Missing Him on 40~

I’m on the road again.
I left Arizona, headed to Arkansas, a few days ago. Or maybe it was a week ago, now. I’m kind of tired after driving some long ass days.
Tune up on my car. New tires, brakes on my rig, PinkMagic, fixed.
Our daughter was road tripping to Arkansas with me, to see the opera camp where I work for the summer. It’s my second year back there, as the groundskeeper.
We were planning a fairly easy trip, stopping to visit family in Denver, taking our time.
Well, as they say…
The best laid plans of mice and men…
We were only 200 miles out when we heard a loud pop from the rear of my trailer, followed by smoke billowing out, and brake fluid trailing behind us.
Fortunately, I’d just pulled off the highway, so that we could drive the main drag of Winslow. You know….
Standin’ on the corner and all that.
Again, fortunately, I have roadside assistance and called them and they sent a tow out to us. He quickly diagnosed major problems and I followed his tow truck, very slowly and carefully, to his garage.
Where he removed the drums and discovered that all rubber parts had melted and all metal parts had turned to dust. They dissolved to the ground as soon as the drums came off.
Not good.
But better than what could have been, which was a fire from the massively overheated brakes, which could have easily burned my rig into nothingness, and taken the car too, I suppose, since it’s all so small.
Scary shit.
We ended up camping out at the garage for 3 days and 2 nights while they sent for parts and worked on the brakes.
High Chaparral Garage in Winslow, AZ; the best people EVER. They went above and far beyond what was necessary to keep us safe while there and take us back on the road.
Hooked us up to electricity so we could sleep comfortably. Put a large mat outside so we didn’t track grease inside PinkMagic.
Worked diligently on the brakes. We were right on the famed Rt 66, so people stopped in to say hi and take a tour of the inside of my rig.
Gave us great tips for exploring the area while we were stranded.
We’d go downtown to the corner and drink chai while watching the world go by.
Before leaving, even though it was late at night and we were all tired, the wonderful guys at High Chaparral tightened up the spare, power washed my car and trailer, signed the back of it with loving words, gave us hugs, told us to keep in touch…and away we went.
During our stay at the garage, I met 2 other widows who were 5 years out, as I am now. We spoke of the ravages of cancer and how it changes lives.
Because I was stationary, albeit unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to speak on the phone to a radio host with a program called Bringing Love to Life, about my Odyssey, and my marriage to Chuck.
Because we were stuck, so to speak, for the time we were, timing was set into place that brought us to a rest stop further on where we met a young couple, themselves stranded, trying to get to Montana to see the young man’s dad before his dad died of liver cancer. Remembering that desperate feeling, we were able to buy them a tank of gas, some groceries, and give some cash to help them on their way.
It’s the kind of thing that Chuck would have done, and all I asked in return was for them to remember the name Chuck D.
Our continued travels took us from Arizona to New Mexico to Texas to Oklahoma and then into Arkansas, and every mile along the way was filled with memories of my and Chuck’s travels, what seems so many years ago now.
How is it possible that it is 5 years since his death?
Next month I’ll have been on the road alone, as a widow, longer than he and I were, together.
That thought messes with my mind.
He is everywhere along Rt 40, through the middle of our country. He is at every roadside rest stop, at the picnic tables where we’d stop to eat lunch. He’s at the national monuments and parks, where we’d visit to learn local history. He’s in the wildflowers growing in the median strip and in the flat lands of west Texas with the huge sky overhead.
He is everywhere, in memory and in my heart.
I missed him for the entirety of 40.
I miss him on that road and every other road that I drive.
And I also know, more than ever, after the experience in Winslow, that his legacy is strong and vibrant and that our Love story is as strong as it ever was, and that I am doing just exactly perfectly heart wide open what it is that I am destined to do…
Live this Odyssey of Love. For him. For me. For all my widow brothers and sisters and their ones. Live it for all those I meet along the way, for all those whose path I cross or who cross my path.
Just, quite simply, live the Love that he left behind for me.
Fiercely. Strongly. Powerfully. Confidently.
Always.

