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…

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Shattered Glass and Dust Motes~

This shattered glass strewn around my feet, under my feet,
Glass that was once my leaping joyous joyful heart,
Shattered as I shared a last breath with my beloved.
Turned into a meat slicer roosting in my chest,
Where my heart once beat in rhythm with his.
His. Now forever stilled.
And mine?
Still beating. Somehow, and mysteriously.
My heart that once beat with his, now shattered glass into glass dust strewn at my feet…
Tiny luminous particles of dust motes dancing in the air
Kicked up by my feet that still walk on this earth
Unbelievably but absolutely.
Uncertain yet determined feet that crunch loudly through the shattered glass powder under my feet,
Striding into this shattered glass dust life of his absence.
Glimmering glass dust motes swirling into the air…
Shimmery dust glass reflecting light back to me around me.
Shimmer and glimmer and beauty and pain and missing and Love…
Beating heart to shattered heart to glittering dust that, tenaciously and insistently,
Rises around me,
And illuminates my way~

My Two-ish Selves~

I oftentimes read posts/blogs of people who are grieving who speak about how they feel, after some time has passed, presenting themselves to the world in a way that isn’t real but that they feel is required of them.
In that, they don’t show their grief to the world.  For many reasons, of course, but they feel unable to show who they really are.  Which I totally understand.
Our world is unforgiving of grief that continues on for more than, say….6 months.  Okay, maybe a year, if you find some really empathetic people.
Other than other widow/ers, I mean.
I do get that argument.  We have to function, right?  Life goes on and we have to return to jobs and parenting and, I don’t know…everything.
And you just can’t be in a fetal position on the floor, or sobbing in your cubicle, or at the lunch table.  Or anywhere in public.
What I would argue is that those of us who present The Face to the world aren’t being fake.  We really aren’t.
We’re being functional.
It’s all still in there, bubbling right below the surface, humming along our veins as our blood pumps from our hearts to the rest of our bodies.  It isn’t that we’re stuffing it down, really.  I liken it more to the idea of applying pressure to a wound in an effort to keep the blood from spurting out.  We apply pressure to hold down the grief so that we can get our days done, our responsibilities…stuff and such.
We laugh if something is funny, we engage with the people we meet throughout our daytime hours.  Because that’s what life is and we’re still alive.
What I’ve found, for me at least, is that I can be what I just described, on any given day.  And every bit of it is authentic.
It’s just that, since Chuck died, even while I do all that, I’m also dying inside.  Missing him. Wishing him. Wanting him.  Sharply feeling his absence.  His gone-ness. Feeling empty. Even as I smile and engage with people, the hum in my blood, through my veins, with each pump of my heart, is….he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.
I am two people since Chuck died.  Here and not here.  Smiling outside and crying inside at the same time.  Paying attention and hearing you and listening to my own inner conversation at the same time.
Both of these me’s are real and both show up daily.
This may freak out those of you who have never lived in this widow world, but I’m strangely okay with it, in my world of nothing being okay.  And honestly, I can handle this dichotomy, because I’m a Gemini.
I’m one person and I’m two people at the same time.  I don’t stuff any of the grief down.  It’s just that one of the me’s is the functioning out in the world person, and the other one is the me who is….I don’t even know.
But both of these me’s are real in every way.

2 AM and Trying to Shut Off my Brain~

When does this change?  The missing-ness?  Does the emptiness ever fill up?

I know that there are no solid answers for my questions but they invade my brain during my days and in the middle of the night.

Sleeping with my arms wrapped around a soft pillow, trying to find some comfort in the feel of something, anything, pressed to my body. Does the longing ever leave?

Resting my head on his pillow that has traveled with me for the 100,000 miles since his death.  If I put my head where his was, will I feel closer to him?

The urn with his cremains stand behind his trifold flag, on the pillow next to me on whatever bed I sleep. In my trailer, they stand guard on the bench next to where my head rests.  My fingers curl around the flag.  I remember those moments as the Honor Guard Captain approached me and I ordered my knees not to buckle.  Will the curl of my fingers around his flag remind me of the curl of his fingers around mine?

The jacket from his BDUs, hanging on the back of the seat in my pink car: if I put that jacket around my shoulders, will I feel the crispness of it against my cheek from long ago years when he hugged me upon his return from the base?

