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 well..it’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~