Labeling Me

July 10, 2006

One of the most dangerous, and perhaps damning, practices in our society today is the fixing of labels to individuals or groups. Any one who is in a minority group (label) already knows what this feels like. With just a word or three you are categorized, objectified, and shunted off to purgatory, never to return. As a white male, with a college education and a career in the high tech industry I’ve been largely immune to the potential ill effects of labeling.

Michele’s death however has added a new label to the skein trailing along behind me: widower. Quick, what comes to mind when you first hear the word: widower? An old man, wrinkled, gray or balding, stooped and spent. Some one who’ll just shuffle along a bit longer before joining his dear departed. I’m NOT that. I don’t want to be that. So I’ve been making an effort to stop using that term, even in my mind, to refer to myself. I think labels (like personal names) are self fulfilling prophecies, once you assume one you start to work towards making it reality.

My marital status, when asked for on official paperwork, is widower, but I am not just my marital status. Michele dying changed me profoundly, and altered the course of my life. Those changes cannot be summed in one word.

I am strong, courageous, intelligent, humorous, sensitive, caring, empathetic, athletic, purposeful, reflective, spiritual, kind, witty, casual, handsome, introverted, physical, mental, boyish, wise, complicated, simple, complex, driven, laid-back, questing, ancient, and single. In a word, I’m me.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.