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.