My Wonderful Life

Dan in Real Life

posted on 5/29/09 by Dan Leach

Hello blog. I am Dan... Yes, in real life, my name is Dan...“Dan in Real Life.” And even though I am shamelessly stealing this moniker from the title of a lesser known Steve Carell movie, I share very little in common with its main character, Dan Burns (Steve Carell) – other than being a WIDOWER (see below my digression on this old world word.) Advice columnist Dan Burns is an expert on relationships, but somehow struggles to succeed as a brother, a son and a single parent to three precocious daughters. (I have two sons and a daughter, and they’re at varying stages above average.) But this web log is not a plug for the DVD. It’s a blog about surviving and being a survivor (in my case, as a widower and single parent), trying to negotiate life in this new world of surviving death, and, I guess surviving to write about it.

But before I depart completely from the movie, I’ll share a favorite quote:  Dan Burns - “Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised. “

Here’s a surprise. This June 21st will be the two year anniversary of my wife’s death. It’s a heady day for me in that I not only lost my wife, best friend and mother to our children that day (and, of course, it’s the summer solstice), but twenty-six years ago it was the very same day we met. It’s the anniversary of our falling in love with one another, and later becoming our surrogate valentine’s day in spirit, if not always in practice. Imagine! She literally managed to die twenty four years later on the very same day she came into my life. Shouldn’t that mean something?  Is the universe intent on messing with my head as well as my life?  Stay tuned to this blog for this and other missive conspiracies hatched in the mind of a weather-worn widower (again, see below.)

Widower is just another in a heap of labels we all seem to possess. I seem to be mostly adjusted to my new life except this ridiculous sounding tag -- widower. It's just not me. About a week into this widower thing I’d literally look at myself in the mirror and practice saying, "Good morning widower" "How's it going today, widower?" "Hey widower, what's your big plan today?" -- just to try it on and make it fit. It never worked. It still feels like I'm putting on a 1970's silk shirt and leisure suit, and saying to myself, "Yeah, I can get used to wearing this around in public."  Is this making any sense?   I just have this stupefying disbelief that someone could say. "Oh yeah!  That guy over there is Dan. You know, he's a widower."   It just seems so unsuitable and unfashionable, or dated, or... something.

My rule is that if you can't use it in an introduction without it sounding ridiculous, then the label must go. For example, would I ever find myself in a social situation saying, "Hi! I'm Dan the widower. What's your name?"  I don't think so... yes, widower must go. Besides, I think the term survivor is a more appropriate badge for my part in all in this. It separates me from the act of dying and recognizes my work and effort toward living and moving forward.

Hello blog. I'm Dan in real life... I’m Dan the survivor.

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