Softly Spoken~

Stay with me, my beloved husband.
Don’t leave me.
I don’t want to be without you in this life.
Words uttered only in my heart as my hand gently touched your forehead.
As my hand glided over your cheekbones, sharpened by cancer.
As my two hands wrapped around your fingers, stroking your knuckles. 733925_10152250642650400_2024366887_n
Remembering the strength of your hand wrapped around mine in our lifetime together.
As your spirit slowly faded away from me.
Rest easy, my Love.
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for showing me how to love.
I will always remember you.
I will make sure that every person I ever meet from here on
Will hear your name from my lips.
Hear who you were to me.
Who I was to you,
And who we were to each other.
I will always remember you.
I’ll always be okay.
I promise.
Just let yourself rest, my beloved.
You are loved.
Slip away when it’s time for you to go.
It’s okay for you to go.
You are loved.
Eyes filled with Love as lips spoke these words aloud.
How could I wish for you to linger on when you were so spent?
So I spoke words that I hoped you would hear even as you traveled on without me.
Words to reassure you,
Words that shattered my heart, 12932923_1006554602732807_3717615266670319827_n
As the very air around us changed and Time ticked minutes and then seconds,
And sacred beauty filled the room,
Even as tears fell.
Where are you, my beloved?
Where did you go?
I don’t know where you are.
You know where I am.
Come find me.
I will wish you into being, as I travel on without you.
Perhaps if I yearn desperately enough for you,
You will return…
Stay with me, my beloved husband.
Don’t ever leave me.
I can’t bear to be without you.
Place your hands upon my shoulders.
Wrap your left behind Love around me.
Let your spirit shine within me. IMG_1745
Let your Love beat strongly in my own heart
Add it to the Love I had for you,
And let our combined Love shimmer and shine so extravagantly
That the world must stop in wonder and awe.
Be with me, my beloved husband,
As I live on, for both of us.
I love you.
I was loved by you.
I carry you with me and within me.
Your Love, my Love, our Love, is my armor. 33384992_1687491431305784_6535730087411580928_n
Chuck Dearing
April 21, 2013
11:21 pm

Our Corona~

Life will never be the same again, in most ways.
Shit around the world, and in our country, is changing so fast that my head is spinning around like Linda Blair’s in the freakiest movie to ever happen to our world, back in the 70’s.
photo-1572113394679-f98d243df693-200x300The Exorcist.
Facebook is flooded daily with everything about our new favorite virus.
Fortunately, it’s also flooded with information about free classes, concerts, workouts, counseling one on one, yoga breathing and relaxation, singalongs…pretty much whatever your quarantined heart might desire.
Financially, shit is already hitting the fan for so many individuals and families.
There’s a great deal of really, really, good, dark, humor available too. Recently, memes are spot on in every topic.
People post on fb about how stressed they are, how sad they are, how emotional this is for them, how it feels being in isolation, how tough it is going to the store to shop.
And they’re getting supportive and encouraging responses from everyone around them…family, friends, strangers…people near and far.
All of which is lovely and wonderful and beautiful and necessary and good and how great it is, right?
And I’m over here thinking, not in a bitter way but in a wry, sardonic manner, tinged with cynicism, though I try to keep that at bay, that hey, world, guess what?
Welcome to the head spinning shock, disbelief, financial hurricane, numbness while feeling all the feels, terror, anxiety, fear, disorientation, discombobulation, loneliness, and generalized 100% uncertainty about the future, and every other emotion that we who are widowed experienced upon the death of our person and have lived in whatever time since their death.
Many, if not most of us, without support and with broken and shredded hearts.
My sense of humor is seeing me through all of this.
Life, right?
I want to start up a new business for all the non-widowed folks in the world now who find all of this so overwhelming.
Understandably overwhelmed.
Who wouldn’t be?
A business where I’d consult and help them understand what the hell is going on with them emotionally in these days of coronavirus.
I’d be kind of sardonic about it all with them.
These emotions we’re experiencing in these last couple weeks, and for the foreseeable future are all normal in every way.
Of course, the virus will end at some point.
Our loved one, our person will never return, at any point.
There’s no date stamp for that.
I guess I just want to say to the world, as we all go through this, that I hope you all do continue reaching out to one another. Slowing down. Paying attention. Speaking from your heart to your loved ones. All of this.
Because, really, world?
Welcome to the fuck of widowhood.
Grief is suddenly mainstream, peeps, and ain’t that a bitch?

