LoveLocks

This Friday I’m going to get my hair dredded.  Those of you who have followed my blog for the past few years know that I’ve attempted this previously.  You can read my blog of January 13, 2012, when Handsome Husband spent many hours one day working on my hair.  It didn’t work at the time and I know now that there is a reason it didn’t.  It wasn’t time.

After Handsome Husband died, I sheared my hair off to the scalp.  The pain was too intense and I needed a way to express it.  So off it came.  My thinking was that maybe, by the time it grew out, the grief would be less intense.

The grief is as it was-its just gone a bit underground, I think.  I can’t go about every day being openly upset, so its settled under my skin.  It can’t always be contained and isn’t always contained and I’ve learned to function in spite of, or alongside of the intensity when I can’t breathe and my nerves are screaming along under my skin.   But this Odyssey of Love keeps the love alive;  not only the love I shared with Handsome Husband but the love that I receive from my loved ones and those I meet on the road.

I was told by one of my friends I met along the way, when I mentioned to him about wanting dreds, that the process of dredding can be a spiritual experience.  One strand of hair lacks strength and can be easily broken, he said, but dreds are about joining the strands and creating a thickness to them that can’t be broken.  The many strengthen the one.

Getting these dreds are symbolic to me in many ways.  They are a symbol to me of this new life that I’m stepping into without Handsome Husband.  A life I don’t want, a life that feels removed from me emotionally, but a life nonetheless.  And they symbolize what has happened and continues to happen, in this Odyssey of Love.  Each strand of my hair represents each of you, my loved ones and you whom I meet on the road; you who give me hugs or thumbs up or waves and encourage me for one more mile.  You are the strands woven together that strengthen me daily.  You are part of this spiritual quest that I undertook to honor my husband, connect with him again on the open road, and create this new life.

I honor each of you and each strand of hair woven into the other this Friday will carry an intention from me to you that your lives be as blessed with love as mine has been, past and present.

These aren’t dredlocks.  These are Lovelocks.

#FWG rising~Collage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 13, 2012.

Advertisements

The Process of Uncovering~

My daughter and I are in Ashland, Oregon.  Last night we went to the Whiskey Room in nearby Medford to listen to our friend Dani sing.  She has a voice of gold.

The last time I heard her sing was with Handsome Husband and we were at a dance club with a group of our daughter’s friends.  He and I closed the place down, spinning to almost every tune.  That night was exhilarating and romantic for us-we were in our element.  Last night, in this different club, Dani dedicated a song to him.  As the band played I could picture he and I swirling around the room, his strong hand covering mine.

Rachael and I have been on the road for just over a week now, making our way up the California coast.  Our first year of travel, Handsome Husband and I traveled these very roads, thrilled with the discovery of northern California and the Pacific Northwest.  His show of excitement was always much more subdued than mine.  Primarily what he loved was seeing me so thrilled and knowing that he’d been the creator of that.   Now we’re traveling those roads with me a widow, our daughter grieving the absence of her dad.

Layer upon layer will be stripped away as we travel this Odyssey of Love.  There are depths to this for both she and I that we will only know afterwards, after these 6 months are behind us.

I’m deeply grieving in a way that other widows will recognize, as I stand on the beaches where he and I stood, raise my eyes up to the magnificence of the Redwoods, as he and I did.  10314701_690329767688627_5864217604970271625_n Now I’m maneuvering my pink car around the switchbacks of Route 1 but on the dash I have a picture of him as he drove and my eyes are continually drawn to that.  collage

Our daughter stands in the places where her dad stood  and hears my stories and imagines it through his eyes now, connecting with him in a new way.  He loved the life we lived on the road.  He lived his dream in our years of adventure.   If he could see us doing this now he’d be both impressed and not surprised.  He knew the women in his life.  He knew our strength.

She’s making memories to carry with her after I die.  Yes, we’ve had those intense conversations already.  Not because we’re morbid but because they are conversations that must happen between parent and child.  I will not ever leave my kids wondering about disposition of my belongings, about my end-of-life intentions, about financial matters, simply because I don’t want to have that conversation.  She and I have spoken in-depth and the conversation will continue as we spend this time together.  I hope she will be able to look back on this Odyssey and remember not only what she experienced, but will take away an example of healthy grieving.  I can already see her growing into.  (No, that isn’t an incomplete sentence-that is a descriptor).  I am also growing into.  I don’t know into what and it doesn’t matter.   The woman I was with my husband disappeared one year and two months and a few days ago.  That life with him burned to ashes, the same as his body in the crematorium.

