Drawing My Dates: Diner Coffee

Moving on after a devastating loss

Drawing by Jay Boucher. Print available.

I noticed the dark cloud looming over her from across the diner parking lot. This was our first date and it usually takes a woman a bit more time with me to feel so sad, I thought. Something else is going on. I’ve suffered from depressive episodes myself and the sadness that emanated from her was palpable. I felt like I wanted the date to be over before it had even begun.

We engaged in small talk over coffee and eventually the conversation steered into why we were single. I told her it had been about two years since my divorce. She explained that she was a widow. “I’m so sorry,” I said, “I hope you’re doing OK.”

“I am,” she said, “My husband killed himself four months ago.”

She explained that he had struggled with depression and there was added strain from raising a young child. He took his own life by hanging himself in their garage, leaving her alone to raise her daughter and deal with the aftermath.

I was dumbstruck. I certainly wasn’t expecting this to be a topic of conversation on a first date. I felt awful for her and what she was going through. To lose the love of your life and to have to explain what happened to a young child must have been devastating. I don’t know how I could handle the pain. I also wondered if she should be dating so soon after such a tragic event. Was it really appropriate to meet strangers online less that half a year later?

I expressed my condolences and sympathy for how difficult it must be for her as a single mother. She explained that she had help from both her family and the family of her deceased husband and that she and her daughter were living off of a life insurance payout while she worked part-time.

We spoke for a while. I can’t imagine the darkness she’s been through and maybe having the ear of a stranger was a welcome distraction. While I’m ill equipped to provide the kind of counseling that’s needed in this situation, I couldn’t hold it against her for wanting to get out of her house and meet someone to share a cup of coffee on a lonely afternoon.

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