Handsome Husband was the one who could tell you where we’d been at any time in the past. He loved numbers and had a mind that remembered the wheres and whens. Me, not so much. Even when I was in current time, I had to stop to recall what state or town we were in. We’d been in so many that it might take me a minute to place my body where it was. So don’t ask me where we were last year, or on any particular day. You could ask him though and he could tell you in detail. I depended on him for our road history.
As of today I can tell you in minute detail where we were and what was happening last year at this point. Last year, today, we waved goodbye to our daughter Kamahooptra and her husband, Thrace. We were headed West, with our ultimate destination being Cathedral City, California. My heart remembers the thrill of our car steering West on the Carefree Highway. We saw numerous balloons rising among the clouds of the desert morning.
We were driving away from two of our kids and awesome memories made over the winter. And we were driving away, we hoped, from days spent with him being exhausted and in pain. Fungal infection, we thought. A little cough now and again, some pain in his lower back. Possibly a recurrence of kidney stones or his bad back from a fall while on active duty. Maybe, we hoped, the worst of that was behind us.
His hand was on my knee and my hand on top of his as we drove towards Las Vegas, with plans to visit an Air Force buddy and his wife, Wayne and Mona. A sense of adventure always broke through the sadness of goodbyes when we hit the road again. More than anything, we enjoyed being just us two.
It was cold, for Arizona. It was put on my fur vest and arm warmers weather and the skies were icy blue and we were full of plans for the next few months. This was a new route for us and we were going to soak in the scenery and explore to our heart’s content. We were in love, we had 23 years behind us and a lifetime ahead of us.
And here I am now, at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas, sitting in my T@b trailer, a little over 9 months later. Handsome Husband’s urn is right near me. His folded flag, with ID tag hanging from it, is on the shelf directly across from me, which is where I place it when it isn’t riding shotgun. I made sure he had full military honors at his memorial service in October. He deserved that, and more.I most definitely remember where he and I were last year at this time. The next few months will be months of time-travel for me. At some point, in normal grief, as the first anniversary of the death of a loved one approaches, the past is re-lived. With all the emotions that crowd our hearts and minds, it can seem as if we are, in reality, in that time again, except that now we know the end of the story.
It’s hard. Plain and simple.
I’m on two roads until April 21. The 2013 road, with my beloved husband in the driver’s seat, knowing that, yes, he was ill, but having no fucking idea that his cancer had returned. Concerned for him, yes, absolutely, but in spite of it, anticipating our next few months. Exploring southern California, a return to Arizona for the birth of our grand-baby, a family wedding in Santa Fe, New Mexico in July, and his family reunion in Indiana. After that-who knew? The road was open in front of us. A red Ford Escape carries us West on that road.
And the second road I travel this year, which is just as real. Parallel roads and I’m on both. This road is open in front of me, too, as I ride it on my Odyssey of Love for him, scattering his cremains at our favorite places. Dressed out in my pink armor, riding in PinkMagic. Grieve for me in pink, he said, smiling. Not black. Just not your color, he said.
Scared. Determined. Learning. Hurting. Grieving. Determined. Kicking ass. Devastated. Missing him. Wanting him. Suiting up and showing up. Fucking determined. No matter what.