There is nothing easy about this road we’re on, but that’s okay and there is no melodrama involved.  It simply is what it is.  I needed to do this for my grief.  I need to drive headlong into it-that’s who I am.  Nothing beautiful was ever born from easy.

And there is so much beauty out here.  Seriously.

FWG rising.

Every minute of every day.

 

One Week

1908022_686124304775840_8575168731822894139_nIt’s been one full week on this Nothin’ But Love tour. Our first night was spent boon-docking off a forest road just outside of Sedona, AZ. The crickets chirped and the stars were bright. A hot air balloon greeted us in the early morning as it landed by our campsite. Camping for me typically involves not much more than a tent and perhaps a hammock. This new form of glamping (as “they” call it) is so up my alley. Night two in Dewey, AZ welcomed us with a home cooked dinner, storytelling, hula hooping, and a glorious view. Our hosts were warm and generous. The third night took us to a Flying J in Barstow, CA where I had a surprising solid night of sleep. Days 4, 5, and 6 put us in Morgan Hills, CA at USVA Pines RV Park where green vineyards, rolling hills, and tall trees kept us company. It also gave us some time to rest (sort of) and catch up with friends and family who lived in the area and brought with them so much love and many hugs- all of which keep us moving forward on this Odyssey of Love. One more long day north up the Pacific Coast Highway filled with winding roads, a fog covered ocean, and floral dotted cliffs finally brought us to our landing place in Fort Bragg, CA where we treated ourselves to a hot meal and comfy hotel room.

This first week has brought with it a wide range of emotions. Memories take hold and plop a smile across my face as I remember times traveled with my husband. Familiar places fill my heart with love for him. Other moments warm my heart but also tug at its strings as my mom and I happen upon places that she and my dad visited in their first year of travel. It helps me to know and feel closer to my dad as I stand in view of the very same sites he set his eyes upon in times past, but with that comes the grief of knowing that he will no longer hold my mom’s hand as the adventure continues. I also find myself wondering if my mom ever feels out of breath when she turns to look towards the drivers seat and finds me sitting there in place of my dad. Needless to say, it’s been an emotional roller coaster. 10491221_10153133209695400_8993084184656114303_n

I also miss my husband. It’s only been a week so it’s relatively easy to pretend I am simply on a short trip and will return home soon. The days come and go with gentle ease, as they are filled with many distractions. But as the lights go out, I climb into bed, and the sounds of night take over the bustle of the day, I miss him. I miss his arms around me. I wear his college sweatshirt to bed every night and shall until I can crawl up next to him again. He and I have always enjoyed falling asleep wrapped up in each other. It is a place I feel safe and oh so loved. It gives me the tiniest glimpse of the life that my mom is now forced to lead. This is a trip that I chose to do voluntarily, and one that he has been supportive of from day one. He and I both knew that this was something that I just needed to do with my mom. I have no regrets about that but that doesn’t make it any easier. I have left behind all comforts and everything that I know for 6 months to hit the open road. The only thing that I do know is that this adventure is being led by intuition and nothin’ but love.

 

So, what is to become of my life at the end of this time on the road? I have no idea and am completely ok with that. I will be a changed woman at the end of this particular experience- of that I am sure. I am moving forward with an open heart and allowing my world to unfold before me. And you know what? It’s kind of beautiful.

Allow me to introduce myself…

ImageMy name is Rachael. I am Alison’s daughter, or KamaHooptra, as most of you may know me. Handsome Husband (as most of you know him) was my dad. I miss him dearly- everyday. The stories of my parents travels, my dad’s time in hospice, and his death, have been told. You have all carried them/us in your love and support over the years. I was there when my dad died. Witnessing him take his last breath was the most horrific, sacred, and humbling experience of my life, thus far. I hated every moment and yet, wouldn’t change it for anything.

