Birthdays~

Chuck threw me a huge birthday party for my 50th.  To be honest, our daughter, Rachael-Grace, helped out with it quite a bit, but it was lovely.  A dear friend, who died the year before Chuck, baked a red velvet cake.  My friends were there from all walks of life.  Our kids were there; it was a memorable 50th.

Life changes quickly, and the following year, for my 51, we were just beginning our new life on the road and Chuck surprised me with a trip to Graceland.  I’d always been a huge Elvis fan and he knew this would be a huge hit. As it was.  I didn’t have any idea where we were headed until I saw the sign that said Memphis.  We stayed in a hotel that had framed Elvis pictures in each room, a guitar shaped swimming pool and Elvis music playing throughout the grounds. All songs which I knew and Chuck got such a kick out of me singing along with them.

One of my earliest birthday memories, after Chuck and I married, is the year he took the time leading up to my birthday to get my address book and ask everyone in it to call me on my birthday.  He also alerted his family and friends.  I spent the day answering our, yes, land line phone, and hearing Happy Birthday, Alison!  Chuck made my birthdays so special, every year.

My next few birthdays were spent on the road; I don’t even remember where. What I do recall is that I spent them with him, hiking and exploring the USA.  We had all the time in the world together and that was the greatest gift of all.  With lots of wild and crazy birthday sex.

The last great present I received for my birthday, my 55th, was the news that Chuck’s first cancer had been eradicated numerous surgeries.  He was cancer free, with really really really good odds that it wouldn’t return.  God, did we celebrate…I knew a cancer survivor! and that cancer survivor was my beloved husband.

I’m 59 today.  Chuck has been dead for 4 years.  Fucking cancer got my cancer survivor after all, and my birthdays have never been the same.

I know, I know…I can hear it now.  But you must celebrate you! You must grab life and savor it and live it!

Here’s the thing.  I know, because I’m a smart, loving person, that I must allow our kids to celebrate me. I must allow my friends and family and all who love me, to celebrate me. And I do and it means so much, especially since Chuck is no longer here to wrap me in his arms and plant a huge, lonnnngggg kiss on my lips, leaving me dizzy.

In just the past month, I’ve received 2 gifts that touch my heart in the only ways that matter:  I was reunited with my younger sister, after many years of estrangement, and my wee grandson, Owen Charles, was born.  Each of these huge events touch my heart.

But there is a loneliness that goes along with my birthdays in the years since Chuck’s death and that’s just a fact of life.  It’s the new world that I live in.

So, today, here in the Ozarks, at the opera camp, on my 59th birthday, living a life I’d never imagined or planned for (emotionally), my gift to myself is telling each person that I meet that it is my birthday and I want hugs.

I want hugs from every person who comes within my radius today. Hugs, hugs and more hugs.  All the love that comes with those hugs is what keeps me going, and my heart expands with each hug.

And that’s what I ask of you, too.  Anyone who is reading my words today.  For my birthday, your gift to me is to hug people you meet along your way today.  Stop for a minute, share some time with them, connect with them, and don’t leave them without hugging them.

And maybe, whisper a word to Chuck, whether you know him or not, that you’re all looking out for his girl.

Thank you.

Happy birthday, me~

 

Grief…Preplanned. Ain’t it Precious?

“When my husband goes, I’m not going to hang on to my grief. I’m celebrating the time I had with him and the memories. Each and every person deals with it in his or her way, but I don’t think my husband would want me to be sad and carry that burden. I told my husband if I go before him, re-marry with my blessing and don’t spend time living in grief over my maybe departure. I would want him to be happy and not be bowed down with my passing. I would miss my husband, but I would not carry it on for years. he would want me to move on with my life and remember the times we had together. and not be grief stricken a long time. I would make friends and make the most out life. It would be sad, and I would feel it, but I would let myself heal.  I have a pink car and trailer but I’m letting it go for him when he’s here to help him money wise.”

This blog plopped directly in my lap, gifted to me by a woman who wrote the above comment in response to a picture I posted on one of my camping pages.  Mind you, the picture was one of me smiling, triumphant because I finally, 3 years later, completely emptied my storage unit, leaving me with what travels with me in my T@b trailer.   My mistake, obviously, was that I also mentioned that it was a significant accomplishment, not because of the stuff, but because it was a letting go of the future my husband and I planned together.

*note to self; never, EVER, mention grief to anyone, or my husband if at the same time as mentioning that he’s, you know, dead, and that makes me kind of sad and I miss him because people get the heebie-geebies when real emotions get expressed*

So here’s my response, and, yes, I get so many frickin’ points for diplomacy and efforts to educate, and, also, patience…

Dear woman whose husband isn’t dead yet but you’re smart so you’re pre-planning your emotional response to the time that he does become, you know…dead;

How precious that you know how you’ll respond to your husband’s death!  How further precious it is for you to be so far-sighted to plan for that certain event!  I see that you also covered the possibility that you might go first, leaving instructions for him to remarry (though you seem to allow him some small amount of time to grieve so that’s big of you).  Why, it just fills my heart with warmth as I’m assured that you want him to be happy and not bowed down by grief and that he’ll just..you know…get on with it.  As will you if he dies first.  There’s just nothing better than pre-planning an emotional response for which you have no real world experience, and it saddens me that I, and so many of my widowed brothers and sisters didn’t just tear a page out of your planning book!  Why, there’s no telling how great we could all be doing right now!

