I’m not averse to opening my heart to Love again. Indeed, I know well how to love and be loved, by and with a man who honors, respects, and loves me more than his own life. I know what it … Continue reading
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
April 21, 2013
The Death Valley dance.
I only named it that in the hindsight of all that happened in the next months.
All I knew on that February day in 2013 was that this was a moment to remember, as Chuck and I remembered so many of our times together. We knew what was important in life. We’d always, in our 24 years together, grasped that life was impermanent and it needed to be grabbed and appreciated and loved and marked in that spot in our hearts that remembered such moments.
Nothing but wide-open road in front of us, there in Death Valley. We’d had this place on our bucket list forever, and we’d finally made it. This was our last evening here. Our day had been spent mostly driving through the various canyons because Chuck wasn’t feeling well-his strength was minimal and he was in pain. We thought it was the die-off from a fungal infection. We thought it was a pinched nerve. So we moved more slowly that day, and I took the wheel.
But, as I steered the car over the road, headed back to the ranch, looking at the changing colors of the rocks around me, I knew that here was a moment that we needed to imprint upon our hearts. Something in my heart told me to mark this memory into my bones, so I maneuvered the car to the dirt on the side of the road and said Let’s dance. We loved to slow dance, and Chuck was a master at it. Today, he wasn’t as sure of his footing on the rutted dirt of the roadside, but I said let’s try, and he gamely smiled at me and stepped out of the car.
It was that most beautiful part of the evening that the Scots call the gloaming… when the day is done but right before night sets in, and it was quiet, with no traffic as far as the eyes could see and the ears could hear. It seemed as if we were the only humans on the planet at that moment, and the rocks glowed golden from the dying sun’s last breath. Silence surrounded us as I met him in front of our red Ford Escape and the strains of You’re My Inspiration by Chicago, wafted from the IPOD I’d plugged into the radio. Chuck put his right arm around me and clasped my right hand in his left, wrapping his fingers lightly around mine. In spite of everything, his body was strong against me and that strength flowed from him to me and back again, and all the Love in the world between us simmered and shone.
I knew something was wrong with him. He did too. Maybe we both wondered if his cancer had returned, but were afraid to voice the thought aloud. I don’t know. I just know, at that moment in time, with that particular tune playing, my heart called for me to remember this moment.
Our feet moved slowly to the music…back and forth. A step here, a step there. I soaked in that moment in time. I suspect that Chuck did too. Cancer had already visited us once. Something was so clearly wrong with him again, and we knew that every breath between us, every bit of Love between us, counted, more than ever.
Our feet moved gracefully between the ruts on the side of the road, in the setting sun, in the gloaming of a quiet evening.
Oblivious to all but each other, Chuck and I danced our last dance, in the beauty of Death Valley.
And Love moved with us~
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.
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…
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…
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…
My world would be bright again.
It would shimmer and glow and fireworks would explode around us…
If I could…
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
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~
I’m continually searching for new and fascinating podcasts to listen to as I drive my Odyssey of Love. Podcasts by people who think outside the box. Live outside expectations. See beyond what we’ve generally been taught, whether intentionally or culturally.
This perception in thinking isn’t new to me; I was raised to read and question and educate myself.
When Chuck and I started our traveling days together, we let go, willingly, of our material possessions. A huge bit of it was donated to friends. What we kept, we’d go through each time we visited our storage unit.
And what I found was that, as our pile of possessions grew smaller and smaller, I began looking inside of myself.
Why did I believe what I did? Where did my absolutes come from? And were they serving me in my adult life?
A few years after Chuck’s death, I gave away everything left in our storage unit.
Everything I own is in my car and in my trailer.
And, as I did when he was alive, I’ve gone inward to see what’s there and what does/doesn’t serve me any longer.
How can I further expand my heart and soul and mind?
For me, it’s a matter of survival.
I find it difficult to live in the world that was, and no longer is.
Through idle searching, I found a podcast, and episode, of Krista Tippett, with Richard Rohr. He’s a Franciscan monk (I think that’s the proper term). Well educated, as they all are (or used to be). He’s older, more in my age group, with a nod to all of those who recognize the term post Vatican 2.
