Geographically, I’ve come full-circle. 9 months ago, I left Newtown Connecticut, and here I am back again, visiting our son, Fireman Nick, and his girlfriend, SugaPie. I began this Odyssey of Love when Handsome Husband had been dead for 8 months. In total I’ve been on the road for 5 years. 4 of those years were with Handsome Husband; this last one on my own. Which is to say, without him. For the first 2 weeks last December, Fireman Nick traveled with me. For the last 2 months our daughter Rachael-Grace has been with me. I just finished my 3rd trek across country since he died.
Numbers. They mean everything and they mean nothing. Most especially nothing without him. So, I’ve been asked, What’s different? Is your grief different? What have you learned? How is it being on the road? Are you happy doing this? Is this exciting? What is it like driving the roads you drove with your husband? How has it been, scattering his cremains?
Practical fears paralyzed me as I began this, towing my pink-trimmed trailer behind me. How could I possibly learn how to tow? How to unhitch? How to camp? How to travel the country? How to be safe on my own? How to allow grief the space it demands while creating this, believe me, wholly unwanted life?
My life philosophy is I haven’t died so apparently I must live and I must create a life for myself beyond the us that I had with him for 24 years. It must be done. I thought a broken heart would most assuredly kill me but it hasn’t. And I frequently damn the fact, because this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I hate life without him and it fucking hurts with every breath.
Today is 16 months since my husband, my lover, my safety system, the man I loved more than my own life, took his last breath and so did I. God, that’s so dramatic, isn’t it? And yet, so true.
I’ve grown in confidence. I tow PinkMagic like a pro. I hitch it up and so far, its’ always gone with me. I can break it down and set it up, lowering the legs, plugging in as needed, set up my bed, organize the inside…and then reverse it all when I leave wherever I am. I’ve cooked on the propane stove (though not frequently). The electric broke and I got it fixed. I back it up and I’ve even parallel parked it. Bam!
I’ve learned to ask for help. I have no problem standing out where I can be seen and asking the first person who passes if they can help me with whatever situation arises. I can’t know everything, nor do I wish to. Mostly people want to help, I’ve found. I certainly assume that they do. And if the first person can’t help, I politely ask them to move out of my way so that I can find someone who is able.
I have no fear. The term “FWG” that I coined, is serious business to me. It means that I stared Death in the face and I suited up and showed up in spite of and alongside of. I’ve learned to live on the road, camping, and I am not a camper. I’ve learned to state my mind even more so than before Handsome Husband died. I state my needs clearly, with no apologies. I’ve learned to own the talents and gifts that were given to me upon birth and through self-development. I am a gypsy. I am a story-teller. I am a hugger of people. I am a listener of tales. I am a giver and a receiver both. I am a writer. I am a woman who wanders and discovers.
I have no expectations on outcomes. Not in a negative way; just in a way that if one way doesn’t work, I’ll try another. I have no expectations of people and how they may or may not behave. I will accept only those in my life who are interested in honest, authentic relationships. (I still have some coming to Jesus meetings with a few that need clarification and that’s on my near schedule, believe me). I expect, and demand, honesty, whether it hurts or not, both in giving and receiving.
Handsome Husband was the Buddhist in the family but what’s happened as a result of his death is that I’ve become a perfect Buddhist. I have genuinely emotionally detached from outcome, results, and life, by which I mean I get that it is entirely fleeting and can be gone in an instant, and so I’m not terribly attached to it. I’ve had the hardline talks with our kids about my own end of life and what I expect from them in support when I make the choices that I will make.
I’ve learned to allow myself to dwell in dark spaces where my eyes are of no use and allow my other senses to heighten instead so that they might aid me in finding my way. And I’ve learned to challenge those who would question my grief, both the intensity and the length. This is my grief, not yours, I say. Fuck off. (said with love, of course).
I live fiercely. I love fiercely. I grieve fiercely because I loved fiercely. Those around me and those I meet on the road are fire in my blood. Yes, I can say I love them, these new friends not yet met, or met only briefly. They each have their stories as I have mine and in this way we connect. I am incredibly comfortable about approaching strangers and being approached. Talking in front of a crowd? Pfft! Whatevers.
Handsome Husband hoped that I would find another man to love someday. That may or may not happen. What I can say is that any man who joins in my life is the damn luckiest man in the world because I know how to love and I’m not afraid to show it, every second of every day because each second can be the last second and I will make damn certain that every second matters, as I did with Handsome Husband.
Whatever I knew before he died, I know in the very marrow of my bones now. Oh, yeah, this last year has changed me in ways that I haven’t even defined yet. I coined FWG without full knowledge of what it would come to mean to me as time passed and I’m still growing into it. And always will be.
Fierce. Determined. Take no prisoners. No apologies. Passionate. With a heart open to love, everyday.