There is nothing gentle about my life today, or in this last year. My husband’s death caused a conflagration around me and inside me. No, that isn’t over-stating it. The life he and I had, the joy in life that I had, the woman I was with him, disappeared with his final breath.
My anxiety this year has been that, if he were to return (which, yes, I know he can’t and won’t), he wouldn’t recognize me. In the tiny spaces between my grief has been that fear, believe it or not. Which just goes to show you how surreal life is in grief. The possibility of his return is an impossibility, and yet that thought has been front and center frequently.
Because I refuse to hold these thoughts inside to turn toxic, I spoke with our daughter, Kamahooptra, about this worry. She’s always been quietly wise beyond her years and projects a knowingness about people and love and life and I let the anxiety go after we talked. She told me what the depths of my heart already knew but I needed to hear spoken aloud by someone else because I couldn’t hear past my grief.
Of course he would recognize me, she said. How could he not know the deepest core of the woman he loved? Who I am now is me, laid bare, and he would revel in it. A friend of mine told me that if Chuck were to come back, he’d do a double take and then bam! just another, deeper, level of love for me.
They’re right and I know it now. Handsome Husband saw me as no other man has ever seen me. He saw and loved the essence of me, saw the strength of my spirit better than I. He looked at me and saw every bit of me and that’s what he connected to as we loved together.
His death stripped me down to my skeleton but that isn’t a bad thing. And I’m not living life now because he would expect it of me. I’m living it in the way he knew I would.
When I refer to myself as a FWG (Fucking Warrior Goddess), I don’t do it lightly and I’m not using it as a swear word. I use it because it’s a powerful word to convey a powerful concept. I’m living fiercely, with the greatest compassion but no tolerance for bullshit. I will challenge you and I accept being challenged. I want nothing but real around me. If you don’t like me or what I say, tell me to my face. If you have an issue with me, say it up front. Don’t pussyfoot around. Don’t dress up your words for me. If I don’t like something, I’ll tell you. If you ask my opinion, I’ll tell you. If we disagree about something, or have differing perspectives, for god’s sake, let’s talk. Or argue until its settled. Whatever.
I’m grieving as fiercely as I loved and I make no apologies to anyone for that. Grief and Love can, and do, stride hand in hand in me and I suspect they always will. I’m looking back on this time last year and honoring the sacred passing of the man whose love for me, and mine for him, made me the woman I am now.
Fierce with grief. Fierce with Love. Fierce with determination to make something out of my life with him, Fierce with determination to make every second count, even through my sense of disconnection and dislocation. Fiercely determined that the strength of his story, mine with him, our story together, will continue.
How do I see myself today? With my booted feet planted solidly on this earth, angel wings affixed to my back, my face painted in swirls of color, my heart-broken wide open, roaring my grief and love to the skies.