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.

Tearfall

10422966_10153180558170400_2802915918117181945_nIt’s monsoon season in the desert right now. Each day the sky darkens, dense clouds fill the space above, and the rains rush in flooding the streets below. That’s exactly how my emotions built up and poured out of me the other day. I should have expected it, and now that it has happened once, I know it will happen again. I knew going into this trip that there would be hard times, but overall I think the excitement and adventure masked the majority of the challenges ahead. It has been almost 3 weeks on the road and the missing-ness of my husband is beginning to kick into high gear. Questions, wonder, and fears slowly creep into my subconscious- all of which I understand are normal. It is a process of learning to surrender, embrace, and be in the moment because that’s all any of us really have anyway.

It has been interesting observing the similarities and differences between how my mom and I are experiencing this time. We both grieve the missing-ness of our husbands, however, at the end of this trip I can expect to see my husband again. She cannot. I travel roads she and my dad drove with new eyes (mostly) and she relives a time past. We both experience heartbreak. We both crave the arms of the men we love around us. We both long for a different way of having to live through this given moment. Same, yet different, yet same.

We talk honestly and openly with one another. Truly, our relationship is becoming more like two girlfriends rather than just mother and daughter. I hold space for her and she lovingly does the same for me. I am so grateful. And I needed it the other morning. As I sat sobbing in Pink Magic, she sat with me, simply allowing me to have my tears.

There is just so much more to this Nothin’ But Love tour than travel, hula hooping, and living a carefree life for 6 months. To be clear, this is NOT a vacation. At least not the kind one might think of when planning their travels. There are aches and pains, sobs and puffy eyes, time spent away from the man I love, my dad’s cremains behind the passenger seat, and let’s not forget all of the fun electrical issues we have been having with the T@B.

The one major theme that I have taken away from watching my father die and everything that has happened since is that I trust. I trust that everything in life plays out exactly as it is meant to. Sometimes I understand it and sometimes I don’t, or at least not right away anyway. I also believe in and know love. It’s bigger than everything. It’s how I came into this world. It’s how I met my husband. It’s how I made the decision to move into this current adventure. It’s how I will die. But most importantly, it’s how I will LIVE.

Love and the Lack of DNA~

Once upon a time, there was a man who was a single dad (of one) who fell in love with a woman who had 3 kids.  This is just a short vignette to tell you about him and another dad.  The first dad is known to you as Handsome Husband.  The other is our older son, Alec, sometimes known as Snads.

These two men shared so much in common.  They are proof positive that DNA actually can have little to do with, well, anything.   Technically, they had a step relationship.  Lots of people didn’t know that about Handsome Husband’s kids.  As far as he was concerned, my 3 were merely added to his 1 from his first marriage and all 4 of them were his.  He never spoke differently of them and, even at his memorial service last September, there were those who were surprised to find that out.

When Handsome Husband and I got married, he readily took my kids under his care.  Emotionally, financially, spiritually-in every way he became their dad.  He’d tell me that he’d always wanted a big family; he just never figured getting it the way that he did.  My ex chose not to be in his kids’ lives.  Early on, after Handsome Husband and I married, our daughter Rachael came to me, an emissary for her brothers, and, at age 6, asked me what they should call this new man in their lives?  Dad?  Chuck?  What did I think?  My response was you know what, Rachael?  You and your brothers can choose because all that matters is that you have as many people in your life to love you as possible.  What you call them isn’t important. Coddllage

They chose to call him dad.  He was their dad.  He had the toughest time with our older son, Alec.  The usual growing up stuff but Handsome Husband used to get so frustrated because he’d tell me that he’s the one most like me why is it so hard with him?  I could have told him that it’s exactly because he’s so much like you and just be patient and it will be okay.

Issues between Handsome Husband and his son Alec smoothed out years before his death.  Respect was strong between them.  During his dad’s hospice time, Alec spent a grueling 6 hours coaching him in taking one breath and then another when his breathing became completely compromised.   Alec brought his girlfriend to California and Handsome Husband was able to feel his grand-daughter -to-be move in the womb of her mother.  She was born two months after he died.

Upon his death, I saw our son Alec grow up overnight.  He’s had to struggle to maintain his right to be a dad, same as his dad had to struggle after his divorce.  Single dad parenting, when the dad really wants to be a dad, isn’t always an easy thing.  But Alec has his dad’s determination to not just be a babysitter but to truly be an involved parent.  He’s got a good example in front of him.

This is Alec’s first Father’s day.  He’s a single dad who revels in his daughter’s growth and who is the dad to her that his dad was to him.  His love for her is as deep as the love he learned from his dad.  He will teach his daughter to be of service to others.  He will teach her to expand her mind and her horizons and not be stopped by obstacles in her path.  He will teach her joy in family and he will tell her stories of his own dad, a man who opened his heart to 3 kids not of his blood and  who never stopped loving them.  She’ll probably roll her eyes at times, as Alec did when his dad told stories, but someday she’ll treasure those stories, as Alec does now.

Two men of two generations.  One made such a difference in the lives of his 4 kids.  The other is making a difference in the life of his one daughter.

Father’s day now connects them even more strongly.  I miss my husband.  They miss their dad.

Happy Father’s day to the man who was our patriarch.  And  happy Father’s day to the man he was proud to call his son~Collage