If I Could…

If I could…

These 6 1/2 years later than the day after your death that I never thought I’d survive…

I would approach you hesitantly…

I would rush into your arms…

I would stand in wonder…

I would stare disbelievingly at you…

I would shake my head back and forth…

No.

Yes.

Of course…

It would feel so normal, seeing you standing in front of me again.

I knew you weren’t really gone I’d breathe.

Even though I knew you were dead.

Even though I knew you couldn’t be dead…

Because, really, how could you be dead

When you are so alive in all the pictures of you and I together?

You’d reach for my hand as I reached for yours…

And our bodies would touch so closely that all light between us would disappear…

You and I again…

Me and you…

Us.

Yes.

My world would be bright again.

It would shimmer and glow and fireworks would explode around us…

Us again. 

Me again.

Love again.

You again.

If I could…

This Confusing Afterlife~

It’s been 6 years and 5 months since Chuck died.

I kind of feel like I need to put that identifier in so that anyone who reads this will have a gauge.

Except that those newly living this widowed life might look at the time since and then read this blog and shudder. 

Or shrink back in dismay.

Because….really?

The confusion lasts that long?

And I don’t mean to convey that.

It’s all personal, right?

That’s what we always hear, anyways.

So, apologies ahead of time to anyone who reads this and is discouraged…

I’ve come in off the road, with the aim of settling in for up to a year, for the first time in a little over 10 years.

Chuck and I were on the road together for our last 4 years, and I’ve spent the last 6 1/2 years solo on the road.

Truthfully, I’m fucking exhausted in all the ways I can be; physically, emotionally, mentally.

And I know it’s time to take my Odyssey of Love to the next phase.

To do that, I want to be in one place so that I can put together all the puzzle pieces floating around me.

To that end…

As I approached Arizona a few days ago, which is where I’m planting myself, the thought popped into my head, and into my heart that I’m so excited to see Chuck again! It’s been so long! Just a few more miles!

Followed too quickly by the stomach clenching, heart shredding, soul shrinking reality check that nope, you’re not going to see him again. Ever. He’s gone. He’s dead.

All I know how to do is bite down onto that thought and just let it be.

Just…FUCK.

So that’s part of what happened.

Over the weekend I met up with my daughter and talk turned, invariably, to our grief. 

And she told me something that I’d not considered.

I miss Pop, she said, and I miss the woman you were. The mom you were.

I know that I miss the woman I was, but I’d never thought about my kids missing that woman also. 

Further conversation brought out that she (and I think my other 2 feel this too) that it feels as if I’ve drawn away emotionally.

You know what? She’s right. 

I have.

I was 55 when Chuck died. I’m 61 now, and I’ve spent all these years out on the road, traveling the country. I do stop and visit with my kids and their families but as I think of it, I own up to the fact that I keep my distance, emotionally. 

Not that I don’t show them and their families love. I do. I feel it towards them and I do show it.

But I’ve been so fucking intent on not being a burden to my kids and their spouses and families that I’ve gone way over the other direction to be independent in every way that I can. 

I don’t know how to explain how that shows up other than what I’ve already written and I can’t even really define all of it.

I just know that I’ve done it.

And I don’t know how to be otherwise.

They have their own lives, with their own families and busyness of lives and I never want to need anything from them.

The first few years of feeling emotionally needy was enough and they don’t need that burden. I don’t want them to feel that I’m dependent on them, because they have enough of that as they grow their families/careers/etc.

Widowhood is an incredibly confusing life for me.

I don’t know where to draw lines so I draw them far away.

I don’t know how to make my needs known to them without showing desperation or looking, well, needy.

So I draw bubbles around myself.

How the ever loving FUCK do we figure any of this out?

Seriously, I’m asking you, my community.

How do we navigate family in this afterlife?

Where the fuck do I fit now?

Chuck’s death blew our world apart.

It just did.

We were strong before, as a family.

Have I failed our kids?

I don’t know.

I just know that his death blew me into smithereens and I don’t know how to come back from it.

Or if it’s even realistic to think that I can.

Just…

FUCK.

Roads, Places, and Memories~

70. 20. 10. 65. 85. 60. 1.

East to west to north to south and back again.

The Oregon coast. The road to the Keys. New England. The Southwest. Deep South.

Roads and directions and places and, most of all…memories.