This is my first blog post since the Happily Homeless/MoonStruck blending, and it won’t be my last. My presence here will continue to grow stronger as it evolves. It didn’t start out this way. We were both happy going about our separate ways. My parents (well, my mom mostly- my dad really just wanted to be retired!) traveled about as Happily Homeless, documenting their adventures. MoonStruck was an idea that my mom and I started together, but I was the primary one behind the scenes. And as you all know by now, that has changed. Life had a plan of its own, so here we are- a couple of FWG’s learning how to maneuver through this vast new ocean.

In less than a month, I will join the rankings of Happily Homeless, but this time with a twist. I will take my place next to my mom in the newly restored Pink Magic, and we will hit the road together for 6 months (with the intention to not hit a deer again, or any other animal for that matter!). Most people hear about what we are doing and think it’s wonderful and amazing. Other people look at me like I have two heads- “I love my mom, but there is no way I could travel with her for that long!” “Your husband is going to let you be away for 6 months?” “You’re going to be offering what?” Here’s the thing- my mom and I are great friends. Like, the best. She was my maid-of-honor in my wedding. People who used to call our house often got us mixed up. My dad always swore that we were a couple of witches (in the best terms of course). We both love pink and glitter. We have the same sense of humor. We share clothes- minus pants, as I have a number of inches on her. We gossip and chat like two girlfriends who have known each other for lifetimes. So yes, we will be fine. As for the husband thing- my husband doesn’t “let” me do anything. We have a discussion, and come to an agreed upon decision. He knows if I really want to do something, I am going to do it- and vice versa. He has been wonderfully supportive of this venture from day one. Yes, it will be a challenge to spend so much time apart, but we will make it work because that’s just who we are. And finally, FWG workshops, blessing ways, and moon circles seem like a foreign concept to some, but to us they are things we feel driven to offer. They will connect us with (mostly) women across the country, and will continuing spreading our love story. We were given so much during our time in hospice and it is now our wish to give back.

This entire partnership as Happily Homeless and MoonStruck, and as mother and daughter, is a mission of love. It can’t NOT be. Our time together will be filled with laughter, tears, storytelling, dancing, grieving, magic making, and adventure. And it will absolutely extend beyond these upcoming 6 months together. I look forward to seeing how our relationship deepens. I look forward to seeing how my relationship with myself deepens. I am not the same woman I was before my father died. I can’t be. I now allow myself to sit in the shadows when I need, I love more fiercely, and I speak more freely. It is my desire to unfurl magic and light into the darkest corners of the universe. And I am more determined than ever to leave my mark of love on this planet.

Will you join me?

 

It’s Nothin”~

A few days ago Fireman Nick and I took a 2 1/2 hour boat ride to the Dry Tortugas, out of Key West, and scattered some of Handsome Husband’s cremains.  It was the first of many such rituals for me.   Yes, I’ve found the purpose to my wanderings and I didn’t find it by planning it.  I found it by allowing it to happen.  Which sounds esoteric and undefined and that’s exactly what it is.  Collage

I’m the first to admit that my brain synapses are misfiring continually since Handsome Husband’s death.  Forgetfulness, lack of concentration, vagueness-name anything that describes me not remembering and I’m it.  Lack of energy, both physical and emotional.  Lack of trust in my own abilities.   Observe me and see grief translating itself in body, mind and spirit.  And I’m okay with that because I’m comfortable in the unknowingness and uncertainty of life.   Absolutely nothing can be assumed to be permanent and any sense that it is such a thing is only an illusion.   But instead of such a thought freaking me out, it’s served to open me up to the possibilities of each day.  All I’ve known since April 21 is that it is imperative that I keep my heart open, no matter the pain, and my life would unfold and I’d find my purpose.

