No, I’m not watching The Academy Awards. Not that it doesn’t interest me. I used to be one of those people who saw every single film nominated, even the foreign and sometimes documentary. I love film, and I love story telling, but that love, those interests, are part of those things that have dropped by the wayside.
Friends and family are still often surprised. “Hey Dan, did you see..?” No. “Hey Dan, what film could you recommend?” Well, I haven’t seen anything, so I’m no longer the person to ask. I have no interest in going out anywhere these days. I have no interest in viewing other people’s lives.
But I do know one thing, they forgot to list one very talented actor from this year’s list of nominees.
Best Actor in a starring role….Dan!
This life that I am now leading is one that takes careful, and trained, execution. Before heading out each morning, I am already studying my lines. What will I say when asked how my weekend went? What will I say when other’s ask how I am doing?
Nobody where I now live and work ever knew my husband Michael. They never knew me when I was happy. They didn’t know me when I was on top of the world. They never knew me when I was filled with love.
At my last job I was the only person there who was widowed. Nobody had anything to compare me to, so I was a bit of an anomaly. At my current job there are two of us. A widow, and me. I remember not so long ago my office mate said that someone remarked to her that Dan seems to be handling the death of his spouse very well, and that I didn’t seem as emotionally fragile as my female counter part. My office mate looked at the person and said, are you serious? She went on to say that I put so much effort into getting through the day, but if you stop and take a good look at me, you will see the enormous pain just below the surface. And, if you follow Dan out to the parking lot at the end of the day, you will likely see him in tears.
You see, acting is a difficult profession. It requires you to stay in character through a sometimes very long and grueling day. When my day is finally over, I have to almost run out of the building, because my pain begins to ooze out of every pore.
When a new day begins, especially on a Monday after the weekend, I have to prepare something to share about how I spent my time. Explaining how many hours I actually sit and do nothing just doesn’t cut it. Talking about how many minutes a day are devoted to getting lost in memories of him, or getting thrown off by unexpected jabs to the heart, aren’t often what people want, or are prepared for, to hear.
And let me say this about my time at home. While I am often very honest with my kids about how much Michael is still on my mind, and in my heart, I cannot be falling apart around them all the time. Even though I have a starring role in my own life, I play a supporting role in theirs.
As a parent I have to be prepared to tend to their needs, and emotions, at any given moment. I have to be prepared to stop what I am doing, be it typing on this computer, or crying in my bedroom, and go cook them dinner, or rush them to the ER when they fall face forward from their bike and split their lip!
And somehow I do this with great finesse. Apparently, I’m one damn good actor, because no one around me thinks to ask if I’m needing any help? No one around me stops to think that what they say in front of me might make me feel hurt, or slighted. No one stops to realize that perhaps while they are off having wonderfully romantic, or exciting weekends together, I am at home, sitting on my couch, staring at this computer, or staring off in space.
What did I do this weekend? Not a damn thing. What did I feel this weekend? Sadness, loneliness, and that I really need to get my shit together. But, just once, wouldn’t it be nice to have some occasion to get dressed up for? I don’t need a red carpet, a fancy tux, or even a beautiful trophy. I just need a place where I don’t have to be acting. I need other people around who are interested in what is really going on with me.
Well, the night is still young, and the award show is still going, but I can tell you this much, I don’t win. Why? Well, because I am all about loss, right? I’m not on the winning side of life, at least I haven’t been for awhile now. It’s okay, I’ve come to accept it. I’ve learned to keep that ever present smile on my face just in case the camera quickly pans my way. And, just like the nominees that will go home empty handed tonight, I have to be a gracious loser. You know the drill: “Just be happy for what you had.”