Kind of, yeah..Done~


I’m tired.

Done, I think.

At the end of this month it will be 3 years and 11 months since Chuck died.  On April 21, at 11:25 pm, it will be 4 years since the breath was crushed out of him by the liquid buildup in his lungs.  Those liquids built up in his body, showing itself in the horrid swelling of his feet and legs and hands as edema. It sweated through his body until his cancer ridden body could no longer absorb it and then it sweated out to such a degree that we had to change the hospital gown every 15 minutes or so, along with the linens on his bed.  The death rattle sounded loudly from his throat.  His eyes stared.  I don’t know when his spirit left his body.  I hang onto the thought that, in those final hours of his life, his spirit was on its’ way elsewhere…wherever that might be…if anywhere, but not there to experience physically what we were seeing, as he drowned in his own fluids.

As I’m supposed to do-how many of us hear oh, ,you must remember the good times!  Focus on the good memories!- I do remember our years before cancer took his body.  I remember the joy and our Love that grew between us daily for our 24 years.  We were as much in Love the night he died as we’d been when we first said our I do’s.  More, really, because we’d been through the worst and the best and seen each other at our worst and our best.  We’d been tested numerous times and come through it with flying colors.

When I remember Chuck, I don’t see him through a veil of death where he is now perfect but really only in my mind because he’s, you know…dead.  I remember him, and us, exactly as we were.  In Love.  Passionate about each other, about life.  I have 2 decades, plus, of pictures and words that remind me what real Love, true Love, looks like.

I took all that Love into this widowhood.  I took the words he would say to his sponsees in AA and I’ve lived them.  Suit up and show up.  I’ve done that and I’ve done it in a big way and I’ve done it in as much pink as I could.

Every bit of this Odyssey has been about the Love story Chuck and I shared and it’s been genuine and every word, every gesture, comes from the Love that he and I had and that he left behind for me.

I’ve been as honest and raw as I can be about this Odyssey, about this widowhood.  Which I know makes for uncomfortable reading.  When I write I don’t hold anything back.  I’ve never tried to dress this up or put it in a nice, neat package with a lovely bow.  Widowhood isn’t a fucking tiptoe through the tulips and I’ve never lied about that.  With all of that, I’ve also, I hope, been clear that I do not want pity, will not accept pity.  I’m just calling a spade a spade and bringing the reality of it into the light.

There is much that I don’t write about, except in a way that touches on the surface.  Not for any other reason than there are literally no words created in this language that speak to the devastation of living without him, of creating a life without him.  Mental exhaustion as I deal with the daily rigors of living on the road, the financial hardship of being one instead of two, the soul-cutting impact of the loneliness of widowhood that is not alleviated by dating, by being with grandkids, by being with friends, or our kids.  And yes, over and over again, I am so god damned grateful for each of those relationships, so please don’t raise your eyebrows in question for my lack of gratitude.  But at the end of the god damn fucking day, I go to bed alone.  I have to figure this life out on my own.  I have to live this life on my own.  Even as I’m with any of the aforesaid relationships in my life, I am alone, because they are not mine, if you get what I mean, and I hope you do.  I’m not anyone’s priority any longer, and let’s face it, that’s a hard and painful thing to lack, after having it for so long.

I wish I could be one of those widows (I’m not sure where they are, but I think I’ve read of them), who blithely sail on with life.  If I knew where to find any such a specimens, I’d study them under a microscope intently.  What do they do?  How do they do it?  Where is the fucking switch? Is there one?  Where and how does anyone reach the balance where the memories make you smile and the missing-ness become manageable?  Where is the switch that makes a woman care about life again?  Where is the switch that turns on the energy again?  Where the god damn fuck is it?

I knew, as soon as Chuck died, how easy it would be to disappear and fade away.  It was a tempting thought, honestly.  Instead, I painted my car pink, to honor his last wishes, and began this Odyssey of Love, knowing that if I did it this way..if I did this Odyssey in color, if I tasked myself to go public, than I’d have to hold myself responsible for showing up.  People would know that I’m out here and I’d have to show up for them.  I’ve made it as tough as possible to disappear when that’s all that I’ve wanted to do.  All the pink had a purpose.  It has a purpose.

Now, almost 4 years later, I don’t know if I can do this any longer.  I’m spinning my wheels.  Life and all that widowed life entails (which is much of what normal life entails, with the added topping of grief and missing-ness and sadness and all the other lovely shit) has reached its level in me. I don’t know that I have anything left in me to continue the upstream struggle.

A seed of thought in me is that maybe I’ll find a small town out west, a cowboy town, and find a room to rent and a job that is enough to keep me financially fluid, and fade into normalcy. Yes, all the grief and missing-ness will be right there with me, but maybe I can just fade into routine; go to work, go home, sleep, go to work.  Carry my memories in me and live on my memories. Stop writing publicly and live on remembering when, you know?

