During the hospitalization in September 2004 when we found out that my life partner, Margaret Ardussi, was dying, one of the nurses commented to me on our devotion to one another and then said, “I’ve only seen that level of devotion from gay couples.”
I believe that legalizing gay marriage will strengthen the institution, not weaken it. And my perception is that we have to let the world see more of our devotion to one another to win the right to marry legally. Pictures have a power that words do not, and love has a power beyond pictures to reach into people’s hearts to open them so that we may have the legal structure of marriage, to protect the one of devotion that we make for ourselves because the power of our love for one another is so strong and transforming that to do anything else would simply tear our hearts out.
I’ll tell more of the story in words later, but today I am telling it in photos. I don’t have many — we didn’t often have money to spare for getting photos developed.
I met Margaret Ardussi on June 30, 1984, in Fairfield, Iowa, when I came to stay at the house where she rented a room for a World Peace Assembly at Maharishi International University (now Maharishi University of Management) for people practicing the TM-Sidhi program. Margaret had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1980 and was too disabled to work. I was an unemployed writer. She was eloquent, well-educated, cultured, the kindest person I’ve ever met in my life and I felt like I’d held her image in my heart all my life and at last I’d found her. I was 30 and she was 43.
If you want to know how it is possible for a couple to go through the kind of adversity you do with a progressive illness like multiple sclerosis — Margaret became paralyzed from T-5 in April 1992 and was quadriplegic by 1994 — plus, I had a progressive condition, too, that almost killed me in 2003 — and still have the bliss and radiance that you can see in our faces in the photos below, then I have a few tips.
First, when you argue with one another, and you realize you are wrong, besides having the ability to know when you are wrong, you also must be able to say, with kindness, “You were right, dear, AND, I was wrong.” It’s the second phrase that does the most healing.
Second, every day, every single day, say to her, “I thank God for you in my life! I am so fortunate to be with you! I love you with all my heart and you are the most beautiful woman in the world TO ME.” (It’s the “TO ME” that sells the truth of the statement.)
Margaret died on December 7, 2004, in our home under hospice care with me at her side of a stroke and complications of multiple sclerosis. In the last photo below, the bandage on the bridge of her nose is for a pressure sore from her respirator mask, which was almost completely healed by the time she died. Before the stroke took her ability to speak, her last words to me were, “I love you.”