And yes, if you're keeping score at home, I'm alluding to Langston Hughes's poem, "Let America Be America Again"--read it. And yes, I did do the proper thing by adding an apostrophe and "s" to the end of Hughes. Firefox spell check be damned!
Anyway, I feel the weight of too many expectations these days. I'm "that guy," the one whose wife died in April, the one who has three kids, the one we feel sorry for but don't talk to for long in the line at the store because, quite frankly, we don't know what to say to him and it makes us uncomfortable to try. I recognize there are expectations for a grieving husband, even though every single book on grief I've touched states each individual's grief is unique, not some perfect lock-step schedule. The books started sounding like a legion of broken records, so I set them aside in late April.
I'm taking two classes at the Lawrence Arts Center. The first, Silkscreen, met on Monday for the initial session. I've always enjoyed creative outlets--and once upon a time I spent a year as an art student on my way to a career as art therapist.
Here's what I enjoyed about the class:
I was just another dude in the room. I didn't recognize anyone, and if they knew me (or Aimee), I was none the wiser. How refreshing.
I'm tired of being "that guy." Aimee and I carried each other in many ways during our 10+ years of marriage. Any relationship has a public and private side--a good friend once told me, quite directly, that I am "that guy" whether I like it or not. He's right, but I still weary of it. I know I will always be "that guy," at least in a small sense. I will always be the guy who loved Aimee and tried to do the best by her, tried to care for her in her darkest times.
No--take out the "try". There's no space for "try". I did the best I could for her; I cared for her through some dark, dark days. It's a little red badge of courage and love and commitment and I'll wear those scars with pride until I fly away one day.
But part of me must eventually move forward from here. I need to be more than that guy--I am more than him.
The dream will never be what it used to be, but it can be more. It can grow, fertilized well by my time with Aimee.