I, of course, had no idea that the secret to going through this grief was so simple and I thank you for enlightening me.  Who knew that instead of allowing this grief to take its’ course and allowing it space and being honest about it wasn’t the answer?  I’VE BEEN DOING IT ALL WRONG!  I see now that all I needed to do was celebrate the years we had together and resolve not to be sad and make friends!  It’s precious, I tell you!  Precious!  Because for all these 3 years of Chuck being, you know, dead, I’ve allowed myself to have the normal, natural reaction to the death of a man I loved more than life itself, and I’ve been thankful for and loved the years we had together but…fuck!  My mistake was that I’ve allowed those memories to break my heart because every time I remember, I also remember that those times are gone.  Well, just seriously FML!!  I’ve made hundreds of friends and connected with people all around the country but FUCK! none of them have replaced him in that place in my heart and that’s clearly my bad and a conscious wrong choice on my part.  WHEN will I ever learn, right?

I just don’t know WHY it doesn’t matter a tinker’s damn to me that Chuck wanted me to be happy after he died; a failing on my part, I acknowledge, and if he were here and insisted that he wanted me to be happy, I’d tell him IT JUST DOESN’T FRICKIN’ WORK THAT WAY and I’d be happy to go round and round with him that you just don’t tiptoe through the fucking tulips when shit like this happens.  I do know that I knew…know…my husband enough to say that he’d look at me like I was bat shit crazy that he wouldn’t know that and he’d understand completely that it takes the time it takes, but I’m so, so, SO, glad and happy for you that you’d carry on so easily and oh, I know!  Perhaps you could write a book about being a widow before you even become one and you could show those of us who are already widowed the RIGHT way to do widowhood and you could help other women and men pre-plan their emotional response to the death of their other half and you could get rich and be on Oprah and everything and that is also just so precious that I almost want to throw up in my mouth but I won’t because that wouldn’t be precious…

It’s just the silliest thing ever that I still feel sad and miss my husband and I just know you know that!  Why, 3 years is way too long to go on and on and carry on about him and what we had together and how much I miss that and, why, I won’t even mention what it’s like to no longer have passion and wild sex in my life with a man who was just as much in love with me as I was with him, just to name one thing that’s gone, because really, who cares about that stuff and it just isn’t proper, you know, to talk about such things!  And my goodness, it just doesn’t matter, does it, that the life I had with him in the present and the future we had planned just evaporated and poofed away and how on earth anyways is that grief-connected?  Apparently, you are so upset by my expression of my emotions that you don’t even see the smile of triumph on my face in that picture, or my celebration of this huge undertaking (do you see what I did there?  Undertaking…get it?  I wrote undertaking, which sounds like undertaker, the person who is, as you know, the one who takes dead people away.  Like my husband.  Who was dead.  Who is dead.)  Apparently you see it as no accomplishment at all that, hand in hand with my grief is a massive amount of love that gets me in my car every day to drive and drive and drive around this country, meeting and connecting with people, hugging and getting hugs.  That I do this even though it would be much easier to just lay down and die.  That every widow/er I know has the guts to get up every day and live WITH their fucking grief, and that we have the fucking guts to walk with each other through this foreign terrain and laugh and smile with each other and keep company with each other and give hope to each other when we don’t even know what the frickin’ word means…well, woman who knows how she’ll do this and dares to judge me for how I’m handling this fucking widow clusterfuck…I don’t know what to tell you about us except that we KNOW what this is like and we’re doing it and one of the ways we’re doing it is by talking and writing and making it as real to others as we can.

I do lament and commiserate with you that you are bowed down and, it seems, threatened by my grief, or any expression thereof.  It must be difficult for you to read how I’m handling it when you clearly know that all this emotion and sadness is so unnecessary because it’s all about just clicking on the happy switch and voila! No more grief…yay!

Just a friendly little note as you pre-plan your response to your husband’s death: 

I don’t care how strong you are, I don’t care how independent you are, I don’t care how sure you are….there is no planning this.  Whoever is left behind…it will feel as if you have been thrown onto a strange planet where no man or woman has ever walked before, and your feet will stumble into potholes and your heart will be wrenched from your body and you will see it on the ground in front of you being mashed into a bloody mess and guess what?  You can’t just flip a switch and make it go away, and years later, tears will still fill your soul and your eyes when you speak of the love that is now only in your heart and you will always miss his arms around you and his kiss on your lips and the surety that you, and only you, were special to someone special, once upon a time…

Or you might not.

Whatever. 

P. S.  Carry on…

What Meds Don’t Do~

Here’s what I now know about medications and grief.  This isn’t all personal experience, at least as far as allopathic medications are concerned; this is what I’ve gathered from other widow/ers.  I speak only of the herbs/homeopathic remedies that I’ve employed to help me with my grief.

