Saturday, August 21, 2010

When the dust settles.

Cape Town Paarl Fire

I'm struggling with the thought of what direction my writing should go. I tend to be one of those people who is always looking ahead, trying to map out somewhat of a direction. When I first started this blog, I didn't really know where it was going, or what I wanted to say through it. In a short time I realized that what would help me, and maybe others, was to commit to writing on a daily basis. I wanted to have a chronicle of my grief, with all of it's nuances, written for those that follow me on this path.

As a refresher of sorts, I came to this because I was looking for a widowed voice that sounded like mine. I looked for current writings from male widowers, and I was looking for writings from gay widowers. Unfortunately for me, there wasn't much out there. That is what led me to write something myself. September 13th will be the one year anniversary of Michael's death, but not the one year anniversary of beginning this blog. That date would be October 19th, which was our first wedding anniversary, which I celebrated without him. The one year anniversary of the "one year" commitment to write daily would likely be October 31st.

What I worry about is becoming a professional widower. Does that make sense? It's a touchy subject, as I have been party to some conversation about this on more than one occasion. While I am a widower, will I still be a widower if I were to remarry? Some would say that I was a widower, but if newly married I that just that, married. And no, I'm not getting remarried. At least not that I am aware of. Along this same frame of mind, would continuing to write about grief lead me to plant my feet a bit to firmly into the widowed ground? Can I truly move forward if I only identify as a widower? If I begin to write about other themes, would my readers feel like someone changed the channel when they left the room?

I sometimes already feel some of this self resistance building up within me. Like many others, I want to write a book. Not some book for a massive audience, but a book for people like me. So in beginning to write this book I have to think, who will read it, and what do I want to convey to them? I would have to say that in my adult life there have been two very significant "movements," if we were to describe it as music. There is the parenting portion of my life that has been quite challenging, yet one which I have used to help others in many arenas. I have done plenty of speaking about public adoption and gay parenting. I have also helped others in navigating the mental health system and special education system. As a husband, I have had significant experience in being a caretaker, and widower, all while navigating a system that is not necessarily gay friendly.

Maybe because I am raising kids with special needs, I don't have the luxury to focus all of my attention in one place. This could be a good thing, and this could be something that prevents me from ever accomplishing my own personal goals. Unfortunately, that has been the fall out of my adult choices. I rarely seem to have a period of time that is conducive to achieving these goals that I have set.

I feel like these past few years have been like an enormous forest fire. And now, after all this time, the ashes will begin to settle. Well, likely not. But I want to believe that my life can get easier, and that my time can be more self managed.

If the figurative dust begins to settle, what do I want to say?


  1. i think you should say what you wish to say day-by-day, or week-to-week, whatever time frame you choose to move through. as for what to call yourself as you make decisions, or your life changes, whatever you wish to be called, that is what i will call you. the lexicon that is growing up around widow(er)hood is ever changing. i'll address you as you wish.

    i think it's all an exploration albeit one none of us ever wished to be launched on. i think if you do finish and publish a book it will be one from an extraordinary man with a unique point of view; one whose thoughts and views on grief does not limit itself to only the gay community. you have a lot of female readers. i would buy your book.

    as for "the ashes" beginning "to settle." be the phoenix that i am having a hard time being. you have the force of will to rise from this with a grace that i am struggling to find in myself. you do it your way. it is the only one that will wear comfortably on your shoulders. as always, i wish you peace.

  2. I know that when the dust settles, you will know what you need to say. And I will definitely buy your book! You are a wonderful inspiration in so many ways. There are many people who need your wisdom in their lives.

    When you get on Oprah, will you save me a seat in the front row?

    Love Deb

  3. Dan, you have a gift and it would be unfair not to share it with others. I know that you will find your "way" or what you want to write. A little like a sculptor finds the statue in a block of granite. Love you, Boo xx

  4. Thank you my dear friends. I appreciate the encouragement.

  5. Somehow, I don't think you're in much danger of become a "professional widower". These last couple of months, the topics in your blog have gradually begun to branch out into new areas - explorations, so to speak. To me, it feels like you are beginning to go somewhere else with your writing. I suspect that, if you just keep writing, at some point your book will begin to take shape. For many writers, the book they had originally thought they would write, becomes something quite else. You may well find this happens to you. It seems to me that, at this point, the most important or helpful thing is to capture your thoughts, even as unpolished notes, so that you have something to refer to and work with later on. Save all of your writing, even if it doesn't "make the cut" and end up here on your blog. The other thing that I'm sure you'll find is that this story doesn't end here. No. This is just one point on a longer time line. Somewhere in the future, it will be up to you to pick the starting and end points on this time line - this story - as you begin to write your book. Maybe you're just not far enough on this time line to know those points just yet. Keep on keeping on and it will happen if it's meant to happen.

  6. I totally get that. When this first happened, I spent way too much time online, looking for anyone who sounded even a little like me. I am thankful that I've found my small group of comrades - while we don't share the same specifics, it's the orientation to this world, the way of seeing and living and relating in this world, that I find kinship in.

    And, when this first happened, people would tell me "you'll get better," to which I snapped - "why? because I'm further away from our life? the time when he was here? I'm so far away from what I love that I don't notice?" I hated reading blogs of people further along this road than me - it felt horrifying that anything other than this could occupy life. Even now, or maybe especially now, I resent even my own resilience. I know this - This - won't always be all of the real estate in me, and that freaks me out. Anyway, where I'm going with this, is that things shift and change, and for me, all I can do, all I can promise myself, is that I won't move away from myself. Whatever happens in how ever much time is left on this life, as long as I haven't left myself, or my truth, by the side of the road somewhere - that is all I can somewhat control. Whatever comes has its roots in this. No one else may recognize it, it may not have outwardly obvious ties to being a suddenly, accidentally, traumatically widowed being, but it will always be in here, inside and next to my core. Whatever is true is what will be.