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5 Years~

On the 21st of this month, it will be 5 years since Chuck died.
Since the man who was my very breath took his last breath.
I wondered, in the days and months and years after his death…
When was the last time he saw me, as he lay on that hospital bed?
What did his eyes see, as he looked at me?
Was he able to see me or were his eyes staring sightlessly into his soon to be gone world,
And staring hard at the world beyond?
And, if he wasn’t able to hold me in his gaze,
Did he feel the Love blazing from my heart to his?
Did the Love that beat steadily in my heart with grace and passion and ferocity,
Wind its’ way to him from the space 10 paces from him?
What did he hear?
Nothingness as his body struggled in its’ final moments?
Did my beloved hear my heart beating in time with his?
Did he hear my breath with each of his inhales?
Did he know…me?
Did he know the agony in my soul and my bones that was only equaled by the pain of cancer in his bones and soul, as we each whispered goodbye?
Did you hear my quiet voice, my beloved, as I took note of the time as your chest moved so slightly on your final inhale?
Did you feel my hands wash your body and dress you and anoint you with oils…
Moving gently and lovingly over the muscles and contours that in times past were strong and sure as you arched over me in passion?
Did you know that, even as your strong body became what cancer did to you, you remained, always, my shining hero, my trusted champion, my romantic protector?
Did you know that I would love you for all the remainder of my days?
Did you know that your Love and our Love, would become the shining beacon for me…my light and my passion, my guide, my fire, my divination, my Odyssey?
My life. My always. My forever~

Let~

Let the moments stop. Let them stay where they are.
Let them take me back in time.
Let them morph into the unknown future.
Let me be present.
Let me disappear.
Let me be numb.
Let my emotions riot my heart.
Let shock quiet my system.
Let me remember times past.
Let me see only the joy.
Let the pain recede.
Let him see Love.
Let our grief morph into Love.
Let our hands touch lightly.
Let our eyes speak our words.
Let our voices murmur gently and softly through the night.
Let our Love shine and shimmer.
Let your body release your spirit.
Let my tears fall.
Let the blankets cocoon you warmly.
Let my hands reverently lift your spirit gone body to the gurney.
Let its’ wheels carry you away from me, down the corridor.
Let flowered bouquets cover you.
Let my hands be steady, gently pressing the switch of the crematorium doors.
Let my last service of Love for you connect me to you, wherever you now go.
Let my Love for you rage as brilliantly as the flames that take your body from me.
Let Love live.

In Absentia, as Was Presence~

We spend our lives with an awareness of our physical bodies. We dress our bodies, we move our bodies. Our hands hold the hands of people for whom we feel affection, or love. Our arms hug. Our lips meet in exquisite kisses. Our lips smile and laugh. Our eyes sparkle as we gaze upon life and our loves. Our feet dance, in rhythm or not.

Physical presence is a big deal in life, in love.  Physical presence makes Love tangible, it makes who we are, and what we represent, an entity.  Our physical bodies were very much a big deal with me and my husband, Chuck, for our 24 years. We touched often. My husband’s physical body and presence was measurable in my life, as mine was in his.

His absence from my life is just as palpable and I’m uncertain how that might translate scientifically but his absence is, to me, as strong as his presence ever was. In fact, now that he’s gone, his absence is almost stronger than his presence ever was, which causes anxiety in me. It has seemed, since he died, that he’s so gone that its as if he never existed. Chuck died forever ago, or 4 years and 11 months. Long ago and no time at all ago.  I suppose I could say, he’s been gone almost 5 years. Dead almost 5 years. Absent from me for almost 5 years. But why rush the years, right?

Presence and absence. My external life has changed drastically since each of my last April 21sts of these 4 years and 11 months but not quite 5 years. I’ve changed drastically, or at least it feels like I have. Nothing is the same, either in my external world or my internal soul world. He disappeared the night he died and my life did too.