This St John’s Wort, widely used in Europe as a mood elevator, works for me in that it almost immediately dropped a gossamer veil between me and my grief.  I picture my grief now as the filter used in old-time movies to soften the features of the actors and actresses.  I know my grief is there but there is very clearly something keeping me from fully absorbing it.  And that is indeed the purpose of St John’s Wort so…mission accomplished on that.

What it doesn’t do is take away or remove everything else that companions the meat-cutter of grief.  There is no filter on the shattering loneliness.  The lost feelings of being someone’s someone.  The steady thrum of starvation from the lack of touch by the man I love.  The empty silence where all the words I want to speak fall not on deaf ears but no ears.  The shuddering absence of the energy that shimmered and shifted next to me through the years.  The hole in my soul.

I don’t believe that there is any medication or herb in the world that changes these realities.

Yes, I can find a group of people with whom to discuss issues.  And I do talk with people constantly in the course of my day. And my kids and friends call, and they give me hugs and I’m so thankful for that. And yes, I have grand-kids and I love them all dearly. And none of that makes up for/replaces what I had with Handsome Husband.

I crave his touch and my body starves, knowing I’ll never feel his hands on me again. I wonder how it would feel to have another man’s hands on me, feel another man’s arms around me, dance with another man, even as I realize it is my husband I desire, not just any man.  And I know that even if I invite another man into my life someday, Handsome Husband will always be my husband even should I fall in love (which I hope to do).  I’ll always be his widow because he was my husband and there is some strange beauty in that in this fucking weird new world without him.

These thoughts spin round and round in my heart these days and, contrary to how I appear, I’m really very confused.  Which is, I know, pretty well reflected in this particular piece of writing.

Really, all I know is that I miss my husband.  I miss Chuck.  I miss him in ways that can only be imagined in the nightmares that come in the deepest, darkest hours of sleep that waken you sweating and screaming and breathless with adrenalin.

Beat, thrum, throb, cut, slice goes my heart…

10250301_663990990322505_3334904418156444318_n

Ending the Search~

It’s confusing really.  This grief, I mean.

It takes time.  Don’t rush it.  Allow yourself to be where you are.  You sound like you’re giving up.  It’s your time frame, not anyone else’s.  Just be.  Get busy.  Don’t get too busy.  You need to date.  Don’t date too soon.  

I do it all.  What’s suggested to me, what I think of doing on my own.  I do nothing.  I do everything.  I move.  I maintain stillness.  All in an effort to figure this out.  Or not figure it out.  Or whatever is in between.

So, here I am, days shy of 2 years since my beloved husband died.  I’m going to counseling, where we’re using aural acupuncture and will, in the near future, use EMDR, to assist with the trauma.  Because yes, there’s been trauma.  Not only because of the bullshit that happened when he was in hospice and how it played out in the months after, but, quite simply, because of the intensity of our relationship and the every day of being without him.  As simple as that.

On a daily basis I use St John’s Wort, which is a natural mood enhancer.  Essential oils that assist in release of grief, homeopathic remedies that bring me through those horrible moments that happen 24 hours a day, and intense exercise with the Warrior training program 3 times a week, to help move the grief energy through my body.

And yet…I’ve been told (by professionals and everyday people) that the pain of this particular grief, the grief of missing-ness of one’s spouse (because it is, or can be, hopefully is, such a close, intimate relationship) can last for up to 10 years before there is any true relief, before the memories bring comfort instead of pain.

Here’s my conclusions about grief.  First, it makes no impression on me any longer, the judgements cast by anyone regarding where I am with it or how I’m doing it.  This is my grief, after all, and my body knows what and how I need to do it. Secondly, I suspect that any sort of relief or peace of any semblance will happen in my heart and soul and body only when I come to grips with the idea that the new normal that everyone refers to, means that I just have to accept the fact that this grief will always be present in my blood and heartbeat, as opposed to continually searching for ways and means of being without it entirely.  Of course, if you say any such thing to the public at large they immediately say oh that’s your choice as to whether or not you allow that grief to stay present.  That all sounds very Zen and Buddhist etc and I’m glad for those who seem able to so easily dismiss this depth of emotion, but, hey, whatever each person is able to attain, right?

It’s kind of like being able to say that, in a world that is not in any way okay, and me not being okay within it, I’m okay.  Saying that releases people from feeling obliged to fix this shit.

What I do know for certain.  My life changed forever at 11:21 pm on April 21, 2013 when Handsome Husband died, and I’ll never be okay with his gone-ness.

IMG_1367

Woman Under Construction

(from Rachael)

10526022_10153196416085400_8522764871573335025_nThe deep orange of the setting sun resonates with me this evening. My soul feels full of many questions, bits of anxiety, and flutters in the pit of my being. I find myself in a state of wonder. It comes most strongly each morning as I stand in the shower- which is no surprise to me as most of my thoughts seem to flow with the flow of the water. Also not surprising is the nervousness that accompanies these words- it’s palpable. These moments cause me to want to hide in a dark space as I try and understand it all. I am unwinding- knowing that there will soon be a time when I unfurl myself completely. It is ridden with excitement, curiosity, and fear of what is to become.

