I lost someone I love this week. Some of you will remember when my cousin Patty Mouse died a year ago. Or maybe you just remember the song I uked for her while she was in the hospital. On Tuesday, her son Cory died from a sudden heart attack.
His partner, Joel, called me with the news early Wednesday morning. He’d found Cory collapsed in the bathroom. “When I saw him, I knew he was gone. I said goodbye to him, told him I loved him, and waited for the EMTs. And it was so fucked up when they handed me his ring. I was like, ‘No. I gave that to him for forever. I don’t want that back.'”
And as is if finding the love of your life dead on the floor of the beautiful home you two made together, less than a year after finally celebrating your commitment in front of friends and family isn’t enough for a person to deal with, Joel has to navigate settling Cory’s arrangements and affairs with no legal recognition of their partnership. They had to call Cory’s uncle to give Joel permission to decide what to do with the body.
It just boggles my mind that gay rights are still an issue in this day and age. A friend of mine from NC just made me aware of a case the ACLU is pursuing “to ensure that kids being raised by lesbian or gay parents can have legally protected relationships with both of the parents who are raising them.” Because her partner is the birth mother to their two kids, Leigh has no legal rights to them. If something were to happen to her partner (whose parents are not supportive of their lifestyle), Leigh would likely lose them. That is just plain…there’s no other words for it…fucked up.
And for the life of me I can’t…
Wait. As important as gay rights are to me, I don’t want that to be the only thing you take away from this post. I want you to also know the joy and humor dear Cory possessed. His life was hard, but he could always find a joke – a reason to laugh and be joyful – especially in these last years. And that has so much to do with Joel and the life they built together. I will forever remember sitting with the couple at a family reunion many years ago. Under the cool shelter of the home’s attached garage, we discussed their plans for the evening.
“We’re going into Chicago for the night, going to stay at a hotel,” he said as he checked his watch.
“You’re leaving? Already?” I asked disappointed.
“We don’t want to push it. We know it’s hard for some of the family to accept this,” he waved at the throngs of family milling about, “but they are trying so hard. We want to be respectful of that.” Then, with the same twinkle in his eye that had made both his mother and grandmother the lives of every party, Cory leaned over the folding card table between us and whispered conspiratorially, “But let’s be honest. Let’s talk percentages. There’s no way we’re the only ones here.”
So today’s uke is partially for Cory – our mothers sang this song quite often. But mostly today’s uke is for Joel. Because I think that’s what ever-generous Cory would want, for his family to offer Joel the support that he no longer can offer himself. And I know this is how Cory felt about Joel. To share a moment with those two…I’m so grateful that they found each other.
I miss you, Cory. I’ll toast you tonight with a sparkly drink and a slab of pie.