When the one you need most is no longer there–

I have not lost the person dearest to my heart, but I imagine how difficult such a loss must be when the one person who could help moderate your grief is the one who is no longer there.

Since my niece’s death in 2014, LV Jordan, my niece’s long-term partner and wife of two months, has struggled with kidney disease that threatens her life. She has a supportive family and many friends, but she is still grieving for the one who could best comfort her. LV’s kidneys–earlier judged to be perfectly healthy–failed one month after my niece’s memorial service.

LV seemed amazingly strong and composed through my niece’s pain and decline, but caring for a loved one often affects the other’s health. Now she desperately needs a kidney.

I must tell you about this remarkable couple. I recently received a copy of their first photo together, which I believe was featured in The Washington Post. The year was 1993, and they’d come with different Chicago-area friends to the Gay Rights March on Washington. They connected immediately and never looked back. Challis.LV.marching

My niece said their photo was printed in the Post because not only were they gay, they were black and white. I said while that might be true, they also were very good-looking, which always helps get a photographer’s attention. 🙂

An LV design original.

Twenty years later, my niece and LV made news again: they were the second same-sex couple in Illinois to be granted a marriage license. The state had earlier voted to approve same-sex marriage, but the law was not to take effect for several months. The first married gay couple also included an individual who was terminally ill. After that, the state lifted the waiting period and others were granted licenses.

The fact that my niece and LV were opposites in other ways seemed to make for a great relationship. My niece was comical and analytical (a computer systems analyst), a super-positive woman who let very little stand in her way. LV is sweet and loving, an artist with a great sense of color and fashion. My niece was very proud of LV’s talent: she makes one-of-a-kind couture knits of natural fibers. Her work can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/lvjordandesigns.

LV would like to get well enough to continue working, but says she has no stamina. Since April of 2014, she has been hospitalized more than six times, and undergoes dialysis three times a week. She is on the kidney transplant list.

This summer LV got strong enough to carry out my niece’s request to have her ashes spread in Canada’s French River, where her family spent many fishing vacations. The owner of the Crane’s Wilderness Lodge knew Challis Gibbs (my niece) and her family well, and was touched that she wanted the French River to be her final resting place.

It’s sad that couples who love and rely on each other cannot end their days at the same time, but inevitably, one must go on alone.  My niece would be so proud of LV’s struggle to live and work again.

Happy Birthday, LV, and many-MANY more!

Transplant program, Rush University Medical Center

Information about live kidney donation

The 20th anniversary of the LGBT March on Washington