As I write these cryptic words I find it a challenge to fully express what resides in me, but know they must find a way to be written for they are words that my soul intuitively knows. They come through in the quiet noise that I often listen for. The stillness that graces moments of my surrounding chaos causes everything to slow- as if there was a world within a world. I observe these moments with acute awareness. This space is a fantastical world where everything and nothing exists- a place of listening, waiting, and discovery.

I want so desperately to live out loud, more passionately, and more colorfully. These depths are rising to the surface and I sense that they can no longer be ignored. My shift is happening. The flashes and waves are becoming more consistent. My soul is being flooded with a longing for something more…and yet the image conjured in my mind- an image of uprooting everything known for everything unknown leaves a sense of drowning.

And yet…

Things that once seemed incomprehensible flicker with foreign possibility. My roots are digging into the earth for nourishment. My soul burns, gathering courage to live into something wild. I am being stripped naked. I believe that life will continue to nudge me into being the most raw, beautiful, and authentic woman that I am capable of being. I believe that the universe will conspire to make sure I see all of the signs necessary for me to blossom and burst forth in such a way that love is the only way of being.

I am a woman under construction. It’s messy, takes a lot of work, there are multiple layers, and things will shift, crack, and break, but in the end I believe it will be quite a spectacular masterpiece.

Stay tuned…

Widow Writing in the Raw- (you have to be strong to read this)

*If you are offended by the word *fuck* don’t read this.

I swear by all that’s holy that if I hear ONE more person tell me that Chuck, (or my husband if it’s a stranger talking to me) would want me to be happy and that I need to focus on the good memories, I’m going to go so fucking ballistic that there will be pieces of me scattered over the face of the earth.

So I’ve been cogitating on what my response can be in such situations.  (By the way,I’m also tired of giving people a freaking free pass for saying stupid stuff.)  Wake the fuck up, people!  If you don’t know what to say, then just please don’t say anything!  I beg of you!  Just say It sucks the big one, Alison and be done with it!

What to respond?

Oh did you know my husband?  Is that why you can tell me what he would like for me?

Oh, would you like to give me your recipe so that I can immediately stop grieving his loss from my life?   I mean, yes, immediately as in right now?   Because I’ve tried every goddamn thing I can to tell my brain and my heart to do something else and it’s not fucking working.  I mean, I’m camping, for god’s sake!  I’m not a camper.  But I’m changing my environment to help me push through into new experiences to change my brain patterns.  And towing, for another god’s sake.  Are you kidding me?

Thank you for your opinion.  (My mom taught me to say that in response to ignorant people who offer their opinions freely and….ignorantly).

Fuck off.  This is what I’m feeling right now.

JesusMaryandJoseph, I would give anything to be other than where I am now.  I fucking hate this grief.  I hate my life without him.  Do you hear me?  I’m not asking for pity,  I’m not feeling poor me, and I’m not asking you to fix this for me because you CAN’T fix this unless you’re God Almighty or a genie who can blink her eyes and bring him back.  You CAN’T fix this.  But what you CAN do is be strong enough in your love and friendship to stand with me while I get through this horrible part that is normal and takes time.  Give me time.  I’m recreating my entire fucking life that burned to ashes at 11:25 on April 21, 2013.  And, no, I’m not being dramatic in saying that and if you think I am then, well…fuck off.

For one minute-one fucking minute– imagine your partner, husband or wife, (presuming you love each other and actually like each other) who has been an integral to your life, an intimate part of your life, this person who you built your life with and lived with joyfully, (no, not without arguments because nobody does that), this man (in my case) who was a strong lover, a romantic dancer, a man who swept me off my feet daily (and that’s the truth), who made magic happen for me, whom I loved passionately-all of these things and more.  And then zap!  he’s dead. (and, yes, I’m more than grateful that I had this kind of man in my life and this kind of love because not many have it).

I don’t want pity.  I won’t accept pity.  And I’ll bygod continue building a life for myself without him because I have to.  But you know what?  It takes mucho energy to brace myself against those who want me to just get on with it.

What I’m experiencing is normal grief.  And when you tell me that he would want me to be happy, you’re telling me that I’m somehow doing something wrong in grieving him because I’m not happy on your schedule and to your degree of comfort.

And guess what?   I’m as tired of hearing this from people as I am of this fucking grief.  I miss my husband so much that I can’t breathe.  My current diet consists of Amara Ignatia and Star of Bethlehem and Rescue Remedy, along with way too much diet pepsi (which is, let’s face it, really good tasting aspartame), and I want to lose my mind from the loneliness but I don’t.  And I won’t.   Even though I sometimes wish I could lose my mind and seek refuge in some ward somewhere instead of facing up to daily life and loss and all that entails.

