This Uncertain Terrain~

The landscape of widowhood.

Of grief.

The Alaskan tundra.

The Sahara Desert.

The Australian Outback.

Every side road in between cities and towns.

This parched landscape

Of devastation.

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…

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6 Years. And 6 Centuries~

This Sunday it will be 6 years since Chuck died.

Just writing that number leaves me breathless, and not in a good way.

Jesus.

How can it be 6 years?

Though it might as well be 6 centuries. That’s how it feels.

So, my thoughts on these years/centuries as they meander through my mind…

I spent last weekend with our older son and his family, which includes two grand-goddesses, 5 and 3 years old.

I love them so very much.

And I love my son and his wife so very much, as I do my other kids and their spouses.

But-and I don’t know if this is just me-it’s almost…painful…to be with them. Well, maybe not so much in being with them, but after I leave.

Grief surges up in me as I drive away from them, or any of our kids, after visiting.

Thinking about Chuck, and driving down the road with him. 

Now, looking out at the desert and the mountains…I feel so fucking empty.

Where the ever loving fuck did he go?

If tasked to respond to the question what is it like now, as opposed to those nightmarish days right after he died, this is what I’d say:

It is exactly what a dear widow sister of mine, who was further along than I, told me in my 3rd year of grief.

It isn’t that it gets better. We just get stronger to carry it.

Yes.

I’m definitely stronger to carry it.

6 years out, and contrary to what I look like on the outside, I’m wiry and my arms are strong and my back is straight and my stride is sure.

I know in every part of me that I am living Love out loud.

I approach everyone I meet, whether stranger or family, with Love. Even people I don’t care for.

I’ve learned the subtle art of not giving a fuck. With all the Love in the world, of course.

Anyone who chooses to see me as desperate, depressed, dark, too much, fill in the blank, chooses to question me or my life/methods of navigating this widowhood, etc…oh, I am WAY too strong to be taken down by such judgement.

I wish I’d learned this strength much earlier on, but it happened as it happened, and believe me, that strength is who I am now and it comes from such a place of Love and surety of the Love that Chuck left behind for me, and certainty of what I’m doing along this Odyssey of Love…it makes me absolutely unbeatable. I cannot be taken down by others’ opinions of me. 

This life isn’t easy in any way. It is painful beyond unbearable. It’s impossible. 

And I’m fucking doing it anyways.

I remember what was told to me by a woman I met in a Target store early on my Odyssey of Love. She didn’t know me, had no way of knowing anything about me.

But she purposefully caught my eye as I browsed in the clothing dept of that store. After catching my eye a second time, she approached me and asked if she could tell me something.

I’m always open to whatever comes my way, so I nodded yes. She put her hand ever so gently on my lower arm and looked right at me and said this…

I need to ask you -do you know that you are surrounded by angels? You have so many around you that I can’t even count them. And you are protected. They are protecting you in whatever it is you’re doing. So keep doing it. Just keep going. They are all around you and you are protected.

I didn’t know how to respond, so I thanked her and we went our separate ways. 

But I’ve never forgotten her words.

She was one of the people…the markers…that Chuck told me in an earlier message he’d left for me to help me find my way on this Odyssey of Love. 

I wouldn’t leave you without a road map. I’ve left markers for you along the way, both physical and metaphysical. Look for them.

Those words were told to me, a message from Chuck, by yet another woman, just a few months after he died. Also a woman I’d never met before, who sought me out.

So here’s the thing, world.

Don’t fuck with me. Because, yes, I’m protected and I know it.

I’m protected by a legacy of Love that is more than most people know in a lifetime. By the Love of a community I created for myself around the country. By the Love of 3 adult kids who live their dad’s legacy every damn day. 

I was loved by Chuck.

Five simple words that carry the power and force of forever in them.

I was loved and I am Love.

And no matter what else happens, 

That makes me the fiercest woman alive~

In Love with…a Dead Man…Gasp!

He strides through my mind on a daily basis.
My heart yearns for the Love I felt so strongly with him.
My soul remembers back to the years we shared.
My body yearns for his hands upon it.
It’s been 5 years and 3 months since he left my world.
I’m in love with a dead man.
I can almost hear the shrieks of dismay and shock and see people draw back in…
I’m not sure why they would draw back upon hearing this from me.
Maybe it’s too morbid? I’ve been accused of morbidity.
Maybe they feel that it says something slightly crazy about me, that I’m in love with a dead man…
And I speak so openly about it.
Maybe they think that being in love with a dead man will keep me from being in love with a man who is alive.
Not that any opportunities have presented themselves.
Here’s the god’s honest truth…
I think about my dead husband day and night.
My pulse beats to the memories of our years together.
As I go about living this life…interacting with those I meet along the way on a daily basis…
I’m thinking about him.
I think of how he would handle tough situations.
The toughest situation being the one where I have to live without him.
He is my first thought upon waking,
My last thought before sleep claims me,
And every thought in between.
I do all the things I do and I live this life and few, maybe, suspect that I’m living a life in my heart where he is still with me.
He is my every moment and, honestly, I have no care for other’s opinions of that.
And, if ever a man should materialize in front of me…a man who is perfect for me…I’ll tell him right away that I’m in love with a dead man, but the human heart expands to love,
And I can be in love with a breathing and walking around man, even while I’m in love with a dead man.
And always will be.  And he won’t be second best. He’ll be the living person that I’m in love with.

