'Til Death Do Us Part...
The battle for a statewide domestic-partnership registry isn’t just a policy fight. It’s personal.
Published: April 9, 2013
“You need to stop lying. I’m not going anywhere, but I really need you to stop lying,” I told Alan, my partner of 11 years, while he sat in a lawn chair in our downtown backyard.
“Would you please just take the dogs and go inside?” was his slurred reply.
It was Easter Sunday, 2012. I had spent the afternoon in Clermont visiting family. When I arrived home, Alan was visibly drunk. His eyes were glazed, and his smile was cocked. He’d been suffering from intense depression and anxiety for a long time, but lately things had been steering toward an abyss.
Still, I didn’t think too much about the exchange. It wasn’t that unusual. I allowed the adrenaline of a drunken squabble to carry me (and the dogs) through the back door and onto a laptop in the back bedroom. I posted a song – a classic Eurythmics antipathy seethe, “Don’t Ask Me Why” – on my Facebook page, anticipating another evening of matrimonial acrimony, soundtracked.
Just as I hit play, at 9:08 p.m., I heard a loud pop, the unmistakable sound of a gunpowder thrust that would change my life forever. The dogs screamed. I jumped up in a panic.
I ran outside to find Alan on his back. His pistol was on the ground about five feet away. There was a gaping hole in his chest. Instinctively, I wrapped my whole body around him, pressing my hand as hard as possible against the wound. Blood rushed through my fingers. I screamed as loud as my constricting throat would allow. Somebody from a neighboring party jumped over my fence and tried to help. I breathed into Alan’s mouth, trying to keep a conversation going all the while.
I could hear him moaning into my ear, but there were no words.
“I love you!” I sobbed. “Please don’t leave me! Please hang on!”
It was only seconds before I had a 911 operator on the phone and the dogs secured. In a few minutes, the police were at my house, yellow crime tape forming a perimeter of doubt. Questions were flying. What happened? Was he breathing? I was pulled out onto the front curb on East Concord Street – left there, listless and on my own, while the paramedics did their best in the backyard. A friend happened to ride by on a scooter; the neighbors came out with bottles of water; the entire Orlando Weekly editorial staff and their respective partners caught wind and began to form a vigil as we awaited the inevitable. I was questioned by an Orlando police officer. My hands were photographed for gunpowder. I was asked to give a statement. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want it to be final.
Also, ironically perhaps, I didn’t want it in the news.
“He was drunk. He’s been sick. He killed himself,” is what I forced out.
“Were you on Orlando’s domestic-partnership registry?” the officer asked.
“No. We hadn’t had the chance.” The registry had only been around for three months.
After three hours, the tape started coming down, and the gurney, with a blanket pulled over Alan’s face, was rolled from the backyard into an ambulance.
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