You see all the pink and you think oh how pretty and how cute and what fun she must be having on this lovely little jaunt around the country.  Yeah, this is definitely my idea of fun.  I’ve got my dead husband’s ashes right next to me.  My stomach is in shreds.  My nerves are on top of my skin. I’m slammed everywhere with memories.  Oh, but that’s right-I need to focus on the good memories.   How the fuck do I focus on the good memories, of which there are plenty, without the accompanying thought that oh, that’s right-those times are gone, gone, gone because he’s dead, dead, dead.

No pity wanted or accepted and I’m so aware that so many are in worse situations, blah, blah, blah.  But for god fucking sake, stop saying stupid shit.  Instead, how about this?  If you knew him, tell me a memory you have of him.  I’m dying to hear people speak his name to me.  Seriously.  I’m about to make a list of all of his buddies and everyone who knew him, even a little, and call them up and beg them to tell me stories of him.  Or tell me how you coped with your own loss if you’ve been through it.  If you’ve never grieved, then just say wow, that’s some fucking shit to deal with.   Ask me what this is like.  Not just this grief, but what it’s like to not have him.  How does my heart hold this grief and this love all at the same time?  What is it like creating a life without the love of my life in it?  What is it like to have had a passionate love life with a passionate man and then suddenly have nothing?  (no, that isn’t too intimate a question for me).  What is it like to have your heart violently torn out of your chest and hacked to pieces on the ground?  Ask me anything.  Or just fucking stand with me and bear witness.  Just please, please, please, consider what you’re saying.

This isn’t rocket science, folks.

*For all of you who have NOT said stupid stuff, thank you.*

*We will now return to our regularly scheduled prime-time, no swear words, programming*

*Thank you for paying attention*

Haters Will Hate~but the Love Story Continues~

Hey, dear readers,  apparently I have just enough notoriety to merit negative emails and response posts on my Happily Homeless face book page!

I’m reminded of an episode of Seinfeld (I think it was that show), where Jerry had a stalker and his buddies were upset because they felt that they merited stalker status also, yet they didn’t have one of their own.  I’m not saying I have a stalker.  Just saying that there are a few people out there who don’t like me.  Wow.  Little ol’ me?

I’ve tossed around the idea of giving time to this but honestly, it kind of hits my funny bone and god knows I need some humor in my life amidst this fucking grief.  Oh, sorry.  I have an official hater who called me vulgar.  Apparently she doesn’t understand the placement of a well-placed “fuck” as an adjective.  Let me state here that I don’t use that word in anger, I don’t call people names but I do use it to emphasize strong feelings and emotions.  Ok?

Also, I believe in being up-front.  I didn’t block this particular person from my HH fb page because, well, she adds spice.  Or something.

Here’s her story as I understand it:  She, whoever she is, (her fb page identifies her as being a (probably) photo stock picture from North Dakota.  The rest of the story is that she bears an unhealthy attachment to Handsome Husband’s ex-wife, whom she accuses me of dissing on a continual basis.  What set her off was a picture that I posted of me and my husband on what would have been our 24th anniversary.   I included a caption that said words to the effect of he and I particularly appreciated our marriage and felt blessed to have found each other after having come through unhappy first marriages.  Horrors!  There was a very quick post in response, telling me that I’d insulted his first wife and that he had a life and family before he married me.  (in case I didn’t know?)

She also accused me of wanting to basically exploit my husband’s death by writing a book about my life with him and our Happily Homeless travels and his time in hospice and this new life I’m striving to create.  Exploit?  How does one exploit one’s own story by telling it to the world?

Here’s the thing.  When I write, I don’t write for drama.  I’ve always written because I love to write.  I need to get the words out of me and out there.  I’ve always written to touch base with friends and family about our travels and what Handsome Husband and I were doing and learning.  I wrote, when he went into hospice, to free the words from my heart and soul so that I wouldn’t implode (though I suspect this person would like to see that happen).   Since his death, I write because yeah, you know what?  Grief is not seen in our culture.  Those who grieve are given a short amount of time to go through it and then told to move on.   Once a few months pass, we’re expected to move on and kind of just keep it to yourself, okay?  Guess what?  It isn’t that easy and I’m putting a face on what grief is and using this forum as an educational tool and I’m not going away.  (Oh, she also was upset that people apparently don’t know that I am, as she put it, a grief expert.  Which I’m not-I was a grief facilitator-but thank you for the promotion and maybe I can quote you if I ever try to get a hospice job again which I can’t because I don’t have a degree.  Anyways.)

This blog, and my HH fb page, are my conduits to the world as I travel, both physically and emotionally. The physical roads, on my Odyssey of Love, and the emotional world, as I grieve my husband.  It’s a hard, painful, soul-wrenching, impossible, knife-slashing, world, this grief, full of tears and guts and blood and shrieking and love and remembering and yearning and desperation.

And I own it.  This is mine.  Not anyone else’s.

