There are so many different people we grieve for - a parent, sibling, wife, husband, grandparent or a favorite relative. But one you don't hear about. Maybe it's still taboo or no one decides to talk about this. The loss of a partner.
I first met John on September 7, 1992. We actually met through a personal ad. The ad was posted in a gay bookstore in Virginia Beach. I went in that date and looked at the ads posted in the community room. I found one that interested me so I decided to respond (ads are given a box number) Two guys walk in and browse around. One asks the employee if he had any messages. Upon my hearing the box number, I turn around and I saw that I was respond to that ad. I finished the response and gave it to the employee. We met that night and for me it was love at first sight. About two years later, John finally admitted his feeling and we became a couple.
We moved to Florida in 1995 in hopes of working to Walt Disney World. We got hired in 1996. At the time we lived in an apartment but bought a home with our roommate in 1997. John and I had been through a lot together; a near fatal auto accident, both left Disney, John got his dream job of being a teacher and I went back to Disney. Lots of peaks and valleys like any couple. In 2003, we had a commitment ceremony and had out honeymoon in Las Vegas. In 2004 we opened our our business only to close it in 2007 went the economy went bad. The fall of 2007 we went back to work at Disney.
All seemed great until the fall of 2010. John's appetite started to decrease. We didn't think anything of it as we were trying to eat healthier and even eat smaller portions. By late 2010 we were on our way to work when I noticed John was very jaundice. We went to the emergency room and the doctor said it was slight inflammation of the liver and to follow up with our regular doctor in one to two days. Ok, so maybe it was a virus. Well our doctor put him in the hosptial right away and that's where a mass was found near his liver and it appeared to behave like a tumor. A few days later he went to a cancer center in Orlando. He then developed sepsis and was moved to the hospital next door. Every biopsy came back negative for cancer but he was told he needed a new liver. Ok, transplants happen every day. John had many hospital stays in 2011 and still every biopsy came back negative. During one stay, he had his gall bladder removed and another stay he had a biliary drain put in because the bile wasn't draining.
Still in and out of the hospital. The doctors finally said that John has his choice between Moffitt in Tampa or Shands in Jacksonville. John opted for Mayo because he knew of Mayo's great reputation. The doctors agreed but nothing happened. It turned into one big waiting game. Still more hospital stays in the mean time. Finally our insurance agency took over and approved him for Mayo but again more waiting. Finally in October of 2011 we got to mayo in Jacksonville. That is where we got the worse news possible - stage 4 bile duct cancer and the tumor had grown to 8cm. Mayo couldn't do anything so he was sent to an oncologist in Lake Mary. His liver numbers were too high for anything to be done.
He just kept getting worse but he fought like a trooper. John had no desire to give up. I did the best I could working full time and being his full time caregiver. January 9 2012, he received his one and only chemo treatment. By Jan 13 he was back in the hospital even worse. It was to be his last few weeks to live. He wanted to keep fighting but Feb 1, he went into hospice and passed away on Feb 4.
I have been through so much hurt since he passed. Not being informed of his death until 7 1/2 hours later, watching the crematory handle his ashes in front of me and losing many friends. I realized after John passed, he was fighting for just the two of us. he was fighting for me because he knew I could handle this and he was right. I have done a lot on my own from crying, to planning every aspect of his memorial service including writing and delivering his eulogy, writing and posting his obituary on facebook. I have had so many people tell me how to grieve. So many tell me to get over it. Have gone through many "firsts" without John like first Valentine's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, his birthday, mine.
In September 2012 I had the pleasure of meeting my best friend. As it turns out he lost his partner two months before John passed. So we have been able to help each other through this journey. My friend even invited me to spend the holidays up north with him and his family. This made it easier for me as no one enjoyed Christmas more than John. We'd always have an annual Christmas party and our last one was in 2011.
I did grief counceling and even group therapy but neither really worked for me. After much research I learned that there are no supports groups for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community (LGBT for short) So I created on facebook Rainbow Haven - Gried Support for the LGBT Community. It is my hope that with this page, members of the LGBT community can find support and comfort to those who have had similar loss. I hope that everyone who reads this article will "Like" the page and help spread the word that it exists. There needs to be grief support for EVERYONE!!