His blue denim shirt: if I stare at it long enough, hanging from the back of the door, will the memory of him wearing his favorite shirt as we hiked, as he drove, as we wandered the country for 4 years, bring me consolation enough to ease my heart?

The sapphire and diamond bracelet that he gave me for Valentine’s Day one year early in our marriage: if I wear it around my wrist every day and night, will he feel closer to me as I remember the day he gave it to me?

His ID tags from active duty: if I wear them around my neck, dangling on the same chain he used, will his name etch itself visibly upon my chest, showing the world that I was always his and always will be?

The words of counsel that I offer to our kids, to our friends, that oftentimes come out his words rather than mine: if I say those words enough, in the tone and cadence of the way he said them, will I become him eventually?

If I have to live decades of time without him, will I become more him as I strive to remember him, and less me, or will I meld into a person who is two people now one?

As the months become years and the years become decades, will my memory of him fade until he is a shadowy part of my life, existing in a world that may not have even been real?

There is so much I can’t remember.  Or is it that I remember it but I don’t feel the memory?  I want to feel the memory desperately but is that even possible now that he is gone?  Is feeling the memory dependent upon feeling him in the here and now?

If my muscles hurt and my skin feels the hunger of no longer feeling his touch, is that good memory or bad memory?  Is it better to at least have some memory, even such as this, or no memory at all, so that it doesn’t hurt?

There isn’t enough busyness in the world to keep these questions and ramblings at bay.

And then I wonder if there will ever be a time when questions such as these will be laid to rest…

Sigh….

When Is Becomes Was~

He was an is.

Chuck, I mean.

Until he became a was.

As in he was my husband.

I can still say it in that manner, I suppose.

Is my husband instead of was my husband,

and I would still say that

except that

He is so gone from me.

He is dead, you know, though

it rolls more easily from the tongue to say

He’s dead, you know

Speaking it as a contraction.

Is is the present (and, oh, what a present it was, both in reference to time and gift).

Was is my past,

and, oh, how the history of true love is carried in those 3 letters denoting the past

my love his love our love

and how the grief of his death is carried in those same 3 letters

He is I am we are he was I am we were

Verbs and language and usage

I don’t need big words to convey the sorrow of my heart for

what was and no longer is.

 

Names and What they Carry~

I kept my maiden name when Chuck and I married.   It was, in fact, a condition, so to speak.  Not long after he’d proposed to me, I approached him one day and told him I had something I had to tell him.

My first marriage was emotionally and physically abusive and ended in divorce. It took me a long time to find my center again, once I’d gotten away from my ex.  I took back my maiden name at the time of my divorce and I recall, once the judge banged the gavel and declared me divorced, stepping up on the railing that ran around his high desk, and reaching across to shake his hand, thanking him for my freedom.

So, I told Chuck, I wanted to keep my maiden name when he and I married.  I’d fought long and hard and my own identity was important.  He breathed a sigh of relief and said is that all?  I thought you were going to say you didn’t want to marry me!

Chuck was proud of me over the years of our marriage.  He kind of liked it that I had my own name, and he encouraged my independence.

Somewhere in our 20th year, he asked me one day if I’d re-think taking his last name.  For no particular reason;  just that he liked the idea of sharing our last name.  I did consider it but I was building a name professionally, with my maiden name, and didn’t want to muck that up.  So I stayed Miller.

In our 23rd year of marriage, out traveling on the road as Happily Homeless, the question came up again.  He said it differently that time, and I really, really, thought about it.  I could feel his feeling about it, but I hesitated again.  I was so attached to my name; it spoke to who I was, even if it no longer mattered professionally.  There was, on his part, understanding but some disappointment also.

Why do I bring this up now?  Because, running around in my mind and my brain in the last few days, I’m thinking about his request again.   Maybe taking his last name now will give me a closer connection to him, now that he’s no longer by my side.  Of course, I know that connections happen in the heart, in our minds, but I acknowledge, too, that what we do externally can affect a change internally and perhaps taking his last name of Dearing would give me a further sense of that connection.

I don’t know yet.  My heart is still ruminating over the idea.  Practically speaking, I can’t afford it at the moment, in any case.  But it’s interesting to me that, 4 years out from his death, this idea is rising up in me again.

Alison Miller or Alison Dearing?