Time in Freefall~

Written on the eve of what the world celebrates as New Year’s.

But since Time has ceased to hold any meaning for me since Chuck’s death, I’ve taken it upon myself to designate my New Year as beginning on April 21; the anniversary of Chuck’s death.

That’s the time when I reflect on whatever needs reflecting upon. It’s when I do a self-check, and it’s a time that is meaningful to me. I realize, more and more, that Time is merely a social construct. It’s necessary, in our culture, to keep our worlds moving, I suppose, but for those of us left behind, it’s a mish mash of how can it be so long? and oh my god it’s been forever! There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of in between.

Recently I also made the decision to stop counting the years since Chuck’s death. Not because it doesn’t matter; it very much does. But my heart can’t manage the reality of all the years yet to come. I started sorting it all out and it will soon be 7 years and…nope. Not doing 7 years. In my mind, and what I will forever tell people henceforth, it has been 6.5 years. Period. 2020-01-04 (8)

Additionally, since I’m stopping counting the years since his death, I will no longer age. I’m 61 now, and that’s the age I’ll stay. I’m already one year older than Chuck was when he died. Enough already.

Yes, yes, of course there are those who might say, behind their hands, that I’ve gone nuts. Crackers. Over the edge. Look at the crazy widow! they’ll whisper.

Behold the field of fucks I don’t give.

I stopped caring about other’s opinions of me a looooong time ago. In fact, the first thing I’d tell anyone new to the grieving community is to install a hinge on their elbow so that it automatically shoots up when someone offers an opinion/comment/suggestion about the right way to grieve, and your fingers automatically flip them a bird. 

You can, of course, in order to appease such people, stare at your elbow/hand in shocked surprise that this happened. Act horrified if you wish. You’ve made your point with them.

In some ways I relish the prospect of being known as the crazy widow lady. Kind of a cool rep, in my mind.

I may very well create a reputation as that crazy widow lady dressed all in pink and what’s that all about? they’ll ask, not really certain if they want to know the answer.

That’s okay, too.

I’m going to just be over here, driving my pink car, towing my pink trailer with the names of all these loved ones on it, shooting sparkle and glitter at everyone. Giving hugs. Getting hugs. 

The crazy widow lady in pink.

Cool beans~

Laughing Til’ I Snort~

My wid sis, Lorri, sent me this meme yesterday, and I snorted with laughter til I just about choked.

Seriously. It’s frickin’ hysterical. 

I laugh like a lunatic every time I see it.

Which is frequently, because I printed it out and put it on the wall next to my desk.

This kind of dark humor is pretty much the only thing that tickles my former funny bone. 

You know, the one I had when Chuck was alive and I genuinely laughed at all kinds of shit, and enjoyed life.

Now?

Now it’s this kind of dark humor.

One of my other fond laughing til I snorted moments was last Spring, after I and two of my wid sisters had wrapped up Camp Widow Tampa and returned to MacDill AFB where we’d taken lodging.

Before going to our separate rooms, we hung out in the snack bar near the front desk, knoshing on french fries and sandwiches. 

Talking about CW, people we’d met, workshops we’d attended. How the best part was just hanging out with our wid community, shooting the shit.

Our conversation quickly devolved…or evolved, as I see it…to our dead husbands. Funerals. Cremations. Urns. Memorials. Widowhood. The shit of widowhood. What it’s really like. How we’d love to say to those who are in early stages that it all gets better but mostly it just stays shit and you do life anyways and you make it count because what are the options and dating and marrying again and…everything.

We were laughing uproariously about all of it. Same as me and Lorri, with whom I’m rooming here in AZ, were doing this evening, over this meme.