So, yes, I say to the haters out there.  I will blatantly state here that I fully intend to write a book about this life of mine with Handsome Husband.  I’m going to write about sharing my life with him, my love story with him, his death, my life now.  And I’m going to speak about it too, in lecture series and you tube videos and by being on the news and sharing my story and any other way I can do it.   Because I loved him then and love him still and that’s pretty much what’s on my mind.  To you, this person, let me freak you out even more.  I hope that someday this will be an entire career for me and that it will bring me an income (which, because I live in the real world, I, um..need).  Shocked yet?

I don’t understand the whys or the wherefores of why people have been, and continue to be, drawn to our story, the story of Happily Homeless, our love story and how I’m continuing it.  Clearly, it resonates with so many of you because, well, you’re here reading it and you talk to me out on the road and all of you tell me it does.

Handsome Husband would tell me to go for it.  He knew before he died that I would do something with this, that I would make it count somehow.   And, by god, I will.  Our love story won’t die with him.  Our love was….is….bigger than death.  I’m going to create such a life for myself, based on the love he and I had (sorry, hater, it isn’t based on the love he and his ex had), that he will, wherever he is, be applauding madly for me.

So….haters?

Go get your own love story.  And, because I don’t want to be vulgar, at least in this case, I’ll just say……go bless yourself~

P.S.  Here’s a picture of the two of us that should really bother you~ (gasp! He’s hugging me as if we’re happily married or something!)

529438_552029828185289_1995679461_n

Love and Words~

Happily Homeless.  I’ve had a few comments recently about this.  How politically incorrect it is.  How I’m not really homeless.  The name is offensive.  Which started me thinking.  Which I like to do.

Our name was suggested to Handsome Husband in our second year of travel, in discussion with a friend.  We’d sold our house and goods and lived on the road permanently, staying at military bases and inexpensive hotels.  Living very simply on his Air Force retirement.  (Which, for those of you who think veterans live on a lot of money, think again.  He was a retired MSgt and it supported both of us.)  And this friend said “So, basically, what you do is drive around and have fun.  You’re happily homeless!”  The name appealed to me and so my blog and our facebook page was christened.

We chose to sell our house and belongings and be on the road.  Hence the “happily” part of homeless.  Not everyone makes that choice-the choice is made for them.  So they’re unhappily homeless and it’s a terrible thing.  I get that.

Which brings me to the question:  “What does homeless mean?  And does each person define it according to their own particular current and past history?”

My beloved husband and I traveled together for 4 years.  We sold our home without a backward glance-it was only a place and all the memories of it were stored in our hearts and minds.  We stayed at hundreds of bases and posts and hotels and the only thing that mattered to me was being with him.  Well, that and hoping each place had a good shower and comfortable bed.  But that wasn’t always the case and that was still okay because guess what?   He was my home and I was his.  The physical bricks and stone idea of home meant nothing to us.  We loved our time together.  We drove and we talked and we hiked and we discussed and we laughed and we adventured and we argued and we made love wherever we were and we blessed each day with each other.

We had a 3 month condo rental leased in southern CA last year and that was a long-term stay home for us that we really anticipated.  Except that he was already sick and at the end of March I took him to the ER and he was immediately checked into the hospital.  He never came home to me again. Hospice was it and we decorated his room to be his last home, filling it with as much warmth and color and love as we could.  I called our kids and our friends and the condo became home for everyone as they came and went.  It was a refuge and I remember going back there one morning and seeing the couches and chairs with sheets and blankets scattered over them and the inflatable mattresses on the floor, accommodating so many loved ones and I thought how beautiful the mess and chaos was.

He died.  Everyone left to return to their own lives and I hated the condo.  All it brought to mind was my last vision of him painfully walking up the stairs when we arrived, and carefully balancing down the stairs the morning I took him to the ER.  I became obsessed by the light at the top of the mountain that I could see in the distance, looking from the window of the sun room.

I left there early, unable to sustain the pain, and yet overcome with pain at abandoning him, leaving behind the last place he and I had been home together.  Drove to Arizona and two of our kids.  I stayed with each of them briefly, and then spent a month at the last place he’d reserved for us before he got sick; a beautiful condo in Phoenix but for the first time I truly felt homeless.  Not because I physically was but because the man who was my home was dead.

As the months passed and I traveled back East and then North, I knew I had to do something to have a permanent home.  I also knew I wanted to stay on the road.  Indeed, needed to stay on the road in order to fulfill the PinkMagic Odyssey of scattering Handsome Husband’s cremains in our favorite spots around the country and because I’d go fucking insane waking up in the same place every morning with him not there.   I discovered T@b trailers and a life on the road, camping.  I bought a T@b and began refurbishing the inside to be an oasis and a safe place for my heart and my soul.  Not quite a home, but a familiar place that was mine.

Which brings me to my present.  I’m learning how to do this, my new life.  My confidence is growing in my towing abilities and living this life that I never wanted.  It’s all good but it is so surreal to me.

I’m surrounded, purposefully, in pink.  Not because I think it’s a cute color.  It’s a color of strength to me, and joy.  I need to find joy again.  Before Handsome Husband died, he told me he didn’t expect me to wear black.   Didn’t want me to wear black.  Pink, he said.  It’s your color.  Wear pink.  Mourn for me in pink.   I wear pink every day, in one sort of clothing or another. I’ve named my car and my T@b trailer PinkMagic.