So, there you go.
Maybe this small bit of writing is what I’d use on a dating profile.
It’s a pretty good filter, I expect.
*Only serious and very strong, enlightened, and courageous men need apply*

Idle Thoughts Upon the Exit of 2017~

I’m so fucking relieved to say goodbye to 2017.
Our daughter told me that 2017 was as hard for her, harder in some ways, than the year right after her dad died.
It was harder for me, too, not for any one reason in particular, really. Maybe because our entire world seems on edge. Also, because my husband is dead.  Almost forgot that.
I’ve always told our kids that, no matter the state of the world, life has always managed to continue on, and even improve in some ways. I can’t say that as easily any longer. Life feels very threatening in every way this past year.
When I spoke to our oldest son about this, he agreed and said well, we might not have to even think about any of this anymore in the new year because North Korea might bomb us and the world will end anyways.
Why do I find that strangely comforting?
Does anyone else in the widowhood feel the same, or a similar, lack of enthusiasm for life?
I’m off the road for a few months, staying with my daughter. So much shit to get done.
Getting an income is crucial. Finances for me, like so many of us, are precarious since Chuck died.
Lots of my sentences end with that phrase, don’t they? Since Chuck died…
I hate Christmas. I know…how bah, humbug of me, but there you go. I wasn’t big on it when Chuck was alive…neither was he…but I’m practically Jehovah Witness about it now. I’m good with others celebrating it, of course, and I’ll join in with our kids with it, but I’m so freaking glad when it’s over. It takes energy I really don’t have, to get through it.
I genuinely believe that my Love life is a thing of the past. Love, sex, feeling cherished…all that. I’ll be alone until I die. Of course, if I express that thought aloud to people, they immediately warn me not to think that way or I really will be alone forever.  I don’t believe that for a second. As a single parent, after my divorce, I was firmly convinced I’d be alone for the rest of my life; what man would take on a woman with 3 kids? And then I met Chuck.                                                                                                                                       The thing is, I’m 60 in a few months, I feel as old as Methuselah, and I think I’ve had my Love story for my life. And I don’t know that we get more than one. And even if I do meet someone, I will absolutely compare him to Chuck…duh. Honestly, the more I see the so called men out in the world, how sloppy they are in appearance, how they carry themselves, how they speak…no thank you. Once again, I don’t believe that me believing this has any bearing on whether or not I’ll ever meet a decent, loving, confident, romantic, passionate, well-groomed man again. It happens or it doesn’t. I had it once, at least.
Do you ever want to respond to those who offer pithy comments to you about how you’re widowing, what you’re doing, yadda, yadda, yadda, with…whatever! Like a teenager. Whatevs, bitches.
I’m tired. Tired and lonely and empty. And isn’t that frickin’ pathetic?
I also don’t care what Chuck would want for me. Of frickin’ course he’d want me to be happy, blah, blah, blah. That has no bearing on anything, because, oh, that’s right…he’s dead. He isn’t the one left behind to figure all of this out. So…yeah. Though I’ll be more than happy to argue it all out with him if he’d just come back to me.
My new year begins each year on April 21, the anniversary of Chuck’s death. Who knew that I could control time, right? And yet, I’ve changed when my new year begins! Not on the calendar date 2018, but months later. I am all powerful! It just shows that the concept of time is just that…a concept agreed upon by thousands of people that, on the stroke of midnight on Dec 31, the year changes.  Nope, not for me. April 21, world…that’s my new year.
Random thoughts, indeed, as 2017 becomes 2018~

Unknowing the Known…Not~

I stare into the distance of everything and nothing many times during a day’s measure,
And, as I stare, I see everything and I see nothing
I feel everything so much that I feel nothing.
Pain and grief have morphed into emptiness
Which is funny and humorous except not
Because my life is incredibly full
With family, with new friends and old
Driving new roads and old roads, literally.
Continual adventures
In all directions.
How can a life so full feel so empty?
How can it feel so heavy?
Why is it so exhausting?
How do I change it from that to something different and not as heavy or empty?
Is this just part of the package resulting from the death of a beloved?
Just as we can’t know something until we know it…
So, too, we can’t unknow something that we know into the marrow of our bones.
I guess. I suppose. I don’t know.
I would give all that I am to unknow what I most regretfully now know and will never not know…

