The me that was me for the last few decades is gone. I miss her dreadfully. The me that was married to a handsome, passionate about me and about life man, is gone. I hate that. I grieve that as much, I think, as I grieve him being gone. Maybe I should have had a funeral for her.
I wonder if Handsome Husband would even recognize the me I am now. Not because I’ve grown hard or bitter but because I’m so shattered and broken. He, of course, knew me and loved me through the deaths of my brother and my mom, 6 months apart, back in the 90’s. Those deaths rattled my world in every way.
My years with Handsome Husband were rich in color and passion and life and dancing together, and kissing and holding hands and him sweeping me off my feet with love and desire and exploring and adventuring and pushing my comfort zones physically and yes, arguments and discovery of more about each other and…and…and…
Without self-pity I say now that my life is starkly black and white. I see no color, feel no passion for anything, have no desire for anything. I see the world and feel pretty much nothing. Certainly no excitement. I bought a new car and painted it pink. I bought a T@b trailer and trimmed it out in pink. I’m going back out on the road to continue the traveling life and it will be an entirely different experience than it was with the man I loved and I’m not excited about it and I wish I was filled with joyous expectation of the adventure but I’m not.
I’m not who I was. I’ve even given thought to changing my name to reflect that. Which isn’t too much of a reach for me, given that I legally changed my name for the first time when I was 19.
Here’s the thought that followed the thought that I’m no longer me and will never be me again.
I won’t ever be who I was. I loved who I was and it’s cut me deeply to know that woman is gone forever. Yes, that sounds like such a big thing to say and I can hear people rush to assure me that oh, I’ll find her again, just give it time, be positive, keep an open mind. Blah. Blah. Blah.
The fact that the me that I was is gone, shattered into dust as much as Handsome Husband was when his body went into the crematory and I pushed the button to incinerate his body, is not a negative. It isn’t a positive either. It just is. It’s what happens when there is nothing left but scorched earth after a conflagration of such magnitude as his death in my life has been and continues to be.
Scorched earth lies silent and blackened. Fire blows through, destroying everything physical in its’ path. Trees, plants, flowers, markers, houses, people, everything. But. Give it a few years and see the beauty that defiantly grows from that. A couple of years go by and a tiny bit of green shows through, so tiny and almost not there. And then-BAM! A new forest. New color. New life.
Is that dramatic enough for you?
Maybe it isn’t so much that I’m a different person as it is that there is nothing left but raw. I’m a gaping, bleeding wound, thoroughly scorched. Vulnerable in a way I’ve never been before. The last 4 years of travel unearthed many layers of me and I very willingly shed so much that I didn’t want or need. Things and ways of being. The seismic event of my husband’s death ripped through me and destroyed what remained in a matter of weeks. Even in the midst of this, I’m not frightened by that concept. I’m not excited by it but I’m not frightened by it. He and I lived a life both physical and mental, that was adaptive to change.
I’ve had numerous discussions with strangers and loved ones about life and death and one of the saddest things I’ve heard is that when such a thing as the death of a loved one happens, it would leave them incapable of dealing with life. The prediction, even prior to death happening,is that a hospital stay would be necessary so that they could cope. Medications necessary. I hear this frequently. “I can’t do what you do. I don’t know how you’ve done this.” Me neither, frankly. No frickin’ clue how I’ve done this. Mind you, I’m not ruling out the use of medications, if and when they might help. I’m talking about the mind-set that sets up such a scenario. We all do what we need to do when death happens. But ahead of time we have no clue about how it will play out. This is just me and how I need to do it.
But it does sadden me.
I’m in front of the line of people who shatter and fall apart when a loved one dies. You’ve read my blog, dear readers. I’ve been honest with you every step of the way. I’ve considered medication, would love to not feel my way through this. Would love to sleep well and not have a barrage of images piercing through without surcease. Would love to not feel any of this. Except, not really.
The thing is, I think, to not be afraid of the shattering and falling apart. To not be afraid of the blackness and nothingness of the insides. Not to want it, not to like it, to hate it with every particle of the old you. Just not to have fear of it. To be open to the darkness and see it as a cocoon. Fear is the real killer.
I’m reminded, as I attempt to think this out, of a conversation Handsome Husband and I had a few years ago, prior to his first fucking cancer, in which I told him my favorite quote of all time is from Eleanor Roosevelt. She said, each day find that one thing you fear the most and do it.
The thing I fear the most is living without him. Not because I can’t manage but because I loved and felt loved by him. And each day I wake up from a not really sleeping place and get up and do it anyways because, as I’ve said often, apparently this grief isn’t going to kill me. And I won’t allow it to make me bitter. So I just suit up and show up and do what I can while my heart and my soul lie scorched. I don’t even use energy to hope that this changes. I just let it be whatever it is while I do what my gut tells me I need to do. Seriously, there’s no thinking going on here, folks. It’s all gut response.
Which is okay with me. The darkness doesn’t scare me. There’s not much that scares me any longer. My husband suffocated in front of me as his body struggled against it. I bathed and dressed him and covered him in flowers and pressed the button that opened the doors to accept his physical body and obliterate it forever in scorching flames that I didn’t and couldn’t verbalize at the time but were incinerating me as much as him. (Hey, that’s a pretty good comparison there…). I folded into the floor with accusations that were flung at me regarding my care of him in the end. I broke and shattered.
This darkness. I’m okay with it, not because I like anything about it but because I’m not afraid of it and, I suppose, because there is a far distant part of me that I only recognize in my gut, that the new me, desired of being or not, is ruminating and forming and metamorphosing and preparing to come into the light in a burst of being.
I have no interest in being this new me. I didn’t ask for it and don’t want it but then, nobody asked me. It’s happening and I won’t let fear of the process be bigger than the process. Anything I’ve done since Handsome Husband died hasn’t been done because he’d expect it of me or want it for me. I’ve done it because this is who I am and I know that he knew that I would do this because he knew me better than I knew me or anyone else knew me and he knew I was a woman who knew how to kick ass and take names. He knew how I felt about fear and going into it not with fists raised but with heart open. He knew that the love he and I shared was (is) bigger than the tangible physical being of our us.
My tattoos, so recently marked on my body, are my warrior paint, giving me courage to abide with open heart, in this dark place, in the scorched me. The new me will emerge with a burst of light at some future place, willingly or unwillingly. It is what it is. The power I have in this is to just let the process happen with no fear (practiced on a minute-by-minute basis) inhibiting it. It’s painful and I fucking hate it because I loved who I was and how I was with him. So I cry and I break and I miss him unbearably and I eye the fucking warrior goddess boots that sit in shadow in the corner and my heart breaks open.