Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sex, and the Widower

Male figure
Originally uploaded by dromidror

Okay, so now that we all have a good understanding of the current state of my body, let's move on to something a bit more interesting. Well, before we move on let me say this, while I wanted to share how grief can take it's toll on us physically, I meant for it to be shared with humor. I love humor, even in tough, difficult times. And if putting my ass out on the line (figuratively) helps, well then that is where my ass will be found. I don't want you all to think that I obsess about this, or that I hate my body, because I don't. I like who I am, give or take a few choice parts. But, I have to remind myself to show it some appreciation now and then, because nobody else is going to. I think I should plan some kind of self-pampering night. You know, wine and dine it. Who knows? I might get lucky!

This is the kind of thinking that goes on in this thick skull of mine. I miss not having Michael around to throw this kind of banter back and forth. I miss flirting. I miss kissing. I miss hugging. I miss sex, but there wasn't too much of that these past couple of years. Is this something appropriate to discuss?

When someone in a relationship gets cancer, it effects the other spouse/partner just as much. Our lives suddenly stop, we have to re-examine our plans for the present and future, and then modify our expectations, and try to move forward. While this is happening, there is little sleep, or too much sleep due to medication issues. There are countless appointments, and very unpleasant side effects from the chemotherapy to deal with. Now, tie all this up in a pretty little bow, turn to your imaginary spouse and say...Honey, want to get jiggy tonight?

When Michael was initially sick, he felt terrible about the fact that our sex life had disappeared. I told him not to worry, it will come back in time. It did, just not in the same way of course. There were times that I felt like having sex, or felt that I needed the type of intimacy that comes with sex, but Michael was in a different space. Then there would be times that he would want it, but my mind couldn't be furthest from feeling amorous, as I was balancing work, kids, Michael's appointments, and cancer research. We eventually had to talk about all this, as we were giving and receiving mixed messages. Suddenly one who used to initiate sex, didn't feel comfortable expecting it, and the other felt less attractive because of said illness, and didn't feel like he was wanted. What a big mess this was.

In time we learned to communicate better about our needs, both emotional and sexual. These days I have only myself to talk to. (imagine Barry White in the background) I say, 'hey Dan, you're looking mighty sexy tonight? Why don't you come over here so I can rub your shoulders they way you like it.' 'What kind of a guy do you think I am' 'Don't you know that I am a recent widower?' (music volume goes up slightly) 'Yes, I know you real well, I know what you want, I know what you used to get, and I know what you need.'

Well, let's suffice to say, that some nights I am easy. And, some nights I just give myself the cold shoulder. I never really know what I want. It all depends on the type of day I had. Was it a really low depressing kind of day? A day where I fought back tears all day long? Or was it a day reflecting on the wonderful memories of Michael and I. A day to walk among the romantic and loving days gone by.

Either way, I'm stuck dating myself. Now part of me says, hey, if I'm feeling so lonely, and just want to get laid, then go out and get laid. Michael could care less. Actually, Michael would likely encourage it. But that is not where I am at. I want Michael. I mean...I...want...Michael. Ya, in that way. I'm still human. I still lust over my husband. I would love to have his spirit or ghost, creep into our room at night, and just have his eerie way with me. Why not!

As you can see, I'm in quite a mood tonight. I'm having some fun with this. Maybe I should open this up for an question and answer portion of this post. Maybe not. I know that there are those, friends of mine, who are likely wondering, how long will he go without sex? Does his sex life end at 50? Should he be taking a vow of celibacy? Well, I was already walking down the celibacy path 25 years ago, and believe me, I don't want to revisit that.

Where the hell is all of this leading? To 'no where good' some would say. I'm up to no good. Again, that is actually not true. I am being good, too good, and chaste.

What is my point! I suppose my point is this. I am a man. I am a gay man. I am a 50 year old gay man. I am a 50 year old Latin gay man. I am a 50 year old Latin gay widowed man. I have needs people!

I need to get out a good book, crawl into bed wearing Michael's jammies, get a nice cup of tea and settle in for the night.


  1. Skin hunger and lusting over my dead husband, for whom I'd give anything to have him naked in bed beside me. Wow, do I ever get it. And do I ever miss him, in every way possible. Thanks for writing about this, Dan. Once again it's nice to know that I'm not crazy and alone :) In my feelings, that is. In my bed, I am alone, except for the memory of my sexy, loving husband.

  2. Hey Deb, I'm so glad you weighed in on this. No, you are not crazy, or if you are, you are in good company.

    This makes me want to scream from a mountain top, "I'm a sexual being, and I miss my sexy husband too!"

  3. I sometimes wonder if my husband's illness burnt out something in my brain. We had a wonderful relationship and physical intimacy, but by the time he was diagnosed with cancer, it had spread into his bones so badly that he was in pretty extreme pain most of the time. He couldn't sleep in a bed for almost a year. I made him a sort of nest out of layers of memory foam and down comforters atop a large recliner chair. Even with that, the pain was quite severe. About the most we could do was hold hands with me lying on the sofa next to him. We never actually talked about sex, and I never thought of it - perhaps because I just felt so sad. I still have a hard time remembering life before the cancer. My lack of memory for many things may be a survival mechanism. I guess I don't give physical contact much thought anymore - it seems very alien to me. That said, I think it would be nice to remember the past a bit better.

