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….

Collage

 

 

New Roads. Again~

My daughter and I traveled yesterday from the Raleigh, NC area to the coast.  It was only a couple of hours ride in distance but for the first time since Handsome Husband’s death, I drove the back roads and two-lane highways.

Since I went solo on traveling I’ve stayed on the major highways; eyes forward to what is directly in front of me, no interest in the beautiful countryside and small towns of this America or what lies too distantly ahead; a vastly different style of travel than I was accustomed to. Handsome Husband and I always drove the back roads, stopping to investigate at will.  But who cares what my eyes see when he isn’t there to offer comment with me?  Who cares to figure out alternate routes when he was the explorer, the map planner?  Too much for my lack-of-focus brain to navigate…

It is still meaningless to me, what lies to either side of me outside the car windows and as I ventured forth, I knew the possibility of pain sharpening inside of me should a road-side landmark pass by.  But those land-marks are everywhere anyways, and I’m full-time on the road and it has already happened numerous times and the pain is unavoidable in any case, so I turned my car to the two-lane.

My body and my muscle memory recognize places and things before my mind can even engage and so it was as PinkMagic wended her way along the perimeter fence of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and my mind picked up what my body already knew and oh, yes, here was one of those roads traveled and the axe blade that is the constant hum of pain in my heart (that is merely a recognized companion now) was withdrawn by the invisible hand of grief and hacked down afresh.  My insides can be most fairly described as a grisly horror movie scene in any case, and moments like this serve to freshen the kill aspect.  Which is weirdly okay in some ways, in that it is known to me by now and I kind of just close my eyes and absorb it into me once again.

It is, and isn’t, as severe as it sounds as you read this.  I’m not a glutton for punishment; I’ve chosen to live a life on the road without him and this is the territory of grief for me.  Handsome Husband is out here everywhere and he is not out here at all.  Grief and pain and the agony of without-ness are with me always and recognizable to me because they simmer under my skin constantly and we are uneasy, intimate companions in a way that makes it possible to co-exist.

Old roads.  Memories that thrust into my consciousness and bring no comfort because now it is the same roads without him so it is a new road for me.   New territory, in a new world.  Unfamiliar.  Certainly unwelcome.  But it is what is my here and now and must be faced.

An Odyssey in every way~Collage

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…

Idle Thoughts~

I read this in a book the other day.  “Grief flows like blood beneath my skin”.   Well said.

People who are grieving aren’t trying to not feel good or not be positive.  They are, quite simply, grieving.

The more I read about death and grief, the more I realize how ill-prepared we, as a society, are to support it.  We want death, and grief, to be wrapped up in a neat little package to make it make sense.  Death doesn’t make sense.  It is simply a part of life that happens.  Whether its’ from cancer, heart attack, other illness, blunt force trauma, IED’s, injuries-whatever.  People live, people die.  God isn’t sitting somewhere in a cloud dealing it out or judging who lives, who dies.  Its’ life.

Grief has no map.  It’s all over the place.  Up and down, back and forth.  One year of grieving doesn’t make it go away.  For many people it intensifies because the anesthesia wears off and the reality of your loved one’s absence smacks you in the face and the gut daily and…minute…ly.   The reality of it can leave you breathless.

You know what I’m thankful for (people tell me to find something to be thankful for).  I’m thankful for Ignatia Amara and Star of Bethlehem, two homeopathic remedies that for maybe up to an hour at a time, slow my heart rate a bit from the adrenalin rush of grief that causes it to pound relentlessly in my chest and helps me feel a little bit less like I’m suffocating.

I’m not thankful for my life (I’ve been told that I should at least feel grateful to be alive).  Though I guess that isn’t completely true;  I suppose I am grateful for still being alive, at least for my kids’ sake.  I don’t want them to have to mourn 2 parents so closely together.  Left on my own, I think I’d head to the desert in my PinkMagic rig and shut myself away.  All that life is for me right now is life without Handsome Husband.  No, he wouldn’t want me to feel that way.  Yes, he’d understand that I feel that way.

I wonder sometimes if all of this is because I’m feeling sorry for myself.  Why do we judge ourselves so harshly?  Why do we put judgment on emotions?  My rational self knows I’m not feeling sorry for myself; I’m just grieving the death of a man who was my life-blood in so many ways and I feel his absence keenly.  I need to stop judging my grief.

I need to email and call Handsome Husband’s friends to ask them to talk to me about my husband, about who he was in their lives, about memories they carry.  The other day I realized that nobody talks to me about him.  Nobody says his name to me.  That is a killer, over and over again.  It makes him seem more gone than ever.  Part of that comes from me being so far away from his community, I know.  But I need to hear people talk about him.

I look so fucking normal on the outside.  My insides, right behind the face everyone sees on a daily basis as I’m out and about creating a life for myself, are a war-torn, shredded mess of blood, sweat and tears.  Believe me, hysteria lurks directly below the surface.