We…you and I…were everywhere together.

I travel to as many places, the same roads as we did.

I don’t go to places though.

I don’t go to National Parks or monuments.

I’m not much interested in places since you left this earth.

Since you and I parted.

None of it carries the same meaning for me.

The thrill isn’t there, alone.

Or with others, really.

So I don’t go places.

But I do go. I do see.

I travel the roads you and I traveled and my eyes light on a roadside picnic table and I think to myself…we sat there under an umbrella and ate lunch, marveling at our surroundings.

I suddenly realize that the road I’m on is one we were on in our red Escape.

I’m on that same road now, in my pink car, towing my pink trailer that bears hundreds of names written in red pen.

It isn’t the same.

I didn’t expect it would be, of course.

How could it be?

It’s powerful.

To me and to so many others.

What my pink car and trailer represent, I mean.

I’m passionate about what I’m doing.

I’ll do it as long as I can.

But oh, my dearest Love, my eyes search for you on these roads.

My heart searches for those memories. It searches for all we felt for each other.

I try to feel it again and it’s there but distant…a memory of my mind because it’s been so long.

So very long since I glanced over at you in the driver’s seat and reached out my hand to massage the back of your neck as you steered us into adventure and you returned my glance and smiled and rested your hand on my knee.

Oh, my Love, my dearest Love…

I wish you back, adventuring with me.

I miss you~

My Life from Movies~

It seems that my imagination…what goes on in my mind to help me manage this life…has ramped up.

Almost any situation I encounter has a counterpart from various movies I’ve watched over the years.

The big picture of all of this is me in the middle of a romantic comedy.

I’ve always loved watching romcoms.

Chuck used to watch them with me.

Within the big picture romcom, scenes and quotes from other movies interpose themselves.

This past week I headed to Louisville KY to visit a dear friend/wid sis/AF wid/AF veteran. She and I met a few years ago in the 3rd year of my Odyssey of Love, and we’ve maintained our friendship.

I was coming from IN where I’ve been visiting Chuck’s mom.

Part of this story that I want you to know is that I was listening to a playlist that I’d created for my Odyssey of Love from tunes sent to me by a few hundred of the community that follows my Odyssey.

I’d asked them to give me the names of songs their loved one loved, or that they loved together. Or just their favorite tune.

Frickin’ amazing. Really.

And these were the tunes I was listening to a few days ago as I rolled down the backroads of Indiana. Windows open. Tunes blaring. Me singing with them because I’m making a point of doing that. It’s my new challenge. Feel the energy of singing. Which I haven’t done since Chuck’s death a little over 6 years ago.

Cruisin’ along…

My pink car draws up to a 4 way intersection. Which is a normal thing to come upon on any road across America.

But, as I sat there momentarily, scanning for oncoming traffic, my mind drifted to the movie Castaway, with Tom Hanks. Specifically the end scene where he sits in his truck at a 4 way intersection in the middle of nowhere, looking thoughtfully in each direction. 

The movie ends with that. We have no idea except we kind of do which direction he takes.

I turned right, heading to KY. Not a big thing.

Except that, as I made that turn, for the first time since Chuck died 6 years and almost 5 months ago, the thought kind of appeared in my mind that I’m driving into my future…

As my car settled onto the road, into my mind came the scene from Practical Magic where the sister, Jillian, is driving east to help her sister, who’s just been widowed. The scene changes from night to day to night again, as she drives. Open road in front of her.

I considered to myself how I’m way over defending how I widow. Trying to convince people that I’m okay, in the midst of a world that is not at all okay. All the bullshit we hear, you know?

And into my mind came the speech made by the President in Independence Day…

We will not go quietly into the night!

We will not vanish without a fight!

We’re going to live on!

We’re going to survive!

Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!

Here’s the thing.

I’m devastated, living without Chuck. This life isn’t better than the life I had with him.

AND

I’m by god going to continue doing what I do. I drive my Odyssey of Love. I wear pink. I carry Chuck with me in every way possible. I honor him and his memory everyday. I reach out to those I meet in order to create community. I keep my heart open, even in its’ shattered state. I’m not broken. I’m not carrying baggage with me in the sense that I’m emotionally broken. On the contrary, I’m the woman I am because I’ve refused to allow others to dictate how I do this. If, at some point which I honestly don’t believe will ever happen a man comes into my life, he will be strong and confident and sure enough in himself to honor Chuck with me. I know how to love. I’m really good at being in a healthy relationship with a man. Any man would be damn lucky to have me. I’m a fucking warrior goddess.

