While I won't say that anything good came of Nancy and Linda's deaths, there has been one encouraging editorial in the Albuquerque Journal, which tends to be on the Fox News side of fair and balanced. This links to the original editorial, though to read it you have to subscribe to the Albuquerque Journal or watch an ad. Salient points are below, for those who hate that as much as I do:
- A friend of theirs wrote to me that same day and said, "They were a couple."
- The friend said they were crazy in love and would have gotten married in New Mexico if the state didn't prohibit it.
- That same day, an e-mail came from Martha Trolin in San Jose, N.M. She served on the board of the New Mexico Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance with Nancy Parker Davidson in the early '90s.
- "In all the years of civil rights work that I have done, I have come to see that is the accurate portrayal of our lives that most helps people to understand that we are human stories of families, struggles and victories, just like everyone else," she wrote. "Only it's harder because we don't have the same rights and protections available to other couples and families."
- A conservative cleric ran a familiar buzz phrase up the interview flagpole— "homosexual lifestyle." It is something of a propaganda standby, often called into service with its rhetorical cousin— "the homosexual agenda."
- The phrases are bandied about easily, as most empty, meaningless phrases are. I thought about them Monday morning at Nancy Parker Davidson's funeral, and again Monday afternoon at Linda Gilkey's funeral.
- The chapel was standing-room only. The talk was of love and loss.
- Linda's brother said Parker had brought happiness to his sister. People spoke often of that happiness. They used a word— "joy"— that you don't often hear. I don't know why. You just don't.
- Throughout each funeral, I thought about the gulf separating the realities of these lives from the easy slurs of those who would condemn them with such ease and certitude.
- The gap between the reality and the myth is groundless, irrational, and I doubt that I'll ever see it closed. Maybe we don't have it in us to close it.
- Linda Gilkey's memorial card had a picture of her on the front, head thrown back in a laugh, her two dogs on either side of her. Inside were words she found in a fortune cookie: "You always see better with your heart."
- It's a place to start.
I may do something all illegal and stuff and post the full article to a link unlikely to be found by web crawlers.
After posting the other day I went to the web site of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center just to see if what they said about themselves differed from Denny's depiction; Denny is not one to exaggerate, but given that this was his wife's life, I could see him reading more into the phone call than perhaps was there. He didn't. In fact, it wasn't until I found their billing explanation page that I saw anything about any sort of financial help. They are basically unapologetically and cheerfully a for-profit operation and once or twice toss in the notion that the money will help other patients. For those who do not live in Texas and meet federal poverty guidelines, financial assistance takes on exactly one form: payment plans. If further treatment is required, they reserve the right to ask for the balance to continue.
I thought it might be fun to coach Heather in Texan accents and get her an N-gallon hat, but wiser heads (namely Andy and Denny) nixed that one.
I talked to Denny the other day, however, and got a whopper of an update. IBC is a very rare breast cancer; of the ~200,000 to ~220,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed per year, five percent or less are inflammatory. With a population that small, information on what M.D. Anderson was pulling got out quickly. While M.C. Anderson is not government funded as a whole, the IBC clinic is. The upshot of this is that the clinic is trying to do damage control and is going to have to live with what happened for quite a while. People who were contacted by the M.D. Anderson sharks have been told to bypass the mother ship in future dealings with the IBC clinic, especially concerning billing.
Closer to home, Heather's oncologist has received/will receive a full briefing from the IBC medical types, and the trip to Texas is no longer necessary. He will discuss the prognosis and possible treatment options, if there are any new possibilities, with Heather and Denny in the coming week. Chances are that if treatment is Texas is recommended, travel and hotel costs will be the most pressing issue, instead of how much each consultation and biopsy, and treatment will cost.
Denny is pretty much considering this a lost battle, though he will do anything possible to change that if offered the opportunity. I've been sending them information as I get it, including the excellent comments by the anonymous person who has been following this from the start. Despite the grievous results of my last attempt at optimism, I'm actually hoping that something will come of the leads they're following.