Vince and Jake had been life partners for over fifteen years. Now, Jake lie beneath a maze of tubes as Vince squeezes the man’s cold hand. Tearful, Vince turns to the doctor and asks, “Are you sure?” The heart monitor injects a rhythmic impulse to the room.
“Yes, it’s quite unlikely that he’ll recover.”
Vince stares out the dark window. His reflection is superimposed over the glittering city lights from several stories below. There is no moon tonight. “That’s what you said last week,” says Vince, wondering why Dr. Dearheart doesn’t have an idea how much longer the waiting will be prolonged.
Dearheart places a hand on Vince’s shoulder as he glances at Jake’s chart, searching for answers. Then he stares Vince squarely in the face. “I know this isn’t easy for you.”
“We’re partners; can’t I make his wishes known? He didn’t want to live like this.”
“I believe you, but the law says that his next of kin makes the decision to cut life support. In this case, that’s his mother, and she wants Jake to be kept alive.”
“He’s not alive,” Vince says. Jake’s mom had been the source of so many painful nights, holidays, and birthdays—all when Jake missed her most. Vince would have done anything to reunite them if he had that power. “His mother cut contact with him years ago, when she found out about us. This is unfair. Jake and I had a pact. I made a promise to him.”
“I understand.” The doctor closes the metal cover on the medical chart.
“Can you leave us alone for awhile?” Vince can’t look the doctor in the eyes.
Dearheart hesitates before replying, “All right.” He steps out of the room and pulls the door closed.
Vince kisses Jake’s hand. “I love you,” he says as he pulls an orange pill bottle out of his coat pocket and empties the contents into his palm. With a gulp of water from the bedside table, Vince swallows. Relaxing onto the bed, he snuggles up alongside Jake and wraps his arms around his frail body. The end won’t be long now. On his final breath, he whispers to Jake, “You can let go now. I’m coming too.” Then his head buries itself against Jake’s neck.
Not long after, alarms on the monitors activate.