Handsome Husband loved numbers. Which was interesting, because he was dyslexic. He worked with numbers, doing tail number scheduling while in the Air Force and then with Civil Service. As we traveled, after becoming Happily Homeless, he kept numbered lists of the National Parks we visited, the military bases where we took lodging, the places he wanted us to visit.
He and I were together for 24 years. For 23 of those years we had a love-affair marriage. Today would have been our 24th wedding anniversary. He’s been dead for 10 months in just 3 days. My body and heart and soul and mind have been a cauldron of pain since March 27, 2013 when we were told his cancer had returned. In spite of that, or because of that, I’ve been on the road traveling on my own (with a few exceptions here and there) for 9 months. The time it takes to give birth. Is that kind of what this entire process of grief is? Giving birth to my new self?
I’ve realized, as time has passed, that the grief hasn’t dissipated. It’s just gone deeper. It’s in my bones and cartilage. Which I don’t count as a negative. Nor is it a matter of depression, because the love beats just as strongly as the grief. The love has gone as deep and twined itself around the grief. Both are so deeply entrenched that they have become my life-blood. The co-existence of these two human emotions has opened me up to life in a way I’d never imagined.
I was in love with my husband, and I was filled with joy and I didn’t take life for granted, or him, or us, and I sought to recognize and acknowledge every moment and be present. I lived fully. Until he died and such a conflagration arose in me that it left me burned and blackened internally. He disappeared, as did my life with him, and so did I, in a fiery burst of death.
But, this is okay. Even though it’s not okay. But it’s what was presented to me when I was left behind. So, as Handsome Husband would say, it is what it is.
Grief and love can co-exist and open one up to life as never before. Life tinged by the utter knowingness of pain and agony and choices. Not, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger choice, but letting the pain and shattering allowing the light to shine through you choice. Opening up with the pain and not shutting down. Reaching out with open arms instead of holding arms close to my sides choice.
Letting the love beat more strongly. Being honest. Being raw. Being direct. Letting love in choice.
Lists and numbers. Handsome Husband kept his and I’m keeping mine. What was on his, what is on mine. His lists were really about the memories we were building.
My list is about the life I’m building, the people I’m meeting, the love I’m holding close in my heart.
Thank you, my dearest love, for loving me, for helping me prepare for this, my life without you. I’m who I am because you loved me so passionately.
I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart.
For you, who are reading this; go find your loved one immediately, and hug them. And dance with them too. Gracefully or awkwardly. Just dance with them and hug them and love them.