Holograms and Other Worlds~

Parallel universes.  Time continuums.  Beyond the veil. Those places where energy, which exists ad-infinitum, possibly continues to exist even after death.  Where those we love who have died, might exist still.  I think of all such possibilities in an effort to find a connection with Handsome Husband, wondering if I might see him again.  Someday. In some way.

There’s another world, however, that exists along with those worlds, having nothing to do with his world and where he might exist, but my world and where I have existed since his death; a world that feels mostly fuzzy to me, as if there is a veil between me and everything, and everyone, else.

Bizarro world.  As in the Seinfeld episode where Elaine met people who were exactly like Jerry et al, but opposite.  You can find it on a rerun, I’m certain.

I lie in my bed at night, whether in my T@b trailer, or visiting family or friends, and I stare into the darkness and wonder how is it that I’m here and he isn’t?

When I’m on the road, camping somewhere around the country, and I walk around the campsite at night, in this outdoor world that is still so alien to me (maybe alien at this point only because it is so bizarre that this is my life and who the hell would have ever figured such a circumstance as me camping?) and I wonder what the fuck happened?  How is it that I’m here living this life when this is not my life? Because this isn’t me.  Or at least it isn’t the me that I was or ever imagined.  Ever.  Believe me.

These thoughts, more than likely, and I suppose I can take comfort of some sort as a result of them, are the same type of thoughts that haunt the minds of every man and woman who grieves the death of their partner/spouse.  I know this not only because I hear it from so many but because I cannot possibly be the only one who feels this way, and I’m not unique in this grief of mine.

I don’t feel of this world and yet I am of this world.  But not the world I knew for 24 years and the dissonance in that clash makes me feel even more not of this world. Taking steps, creating a new life, walking, talking..all the things other people do, but so removed, really.

Sometimes, lately, going about my day, in and out of stores, appointments, sitting at the library writing, I’ll glance around me, and catch hair-trigger images of Handsome Husband over there.  Or there.  Kind of the way, in a sci-fi type movie, holographic images of a person will appear, then disappear in a blink, confusing the character who sees them because it is so quick that by the time the eye sees and the mind comprehends, the image is gone.  In these glimpses, Handsome Husband is always wearing his blue denim shirt with his jeans and boots.  It’s only recently this holographic thing started happening and I have no idea why it started. (And don’t honestly care about the whys.)

In a so-called normal world, I can imagine this would cause concern but there is nothing normal about my world of grief (or anyone’s world of grief.)  But really…I’ve learned to just roll with whatever happens because this world without him is such a bizarro world to me.  I don’t recognize myself, I don’t recognize my life, I have no sense of self or ego.  I have no idea of how this new unwanted life without him will develop. (Who does, in reality, know anything about our futures?  We can plan but we all know how that too frequently works out).

Sgt. Schultz.  Remember him, from Hogan’s Heroes?  He was famous for the phrase “I know nothing.  I see nothing.”

I know nothing.  In the deepest, most esoteric, Buddhist, zen way.  I see nothing, in that same way.  And I’m okay with that, because I am uncertain about everything and I have no energy to waste in even feeling anxious about it.  Everything in life is impermanent and transitory.  It can change in a fucking instant and whatever I thought I knew might no longer be so.  So why think about it. (cue Scarlett O’Hara).

My world of without him.  One of constant change and uncertainty and searching.  None of which is good or bad, really.  It’s the world I live in and I have no definition for it.  It is a world of numbness, grief, effort, love abounding, new connections, one foot in front of the other and horizons yet unexplored that cause no excitement but do hold space.  And I don’t want it but must create it because I’m still here.  And it causes untold anguish that I have no certainty of ever seeing Handsome Husband again and I think that even if I do, the energy will be different and will he be able to put his arms around me and will I be able to hug him again?  (That kind of thinking is why I’m awake at this hour.)

I miss his arms around me and the sound of his heartbeat under my ear as I rest against him and I know nothing any longer and this bizarro world without him is a world that leaves me dizzy, as if I’m standing in the middle of a galaxy with all the stars and planets swirling and dancing around me and meteors shooting directly through me, leaving fiery marks of destruction but its kind of alright in a weird way that is not at all alright but has to be alright because it’s what is, at this moment.

Am I a total fucking mess or have I attained the perfect Zen state?  Hmmm….

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