The Story Of Steven And Will

Steven and Will were long-time partners; they had a successful business together and a loving, caring, devoted relationship.

For some much-needed rest and relaxation, the pair planned a weekend getaway to Palm Springs.  They drove down after work one Friday night, checked into the resort and then grabbed a late dinner in town.  Once back at the hotel, the work week caught up with Will, who decided to head back to the room and catch a movie on TV.  Steven wasn’t yet ready to turn in, so he threw on his swim trunks and went out to the hot tub.

A few hours later, Will awoke with the TV still blaring in the background.  He turned off the set and immediately noticed that Steven had not yet returned to the room.  Concerned, he slipped on his shoes, grabbed his room key and went out to the hot tub to take a look.  Will got there, and Steven was gone, so he headed to the front desk to see if Steven had gone in there.  That’s when Will ran into the security guard who was making a late-night pass around the grounds.  The security guard told Will that he had indeed seen Steven; he’d found him face-down in the hot tub several hours earlier.  The security guard called 911 and pulled Steven out, but, since Steven had no ID, neither he nor the hotel knew whom to contact.

The paramedics rushed Steven to the closest hospital; that was all the security guard knew.  Will went there immediately.  When he got to the hospital, he learned Steven was hooked up to life support.  Will got that information second hand, however; Will wasn’t able to see Steven because he had no legal documentation stating that he was anything other than a friend to Steven.  Officially, the hospital would not give Will any information nor provide him with access to Steven because the couple were not registered domestic partners and weren’t married.  Furthermore, Steven didn’t have an advance healthcare directive stating who could make decisions for him were he to become incapacitated.

Steven’s family was contacted – they live across the country and were not able to be there physically, although they were able to make healthcare decisions on behalf of Steven.  Fortunately, Steven’s family was not only aware of Steven’s relationship with Will, but they were in full support of it.  That being the case, Steven’s family authorized Will to visit Steven and to make medical decisions on behalf of Steven.

The physicians on call informed Will that Steven had suffered a stroke and then fallen into the water.  The doctors went on to say that Steven’s injury was grave; because of his time without oxygen, he lost all brain function and was in a vegetative state.  Luckily, Steven’s family were very supportive, and they not only decide to give Will access to Steven while at the hospital; they told him he could call all the shots in the future, and they had the legal paperwork drawn up to that effect.  Despite the fact that Steven’s family were devout Southern Baptists, they supported their son’s choice in being gay and being with Will, so they supported Will in doing whatever he wanted with regards to Steven’s ongoing care.  Unfortunately, they had no idea of the left turn that Will would take, wracked with guilt, at Steven’s now persistent vegetative state.

Will felt horrible about having let Steven go to the hot tub alone; he blamed himself for Steven’s accident, believing that if he had been there, he could have acted immediately when Steven had the stroke and that immediate action could have saved his life partner.

Carrying the load of self-imposed blame, Will decides not to listen to what the doctors had told him about Steven’s inability to recover.  He had procedure after procedure performed on Steven – many of them experimental and all of them high-cost.  From hyperbaric chambers to stem cell treatments to faith healers, Will proclaims he will never give up until Steven is revived.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.  Two years have gone by, and Will had now gone through his life savings, he’d lost the house that he and Steven shared, and the business the couple built was barely limping along.  At that point, Will tried to get control of Steven’s finances – Steven’s money was still in a bank account that was Steven’s name alone – so Will could get control of the money to pay Steven’s ever-mounting bills.  Steven’s bank flatly refused.  In order for Will to have control over Steven’s money, a conservatorship had to be initiated to have Will named as Steven’s conservator.

Steven’s family remains supportive, although they are distraught to see what’s happened to Will and to the life that Steven and Will built.  Steven’s family maintain that Steven would want to be allowed to simply die, but Will will not hear of it; after all, to him it’s his fault that their son is in the state he’s in.

When Will attempted to be named conservator of Steven, there was no opposition from Steven’s family, but it entailed a four to five month court process so that Will could be allowed to pay Steven’s expenses from Steven’s own account.  All the while, Will continues to incur court fees and attorney fees.  Finally, Will was awarded conservatorship of Steven, but he is relegated to be managed heavily for doing so.  For the duration of the conservatorship, Will is mandated to file regular accountings with the court, so they’re clear that he’s only paying Steven’s bills with the money.  Will finally had a victory, but at what cost?

Because Steven didn’t have in writing anything answering questions such as does he want his life prolonged or to simply be allowed to pass away, Steven’s wishes will never be known, let alone honored.  Where are Steven’s wishes in all of this?  It’s now going on three years.  Will is still in a state of denial that Steven is going to somehow pull out of it even through the doctors assure him it will never happen.  This all happened because Steven and Will failed to have a conversation about their wishes and about the principle of being kept alive at all costs.  They failed to have that conversation and failed to have an estate plan in place, and there is an immense cost that everyone has paid as a result.  The once-close relationship between Will and Steven’s parents is now underJessdably strained, and the life that Will and Steven created is gone.  While Will simply waits and hopes…


The stories, all names, characters and incidents portrayed or appearing on this website are fictitious.  No identification with actual persons, living or dead, or any similarity to any places, buildings, institutions or actual events is intended or should be inferred.  Any resemblance to the aforementioned is purely coincidental.