Beaumont, Texas. Thanks to Charlie, who suggested this State Park to me, I was able to rest my very weary body for the night. After backing PinkMagic, by myself, into the campsite. Which, yes, is a huge thing to do. It’s my second successful backing up. A couple of days ago, I impressed myself terribly when I did a holyfuckdidyouseemedothat!! 3-point turn in order to get out of where I was. Yes, accolades are in order. Believe me!
Life is surreal for me now, and life is full of ironies that would make him laugh out loud. Try these on.
At times, during our travels, Handsome Husband and I spoke about RV’ing or camping full-time. I was ardently against such a thing. I’m not an outdoorsy person. I appreciate nature and am okay with hiking in it (by which I mean walking casually in it). I named myself an anti-campite, a la’ Seinfeld. Mostly I loved curling up in a soft chair with a good book. I loved indoor things. Here I am now, in a pink-trimmed T@b trailer, camped in the woods. Using community bath-houses. With signs, at times, that warn about wild things out there. I hitch and un-hitch, I set up and break down. Holyhell, before you know it, I’ll probably have a gun rack perched somewhere.
For most of the years or our travels, Handsome Husband put the miles on our car, steering us into so many adventures. He loved to drive. I drove some while he recovered from his first cancer surgeries. He wasn’t a good passenger, though he did try to be and felt badly that he made me so nervous. We had an occasional knock-down drag out about driving habits and then I said to myself “Hey, if he wants to spend the next 20 years driving, far be it from me to inhibit that”. And kicked back with my feet on the dash. I’m now doing nothing but driving. Thank god I have a different car now. It would cause such agony for me to drive our old car; I’d see him endlessly, not there any longer.
I had no faith in my map-reading or directional skills. I still don’t, and I thank Fireman Nick’s sweetheart, SugaPie, for encouraging me to upgrade to an IPhone with travel apps galore. I cross-reference maps, google aids, etc to get where I’m going. Before he died, Handsome Husband told me (yes, he did), that, as I traveled, if I thought I was supposed to go in a particular direction, go the opposite way because that would be the correct way. I remember that. He also reminded me that, by staying at 50-55 mph, we’d saved up to $300/monthly. That’s pretty much the speed I maintain.
It caused endless anxiety in me, as I contemplated full-timing on the road on my own, mapping my routes, making reservations, pulling a tow, the extra fuel money because of towing; I was in full panic mode constantly.
In the months since Handsome Husband died in southern California, I’ve driven to Arizona to see 2 of our kids, drove to New Mexico for a family wedding, picked up my dear sister-in-law, Diana, in Albuquerque, New Mexico so that she could road-trip with me to Indiana for me to pay my respects to his mom and attend a family reunion, drove alone to New Jersey to prepare for and hold his memorial service, bought my T@b in New England, and prepared for this Odyssey. And now, a month and a half on the road has taken me to Key West to scatter the first of his cremains, sat me down to dinner with his Air Force buddies and their families, touched me down at military Fam Camps along the Gulf Coast, and grown my determination to honor him and his military service. Which translated to our story on the Biloxi news, WLOX. (http://www.wlox.com/story/24473960/alison-miller-proves-that-true-love-never-dies). And now, here I am at Village Creek State Park in Beaumont, Texas, waiting for the sun to rise so that I can ready myself to continue my drive to San Antonio.
I do what Handsome Husband always said to do: I suit up and show up. My brain is fogged with grief- so I don’t over-think things. I’m allowing my heart to lead me, I’m listening to my gut each day. I have no attachment to how the day unfolds. Not because I’m irresponsible but because my inner self is dislocated and lost; my compass companion is dead. So I trust my heart, I trust his love that he left for me. His love, our love we had together, is my guiding force and my only force. With that fully entrenched in me, I’ll find my way. I’ll drive and I’ll camp and do whatever I need to do to continue this Odyssey and I’ll keep my heart and soul open to what life unfolds before me and I’ll do such an amazing job of it that, wherever he is, he’ll be fucking applauding me endlessly and his eyes will shine with pride and joy and no surprise because he knew. He knew, when he said his forever goodbye to me, that the woman he married, this woman he loved so passionately, and who loved him passionately and forever in return, is a kick-ass and take names type of woman. He didn’t expect this of me. He knew it of me and as devastating as it was for him to say goodbye and kiss me for the last time, he knew I’d make it happen.
And I will. I am. I’m a fucking warrior goddess and I’m on an Odyssey of Love and if I have my way, the entire military world and the world at large is going to learn about Chuck D, and our love story and how someone you love can suffocate in front of you and you can bathe him and dress him and help put his body on the mortician’s gurney and press the switch to open the crematorium doors to admit the body of the man you love, and walk out of there and place his urn and his flag next to you in the passenger seat and point your pink car in the direction of life and you can bygod open your soul to love and even though you’re no artist, you can set a blank canvas up and splash color and joy and pain and grief and every emotion you need onto it.
And create a masterpiece of magic that will leave the world panting.