Scanning Facebook last night, one of my former colleague’s name popped up on someone else’s post. It made me think back about working with him, sharing “war” stories, and our like of smooth fit men. We had some great chats in person and on messenger about life, love, and lust. He definitely enjoyed my pics of the men of Tel Aviv Pride. Chatting about the trip was the last time I would communicate with Dennis.
Seeing that name on Facebook was actually not a good thing. As I read the post, my mood turned south. It seems there was a small complication in Dennis’s health, experienced heart failure, and is now lost to us forever. I had not seen him in person for quite some time, but I knew he was not in the best physical shape. But he was jolly, jovial, a wonderful man, one of those friends that would be around forever, a staple of in the circle, the company, humanity.
I don’t live close to him anymore, 1500 miles separate us, but now the distance is immeasurable. Another big span between us was that I was an out gay man and he was a married man, married to a woman, out to me, and not too many others. He was a father, grandfather, and a very well-known member of the community.
Dennis wasn’t the only true friend I made at that job. Beth was the other and she too is married to an opposite-sex partner and out to, once again, not too many people besides me.
As I type this, I go back to my own coming out. So many years ago, I found myself driving to my cheating boyfriend’s home and needed some counsel. I called mom and told her to listen to me and don’t say anything for a while. I told her what I had been going through, seeing a cheating, lying college cheerleader … that was a male. She seemed to take it well. I don’t think of it much, just times like these. It was 16 years or so ago, I’m enjoying life, and he’s married to a banal man. There have been deeper heart breaks from then until now, loves and loves lost, but they all add up to life as a gay man.
What is it like to die while in the closet? That is all I could think about today. Is there a life full of regrets? Is there an overall sense or feeling of “what if?” Does an alternate life flash before your eyes? I felt such overwhelming sorry for Dennis, it still brings me to tears.
We all make choices on how to live our lives. I cannot say that Dennis and Beth’s lives would be happier if they embraced their LGBT-ness for they still had a great amount of love present. They loved their partners unconditionally, loved their pets, their friends, Dennis loved his family. Their lives were full of love, but they did not have that LGBT love. They were keeping that out of their “straight” being and they seemed happy.
Rest in Peace, Dennis. I really do hope you were happy and didn’t have any regrets.