I don’t want to just wander in my travelings.  I want to have a purpose to my wanderings.  The trip Fireman Nick and I made out to the Dry Tortugas revealed my purpose.   It wasn’t a day trip for no reason for either of us.  It was a quest to honor and remember my husband/his dad, the first of me carrying out his request to return to our favorite places and scatter his cremains.   I could go all philosophical on you and say that somewhere in him, even with the cancer eating away at him, he had a deep understanding of what it was he was asking of me and it had nothing to do, per se, with him and the actual scattering and more to do with the understanding  of grief that he’d gained from me after all my years of hospice work and grief support.  Don’t think for a moment that he was thinking hey, beautiful, go here, here, and here and scatter my cremains!  Nope.  I knew him.  I know him.  His intent was to get me back on the road to face my grief head-on.  Return to the places we adventured and be in the moment and develop ritual around it and meet the barrage of memories and lean directly into the reality that the physical part of him is gone but that large, huge love that he had for me, and I for him, is still in me and with me.  He trusted that I’d figure out the details and that would be-is-part of the process.

Handsome Husband’s nickname when he flew as a flight engineer was “Pathfinder”.   Additionally, he was a long-range planner (career-wise).   In our 4 years of traveling, he routed our trips and planned the stops.  He did all of that well because it was so much a part of him.  He loved me and cared for me and encouraged me to push my comfort zones and I thought that all ended when he died.   Hmmm….

Bear with me.  This is why I write.  All of these thoughts are only now coming together for me as I type this and I realize I’m all over the page with it and yet…and, yet…

Are you, dear readers, seeing what I’m seeing?

Our son and I found a secluded area of the beach at the Dry Tortugas and set up a small altar and spoke a blessing and scattered Handsome Husband’s cremains into the aqua depths and sat in silence and liquid love fell from our eyes and our hearts broke more open and in conjunction, life opened just a bit more for both of us.  Fireman Nick stood where his dad stood and he snapped a picture of me standing in the same place, two years ago with Handsome Husband manning the camera.  Colla2ge

Coll5age

Crazy Horse in South Dakota.  Little Big Horn in Montana.  Crater Lake in Oregon.  Those were the places he named for me, trusting that I’d know where else I need to go to scatter his cremains, the rituals I need to perform, the words I need to say.

Our kids will join me at different points along the way of this quest.  I have no true plan of when.  All I know is that I’m on the road again, full-time.   I’m experiencing everything new and under a constant barrage of memories and emotion and pain and remembrance of him and tears and missing-ness and us and our lives together and this new life for me now and more than anything…more than anything,  more than anything, reaching, reaching into my soul and feeling the love we had for each other.   My heart is open. Do you hear me, Life?  Do you hear me, Death?  Do you hear me, Grief?  Do you hear me, Love?   Throw it all at me, whatever you have.   Bombard me and envelop me and do your fucking best because you know what?  It’s nothin’ but love.

Nothing.  But.  Love.IMG_2259

Walter Mitty-ish-ness~

Remember that old movie?   Danny Kaye played the part of a man who dreams the days away, indulging in fantasy.   The movie itself didn’t have a good ending.  Anyways.

I’ve already had the bad ending with the death of Handsome Husband.   Now I’m (however unwillingly, and it’s a lot of unwillingness) creating a new life for myself.  And because I’ve always appreciated the power of fantasy, I’m building a scenario for myself as I sit here after the first night in my T@b trailer, imagining myself into a braver setting.

The reality:  a very pretty KOA campground here in North Stonington, CT.   The trees are colored in Fall.  It’s a bucolic setting.   The moon was still in the sky when I got my shower.  photmoono

Camping has never been in my vocabulary in any way, including when Handsome Husband and I traveled.   When the topic would come up, I’d state most adamantly that I am an anti-camp-ite.

And yet here I sit, at a campground, in a small trailer, having gone outside in my pajamas to take a shower in a nearby building, eaten breakfast perched on a picnic table, preparing to unload my car and organize said trailer.

I’ve decided to have my own fantasy about this new life.  It will be changeable and made to fit my needs on any given day but the one I’m working at this moment is picturing myself in a wagon train of the old West, a woman alone, going out to find a new life, having to learn everything from the ground up.   How to care for the trailer, how to drive the trailer, how to set up camp, how to live in it most effectively, how to be comfortable both in it and in my new life.

It won’t happen overnight, I know that.  I’m overwhelmed with all that I don’t yet know and I need to just be okay with that in the same way that I’ve been letting myself be right where I am with my grieving.  It will all happen because that’s how life is.

I’m going to do this.  Both because I know I can do it and because Handsome Husband is cheering me on from wherever he is.

Stay with me.  photo