SCENE: A Hospital in a major American city
An elderly woman has been admitted to the hospital after her spouse found her unconscious in their home. The elderly woman's health has been declining steadily over the past few years. The elderly woman was revived, but she is barely conscious. She knows that she is in a hospital based on the sights and sounds, but she cannot vocally communicate.
The couple has been together for 50+ years. They had three children together, two boys and a girl. There are eight grandchildren among their children. Her spouse makes several phone calls to family members across the country. The elderly woman is loved by both her own family and her spouse's family. The spouse's voice over the phone is indicating that this could be the last time that family may see this elderly woman alive. Despite their busy schedules, many family members hop on the next flight in order to say their final goodbyes.
The spouse has a detailed knowledge of the elderly woman's health and wishes. The spouse is in the elderly woman's room as various family members of file in to visit her during the final days. Machines are keeping the elderly woman alive and comfortable, but it is only a matter of time before she is escorted to the afterlife.
At 10PM, visiting hours are over. However, on a mild Tuesday evening, the elderly woman is able to speak her spouse's name. She calls it out. The elderly woman wants her spouse to stay.
"Visiting hours are over," a nurse says.
"Can I please stay with her?" as tears are streaming down the spouse's face. The spouse has a feeling that THIS could be it and wants to be by her side during the final moments.
"I am sorry, but only family members can stay," the nurse replies.
"But I am family. We're married!" the spouse exclaims.
The elderly woman cannot understand why her spouse cannot be here. She tries to scream that the spouse can stay but cannot.
"Please don't make me have to call security," the nurse says.
At 2:37AM, the elderly woman's left ventricle bursts.
The doctors and nurses try to shock her, but the elderly woman has clearly flat lined.
"Call it. Zero-two-forty-six," says the doctor as the sound of the heart monitor machine echoes a steady beep in the background.
Alone and broken hearted. That is how the elderly woman died. Instead of with her spouse by her side, she died among strangers instead of her lover.
A nurse calls the spouse at home.
I wrote this piece after the Obama administration announced the extension of hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples. I wanted to publish it immediately, but I decided not to because it was as a friend put it "too sad" and I felt it sounded too personal. Truth is, it is a fictional account. I wrote it with people that I care very deeply about in mind.
Now before I get any comments about favoring one gender over another or stereotyping, please note that this story DOES NOT encourage gender discrimination. You can tell this story with two men in a committed relationship or even a common law straight couple.
And the number 343 was just some arbitrary number I came up to highlight a point (Actually, it's 7 Cubed. The math major came out a little bit in this piece). There are probably numerous reasons why LGBT Rights are Human Rights.
Even though it is a fictionalized account, this story of heartbreak has been repeated over and over again.
In closing, I stress again the statement I made from a previous blog entry.
"Family is what you make."