And yet.

Weirdly,though, his absence from my life really is as tangible and measurable as his presence ever was. His absence is an entity that breathes and walks and moves with me as I stumble along, and not in an oh, look! He’s still with you! way, but in a fuck, I can’t believe he’s not here but he’s clearly not in such a massively huge way, so….

As the months have passed, because he is so very gone, I’ve held onto, and purposefully courted, the love he left me. I cherish his last message to me, left on my phone at my request the week before he died. I still listen to it with a sense of disbelief that I’m not seeing him say he loves me, that I’ll never see him say that to me again, with his green eyes glinting with Love and passion.

Those words though. That love he had for me. That love I had for him that beats as strongly today as it did for all of our 24 years. The love is a physical presence to me now, and co-exists with his absence.  Presence. Absence. Love, no matter the mind fuck of it.

I can’t explain how presence and absence can both be real. It just is. He is here with me in his absence.

He loved me. I loved him. That is still real.

It was our blessed gift to each other.

With Chuck for me, for me with him, it was always, always, always, about the Love we shared daily. How our bodies moved together, even when we weren’t in close proximity. How our hands automatically entwined when we fell asleep.  The rhythm of Love was our SOP…standard operating procedure.

And I ache for its’ absence, as I ache for him.

Dance Partners~

I used to dance with my beloved husband…

We danced dreamily, to Clint Black, to Chicago, to Elvis, to whatever tune happened to be playing, wherever we were.
Oh, how we danced…his right arm around me, my hand clasped in his.
At the end of the dance, he’d always dip me back in his arms, and then kiss my hand.
I dance still, these 4 years and 10 months since his death.

I dance the Widow dance.

Sometimes I dance what I call Spirit dancing, which consists of turning on music we used to dance to, and putting my hand in his hand that is no longer there to clasp mine, and placing my other hand on a shoulder that no longer supports me.

My feet move in the same pattern and I always close my eyes, remembering back.

But mostly, now, I dance with an intangible partner that is hard to name.

Grief, but so much more.

Loneliness is a consistent and dependable partner. It’s an awkward partner, this one. Moving my feet with it, not feeling, yet feeling everything. I don’t like how Loneliness is always just there, insisting on every damn dance.

My partner named Dislocation is always there too, waiting on the sidelines. Our dance together entails quite a bit of bumping into sharp edges and uneven ground beneath us. Kind of like Elaine on Seinfeld; uncoordinated stumbling, but with flair, if such it can be called.

Heartache is a gentle dance partner. Our dance is one of synchronization, shadowing one another gracefully, our toes pointed, our hands reaching to the Universe, or wrapping tenderly around our bodies. The lights dim when Heartache and I glide out to the dance floor. We are familiar with each other and we move separately and in tandem, with no hesitation. We know each other well.

Emptiness doesn’t dance with me as much as it jumps up and down in a crazy free style frenzy, demanding my attention, causing me to wonder why it’s always there and never seems to change, or go away, even if I accept a dance from…

Adventure. Adventure seeks my hand and leads me into steps that have no particular direction or pattern, and allow me to feel unfettered and open. Where might this partner lead me, I ask myself. We slide from one type of music to another, tentative at times, but sure nonetheless, never knowing where our feet will take us. Quick tempos with swirls and dips, holding hands or, even sometimes, sending me spinning off on my own. Adventure is quick but steady and sure. We work well together out there on the floor.

My dance is a widowed dance now, and it isn’t anywhere near as satisfactory or fulfilling as it was with my beloved husband, but it is powerful and even, I think, abandoned.