As we sat in that snack bar at MacDill, and sat in the diner here in AZ this evening, laughing til our stomachs hurt, anyone looking at us would have thought we were having the time of our lives. The server at the snack bar commented to us about the good time we were having and how good it was to see people so enjoying themselves. 

Bless her heart.

If we’d told her that we were discussing rubbing our dead husband’s cremains into our arms after scattering them…or scattering them and having the wind blow them back into our faces…or mixing them in with, say, brownies or muffins and how inappropriate that would be…but would it really be inappropriate?…I can imagine the look on her face, right?

Dark widow humor. It’s my saving grace.

It takes what is real and painful and forever and puts it right there in front of me and you and helps us cope.

Yeah, death takes us all at one point. Of course it does. In any couple, 1/2 of you will die before the other half and the remaining half will be left holding the bag, trying to make sense out of the wasteland you now stand upon.

I’m never been comforted by the memes that boldly state when you can bravely tell your story without crying, that’s when you know you’ve healed. Shit, I don’t even know what the word healing means, other than I’m sure it carries different meaning for each person.

I don’t know what the word hope means, except…shit, I don’t know. 

I don’t care for the meme that says “you can cry because they’re gone or you can smile because they lived. That kind of shit diminishes the real and true and natural and normal expression of grief. I do, however, believe that I can cry because they’re gone AND smile because they lived, etc, etc...

I can’t promise those who are newly bereaved that it gets better, or easier. There are considerably too many components to grief to make such a blanket statement. Too many variables presented to each individual to say such a thing.

Call me a pragmatist.

All I know to really say is get ready for the shittiest, most confusing, exhausting, life changing and not always in a good way, ride of your life. Hang on tight. Hang onto your community. Find your community, as quickly as you can. They’ll save your life and, sometimes, with dark humor, your sanity.

Widowhood….grief in general, whatever the relationship…ain’t for the faint of heart.

So, yeah, I have a great sense of humor.

But it isn’t anything like the sense of humor I used to have.

And I’m okay with that.

Because, you know….

#deadhusband~

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.

A Thousand Years Ago~

A thousand years ago

I leaned down

Placed my hands to each side of your sunken cheeks

Closed my eyes,

As yours were closed,

And so very gently kissed your lips that had gone completely white

As you took your last breath.

A thousand years ago

As I kissed your lips,

As I’d kissed them thousands of times before

This time now, for the last time…

My heart shattered,

And my mind went blank,

As I stared into a future without your kisses,

Without your touch,

Without your arms around me,

Without our feet moving together in dance…

Without you.

Without us.

Without.

A thousand years ago~

Calling a Spade a Spade~

I’m 5 years and 9 months into life without Chuck.

I don’t think I’m supposed to call it that.

Life without Chuck, I mean.

I think I’m supposed to structure it, this life after him, in a more positive manner, according to society at large, pointing out all that I’ve gained since his death. All the appreciation for life, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Whatevs.

The one thing I’ve done really well since Chuck died is be real about this widowed life shit.

And it ain’t sunshine and roses, no matter how I try to dress it up.

Which I don’t try to do, honestly, because I don’t have it in me to be fake about it, or plant that pretend smile on my face.

I refuse to show it as anything other than what it is.

A shit show.

AND…

I engage in life and with hundreds of people and I laugh at funny shit and I connect with family and old friends and new friends and push my boundaries and comfort zones, daily.

And it’s still the most emotionally lonely life I could have ever imagined.

Which doesn’t keep me from doing all the shit I mentioned a sentence ago.

At the end of the day, when I close my door, whether it’s the door to my rig or the door to a room I’m staying in temporarily, that soul deep ache of missing him that is always present but from which I can distract myself during the day as I go about the business of living, still surges forth.

No, dating isn’t the answer, as I tell people who helpfully suggest that I start dating.

I’m not lonely for a generic man. 

Duh.

I’m lonely for my beloved husband.

It ain’t rocket science, figuring that out. I don’t think.

Life just isn’t as good, now, as it was with Chuck.

That’s just the god honest truth.

But here’s the other side of that truth, which is what makes me, as I told my daughter, possibly the strongest woman ever to walk through her life.

