He was there because 5 months earlier in January of 2008 I took him to the ER when his back pain from multiple herniated disks became so bad he could no longer function. They got his pain under control and then performed a procedure that had severe side effects, not the least of which was the loss of all nerve sensation from the waist down, essentially rendering him a paraplegic (albeit temporary, until he could have surgery to fix the herniated disks). After months of struggle and strife, during which time we were told the surgeons would not perform surgery on his back until he lost enough weight that he could A) get a MRI and B) be under a "safe" weight for such surgery, Dan lost weight, nearly 70 lbs., and underwent physical therapy, eventually being moved to the nursing him. His parents visited him 3 times in hospital and 2 times at the nursing home. I was there every day. I got up, went to work, left work, went to hospital or nursing home, and sat with him every day. He astounded me with his progress, and it was my job to keep his spirits going. I bought him new clothes to wear at the nursing home, clothes that would be convenient and easy to put on and take off. I got him in the shower. I changed his diapers. I got him food. I cared for him every day. He died 4 days before he was supposed to come home. A blood clot that was created during the earlier procedure at the hospital took his life. Dan was only 34 years old. The nursing home called me and I arrived with two friends who had helped me move from one apartment to another that very day. When I got there, by law, I could do nothing except sit next to my dead husband and try to call his family, a family he didn't like spending time with, a family he had for many years spent as little time with and separated himself from as possible. His mother had already disowned him when she found out he was gay. After hours of back and forth phone calls a van from a funeral home came and took my husband away and left me with a room full of his stuff to cart home. At least I was able to say goodbye to him in person, for which I am grateful, but the appalling funeral service, in which his family made it abundantly clear that they knew absolutely nothing about their own child and sibling, was a nightmare during which I wept openly and his mother just sat there looking bored. Dan and I always wanted to be married, and we extensively looked into legal ways we could somehow duplicate the benefits of marriage, all to no avail.
mijan
May. 18th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
I was linked here from a friend's thread, but my heart goes out to you.

I worry about my wife, and what would happen if something were to happen to either of us. I love her more than anything, and although we're trying to cover ourselves with legal documents and paperwork, I know that doesn't always work. I'm grateful that at least both of our biological families are 100% supportive of both of us.

I hope your friends have helped and supported you through your loss.
abillings
May. 27th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
Oh my Darling
Thank you so much for sharing that.

Thank you.
(Anonymous)
May. 18th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
Heartbreaking. I wrote about this and linked to you, Alex. There are so many people who take so much for granted. It's about more than the word 'marry'. So much more.

Jackie
mb2u
May. 18th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
May I crosspost this? There's a few people I think would benefit from it...
(Anonymous)
May. 26th, 2009 08:49 am (UTC)
WTF??
I was born and bread in Melb Australia by parents who are vehemently anti racism and anti homophobic...I grew up not understanding the concept of of either, I do know that it has to be taught to a peron, like the song in South pacific says. My mother worked for years at an infection diseases hopital where aids patients would receive care. At 32 years old maybe I am still naieve, as I didnt know familys had the legal right to ban caring partners of any sort from a hospital??? shit am I dumb?? does this happen in my own country?? do I live in a bubble?? This makes me sick to my stomach..just sick,,and sad

Shell from Aus

xxx
abillings
May. 27th, 2009 07:01 am (UTC)
Re: WTF??
You're not dumb, and you don't live in a bubble. You had parents that taught you right from wrong. It's that simple.

:-)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )