Over five and a half years ago I came out to my wife as a gay man for the second time. The first time was shortly after we met twenty five years ago. After painfully wrestling with the kind of life I wanted to live going forward, I made the decision to move out of my marriage. My wife and I separated over three and a half years ago.
Until my wife was diagnosed with cancer two months ago, I thought I was in the final stages of ending my married life and beginning a neww life with my partner. I went from planning my divorce to planning my wife’s cancer treatment. My wife’s battle with an aggressive cancer brought me back into her life, after three years and four months of separation. Her tumor was found the week before we were set to begin divorce mediation.
Somehow the tradition of thanksgiving, with the abundance of food, plates heaped full of food, a myriad of deserts, and that stuffed slick feeling later, has always seemed to me a very strange tradition. It is not that I do not like all the wonderful foods. Some of my favorite food traditions are at thanksgiving. It is just the abundance and “consuming mass quantities of food” that always seemed over the top to me.
I spoke last night to a close friend of mine and something he said took me by surprise. Like me, he came out later in life — me in my mid 50’s and him in his early 60’s. He is about sixty three now, handsome in a rugged way and in great shape. After a lot of soul searching, he chose to stay in his marriage, but agreed with his wife to open up the marriage so that he could date men. He has been dating a young man for the last year.
One of my favorite sci-fi books of all time is Dune by Frank Herbert. In one of the early riveting scenes, Paul Atreides, son of Duke Leto, is given the test of the gom jabbar by the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam. Without going into the details of what the test is – you will have to read the book — the purpose of the test is to know if Paul is human. If Paul is not human then he is an animal.
At the end of September, at 5:20 in the morning I got a call from my wife. “I am in the emergency room. They did a CT scan and found a mass in my abdomen.” “Do you want me to come to the hospital?” “Yes.”
There is real death, and then there is what I think of as, the little death. When I use this term I do not mean what people describe as, la petite more, a term that is tied to the feelings at the point of orgasm. I always think of, the little death, as it was described in the book Dune, by Frank Herbert. He writes in the Litany Against Fear: “I have no fear, for fear is the little death that kills me over and over. Without fear, I die but once.”