Please don’t read this as self-pity. It sounds pathetic even to my ears, but I’m trying to think things out.  And it isn’t depression, thank you very much. It is more a weariness of the soul, of my heart.  These almost 4 years without Chuck have taken everything in me to live it, in spite of and alongside of all that life without him entails. (which is much of what normal life entails, with the added topping of grief and missing-ness and sadness and all the other lovely shit) and, quite simply, it’s at level point.  Overflowing the banks, really.  I miss him, I miss the romance, I miss being a priority to someone who is also my priority.  I miss being held, I miss his wink at me from across a crowded room, I miss having someone know me.

Maybe all we get in this life is one amazing Love story and I’ve had mine.  It feels like that was the greatest part of my life and’s gone and done.

The hard truth of all of this is that Chuck is dead and my life with him is over and I get it. I fucking get it. What I want to know is where is the goddamn switch?  Where is my spiritual awakening, the Big Top event that will make me give a damn again?

It’s all just too much, really~



15 thoughts on “Kind of, yeah..Done~

  1. Hello, beautiful soul. As I read this post, I had many thoughts, so forgive me if this doesn’t ‘flow.’ I’m not a widow, but I’ve also only been married for the last four of my forty years. Only with someone daily for about another six minths before that. I *know* soul-crushing loneliness. Certainly not your exact version, but I know it. I know how it feels to be no one’s priority, to not be *seen,* to do everything alone — dinner, movies, trans-Atlantic moves, deployments, redeployments, otherwise good days, and terrible days. I see you, I hear you. I recognize you. It doesn’t mean there aren’t still friends or loved ones, or that you don’t appreciate them, but there are spaces they can’t always fill. For what it’s worth, I think the number of great lives we get is kinda up to us. No two loves are the same, ever; we’re different people, they’re different people… I do think it is entirely possible for you to find another wonderful partner, if you want. It might be the first chance you take, or the 15th, but I think he’s out there. And if, hopefully when, you decide you’re ready to try to find him, I hope and pray for you the patience and grace to do so. You’re smart. You’re beautiful. And you have so, so much to offer, to share. Whether or not you keep writing for the public, I hope you keep writing for yourself. And whether or not you decide to stay somewhere for a while, I hope you find peace. Still cheering you onward, regardless, and including you in my thoughts and prayers!

    • Hannah, thank you so, so, much for taking the time to write such lovely words to me. Your words flowed with beauty and touched my soul. It will be a curiosity to me if I someday meet someone and a relationship develops, and I think my heart is open to such a possibility but who really knows until it happens, right? I hope you have a Love story in your marriage; there is nothing better. I reflect on the 24 years Chuck and I had and ache for the loss of that tangible Love, and I love hearing Love stories of those around me. I thank you, too, for following along with me here. Nothin’ but Love to you~

  2. I read this as a fellow widow, with a heart that understands and aches with yours.

    From being someone’s everything, we go on to become everyone’s nothing… Not an easy transition to have to make 😔
    Happening upon your site as a very disoriented newbie I felt the wonder that accompanies the discovery of unsuspected kinship. Witnessing your courage on this unenviable journey, marveling at the fire and the sweetness in your posts, helped soothe my loneliness in a small but significant way.
    It is indeed so painful and so scary to suddenly find oneself “not anyone’s priority any longer…”
    Here you identify the crunch, the absolute ground zero of widowhood, I think. For with the death of the beloved, the self becomes deprived of its life force…and dies a certain death to itself. How terrifyingly sad and strange and isolating…as the uninitiated can’t see that you’re dead, can’t spot your suffering, because there is no way of knowing the force of such devastation from the safety enjoyed in the home of secure love.

    I am glad to have found you here, Allison,
    and hold your welfare in my thoughts and wishes.

    Please don’t disappear.
    Even if you end up in the wild west, sliding into a tame life, please write?

    Marilyn ❤

    • Marilyn, I believe that I am fated to write, no matter where I am, no matter what I do; it is in my heart and soul and it is my lifeline. My heart reaches out to you over the miles, and aches for you; you describe with poetry the darkness of widowhood. Do you write a blog? You have a poet’s soul and a way with words. If the words I write bring any moment of recognition in another widow/er, a brief moment of relieved breath…anything at all…I’m humbled. My community here…you are all lights on my path, and each of you make a difference. I hold you and your loss in my heart, and I wish you nothin’ but Love as you find your way. Please check in with me again, here or on my HH fb page, and let me know how you’re doing~alison

  3. Hey!
    I’ve been following your blog since day 1, but have not commented before (except to say that you could always park your “pinkness” here if you ever get near phila). Anyway, I can’t begin to understand your struggle. Only you can. I’ve learned this the hard way too. I had breast cancer at 39, major chest surgery at 47, and a medically induced (aka fuck up) injury that has left me with right sided paralysis in 2011 at age 56. Yes, some people fled and some moved closer. But no one (even my husband) truly knows what it feels like. There’s a gaping hole where my active life once was. The one thing that has helped me is helping others. I volunteer in Camden ,nj in an after school program serving 40 children preparing snacks, playing, and helping with homework. It’s 2 afternoons/wk (all I can handle), but they are 2 glorious days with 6-10 yearly olds hugging, playing, kissing and loving. Amazing. I help them, but they help me even more.
    Happy trails.