And maybe, in the abandon of this whirling dervish of a dance, I’ll find my beloved somehow. Or find me. I don’t think I’ll know which until I stand breathless from exertion, breathing it all in, when the music stops.
Maybe both.
It’s all about the dance, meanwhile~

Because Love Must…

I must write about Love, because I will go fucking insane if I write of the painful past. I will go fucking insane from..I don’t know…rage? World stopping anxiety? Despair?
It goes by many names, this feeling that is the experience I shared with Chuck in his hospice time. In the cancer time. In his death and dying time.
How I torture myself by reading the blogs I wrote on my private page, of those times. And yet, how unfailingly drawn I am to read of those times…
The horrifying morning where I drove Chuck to the ER because this man who had a massively high pain threshold could no longer absorb the pain of the cancer that returned and ate his ribs, and made it difficult to walk.
The determination of me, of our kids, to make his hospice time one of Love, not instead of fear, but as a cup for the fear.
The horror of realizing that my beloved husband was dying and I couldn’t stop it.
And the sharp in breath I took when I recognized, somehow, that the breath he was taking at that moment, would be his last breath.
The…everything…as I put my hand on his heart and knew that he was gone.
And that my entire life was somehow, also…gone.
My god, the dread, the panic, the purity of that moment of sheer Hiroshima level shock…
I must focus on the Love. Or go more fucking insane than any person since time began.
The Love.
His Love for me, and mine for him.
Chuck was my life, and I, his.
With kids and siblings and parents and friends we loved deeply…still, and all, it was me and him, always.
I recall his Love more than I recall him, weirdly. He is so gone, has been so gone since he took his last breath. It was as if he and I had never been a we together. The mind fuck began at that moment he drew his last breath.
I try to remember him as a man, as the man who was with me in our Love story, but it seems so distant. And that, too, is a mind fuck.
Did we even ever exist as a man and a woman together?
The mind fuck waits patiently for me, at the corners of my mind. Remember the agony of those last 3 weeks, it bids me. Remember that you can barely remember who you were together. Remember that there is only pain if you give energy to any of that.
No.
I may not remember much of us, in my mind. But my heart remembers being loved well and truly and passionately. It wasn’t a figment of my imagination, though his continued absence tries to tell me otherwise.
There was a man named Chuck, many years ago, and a woman named Alison, who fell in love and beat the odds against them. They were real people…there are pictures to prove it. And oh, how they loved each other and danced through time and kissed and held hands and were strong together and oh, how cherished and nurtured that woman felt.
Love did live for those 24 years, no matter what tricks my mind attempts to play.
Love lived.
It lives still, in a very unsatisfying way, because he isn’t here, but in a manifestly huge way, because he isn’t here.
Love fucking lives.

Feel Free Not to Read This. Probably Don’t. If you do, please refrain from telling me whatever you think I need to Know. M’k?

Fucking cancer
Fucking death
Fucking widowhood
Fucking life without him
Fucking heaviness
Fucking memories of you dying
Fucking bed sores
Fucking hole in the base of your spine where the tumor ate through your body
Fucking having to live without you every damn day
Fucking having to wake up and do life in the midst of fucking confusion that is just always there no matter what, for fucking years
Fucking relationships that tear apart after death
Fucking dark shadow of widowhood that scares people away even when you try to hide the shadows
Fucking nights staring at a TV show that you couldn’t even describe to someone even after watching it for an hour and another hour and another and you still couldn’t say
Fucking eyes that stare into nowhere and beyond nowhere into you know not what of nowhere
Fucking screams that get shoved down into your body because…well, who knows why?
Fucking judgment from every direction; too soon, too fast, too much, not enough, too dark, too light, too this, too that, too everything
Fucking cancer that ravaged and blew apart the body of the man I loved
Fucking tears that spill out no matter where or when
And fucking tears that don’t spill and choke you instead
Fucking energy to suit up and show up every day
And fucking judgements that it’s not enough or it’s not the right kind or it doesn’t matter just don’t be a fucking widow
Fucking widowhood that you’d tear off of you if you could and fuck that you can’t
Fucking doing every fucking thing you can and he’s still dead and always will be
Fucking skin hunger and fucking every damn thing about him being dead and gone
Fucking life fucking death fucking grief fucking breathing fucking everything without him. fucking everything