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Ovation: Together 60 Years, Married For One, Dead Within Two Weeks.


We’ve all met them … Couples that have been together for so long that each partner has lost his or her identity and become half of the larger whole.  Couples that have been married for decades enjoy a shared identity that defines their love and their life together.  As they get older, it often becomes difficult to imagine one of them going on without the other.  They complete each other in so many ways that to remove half of the relationship might leave the other half to founder.

And this happens.  It’s not at all unusual for an elderly surviving partner to pass just a short time after the love of their life leaves them.

“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.” – Winnie the Pooh

Recently, one such couple passed away just two weeks apart.  Their story is different because they were a gay couple.  Shaun O’Brien, a dancer for forty years with the New York City Ballet, died at the age of 86 on February 23rd and his husband, Cris Alexander, a Broadway actor and photographer, died on March 7th.

When marriage equality was brought to New York State last year the couple, who had been together for more than sixty years, realized their dream of marriage.  The two had shared a Victorian house in Saratoga Springs and will be missed by all their friends and neighbors.

“If there is a cause of death, it’s a broken heart.  It’s as simple as that.” – Jane Klain, Friend

Hopefully, we’ll all be afforded long and happy lives spent with those that we love and that other long-term couples will have the chance to lawfully dignify their relationship like Alexander and O’Brien did before it’s too late.

At my house, I like to think that I have “dibs” on being the first to go.  We don’t talk about it, but I can’t bear the thought of being left behind.  Just like Winnie the Pooh.

Copyright © 2012

From → Ovations

  1. I work with the elderly and it is so sad to see a wife or husband left behind with a broken heart. What is also sad is one gets dementia and forgets their partner. I cared for a couple where one had severe dementia and the other was moderately but pleasantly confused. They both lived in the same nursing home but in different areas. Whoever thought this was a good idea should not be working with seniors, but I digress. The man would come and sit with her and hold her hand. One day I heard him say to her, “I sure miss living with you, Mary”. They had been married over seventy years when he finally died.


    • I couldn’t survive in your line of work. I once had a friend who worked in a nursing home and, like this one, the stories that he told broke my heart. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Such a bittersweet story.


  3. Tim permalink

    WOW! Can you imagine living your entire life in love with someone and not being able to marry the person you love.. Such a sweet story..There are a lot of hetro couples that could take some lessons from their gay counter parts.


  4. Wow, to have that kind of love must be awesome.. my aunt and uncle were married for 60 years and died within 4 weeks of each other..


  5. This is a heartwarming story of true love!


  6. The Old Heave Ho permalink

    Thanks for sharing this story. They are proof that there are gay couples that don’t fit even close the stereotypes heterosexual people may try to imply


  7. The world needs more love stories like theirs…. especially in today’s world of disposable relationships


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