I'm not good with feelings. I think that should be clear to most people in the world, so it's hard for me to express situations and emotions, especially when I don't know how I feel either.
Doug F. passed away this morning. I know this doesn't mean much to a lot of people who read my blog, but there's value in understanding and processing and just writing it out.
I didn't know Doug as well as I knew his partner, Jeff. Jeffery and I were close... girlfriends, really, though I always feel, as I do with most people I meet in my life, that I could be closer to him than I am. I could always be closer to people, we all could, I suppose, be closer. Geographically, emotionally... whatever. We could always mean more to other people, and people could always mean more to us. But that's beside the point because we rarely, if ever, really think that it's necessary at that moment to be closer to someone. There's always tomorrow.
There's always another drink. There's always another night out. There's always another time to move closer.
So I could be closer to Jeffery. And, of course, the corollary is that I could have been closer to Doug. It struck me as strange, when I was talking to friends, that I didn't even know Doug's last name. To us, he was always "Douggie F," or just "Jeffery's partner, Doug." In fact, I didn't know nearly as much about Douggie F as I could have. When I would see him -- which was rarer than I saw Jeff -- I would hug him, give him a kiss, call him darling, and feel genuinely blessed to have been in his presence. I did, I swear, feel blessed.
But Jeffery was always there, and I loved Doug because I love Jeffery. And I knew that they loved each other.
In my life, where the concept of love and being in love with someone is far and distant, theirs was a life and a situation that I appreciated. Jeff and I would get drunk together, check out boys, be crazy bitches, have a great time... and I knew that Jeff would go home to the love of his life.
And that meant something, to me.
I didn't know Douggie F as well I should have, but I'm not upset about that. Because I knew him enough to know that he was special, and that he was this amazing person that my good friend loved.
In a world of Facebook and Twitter and blogs and texting, when online drunken conversations often are mistaken for real human interactions, and when making out with a boy at a bar is equitable to a relationship, that kind of emotional proximity is enough to miss him. Knowing that Jeff is hurting, knowing how much they meant to each other, knowing the days Jeff spent in the hospital and waiting and watching and hoping, and knowing that Doug mattered to someone is enough for me to feel the loss and to genuinely be upset about it.
Jeff doesn't know this, but I had a spy on his floor who updated me on Doug's status occasionally. I was too busy, I told him and myself, to go up and visit. I was too busy and there were other things I needed to do, but I'm not blaming myself and I'm not upset about the fact that I didn't go see him because I knew about Doug much the same way I did throughout our relationship... through other people. And, besides, Jeff's always positive demeanor made me believe that there would be another drink, another night out, another time to hug Doug, kiss his cheek and call him darling, and to feel blessed that he was there, again.
Except that won't happen this time, and that's hard for me to process.
Now, as the funeral arrangements are being made and Jeff is putting up with family (at church this morning, "those Baptists," he said with guffaw, making a light joke much as I would expect Jeff to do), I'm learning about Doug. I know his last name now. And, though I never visited their house despite multiple invitations, I know where they live now. I looked it up on Google Maps.
And so even now, I'm interacting with his passing much the same way I interacted with his living.
I don't wish for more, and I'm not crying that I didn't get to know him better. Life is what it is, and our interactions happen whether for good or for bad and to place some sort of judgment or qualification on the relative goodness or badness of our time together undermines his life and produces nothing more than vain emotions and botched memories. Doug knew that I loved him because he was my girlfriend's partner. He knew that he was important to me because he was important to Jeff. Even though I didn't know his last name, I knew enough about him to know that this person is special and he matters.
In an age of Facebook and Twitter and texting and where a drunken online conversation is often mistaken for real human interaction... it was enough to know there is love, and there is hope, and there was him.
Doug, we rarely talked, and we didn't know each other, but I wanted to say goodbye in the best way I know how, in the only way I know how, and let you know that you mattered to me. Thank you for the time you spent here, thank you for the love you gave, thank you for having blessed me and us with the time you had.
I will miss you.
And don't worry, we'll take care of Jeff, in the best way we know how.... I'll buy him a drink and toast your life. It's the best thing I know to do.
I hope it's enough.
What I do know, though, is that Doug's and Jeff's family were fierce advocates and avid fundraisers for breast cancer charities. I know you don't know Jeff or Doug, most of you, at least, but I would ask that, if you have a few minutes, or have a free day, that you take the time to volunteer or donate to the Breast Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. I've not been asked to do this, and I expect there will be a charity announced when the funeral arrangements are made, and I will re-update that, as well. But, for now, if you happen to be stopping in and the moment moves you, take a moment to donate and make sure you make it in honor of Doug Feld and Jeffery Dalton. Thank you.