The Shapes of Precious Things~

My fingers lightly grazed your arm,
Hairs tickling sensitive tips.
They slid along your shoulders,
Feeling their breadth and strength.
My hips tucked themselves into yours,
As we slept.
Your arm curled behind your back
To pull me more snugly into you.
Our bodies tucked and curved into one another, one passion filled night after another.
Toes touching as we drifted to sleep. Or pinkie fingers twined together. Hands clasped.
We always touched as we nodded off into dreams.
How long ago is forever?
My body moves restlessly through these without you nights,
In this widow life…
Pillows tucked into my own curves,
My hips, my breasts, seeking your body.
My head rests upon your 15-year old pillow.
Will I, at some point, feel the imprint of your head there,
Comforting me?
My one arm curls under the pillow, hand stretched out to the side,
As my legs tuck up, as if into yours.
One hand reaches out to the rectangular box covered with images of you alive and healthy,
Pictures with edges curling from time and wear.
So easily could I lift the top and dig my hands inside to free the gray ashes…what remains of you…
Dig my hands into the mix of gray remains and dead flowers,
Spread them upon the cushions where I sleep,
And coat my lonely body, in what remains of you.
But I don’t.
That would be weird. Right?
My other hand comes to rest on a shape that I trace as a triangle.
Red white and blue.
A simple triangle.
I see it in my mind’s eye, in the darkness, this triangle that has traveled so many miles with me.
Fingertips slide along the neat edges of the hem along one side.
This part is blue.
They glide upwards to the tip and follow it down to find a raised star shape.
This part is white.
I spell out s-t-a-r as I brush the shape lightly…
There is the very slight sound of a paper crinkling…a note you gave me in our early years, found after your death and tucked into a fold of the triangle.
Sunshine…like a beautiful flower, you always warm my heart. With love always, Sarge.
A small round disc makes a faint outline through the fabric…
A USAF coin, gifted to our son in Basic Training, gifted to me by our son.
MSgt Dearing. Recognition. Memory. Honor.
I confess…sometimes my arms pull that triangle into my chest
As I seek elusive slumber,
And my mind drifts back to our nights together, bodies curved into one another.
No worry about the tears blinding my eyes; the dark night has already done that.
No stopping the stitching spasms rocking my heart and soul.
It’s night, and I can let the feels be whatever they may be.
I clutch the colors more tightly to my chest,
Try to soften the tension in my body and let my mind drift, drift, drift…
Back to all of our nights and our days and nights again as our years played one into the other,
And I was loved, and I loved.
My body curls into yours in my dreams…
And I drift….

Numbered Days. Numbered Nights~

1567 days.
I know because I checked.
After waking up in these too early morning hours.
I didn’t check right away, of course.
Because I do what we all do when we’re not supposed to focus on what we don’t have
I try to think of other things.
Staring into the darkness of my tiny space
My gaze landing on the bright blue light of the radio.
That’s no good.
It immediately reminds me of the light in the distance
On the mountain top
Staring at it night after night as I paced the floors of our condo in Cathedral City, after you died.
What was that light?
The harder I strive to not think of you, this life without you….
The more insistent the thoughts become.
So…I stop trying to not think of things…of everything…and just let my mind go.
And the flood is instantaneous.
Words and images and emotions swirl into the whirlpool of my mind and my heart
And my soul aches unbearably
So I reach for my phone and check the days since app and yes…my heart knew what the numbers state. The numbers are almost meaningless, really, because who can define forever?
I put on a mindless TV show and stare at it, hearing nothing. I read a book and the words are meaningless. I eat a muffin and it’s tasteless. I’m not hungry and I’m not eating my feelings…I’m just trying to find something so that I don’t think for a moment…
Should I try to sleep again? I have to work in the morning. My body is wired. My mind restless. My heart painful.
Where are you, D? More importantly, why aren’t you here with me, where you belong? How many more nights of this? How many days and months and years?
My body aches for you. My mind wanders to where you and I were, but are no longer.
Distraction works for only so long in this life without you. It really doesn’t work at all, but I have to do life, right? It is required of me, by life, to do life.
So, I do.
But, oh, how untethered I am. This life, as colorful as it looks, is empty because you aren’t here in it, with me. I’m wandering, is all, jabbing at life where I can, trying to find my way, but it feels empty, no matter what I do, and my soul and body knows that something, someone, vital is missing from me.
Will this ever change? Will I ever find something anything that makes me feel that, yes, this is why I’m here still? When will I care again? When will I not wake and stare into the night again? When will I not feel the alone-ness of this life? Will I ever find a sense of peace in my heart and soul again?
I hear all the words that society says about all of this, and I do all that I’m supposed to do and I do it with intent, but in the end…
I stare into the darkness, gazing at that blue light…
And my heart hurts and I miss you I miss you I miss you…
My god how I ache for you…