A man who I have considered my brother (E) for the past 20 years was found dead in his home-he wasn't even 45 years old. His partner (B) of 23 years, who I have also called my brother for the past 20 years, was the one who devastatingly found him after being gone for a weekend trip. I can't believe it. I truly cannot believe this has happened. This couple was one of the real ones. The ones who were supposed to grow old and gray and go on senior cruises. The couple who fell in love in high school, had the gentlest, most kind hearts, and built a life and love that was the envy of all who had the pleasure and honor of knowing them. I may be bias (after all he was my brother) but I have never, ever heard any negative word spoken about him. He was just that man. The man who served his community, loved his friends well, and took care of everyone...but himself. E had some health problems that B was asking him to get checked out. E said he would...when everything else was taken care of and he had some time. I know how much I hurt right now, and I cannot begin to understand B's pain. His status says it all, "He was my everything."
B called my mom and through his tears talked about, of all things, my wedding. How they never got theirs, how much they wanted it, talked about it, but never did. E's family didn't approve, didn't recognize their relationship and while they bought rings 3 years ago they never had a ceremony to proclaim their love and relationship. They never got their moment because they loved his family and were hoping and waiting that one day they would change. They were willing to wait. E's family never changed. They are "allowing" B to participate in the funeral and arrangements. THIS pisses me off. "Damn skippy they are 'allowing' him!" was my first reaction, but the truth is-B isn't family. He will know nothing of what the autopsy discovers, he will get no information at all-unless E's family tells him. 23 years together and he's a stranger. A roommate who split a mortgage payment.
I don't often feel "less than." I have friends and family and co-workers who recognize my relationship, call my wife my wife. I am treated and feel "equal to" but the reality is, I am "less than." 23 years. An amazing life together, names that for as far back as I can remember have always intertwined as one. They were B&E. Never B. Never E. Always B&E. And now in a time of immense pain and grief, B is no one. He is a stranger with no answers and no information while dealing with the pain of loosing the love of his life-his everything. Next week I will stand beside him as we lay the love of his life, my brother, to rest.