All good love stories begin with Once upon a time. Once upon a time a man and a woman met and fell in love, created a life together….and, it pretty much ended there.
We don’t hear much of the fullness of the love stories that begin with Once Upon a Time. We rarely hear about the ending of that Love story, when one or the other dies, and how the one left behind goes about widowing.
My Odyssey of Love is a continuation of my Once Upon a Time.
The Once Upon a Time that Chuck and I shared for 24 years was the fullness of our Love story. Blended families, jobs, volunteering, school, the military…and the Love that he and I nurtured long after the wedding ceremony.
Our Once Upon a Time lasted for 24 years and only ended when Chuck took his last breath on that bed in a hospice in southern California, his body ravaged by cancer.
And then began my Once Upon a Time…
I would write it like this, if I were tasked to write this part of my Love story…
Once upon a time, there was a woman who deeply loved a man who deeply loved her, and that man who was her very breath, died, leaving her physically alone in this world. She was far from home and community; indeed, had no physical home. The life she’d lived with the man who loved her was a life on the road, adventuring together, and they were, quite simply, each other’s home.
After the death of the man she loved more than life, she packed up the urn that contained what was left of his physical body, his military ID tags, his flag, just a very few pieces of his clothing (the ones she really, really, liked to remember him wearing), bought a tiny trailer and painted it pink to match her car, and set out on the road alone, continuing their travels.
Widowing was hard and unbearable and unimaginable and overwhelmingly lonely and frightening and nothing was the same as it had been and nothing ever would be the same and she didn’t know what to do with any of that.
So she took a deep breath every morning before getting out of bed and remembered how much that man had loved her, and would love her still, (if he were, you know, alive), and on that remembrance alone, she swung her feet onto the floor every damn morning and made the decision to allow his left behind Love to shine more brightly than any fear or grief or all the other unbearable words connected to widowhood.
The one thing that she knew for certain was that she didn’t have to feel differently, or better, before deciding to make Love bigger than her grief. She didn’t have to be any one thing before taking one more step. She could feel all the feels that come with widowhood and carry the fucking devastation with her, and within her, and surround that devastation with more and more Love, until she, and her life, became nothing but unadulterated, can’t mistake it for anything else, unequivocally, just…Love.
Once Upon a Time a woman who loved a man with all that she was, remembering a man who loved her back with all that he was, took the Love this man left behind for her after his death, and created a world of Love around her shattered heart. God, how she missed his touch, missed his kisses, missed his arms around her, his strong chest upon which to rest her head….how could she not? But she took that Love that shone its’ light through the pieces of her shattered heart and made it fucking count. That Love became the driving force of the life she lived, driving that pink car, towing that tiny trailer behind it.
Because, what she knew, more than anything she’d ever known, was that all that mattered was Love. That the Love he left behind for her was her superpower. It was what she had left, it was what she lived on. Forever into her next Once Upon a Time that took her into the Universe where the man who loved her, lived on, and waited for her, and shined his Love upon her, everywhere she was.
Once upon a time…