Alex Wood, Widower Alex Wood's life changed in 1980, when Kirk Shreve entered his Ithaca, New York, optometry office sporting some funky fake-wood eyeglass frames and looking for contact lenses. There was a spark, a synergy between them that they both picked up on, and they quickly began a relationship that ended abruptly 26 years later when Kirk died suddenly of a heart attack. Says Alex, “I’m still very much in love with this guy. We had quite a relationship for 26 years.” “Kirk was a funeral director, so he taught me well that life is a precious thing. Each day is a very special event and we don’t know if tomorrow is necessarily going to happen. For him, it didn’t one day and I’m sort of living with that at this point. But it was an easy thing for 26 years to go by and we had fun together.” When asked about the secret of staying together so long, Alex, without a moment’s pause, is quick to explain: “It shouldn’t be much work. If it’s wonderful, it should be really nice to keep a relationship together. We had a wonderful time with each other. Each day was always an amusing event. We always had fun. There certainly has to be some sexual attraction, but then you have to be best friends as well. You have to like being with each other and make each day a fun time. Communication is part of the miracle of staying together for 26 years. We could talk about anything with each other.” Same-sex marriage was not legal in New York until after Kirk’s death, but the men exchanged rings, which they wore on the ring fingers of their right hands. They reasoned that being gay, they should adopt a different visual expression of their love. Although marriage was not in the picture for Alex and Kirk, parenting certainly was — parenting, that is, of their beloved Pug dogs, Abner and Waldo, pictured here with Alex. When they went to pick the puppies up, they brought them home in style — in a limousine. (On a personal note, two years after photographing Alex at Kirk’s brother’s lake house in Deposit, New York, I would marry my partner, Allison, on that same spot.) Always fun-loving, the couple celebrated many an occasion with large parties that resembled a wedding reception, gay and straight friends and family in attendance, but never had an actual ceremony. When Kirk’s parents questioned the possibility of one day marrying, their son’s reply was, “Well, there’s a big problem with that. There wouldn’t be a church big enough in Ithaca to hold my veil.” Not all gay couples enjoy the love and support of each other’s families. Alex and Kirk were fortunate in being surrounded by loving and supportive siblings, parents, and friends. During a time when Kirk was dealing with some rough personal issues, his parents presented Alex with a necklace, given in “appreciation of their love for each other and for our friendship and relationship.” To this day, Alex wears it every day.