Love is what fuels this life of mine. The Love left for me by Chuck. The Love I’ve created for myself in a nationwide community. All of this right alongside of the pain and devastation. 

It isn’t enough.

But it, by god, is what I have and I’m going to keep doing it.

I will not go quietly into the night. I’ve been fighting to survive since 11:25 pm on April 21, 2013.

I’m writing my own script for this movie I’m in~

What Was. What Is~

Your death

stripped me down to bone and marrow.

It dug my heart out of my body with sharp talons

And flung it, bloodied, onto the ground

A sharp bladed axe,

Such as was used for beheadings in the days of Henry VIII 

Hacked away at that bloodied heart of mine on the ground.

Slicing and dicing it into miniscule pieces.

It took effort and determination and grit

And all the Love he left behind for me,

To string those pieces of you and me together.

My heart doesn’t look the same now, as it did when it was full in my chest.

I don’t look the same as I did all the years of our together lives.

I am stripped raw.

Exposed.

Vulnerable.

That isn’t a bad thing.

Or a good thing.

It’s just what I am now.

I’m still dislocated. Dispossessed. Disoriented. Displaced. In dissaray. 

I’m okay with all this, too.

In a world where nothing is okay because you are no longer in it…

I’m weirdly okay.

Living and missing you. Living while missing you with each breath. Living. And missing.

Empty and filled with Love for you.

I don’t try to reason any of it out any longer.

Perhaps that is the true freedom that comes with grief.

In the truest, most loving, strongest way of letting go…

It is letting go of people’s expectations of me. 

People’s opinions of me.

People’s anything of me.

Or judgement of myself.

I’m just me. 

Still, and always, in Love with a dead man.

With a heart open to Love every day.

No matter what.

Aching with Love.

Aching for you.

Loving you~

To Us~

Yes, You~

to those of us left behind
standing amidst the ashes that remain
atop the skeletons of our lives and ourselves.

to those of us left behind
who struggle with unseeing eyes blinded by grief
and limbs made heavy with exhaustion
and shattered souls
uncertain about…everything.

to those of us left behind
who must learn to live in the without
and open our hearts to life
when all that is in us begs to close those very hearts.

to those of us left behind
who loved so deeply and so passionately
whose lips whisper names into the darkness
of the soul and heart and body
and hear only an echo.

to those of us left behind
who stagger through each moment and each hour
of every day and night
as the months pass by and the sharp blades of a love gone
cut and shred.

To you, to me, to us
left behind but left behind
with the love that can and will and must
become bigger than the absence of those who
have gone beyond our reach.

We who grieve the grief of a lover gone
and slowly dance our spirit dances and speak their names in our hearts
as our hands and souls entwine with theirs
and our bodies search and our minds question and the deepest part of ourselves
burns and become determined and we become Love in remembrance of the love we once held close.

To those of us left behind
searching the heavens, finding our footing, seeking,
gasping, breathing,
being…

To us~

A Breath Away~

You are so far away now.

6 years away.

A lifetime away.

A moment away.

But a moment that is memory rather than feeling.

Remembrance.

I stare at your picture,

At pictures of you and I together,

And I look at all the pictures in the years since you left,

I almost wonder…

Which ones are real?

You and I, passionate together, 

Or me, alone, passionate in a different way,

At a different level,

That passion that peaks when I speak of you, dream of you, write of you, live for you.

Alone, there is mostly just a vast emptiness 

that reflects your absence. 

How is it possible for your absence to feel as strongly binding as your presence once did?

In the beginning, in the horror filled new years of without you,

my mind took me to and from and back and forth and up and down and inside out,

As I strove to make sense of me walking this earth alone.

Now, in this just past 6th year,

I wonder no longer.

About any of it.

I may see you again. I may not. I am in pain. I am empty.

I miss you with a dull throbbing, even as I strive to live this life of color and travel trailers and open roads and new friends and fading memories and daily challenges.

Oh my dearest Love…

My dearest Love…

You are me and I am you and your Love is me and I am both of us and I…

I carry our story.

I carry us, now.

Oh, my dearest Love…