Even with this emotional wasteland of life without Chuck…

I’m going out and doing shit that is way beyond what many would consider ordinary. Full timing in a colorful car and trailer, taking seasonal jobs at opera camps and Renaissance Faires, talking to strangers daily…the list is endless. 

I’m living life, whether I want to or not, because it isn’t in me to not live. Even as I wonder, often, why the hell I didn’t die of broken heart syndrome. But I’m doing it, andthat is what makes me the damn strong woman that I am. Lonely for my husband, Chuck, but fucking killing this life I’ve created.

If I have to live life without him, which I have to do, clearly, then you can by god be damn sure I’m doing it MY way, living as much outside what is considered traditional/normal, as I possibly can on any given day.

With the full recognition, and realization, that anyone who has a problem with my hows and whys, generally speaking, are just not strong enough to even be in my sphere.

My life without my beloved husband. My terms.

All in glorious shades of pink.

All of which is what makes me a Fucking Warrior Goddess~

The Shame. On THEM~

In a disheartening post, a couple of years ago, I read about a widow sister who had received a nasty email from friends. Friends of her husband who became her friends also. She thought they were still friends after his death but their email made clear to her that they want nothing to do with her. She thrived on the drama of widowhood, they said, because of the attention it brought to her.
Early on in my widowhood someone I didn’t know but whom I suspect was somehow connected to Chuck’s ex, accused me, upon learning of my intent to write a book about our love story, upon learning that it was my goal to some day present a program about our hospice time, about our time together, that person felt the need to email me and accuse me of profiting off of my marriage to him. She reminded me, in an accusing manner, that he’d had a first wife and child, you know! And various other things that were equally idiotic and had nothing to do with anything. (maybe she meant that his ex was actually his widow? God, who knows? People are fucked up weird).
A woman I considered a friend, a woman I’d counseled in past years after her mom’s death and through an abusive relationship, messaged me and said you’re not the only one who ever lost anyone, you know. You just need to paste a smile on your face and fake it. This was a mere 2 months after my entire world incinerated, mind you. Also…you mean others have gone through this? Well, who the ever loving fuck EVER would have thought that?!
I let go willingly and happily of a 45-year friendship that was not a friendship at all, apparently, upon realizing that this so-called friend was blind as to who I am as a person, who attacked Chuck with ugly words and accusations, and was much more interested in the impact my widowhood had on her life than she was in how it impacted my life.
None of us are new to such ignorant people and the ugly words that spew forth from their ugly souls. Many, if not most, of us, have heard such drivel and it’s impossible to comprehend the reason why people feel compelled to use words as knives and drive them into our hearts and souls.
The drama of widowhood. Seeking attention. Endlessly talking gasp! about our husbands and the life we lived with them and how much we miss that life, how much we miss them, how difficult it is to find our footing again.
How dare we not be who we were before? Or, if we can’t be that same person, please just fade away into the darkness, thank you very much.
Get on with life, move along, move on, be happy, it’s a choice to be sad, do this, don’t do this, do that, don’t do that…what don’t we hear?
5 years and 9 months into this fucking widowhood, I’ve long let go of the dare I call them assholes who clearly have no clue at all about the impact of widowhood. No clue as to what the greatest loss is for us, never mind the mind-blowing secondary losses that pop up constantly like a bad whack-a-mole game. None of which make me want sympathy, mind you. A little empathy does, however, go a long way. Barring that, being left alone also does the trick. As in, back the fuck off if you’re not strong enough to stand with me.
We, as widows, need a very thick skin to navigate our new world. We need to learn to walk that fine line of keeping our hearts open while establishing healthy emotional boundaries. We learn new skills out of necessity, we push our comfort zones, we parent solo, we talk about our person because we know it is crucial, going through this loss, we weep, we laugh, we dance, we hide under the covers, we do shit we never imagined doing and we do it all with grief as an all too familiar companion while also often struggling financially, losing our homes, finding new jobs, etc.
Really, you know what I say to those who so easily criticize, to those who are quick with their accusations of drama and attention seeking?
How dare YOU? And also….fuck off. With Love, of course.