    • Chris, you’ve carried, and continue to carry, a huge load, with what you’ve had to deal with physically-and the emotional components of it, as well. I’m a firm believer in volunteering; we receive so much more than we give. Though I’ve been on the road, I’ve been able to continue volunteering with a non-profit that I started many years ago, and I recall my hospice volunteer days with fondness. When the time comes that I settle, I’ll probably start up a regional widow/ers support group connected to Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, the non-profit that I write my Widows Voice blog for. Thank you so, so, much, for taking the time to write to me, and I wish you many more moments of hugs an kisses and love with the kids in your after school program~alison

  4. Deep despair and emotional exhaustion come through this writing, Allison, and I am sad for you. You are such a strong and gifted woman, and have fought so hard, but maybe it’s time to turn a page and do something different. You have seemed driven to keep traveling, and you absolutely needed to do it, but is it working for you at this point is the question. It seems not. Maybe the struggle of maintaining a mobile life has taken more of your emotional resources than you can spare. May be time to let go of ever changing environs in favor of sameness, simplicity, and physical stability. Less stress, less struggle, fewer decisions. Sometimes we just need to be still. A job, a little place of your own, grass under your feet may be just what you need. Chuck will help you, just listen. Good luck to you, Maggie

    • Maggie, yes…sometimes we just need to be still. I remember a counselor, way back before I met Chuck, telling me those words; be still, and hear what is inside of you. I know that I’ve done Chuck proud in these last 4 years, and I know that my Odyssey will continue until my death, and it will take on many shades and colors as it continues. And, as my daughter reminded me, whatever I do now, can always change later. I want to write my books, develop my workshops, become a speaker, and perhaps it is time to use my energy towards those endeavors rather than continually traveling. Thank you for taking the time to not only read my meanderings, but respond here. You are a light along my way, and that means so much to me~alison

  5. I’ve been following your blog avidly since I read your excellent account of the complete mindfuck that is widowhood, in your Widow Speak piece. (Thanks for your reply to my comment on that piece). You describe so accurately how completely unbearable this experience is and I am so in awe of you that you’ve shown up, as you say, for nearly 4 years. I’ve done it for 15 months and don’t know how I have, but somehow I keep on getting up day after day and every day my love is still dead. It’s unimaginable but it’s real every day – I can’t get my head around that. Just wanted to send lots of love to you on reading this piece, and to let you know how amazingly helpful your blog is to me.

    • Meave, that’s the real mystery, isn’t it? How we keep getting up day after day, to another day of that Love, that person, our person, not here. And it’s a mindfuck, no matter how you try to dress it up. It still shakes me..I suspect it always will. I’m touched that my writings resound in your heart, and knowing that you and others read my meanderings, helps me. I’m very grateful that none of us are walking this road alone. I send you nothin’ but Love, and, as many peaceful moments as you can have~alison

  6. Alison ~ maybe your soul is telling you now you need a change. You have spilled yourself to the point that you are spent. You have grieved to the enth-degree and now you realize you are done, not done with grieving but done with living like this, really done. You have accomplished everything that you set out to do, to honor Chuck, and you have helped so many people along the way to understand love, loss, grief and widowhood, and in the end you are alone to face yourself in the mirror with no reflection of someone else behind you.

    Very early on in recovery, I heard a phrase that changed my life, “No change, no change.” If you look at it quickly, it may mean nothing to you, however the comma is the most important part of that phrase; meaning if you don’t make a change, there will be no change. So the choice is now yours, are you ready to make that change?

    I leave you with those words and I send you love. You are the bravest woman I have ever met and you have to make the decision now. Think long and hard whether you are now ready to take a different fork in the road that leads you to where you do not know. Let Go….you know the rest. 🌻

    With love and a huge hug, Jeanne Volk 💕

    • Jeanne, your words bring tears to my eyes; they are filled with so much Love and encouragement and support. I do get the comma aspect of change, and I’m thinking daily, trying to figure out what direction I need to take next. If nothing else, having stability will allow me to concentrate more fully on my writing and developing workshops. Being on the road has been so erratic, and now that I have the need for an income, it adds to the stress. I know I’ve done Chuck proud, and my Odyssey will continue until my last breath, but perhaps settling for a spell will allow me to breathe more fully, and clarify a few things. Who knows, really? The constant that follows me, no matter where I go, is the community that I’ve built in my years on the road. You, and so many others, are the light on my way, and I always keep your presence in my life, and the presence of others, front and center of my heart and mind. Thank you for your words, Jeanne; I will keep them in mind, and I’ll let you know how it all plays out~alison

  7. Sometimes it’s hard to read what you write because it’s true. All true. I’ll just go to bed now so I don’t have to think about it. Alone, of course. No ones priority.

    • Barb, I absolutely acknowledge the difficulty of reading what I write. It’s hard to write the things I write and I fully appreciate that so many read my words. Keeping it raw and honest is chancy at all times, but it’s all I know to do. I’m grateful that none of us walk alone through this, though I know most of us feel very alone. Wishing you moments of, at least, halfway peace…alison

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