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Death of a Same Sex Partner, a True Lesbian Love Story
prior to the home invasion
"It was a murderer...a home invasion!"
"It was a murderer conducting a home invasion!" That's what it felt like when Ovarian Cancer knocked on our door! It completed it's crime many times over with every phone call we made to let our family and friends know the horrific news. But, with each call or face to face encounter, sharing the news brought a beautiful song of trust and support. My partner Debbie and I were so lucky to have great friends and family. Over our 14 years together many came into our lives. All wonderful and full of true character and loyalty. Loving, spiritual and community minded folks that take the term 'friend' or 'family' to have meaning and responsibility. Each amazing in there own way.
Stereotyped, streotyped, stereotyped... Really?
les-bi-an \ 1 lezbean \ n : female homosexual -lesbian adj -
lesbi-an.ism \-,izem\ n Synonyms: Sapphoc, Tribade, gay woman
Typical lesbian behavior \ action vb: 1Gotta nest, gotta nest. You know, meet her in the bar with your U-Haul in the parking lot ready to make the move. The topic at the bar consisting of how hot the other is and that she has a spare room for rent.
2 If you need a place to stay \ action ad vb : lesbian code for you belong to me now, move with me and we’ll make the extra bedroom a workout space. Never fails!
Stereotyped at best! For those who see a relationship between two woman as a passing fancy, or an, "I kissed a girl and I liked it" encounter, be advised, you have been ill advised!
Having lived a happy devoted fourteen years with one of God's most incredible women, I found at least the 'passing fancy' stereo type, quite unbelievable! We lived a quite regular, community minded and spiritual life together. We had friends and family from ALL walks of life. As a testament to those friends and family, there will be installment article's regarding many of them. Just how amazing, funny and God loving are they? You will simply be stunned at these individuals and the friendships they shared with us. Thank you for joining the adventure!...~Always choose love~
The Jingle Of Keys...
The final 10 days before Deb lost her battle, she was registered at Che' Hospi'tal' -or so we referred to the hospital where she was an in-patient. She had her own private room. The staff was very gracious. They put a bed in the room for me to sleep next to her. What they didn't know is that I would have slept on the floor before ever leaving her side. But, the bed was truly appreciated beyond words! As the days went by and it became apparent that no one could have beat this disease, word spread among our community. As this happened, that place became a holding tank of love and prayers and family and friends. We were stacked up one next to the other so much so that moving required team work and tiny steps in any direction.
The jingle of keys as they danced to the rhythmic steps of this uniformed family and friends was the one sound that could wake Deb from her medication induced state. It appeared that this noise, this sound, this pure sweet music, was her call to arms! Her eyes would 'pop' open and actually greet the incoming officer, who came to visit her, encourage her, and most of all to love her.
Many told stories of silly things they had done, crazy people they had encountered, but all spoke of Debbie's humorous antics and funny statements which stayed with them over the years. I could elaborate on these things, but it is clear that these topics are for special moments and special friends. Annette, one of Debbie's dearest friends, spent an entire evening at Deb's hospital bedside reminding her of antics during their rookie years. Annette is wonderful and I will never forget the story after story of her and Deb and the good ol' days!
Have you ever had to deal with losing someone you love to cancer?
Da' Girls! Camping Antics...
SO MANY STORIES...
Ok. I can't resist telling you these two...
These two stories were recited by several people. Each laughing as they shared them. Which, brought many needed smiles to a frightening place. The stories go something like this; Forgive my inaccuracies...
"a tiny note on a tiny piece of paper..."
