Monday, April 18, 2011

Ranting & Raving. But Not Mad.

Portrait Colin Rave

I sat earlier in the week in my parent's living room. I watched as my mother struggled to move about the house with her walker. I watched as my father tried to anticipate her every move. I saw how carefully he has to think about where she will sit, and will she feel comfortable there. I sat as she talked about her pain. I sat as her thoughts became confused, and I wondered where she was drifting to. I saw the look in my father's eyes, fatigue, frustration, worry, concern. I saw how he jumped up when my mother decided she needed to move back toward their bedroom, how he was right behind her so that she would get there safely.

I sat there thinking, "I know the drill. I know these trials. I know where they are headed." Something is very wrong with this picture. Why is it that their son is sitting there having already lived through a significant part of life, and is now watching his parents follow in his footsteps? What the fuck happened?

I sat there wondering what each of my brothers were doing at the time. They were likely each arriving home from work, meeting up with their wives, and preparing for their dinner together. There were probably not even giving it a second thought, taking for granted that they have lived the charmed life, and feel safe and secure in their relationships. I'm sure they think of our parents, and marvel at how wonderful it is that our parents have been happily married for 55 years. They are likely telling themselves that they are well on their way to having this same experience.

I on the other hand, am sitting on the couch, alone, having lived through a relationship/marriage, that lasted only three and a half years. Looking at statistics on marriages, anyone would not be surprised by this number. It is likely that most relationships don't even last that long. Some people likely looked at my relationship and thought to themselves, how sweet, it is almost like a marriage. They probably were surprised that I had what appeared to be a very conventional relationship for a gay man. They are probably thinking that I should be happy for what I had.

Who am I kidding? They are likely not even giving me a second thought.

What's in the past is in the past. Right? I'm the guy who looks like he just bounced right back. Right? I'm the guy who always comes out on top. I'm the guy who has done so much for the gay widowed community. I'm the guy who is always thinking of everyone else.

Well, obviously, I'm also the guy who still resents the hell out of life. I'm the guy who's relationship ended in death.

Am I moving forward as they say? Hell yes. Do I have a choice?

I feel like all I do is field phone calls from all my family members, letting me know how every one's life is going each day. They want my advice. They want to make sure I am kept up on all the latest news, concerns, and special events that are taking place all around me. And oh, how are things going for you?

Would it matter what I said? The answer is no. When asked how my weekend went, I usually say the same thing, nothing much happens around here. When asked how the kids are doing, I say well, life is still very complicated for them. When asked how I am feeling, or how am I getting through life without Michael, oh, how silly of me, nobody asks that.

But I'm okay. I have accepted my fate. I am forever grateful for what I have. I am looking forward to all the good things that are coming my way. I am storing up a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and empathy, that will all be put to good use one day. I know that a new love is right around the corner for me. I know that God is going to reward me. I know that God doesn't give me more than I can handle. I know that there is something fantastic in store for me. I just have to be optimistic.

Well, at least that's what they say.


  1. I got right over “what they say” as my grief stretched into the third year. Healing and accepting the New Normal takes whatever form and length of time it takes and that’s all there is to it.

    Hug for you Dan, feel the compassion.

  2. I've only just begun my "widow's walk", as I call it and have just recently found this website and already am hooked on it. You are so right on with your blog, and I appreciate your doesn't matter how we got here, people don't want to acknowledge our grief because then they may have to think about their own...I think that's the hardest part for me, so far, and I am grateful that you can write what I can't say!! Thank you...

  3. So glad someone else was in my head this morning besides me, Dan. Yep, I get it, completely. I often look at people looking at me and wonder if they are thinking about my dead husband, and then realize that my children and I have the honor of being the "keepers of the memories". It's like walking around with this shadow next to me all the time. I understand that life goes on for everone else, but it still sucks big time. Your last paragraph just brings a smirk to my face. Oh, the words of wisdom for a grieving spouse! Thanks again for a great post.

  4. jeez - that last paragraph. You had me confused there for a second. :)

    Year two really blows, no?

  5. Just know that you are not alone in your pain. There are many of us who understand and are having many of the same issues as you. Its a very lonely place, I wish I could spend time with you and we could share our grief together. Blessings, and love, and hope are sent your way.

  6. Well, you really don't have a choice about moving on because life simply doesn't have that option, but if i did - would you choose not to?

    I think sometimes the reason that others move on before us is to leave us with no refuge and force us to follow at some point. But it's unfair to say they don't notice, care or realize how difficult catching up can be. I've had many a family member or friend remark that they could see very well what was going on with me but simply didn't know what to do or say to help.

    And I know that some will take exception with that and have a laundry list of things people can do or should/shouldn't say but the reality is that even if someone followed it to the letter - their widowed family or friend would still find something to fault them on. It's a lose/lose game for the non-widowed - damned if they do or don't.

    My father died 2 years after my late husband and I watched my mother play caregiver. It's not as uncommon as one would think. It happens. We are lulled into believing that life has certain order and progresses accordingly but life is not ordered at all.

    You don't have to optimistic all the time or even ever, but I found it helpful. You just need to find the balance that works for you. It takes time, but eventually it happens.

  7. Dan, you are so right! No one else, but us think about this. I was just thinking about how I would describe myself, cautiously optimestic! If that makes any sense! I hope things go better for you and all of us.