Monday, February 16, 2009

"I'm sorry. You're not allowed to see your dying wife. Not in this state."

One moment everything was fine. You were in your stateroom on the cruise ship -- it was to be an anniversary cruise -- unpacking your things. The kids were in the adjoining stateroom playing with your wife. Suddenly, they banged on the door crying that mom was hurt.

So now you're in the hospital -- Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital -- waiting for word, and it's not coming. They tell you, Joe (we'll call you Joe), you can't be with her. You plead with them, to no avail. No, Joe, sorry, Joe, we can't tell you anything.

One hour turns to two, two to four, four to six. Your wife is dying, and no one she loves is there.

Finally, in the eighth hour, you reach her bedside. You are just in time to stand beside the priest as he administers last rites.

Your wife is dead. Her name was Lisa Marie Pond. She was 39.

It happened, Feb. 18-19, 2007, except that Pond's spouse was not a man named Joe, but a woman named Janice. And there's one other detail. Janice Langbehn who, as it happens, is an emergency room social worker from Lacey, Wash., says the first hospital employee she spoke with was an emergency room social worker. She thought, given their professional connection, they might speak a common language.

Instead, she says, he told her, ''I need you to know you are in an anti-gay city and state, and you won't get to know about Lisa's condition or see her'' -- then turned and walked away.

The next time someone asks you why you support equality before the law for gay and lesbian people, point them to this article.

My friend, Chris, points out that this editorial left out the most important part of the story:
Though Langbehn had documents declaring her Pond's legal guardian and giving her the medical ''power of attorney,'' Jackson officials refused to recognize her or the kids as family.
How many times have I heard it argued that gays dont need marriage or anything because they already have all the legal rights they need. So they argue that we are looking for special rights.

Personally, I'd like to see the nurse of doctor that would try to keep me away from Jim if he was in the hospital.


Chris said...

IF nothing else, this is the best reason for having legal rights as a couple...this is a tragic story, and not uncommon.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely prehistoric. And people wonder why there are riots. This makes me want to get out the torches & pitchforks.

Unknown said...

It's not the first couple I've seen go through this or something similar. It happened to two people I care about very much and when one died, his family swooped in and cut the other out in most ways.

It makes me think we need another Stonewall.

Anonymous said...

A news broadcast on this can be found here:


Click On My Name

Alec Clayton said...

At first I thought this happened in Lacey, Washington. I couldn't believe such a thing could happen here. But then I saw the woman was FROM Lacey but IN Miami. Still horrible, but a relief it wasn't here.