During the refurbishing of a facility where people who have been caught and incarcerated reside, the water closets located behind each cell open to a hallway on the other side. Well, some of the closets had small holes drilled in them through to the cell for further revisions to come. While conducting rounds one evening on the graveyard shift, a couple of young, newly sworn-in officers strolled that very hallway. They could hear the voice of a resident through the water-closet door. Apparently the resident was speaking to them self in a one on one...(well, a one anyway) person conversational argument of sorts. The two rookies each placed an eye over a hole and could see the resident throwing tiny pebbles against the wall talking to herself. This presented an all to tempting opportunity to have some harmless fun. One of the rookies picked up a tiny stone and tossed it through the nickle sized hole in the direction of this resident. Surprised by the arrival of this tiny pebble, the resident swiftly turned to see where this stone came from. To no avail,...no answer in sight.
The pebble tossing continued a few more times, causing the residents uncertainty and curiosity to grow. The rookies (giggling) decided to write a tiny note on a tiny piece of paper and toss it through the tiny hole. Well, the resident saw the note, still not knowing from where it came, picked it up and read it. It said something about not throwing stones at the walls and to be quiet she was disturbing the now resting walls. The resident slowly rose from the seated position on her rack and stepped carefully to the front of the cell. In a whispered yet contradictorily loud voice, calls out to her neighbor in the next cell saying, "Be careful what you say in here man, these walls can hear you!"
The rookies fell out laughing hustled down the hallway and made there get-a-away. They never did tell the resident it was them. I imagine fewer private or important conversations transpired in those cells following that night. (The message here, I'm guessing, would be; If you stop taking your medications don't get thrown in jail!)
"...just leave your penis at the door!"
The teams where Debbie worked were and are close knit groups. More family than friends really. Many outsiders would have thought these people to be related at least within a second generation of one another. When the chance presented itself and happen-stance hopped on board, all of the female officers on Debbie's team found themselves in the small cafeteria like lunchroom located within the facility. Fantastic! The chatter and sibling like rivalry takes its place among the many badges, napkins and utensils. The laughter and discussion got louder by the minute, so I am told. The banter and antics of thrown bits of food all growing to a crescendo of fun. While this is taking place, in walks one of the male officers who (rightfully so) pauses at the vision of all of these strong women. As he pauses at the threshold, the women notice him frozen there. All motion and manner of banter cease. The room draws silent. Purely out of respect,...possibly self preservation,... he asks in a masculine tone, "Is this women only or can I come in?" Without missing a beat Debbie chimes in with, "Sure you can come in, just leave your penis at the door!" The girls exploded in laughter and surprise! (I believe the male officer turned around and exited the lunchroom sharply).
Just sweet, good nature fun. Almost twenty years later these stories are still making them laugh. Everyone I have spoke with regarding Deb has said just how glad they were to have known her. She touched so many lives. The fact that our family and friends were (and are) some of the more spectacular people on this earth became ever so apparent once Deb got clobbered by Ovarian Cancer.
My In-Law, My BFF
Ted, (Debbie's youngest brother) and Jennifer, (his wife, my sister-in-law/ BFF), came to be two of the most prominent people within our new cancer world. Two months into the battle they were still wonderful and continued to be for the duration. We were at the beginning of treatment, before we even conceived that Deb would lose her battle. We were going regularly to appointments, the cancer center and of course to chemo therapy. Ted and Jennifer were our saviors and remained my saviors following Debbie's passing. I wrote the following email to them about two months into Deb's battle.
“The measure of our love for you is immeasurable.”
The email reads as follows;
Dearest Jenny and Ted, Oct. 8th, 2007
Be assured that I do realize writing a letter to you may seem odd; however I am compelled to do so anyway. I want to make certain that you know how much I adore and appreciate you both. It is a common mistake that people make, assuming that brothers and sisters are always “there” for one another. It is remarkable that a brother and sister are there for you at every necessary (and some not so necessary) moments.
Debbie is one of those rare birds with bright pastel wings that appear to be covered by common beige feathers. Until one takes a moment to really see her, they miss the wonderful bright colors of her beauty. So, I understand that you, who truly see her, desire to be by her side. It has been my experience that families begin to feel a burden in the face of such immeasurable misery. I, in this case have no sense of any wavering of loyalty in any fashion on this family’s part. I knew in my heart from the very second we heard the words,” Ovarian Cancer” you would be hear for her no matter what or however long it took to get her well. What I didn’t expect was this honest out pouring to me as part of your family. It is in all honesty, frightening and quite unfamiliar in ways I can’t begin to express. It is also the most rich and warm feeling I have felt, other than the love of my Debbie.