I still call myself Happily Homeless.  The name is one he and I had together and I’ll always keep it but I can’t own up to the happily part.  I’m more surviving right now.  I have a trailer to call home and I’m out here on the road and it probably looks exciting to anyone looking on.  Yeah, sure.  Look more deeply.  Look into my eyes to see the grief and the, yes, look of homelessness.

In spite of this trailer, (and I’m grateful to have it), going with my definition of home, I consider myself homeless because the man who was my home is no longer with me.  The shelter of his arms was my home.  His kiss was my home.  His strong body next to me was home.  The joy in my life is no longer-there is, instead, grief and dislocation and discombobulation.  There is a hole in my heart and a missing-ness in my soul. (And please, please don’t tell me how I should be instead and what I need to focus on instead, etc, etc.  It means nothing to me to hear that.)

In the end, tell me-what does define home for any one person?  A physical place?  A building?  A state?  A state of mind?

Everyone has their own concept and perception.  You just read mine.

I hope to find the “Happily” part again someday.  In the meanwhile, I don’t care about political correctness or what others think, not only about my chosen name but about how I’m doing any of this.  This is my life.  I’m defining and creating it and surviving it and hoping to bygod someday, thrive in it again.

I’m 1/2 of Happily Homeless.  Let my future unfold.  phloto

Being Politically (and possibly socially) Incorrect~

Here it goes.  Me being politically and most likely socially, incorrect.

I hate life.  I hate life without the man I love in it.  I have no interest in anything I’m doing (and I’m doing so much).  The only emotion I feel besides numbness, which isn’t even an emotion and doesn’t actually describe the baseline feeling of raw pain that is a constant, is emotional pain.  And physical pain that is the type I’d imagine someone feels when a limb has been amputated.  Phantom physical pain.  Except not a limb but my heart, which is still in my body and yet somewhere out there wherever it went when my husband died.  (Lying in pieces, shredded and bloody).  Mostly I’m neutral emotionally.  I walk and I talk and I do and I don’t do and its all the same to me.  Life without him sucks.

There.  It’s out.  I said it.  No bravery happening here.  No thoughts for my future.  Indeed, no care for my future.   I don’t give a rat’s ass for my future.  All I know is that I’m here at this moment, typing at my computer.  It’s another day here in Key West.  I got up.  I showered and got dressed.  It’s a rainy day but that doesn’t bear any influence on me.  I’m just here.

No, I’m not depressed.   I’m fucking sad.  I’m being brutally honest about what my grief is.   I’m telling you that as I talk to you, watch the sunrises and sunsets, see all the beauty around me, that what you see and who I am are polar opposites.  You’re not seeing the real me that is the blood and gore that remains of my heart and my soul and my joie de vie-all that was and now isn’t.

I wonder how many people who are grieving in this world (and there are legions), are too timid to speak such a truth as this because of the general response.  Our society compels us to get out there, make life happen, be filled with gratitude, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and on and on.  We are told “He/She wouldn’t want you to feel this way.  He/She would want you to love life again”.  And on and on.   None of with which I argue.   My response to that is mostly “No shit, Sherlock “. (no disrespect intended)  It’s what I would want for Handsome Husband if he’d been left behind.  Indeed, we spoke of this many times over the years-what we wished for the one left behind.

But tell me, how the fuck do I get from here to there?  How do I care again about life?   I’m paying attention to my life.  I’m creating a life, no matter how I feel.  I’ve done so fucking much since he died to make it happen.  And I’m also just letting myself be, letting the grief happen.  I’m doing every (pardon my french here) goddamnfucking thing I can do or not do.

In my head, back and forth, I remind myself constantly and relentlessly “He’s dead.  Just accept it.  He’s not coming back.  He’s gone.  You’re in love with a dead man.  Just walk.  Just keep walking.   But how can he be dead?  He was so alive.  He was just here.  How is it possible?  We had a life.  We loved each other.  We paid attention.   We didn’t take each other for granted.  He did everything right.  It doesn’t matter.  He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead”.

Over and over.  The reality running flat up against what my heart is struggling to accept.

For years I worked in hospice and in that time, I supported men and women whose wives/husbands had died and I’m ashamed to say that I thought at times “Well, at some point you’ll remarry and get on with it”.  I have deep shame at my lack of compassion.

The death of a partner is an unrelenting loss of every part of a  shared life.  Well, I guess it is if you actually love your partner.   It’s the bomb blast of your life.   Yes,  a person might find another person to love and be in love with but how shallow of me to think, as I counseled grieving widows, that allowing another person into your life might make that first person, and all the emotions that went into building a life with them, disappear.  How incredibly courageous and life-affirming, to even allow another person into your life, knowing the pain of loss that will inevitably happen again, at some point.

