What do you do when your spouse of 10 years — the person you’ve spent a decade sharing spiritual, intimate and intellectual moments with — is suddenly lying unconscious on her deathbed?
If you’re Catholic, you make sure her body is anointed with oil. You kiss her goodbye, even if you have to force the doctors to remove the breathing tube, and you slide the wedding ring gently off her finger and whisper a promise to take care of it forever.
That’s what Charlene Strong did on Dec. 14, 2006, after torrential rains flooded the Seattle home she shared with Kate Fleming, leaving her partner trapped and dying in her basement studio. But first, hospital administrators had to call a relative of Fleming’s to get permission for Strong to bid farewell the way the couple would have wanted.
‘’They were willing to take the word of someone on the phone, 300 miles away,” Strong said. “Who knew her allergies? I did. Her knew what her wishes were? I did.”
With the family’s blessing, Strong was able to see her partner one last time. But the battle continued, she said, when the funeral director refused to allow her to make final arrangements.
That’s when Strong decided that she would do whatever she could to make sure other same-sex couples would have equal rights in Washington state.
It is an emotionally powerful story, and one that brought tears to the eyes of many of the 200 or so students, faculty and community members at Gonzaga University Law School where Strong recounted it on Monday (Oct. 29).
more at – The Washington Post.
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