Tracing Time~

My fingers glance gently over the clocks in the hall,
Measuring time that carries no meaning.
My slippered feet wander past rooms of memory.
That are so far in the past, yet ever present but indistinct.
Are my memories real? Are they true?
Or an imagined figment of an imagination grasping at what once was and is no longer?
The doors of these rooms along that long hallway are open,
But I can’t pass into them…
So I simply pause at each one, allowing my eyes to study each piece of furniture, each window hanging, each picture on the wall.
That bed with its’ brilliant white coverlet, scarlet pillows fluffed…
Where our passion came alive and where we found blissful sleep,
Your arm curved over my hip as we nestled together.
The framed pictures of we two, 20841903_10159244759430441_4566915563922987957_n-300x225
Holding hands, smiling at each other, kissing, feeling loved.
The billowy curtains framing our backyard where we sat in the swing, admiring our colorful gardens and sweetly scented grass…
Our kids’ bedrooms, posters on walls, dirty clothes in a pile on the floor, mixed with clean clothes, no matter how often we admonished them.
A living room colored in pops of green and raspberry and cream…soothing to our souls as we’d sit together in the evening,
Me with a book and you on the computer.
A dining room that saw so many meals on so many evenings, over so many years, sharing our days, sharing our philosophies, telling stories of exploits and hard won wisdom with the kids.
I drift past those doors in my mind,
In my heart,
Hearing the muted tones of bygone days,
And I wonder how life feels so full, and then so empty, and both full and empty at the same time…
Memories of yesterday and a life today, though it is without you.
I’m here and yet, in so many ways, not here at all,
No matter the efforts I make each day, each moment, each month and each year.
And I think that maybe, it’s okay to be here, and there, too, photo-1541694321475-c3078053d72d-400x267
As I wander those halls of memories,
My fingers gently trailing over the clocks,
Tracing Time~

Sweet Sighs, and Crushed Heart~

I thought of you last night,

One night among the thousands of nights that have passed since your hand last grasped mine,

As we lay next to each other in the dark.

I thought of your breath,

Of your arms braced,

As you raised yourself above me,

The passion in your eyes

A mere reflection of mine.

My dearest, my beloved, my knight, my hero, my lover, my husband,

I thought of you last night,

As I turned my body to face where you would be,

In another lifetime and if life were fair.

I turned to face you,

And my eyes lit not upon you,

But on a rectangular box covered in pictures of you when you were here,

and a triangle shape of red and white stripes and white stars. flag

My hand reached out to caress what is left of your physical form,

Fingers curled around those stripes and stars,

And I remembered your strong body raised over mine…

Your eyes…your breath…

Passion, and Love…

So much Love…

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~

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…

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~

Beginning my New Year~

My new year begins each April 21.

That’s the date of Chuck’s death.

It’s the only new year that carries any meaning for me.

What do I care about January 1? 

April 21 is the day my life incinerated and I was eviscerated.

So it stands to reason, at least in my mind, that this is the day where I look back, and, insofar as I’m able, look ahead.

I knew, to the depths of my heart and soul, and into my bones, that this April 21, just recently passed, is the year where all the energy of my Odyssey of Love, would expand and grow, and it’s already happening.

Since I began my Odyssey of Love, just weeks after Chuck’s death, I’ve been laying the foundation for…something.

I didn’t know what, and I still don’t know where this is all taking me.

I just know that it’s taking me somewhere big. 

Where big is, I don’t know, and I’m not concerned about where it is.

All I’ve known, since Chuck died, is that it is my responsibility to suit up and show up and let the day unfold. The outcome isn’t up to me.

And I’ve done that. Whether I felt like it or not.

I had to make meaning out of this fucking devastation, or go nuts.

And I realized, very early on, that there ain’t nobody going to do this for me. 

I could have gone to ground. Isolated myself. God, that would have been so easy to do. It’s what my instincts told me to do.

But how could I make meaning out of any of this if I disappeared?

How could I maybe somehow connect to Chuck again, if I disappeared?

So I painted my car and trailer pink and donned my pink clothes and set out to connect with people. Share my story. Listen to theirs. Write about our Love story. Write about my fears and doubts. Write what it’s like to navigate widowhood while towing a trailer around the country, navigating new roads and pushing beyond my comfort zones.

I made myself vulnerable, in spite of the grief and pain.

It wasn’t easily done. It isn’t easily done. I’m just doing it anyways.

And where has it brought me?

It has brought me to a place where, this coming fall, I’m meeting a woman who is a photographer/videographer, in Arizona, who, along with her partner, is teaming up with me to film a documentary about my Odyssey of Love.

Wait…what?

Yep. We will create a spectacular documentary about all of this that I’ve been doing for the last 6 years. Holy shit, right? I met the exactly right person recently who has the skill, the vision, the magic, to help me translate my story into an epic documentary that I’ll take on the road with me.

I’ve been wanting to do this for…well, forever.

And it’s going to happen.

And it will be fucking epic and you’re going to want to see it.

My rig, PinkMagic, covered with the names of loved ones from around the world, will have a starring role, of course.

I plan on hosting a premiere showing of it and inviting the world.

This is the first time I’ve been excited about anything since Chuck died. 

I’m holy shit excited about this.

The energy around my Odyssey of Love has shifted and is palpable.

It’s time, you know? 

Time for all of what I’ve been creating from the depths of my shattered heart to get out into the world in a bigger way.

It’s my way of reaching my hand back, and out, to anyone else trying to figure out the “now what?” of widowhood.

Maybe someone will see it and think well, she did it. So I can do something too.

In the name of Love. THE most powerful force in the Universe.

Here I am, Chuck. And look what I’m doing with what you left behind for me.

I’m making meaning out of the godawful missingness of you. 

I’m making what we had count for something.

And I’m doing it all…including breathing…in the name of LOVE~