Handsome Husband and I loved, and were in love with each other, deeply.  We loved our kids in every way, our grandkids too.  We loved our parents and friends.  But the love we shared with each other was sacrosanct and separate and the most deeply felt.  Our life together was the most important thing to us.  We danced, we fought, we adventured, were impatient with each other, we made wild, passionate love, we held hands, we laughed, we saw each other at our most awkward moments and at our best, we supported one another in our dreams, we slept together with his body wrapped around me, we cared for each other when we were ill, we celebrated life together.

He was the keeper of my heart and I feel empty without him, more alone than I’ve ever felt before.  I write none of this to draw sympathy from anyone, or words of wisdom or support, but only to make a simple statement.  As Handsome Husband would say “It is what it is”.  And it sucks the big one.

The only way out is through.  1477702_595076270547311_490745363_n

Rapid-Fire at 3 in the Morning~

The thoughts that scatter through my brain like tracer bullets when I need desperately to sleep.  Not so that I can be rested because that’s kind of not happening, but so I can be unconscious and not as aware of the emotional pain.  Ahh..well….

I’m having a moment of happiness, finally.  Happy that Christmas is finally done and gone for the year.  Handsome Husband and I haven’t even celebrated Christmas for years unless we happened to be with family at any particular time.  Every day together was a gift to us and once the kids left home it held no significance to us.  Neither of us are (were) Christian and we didn’t like the hassle and memory-making meant more to us than tangible gifts.   The day itself wasn’t loaded because every day for me is emotionally loaded with missing him from my life.  And yet…all the hoopla and bells and whistles brought it even more into focus for me.  Now that it’s over I can return to the dull pain of knowing he’s gone.

Recently someone castigated me, upon reading my Thanksgiving post referencing my lack of gratitude and not wanting to read any more listings of how and why people were thankful during that time (which is wonderful and thank god people are thankful and don’t take things for granted but I was over it), that I need to learn to have gratitude.   That I should be thanking god on bended knee that I had this lovely man in my life to love me for the years that he did, that he and I had the opportunity to adventure together as we did, and many people don’t have any of that, ever, and maybe I should be volunteering with cancer patients.  Huh.  So, where is it written that because, yes, I was graced with him and our adventures, I don’t have the right to grieve deeply?   With all due respect to anyone who has never experienced such love as I had (have) with Handsome Husband, and no, I’m not lording it over anyone because believe me, I had a very, very bad first marriage with a man who abused me and I knew what not having love felt like and then found real love with a handsome man who was my true knight.  I know what love felt like, I felt him touch me and hug me and kiss me and hold my hand and support me and smile at me and wink at me and have that life and now, not have that life.  I know I was blessed to have him and I’m so fucking grateful to have had him in my life that I want to throw up at not having him any longer.  So, how about we just let people have their grief and not make a judgement on it?  How about that?  And volunteer with cancer patients?  I wouldn’t think of it right now, out of deference to them, and my knowledge of the grieving process.  You want to see a meltdown on my part?  Put me in a room with cancer patients and their families and see a puddle on the floor where I used to stand.   Cancer survivors elicit the same reaction from me, simply because I can’t contain my disbelief that they’re still alive and, too, because the joy I feel at their survivorship is so intense, both for them and those who love them.

My PinkMagic car/T@b trailer.  1450324_587365487985056_1200230853_n Super cute.  This new life on the road.  Looks adventurous, doesn’t it?  I’m currently in Key West.  It’s warm and summer-like.  I’m meeting new people all the time, hearing their stories as they hear mine.  I interact with them.  I laugh.  I put makeup on in the morning.  My clothes are decent.  I look so fucking normal on the outside.  Bells and whistles.  You know what’s happening inside of me while I’m talking to you?  While I’m looking normal?  This.  Except more intense.  24/7.78363While I’m walking and talking and looking at you, and driving and so-called adventuring, all I’m seeing is my husband not here.  All I’m thinking is, what the hell happened to him?  To my life?  To us?  How is it that I’m here and he isn’t?

All of this life I’d give up in a New York minute.  I have no idea what that means in actuality but I’m assuming it means more than a usual minute measurement.   In less than a second, without a second thought, I’d walk away from this life I’m creating for myself, if I could see Handsome Husband holding out his hand to me.  I don’t care about this life.  I think I’m supposed to care and there’s some vague guilt that I don’t feel guilty about not caring but I don’t even seriously have the energy to feel guilty about not feeling guilty about not caring (my Catholic upbringing compels me to feel guilt in some measure about most anything.  Old habits die hard).

I’m doing everything I can to get to where I suppose I need to be and, if I’m going to continue living and it appears I am because I haven’t died yet, want to be, which is joyous and happy again though I have no real belief that I’ll ever feel those emotions in the same way I used to feel them.  How realistic would that be, after this?   But I acknowledge that at some point I’ll more than likely feel engaged in life again.

Right now, this life I’m living?  So surreal that even the surreal is surreal to me.  I’m layered in disbelief that he isn’t at my side.  I’m layered in pain that he isn’t driving our car, that we aren’t talking and loving and adventuring together.

That he’s, oh my god.  Gone.