  4. i am embarrassed to write who i am but i wanted to weigh in. i miss sex with my husband.

    i was a virgin when i married my first husband, young with all the "white lace and promises" swirling in my head. he was a sociopath. he was a rough "minute man" who finally had enough of me when our son was born. he called me "stupid" and "ugly." my father refused assistance. no one believed me. he looks like a choir boy. i was still young and vulnerable enough to believe it was all my fault as he claimed so when i tried to "fix" my marriage, he became enraged saying he didn't like "forward women." there was choking and bruises. anyway i got his point. 16 years of celibacy and separate bedrooms later, the kids were growing up and moving out and i was afraid to be alone with him. i talked with my priest and got a divorce and annulment with the church's blessing.

    enter my husband, my real husband. the one who died. he kissed each of my scars. he taught me about love. sex was four and five times a week during our years together. such bliss. so much love. he is a force of nature and he carried me along with him in his arms and the ride was worth this fall.

    we had sex the night before he died. so suddenly. so horribly. now i'm without him and i miss him. i'm in such pain. and yes, i want him. i miss sex. but i only want him. i couldn't imagine risking the exposure of my skin, of my equally scarred heart. there really can be no one else on the planet to whom i could connect and reveal my story again. there is only my soulmate who could have healed me. so sex, making love, is only in my dreams, and my dreams are only of my love.

    i'm sorry. i know you intended humor and lightness but for me, sex has a negative history. however, making love will always be associated with my handsome husband in who strength equalled gentleness and generosity. i miss him. i want him. he's not coming back.

  5. "Have his eerie way with me". . . . that made me giggle out loud =)

    There have been a couple of times in the shower where I almost feel a cool 'breeze' behind me, and I'm sure it's Elias coming in to join me.

    Elias was my one and only - ever. So it's really tough for me to imagine any form of intimacy with any one else. Yet, not just sex, but true intimacy (which, obviously can include sex) is such a valuable part of life I can't imagine not experiencing that kind of trust, passion, and love ever again in my life. I miss that so very much. This is what I crave, but I still only crave it with Elias.

    I also hate that I can't remember with certainty the last time we had sex. I'm 'pretty' sure I know it, but for whatever reason, I wish it was something I could remember clearly. I know it wasn't in the last month because we were living at his parents house, sleeping in the same room with our girls, and dealing with his declining health and daily naturopathic appointments, while I was still working and looking after the girls, and researching cancer treatments - and as you know that's a lot of work in itself.

    I generally keep pretty private about such matters (I hope my parents don't click the link to your blog from mine on this one!), but, like with everything else, it helps to share these types of things too. Thanks for putting it out there, because it's honest and real.


  6. Well Dan, As you can see from all the comments, this is certainly a popular sentiment, (all too popular, it would seem). My commentary is far too long to put here, so I'm creating a new page in my blog Chuck's Life, Continued.
    With Love,
    Bill in NH

  7. How refreshing and fun to be talking about this. I wish we were all together sharing a drink, laughing and talking about this "naughty" topic. The last year of my husband's life, we only had sex once because he was so ill. Then it was another 2 1/2 years of celibacy. I never want to go back to that again.

    Sex is a sacred, precious gift. I took it so for granted when I was married. I missed it terribly when it was gone from my life. In fact, wanting sex again is why I reentered the dating scene.

    It is kind of sad that sex is one of those taboo topics. No one seems to want to acknowledge that our sex lives go out the window along with everything else that was lost.

    I love that you put this out there!

  8. I'm so glad that so many of you visited my blog, and shared your thoughts on this sensitve subject. I want to especially thank my anonymous contributor, and welcome you.

    There are so many factors that contribute to our understanding and expression of sexual intimacy. Unfortunately, negative experiences are part of those. It is heart-warming to know that in some cases, a loving relationship can heal some of those wounds.

  9. Before widowhood, I believed that sex was something exclusively shared with someone you loved....Now I believe it is possible to have sex with someone for purely physical needs. I don't think any of our dead spouses would begrudge us the comfort and joy that a 'romp' would do us as long as it didn't hurt us emotionally in the long run.
    I think it's a shame that as widow/ers we are so shy about talking about this need to be touched. Fear of judgement, lack of understanding and guilt make it a 'taboo' subject and I despise that we are so concerned about this that we don't provide comfort for each other by dicussing this corner of widowhood. To let each other know that we aren't alone in these sentiments.
    So, thank you Dan for talking about this. I loathe the stereotype of a darkly clad grim-faced woman as a widow. I am a lonely, but smiling woman who didn't die when my beloved did. I am lucky to have had him. But I need to life awhile longer and think it would be such a waste to lay down and believe my life is over. I want to remember what life with him taught me and feel joy and laughter along with the sorrow.
    (This has turned out to not be just a 'comment'. Sorry. Rather longwinded...)
    Thanks again, Dan.

  10. Hi Jackie. I also thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I am pleased that so many are finding this discussion helpful. We know, more than ever before, that life is too short to be confined by such limitations. I have been feeling the need to "flesh this out" for some time, and am glad that other's like yourself are willing to participate.