The preliminary police report rendered me dead upon impact.
A drunk driving a Marathon cab fitted with an extended, reinforced steel bumper had broadsided us. He was clocking up to 70 in a 30-mph zone when he ran a red light and collided with the VW Bug I was easing into a parking spot as Liz sat next to me in the suicide seat.
The impact was ferocious. While peripheral vision allowed me a glimpse of my killer, there was no other warning. No screeching of brakes. No screaming of pedestrians. No sense of impending doom. Just a mild feeling of astonishment before whispering, “Oh my God, I’m dead.” That’s what I said.
Our car was ripped apart (lengthwise) from hood to trunk, welding the sheared pieces to the front end of the taxi. Twenty feet away, our flung wreckage had come to a halt at the entrance of a branch bank. I hung down twisted and broken through the remains, my face hovering just above the pavement, my auburn curls resembling a red rag mop.
Most gay couples are drawn and quartered by such tragedy. They’re impeded by laws awarding jurisdiction to distant family members. They’re intimidated by protocol and prodded by propriety. Their feelings and wishes are summarily dismissed as irrelevant. Barred from the ambulance. Excluded from intensive care. Denied decision-making.
“She’s my sister,” Liz lied emphatically. It instantly ended any question of her authority.
The first time she lied was to the officers who barricaded the wreckage, then tried to restrain her from reaching back for me. They’d dragged her clear, insisting I was beyond help.
How she broke loose, and what transpired is a wonder.
I must have responded to the energy of her touch. I must have been warmed to the blending of her tears in my stone-cold eyes. I must have sensed the silent incantations of her heart imploring mine to hold the course of ‘us’ as one, against all obstacles and odds.
“Hey, babe!” I breathed.
Her second lie was to the ambulance attendants. The third, to emergency room doctors. The fourth, to nurses. And then to technicians, aides, and investigators. She didn’t hesitate to claim me as her sister, knowing involuntary deceit had long been coerced from gays in lieu of being banished and public humiliation.
Lies were once our only conceivable lifeline.
Fortunately, I was a corporate executive for a large conglomerate. It gave me special insurance privileges that provided her with unlimited hospital access. She stayed in my room. She partook in every detail of my care and was privy to all my medical information. My doctors consulted her. My nurses kept her updated.
Nevertheless, when it came to certain courses of action, not everything suggested was automatically allowed.
It’s because (even now) most lesbians mistrust the medical profession. We cringe at the prospect of contact with male doctors. We shy to probes pertaining to our personal lives and intimate behavior. And, even though many older women entered conventional relationships in an effort to hide their true sexual identities, there are vast numbers of lesbians who have never engaged in intimacy with a man. Women who know being gay goes far beyond an aversion to heterosexual sex; that the differences in our genetic codes include a wiring that circuits a deep-seated aversion and basic incompatibility with all dominant aspects of the opposite gender.
It’s as if (equivalent to the distinction found between Asian and African elephants trumpeting in the night) science will someday discover that we, too, are a similar — but different — species.
So it came as no surprise to Liz when I refused to be catheterized, even though catheterization was necessary to save me. Regardless of the brutal total body trauma I suffered, this perfectly natural anomaly had triggered my sense of dignity, demanding decorum. Only the empathy and courage of a surgical nurse named Christine could clear the emergency room of male doctors and provide me with the symbiosis I needed to survive.
THE ABOVE EXCERPT IS FROM:
Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019
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This freshly updated essay by Marguerite Quantaine first appeared in the third person in The St. Petersburg Times (2008) and Venus Magazine in the first person (2010). Copyright by M. Quantaine © 2008 / 2010 / 2013.
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I’m all eyes and heart.