“So, have you started dating again?”

The question came out of the blue about halfway through dinner with a friend I hadn’t seen for quite awhile. 

It caught me off guard but maybe it wasn’t as much of a non-sequitur as I thought at the time.

We had been talking about how I was getting along now that I was into my third year since the sudden cancer death of my partner Bill. Even though I have a wonderful network of friends, I carry an anxiety that they must be tired of hearing the same kind of response when they ask how I’m doing. It’s not a happy answer and I fear that it would throw a wet blanket over the socializing. So I don’t initiate the topic. They don’t often either, I suspect out of the very honourable intention of not wanting to upset me by leading me into the territory of mourningland.

But this friend was being persistent. So I described how, despite invitations to go elsewhere, I had spent Thanksgiving and Christmas Day at home making a turkey dinner, setting two places, and spending those memory-laden days alone; how I continued to go out to concerts, the opera, and theatre as Bill and I had done for decades but now I was sitting by myself; how I had been doing some socializing with friends but indeed spent the vast majority of my time at home reading, writing, and listening to music.

My mantra had become “solace in solitude”.

The “have you started dating again” question jarred me out of the memory reflection and thrust me around toward the future.

I cringed.

Many people have to confront this question having found themselves no longer in a relationship whether through the death of their partner or through a separation/divorce. I suspect that the prospect of entering the dating world again is intimidating for the vast majority of us.

I struggled to respond to my friend. Three issues raced through my head: a) a wounded, grieving soul like me hardly makes for a very attractive dating prospect; b) I can’t imagine summoning the energy to go through the process; and c) God I miss the affection, intimacy, and companionship of a special relationship.

So my response to his question was succinct: “No.”

I paused.

“Not yet at least.

* * *

My memoir “August Farewell” tells the story of the two weeks between Bill’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer and his death. Interspersed among the scenes are vignettes from our thirty-three years together as a gay couple.

Information on “August Farewell” and on my novel “Searching for Gilead” is available on my website at http://DavidGHallman.com

Both the memoir and the novel are available for order from your local bookseller or on-line retailers including http://amazon.com, http://barnesandnoble.com, http://amazon.ca, http://chapters.indigo.ca, http://amazon.co.uk

 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to ““So, have you started dating again?”

  1. This will sound terribly cliched, but I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through, and continue to go through. You and Bill were together almost as long as I’ve been alive.My partner’s grandfather passed away recently, aged 83. His wife of five decades died nine years previous, and he spent the next decade in near-seclusion. He no longer sat in the den that they’d built-on during the ’70s. He just slowly wasted away.At the end, my partner’s grandfather apparently had a conversation with a recently-widowed friend of his, and told him, "Don’t do what I did."I’m glad you still keep active, doing the things that you and Bill used to do together.I’ve sometimes wondered, as one does, about what would happen if I were single again. The prospect fills me with gloom. There is so much of my life, and so many places that I frequent and have visited, that is inter-twined with my partner, that it would be difficult to face them anew. Not impossible. Just…. difficult.But then, it happens to all of us someday. Very rarely do couples die together. At some point, we all have to face being alone. I hope, when the time comes, we can find "solace in solitude" as eloquently as you have, dear David.Peace to you.

  2. uvmer

    You aren’t alone in what you have written. I could have written most of it….and maybe because I haven’t reached 3 years quite yet but I still can’t even entertain the idea of someone else in my life ever….solace in solitude. My heart has been shredded. I don’t think it will ever heal enough to hold any other love. David, I am not happy that your writing reflects some of my feelings because I wouldn’t want that for anyone….but reading your post does make me feel a little better. Many of my friends can’t understand why I haven’t moved on. ~uvmer

  3. David, you take your time. When your ready you’ll be ready. I understand your still in pain and your choice is yours. Don’t be afraid to stay single, there’s nothing wrong with that.- Lenin

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