Monday, July 12, 2010
Guess Who is Coming to Dinner?
I don't know why, but when I sat down to write this post, I thought of this title. Recently I was asked to be a guest blogger here on Widow's Voice, so here I am. This new world that I have become a part of is very strange. Sometimes I feel like my new peer group should be called something darker, like Knights of the Darkness, or The Left Behind. Let me introduce myself. My name is Dan, and I am a widower. Some of you may already be familiar with me, or my blog, Dan, in real time. My husband, Michael, died 9 months ago due to a brain tumor.
Michael and I had only been a couple for 1 1/2 years when he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Our lives changed immediately, and for the next two years we were on an amazing journey of love, illness, and death. When I think about the film, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," I think about the element of surprise, and about the misconceptions we have about each other. As we go about our daily lives, we often don't realize how insular we can become. I think we tend to find ourselves surrounded by those with whom we most identify. If we look around ourselves, we sometimes see that we have chosen people who are like minded, or have similar life experiences. When something like the death of a spouse happens, we are completely thrown off. Who is our peer group now? Suddenly those that understood us or those that we previously identified with are clueless. Of course this is not a slight against our friends, or family, it is just that we find ourselves dealing with issues that they haven't had to experience.
I have come to accept the limitations that come from being at this place. In my daily life, I am often in an environment where I am interacting with what most would consider my peer group, other gay men. Yet when I am approached for conversation, my peer group can be thrown off when I reply that I am neither single or in a relationship, but in fact widowed. I am not what they expected. Sometimes in my widowed interactions, which tend to be online, people can be thrown off when I state that I am widowed by the death of my husband, not my wife. Again, not necessarily what the other person expected.
So what's a new dinner guest to do? Frankly, just be myself. With time, I am finding that all I can do, and all I have the energy to do, is be myself. People will adjust, or they won't. They may do what I do when I meet someone new, listen, and try to find a bridge that connects us. Sometimes we find that we are a good fit, and other times we don't. Yet what I have found during this difficult time is that finding another widow(er) to sit with is rare. When I do find them, I focus on that which connects us. This experience of grief seems to supersede all other factors. So while I may initially be aware of that which makes us different, I have come to understand that what matters most is that which binds us.