Part of the conversation was given to the meaning of Time, which is when I learned something I didn’t know about. Not language wise, in any case. I’ve experienced it but didn’t know that the Greeks named it centuries ago (Go, Greeks)!
We mostly experience it and define it in Chronos. Which is time by the clock. By the seasons. Predictable time.
But there is another term for time that the Greeks recognized and tried to define, insasmuch as they could, what with being human and all. Knowing that there was something bigger than our experience of time.
Time again. But time expanded. Deep time. The moments of Chronos time. The moments of recognition. Contemplative time. Those infinitesimal seconds and beats of your heart.
This is how I live.
I haven’t yet figured out how practical it is, because our world demands Chronos. It almost feels defiant to live inside of Kairos.
Except that it pretty much comes easily to me. Chronos turns the world but my world, and my experience of time, changed drastically when Chuck died.
Richard Rohr spoke with Krista Tippet and I’m very loosely translating this to my perception about the before time that consists of so much order. As in, doing the shit we learned to do. The life trajectory that so many of us absorb
Grow up (albeit in a dysfunctional household), graduate/college/graduate/marry/kids/job/2 cars/picket fence etc.
Chuck and I never bought into that lifestyle, though we lived it outwardly as we raised our kids.
We most definitely bucked it when we sold everything and chose to live on the road.
In many eyes, I went over the top, or possibly, over the edge, when I chose to live on the road alone, after he died.
But everything about life changed when he died. Time ceased to have any meaning for me, even as every moment was experienced in pain and grief and dislocation and disruption.
This time, the years of my life after Chuck’s death, this is the disorder that Richard Rohr spoke of. How I translate his words into my life.
And, to quote him again, it is my job to just get out of the way.
Again, nothing new to me, since beginning my Odyssey of Love.
I’ve always known that I’m not in charge of how this is going. I just need to suit up and show up and let it all unfold. Now I realize that I’ve just naturally been living in Kairos time.
Cue Don Williams, and change the lyrics…
It’s only when I get in my own way, when I revert to Chronos time, that shit gets messed up.
It’s as if the Universe is trying to tell me Look, sister, back off, right? I’ve got this going on and happening and you’re trying to interfere. Just step back, right?
The Universe. Love. Some call it god. The Force.
Whatever you call it, it’s the same thing.
As long as I let Love guide me, show me…as long as I live in Kairos time…it happens. I can’t explain it but my heart and soul know when I’m in it.
Chronos time is head space and it fucks with me and messes up the right stuff that’s going on. Chuck used to lightly tap me on the side of my head when he saw that I was getting into that space and say Snap out of it, Miller!
In a wierd and strange way, living in this disordered time is what keeps me open to possibilities. Open to Love. Giving and receiving. Which, you’d think, would fuck me up. But it doesn’t. It works.
Another piece of the puzzle that is my Odyssey of Love.
The landscape of widowhood.
The Alaskan tundra.
The Sahara Desert.
The Australian Outback.
Every side road in between cities and towns.
This parched landscape
This existence of one where there was once two.
I picture nothingness
In the midst of these tundras and deserts.
Nothingness under bright blue skies and a sun so piercing
It makes me squint my eyes.
The only water available streams from overheated eyes…
The eyes he used to look into, and smile.
Crawling on hands and knees, searching for something familiar,
Aching muscles and shattered self…
I don’t know where I’m going with this.
It’s been a rough day emotionally.
All I want is the life I had with Chuck,
And that life is dead and gone,
Same as he is.
Do you ever get tired of being brave and courageous,
Even though that’s a very real part of you?
I think of myself as Thing One and Thing Two now and wouldn’t a shrink have a field day with that?
I’m that woman with parched throat and hollow self, crawling through the tundra and desert,
And I’m the woman decked out in pink, foraging for hugs so that I don’t lose my sanity,
Keeping the Love front and center, so that I don’t lose my fucking sanity.
I’m Thing One and Thing Two and both are real.
I desperately miss my beloved husband, Chuck.
The longing for him, the yearning for his touch…that’s my desert. My tundra. My Outback.
And I don’t know what to do with any of it.
So, I write this…
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…
A thousand years ago~