I look around our beautiful home, cluttered with the many papers, mail and computer equipment that make up our life now. I am over taken by the crisp fragrance of a simple vase of flowers that have been artfully arranged by talented loving hands that you bring so regularly. We are nourished by the fresh foods and lunches you happen by with. But, mostly I believe the simple fact that you take the time from your crazy busy schedule to make room for these things is most nourishing to our hearts. It means so much to us, further words would simply lessen the value.
Each time the thought of the daunting 2 hour drive to a Doctors appointment or Chemo comes to mind, you always have the plans in place to manage the day for us. My mind spins when I imagine the drive on our own. But, you are always there for us at the drop of a hat; it is so appreciated. Even the things that are out of control, like our plumbing having a problem or an ice maker on the fritz, you manage in your genius mind to get the matter resolved by putting your thoughts in action. We are continuously amazed by you both!
I guess what this little letter boils down to is this; we love you and adore you both. You are so special to us! We really are fortunate to have you touching our lives (not like that Ted).
“The measure of our love for you is immeasurable.”
Smart, beautiful, funny, mother, wife, sister and BFF! Jennifer White has a heart of gold and the strength of twenty men. Trust me, you want her on your side in a bar-fight! Yet, her gentle sensibilities covered my heart with graceful protection. Always honest, always loving, always my hero.
As I stood in my driveway watching Debbie's body rolling out of our front door and into the funeral home wagon, my knees buckled. I remaind standing not sure why. Then I realized Jennifer had a hold of me anchoring me for that moment. It was done, I couldn't believe she had passed. Jen carefully allows me to curl up on the drive, wrapped in her arms, I cried for the loss of my Deb.
At some point over the previous days we had an agreement. I wasn't sure what I would do at 'that' moment and she wasn't going to let me out of her sight! Those were the only two things I was certain about that evening. God, what a night.
The past ten months had been nothing less than a whirl wind of learning, trying to heal and keeping Debbie as comfortable as possible. New faces, new terminology, medications to remember and so much more! But through it all, one consistent oh so familiar thing kept focus in hand. Beautifully arranged flowers, high protein foods, power drinks and an ever listening ear. All provided by this wonderful woman, my sister-in-law, my best friend, my Jennifer. Without her encouragement during and after cancer, nothing would have been remotely grounded. I will never in this lifetime be able to return such humble grace and strength.
Once in a while you run across a person who is so good, you ask yourself how could it be? These people don't really exist, right? Wrong! Rene' is one of these people. Sweet, honest, truly the most caring individual I have ever met.
When you are watching the one you love suffer, helplessly you wonder if you can do, sacrifice anything to change the situation. When these kind of things swirled in my mind, a voice of reason cut through the noise. A voice that offers real information, real answers to my questions. Rene' who is a friend and worked with Debbie for several years, was by our side every moment she could spare. In the hospital I would find her sitting next to me finding words to help me re-group. Never pushy, never harsh, just always holding fast the tiller, guiding me as needed.
She even had the courage and strength to bring me reading materials to help me better understand the situation as Deb headed toward the end. Remarkable. She had managed to offer me the one piece of information that unfortunetly, I would come to need. The knowledge that saved me any more anquish than needed. She gave the me a small book on the stages of death. It sounds morbid, and possibly untimely. But please hear me loud and clear; It saved countless moments of uncertainty as Deb progressed closer to her end. Rene's kind, generous and brave stand as an advocate for my wellbeing is as brave of a thing as I had ever encountered. She is and will remain forever in my heart. I owe her a dept of gratitude! Without her informative, compassionate works, I may well have remained steadfast in my pain.