Calling a Spade a Spade~

I’m 5 years and 9 months into life without Chuck.

I don’t think I’m supposed to call it that.

Life without Chuck, I mean.

I think I’m supposed to structure it, this life after him, in a more positive manner, according to society at large, pointing out all that I’ve gained since his death. All the appreciation for life, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Whatevs.

The one thing I’ve done really well since Chuck died is be real about this widowed life shit.

And it ain’t sunshine and roses, no matter how I try to dress it up.

Which I don’t try to do, honestly, because I don’t have it in me to be fake about it, or plant that pretend smile on my face.

I refuse to show it as anything other than what it is.

A shit show.

AND…

I engage in life and with hundreds of people and I laugh at funny shit and I connect with family and old friends and new friends and push my boundaries and comfort zones, daily.

And it’s still the most emotionally lonely life I could have ever imagined.

Which doesn’t keep me from doing all the shit I mentioned a sentence ago.

At the end of the day, when I close my door, whether it’s the door to my rig or the door to a room I’m staying in temporarily, that soul deep ache of missing him that is always present but from which I can distract myself during the day as I go about the business of living, still surges forth.

No, dating isn’t the answer, as I tell people who helpfully suggest that I start dating.

I’m not lonely for a generic man. 

Duh.

I’m lonely for my beloved husband.

It ain’t rocket science, figuring that out. I don’t think.

Life just isn’t as good, now, as it was with Chuck.

That’s just the god honest truth.

But here’s the other side of that truth, which is what makes me, as I told my daughter, possibly the strongest woman ever to walk through her life.

Even with this emotional wasteland of life without Chuck…

I’m going out and doing shit that is way beyond what many would consider ordinary. Full timing in a colorful car and trailer, taking seasonal jobs at opera camps and Renaissance Faires, talking to strangers daily…the list is endless. 

I’m living life, whether I want to or not, because it isn’t in me to not live. Even as I wonder, often, why the hell I didn’t die of broken heart syndrome. But I’m doing it, andthat is what makes me the damn strong woman that I am. Lonely for my husband, Chuck, but fucking killing this life I’ve created.

If I have to live life without him, which I have to do, clearly, then you can by god be damn sure I’m doing it MY way, living as much outside what is considered traditional/normal, as I possibly can on any given day.

With the full recognition, and realization, that anyone who has a problem with my hows and whys, generally speaking, are just not strong enough to even be in my sphere.

My life without my beloved husband. My terms.

All in glorious shades of pink.

All of which is what makes me a Fucking Warrior Goddess~

This Pink Anniversary~

Today, Tuesday, is an anniversary of sorts for me.
It isn’t an anniversary connected to Chuck, since it happened after he died.
And yet, it is entirely connected to him.
Because today is the day, 5 years ago, that I picked up my new Ford Escape from the garage, and the man, I’d taken it to after buying it from the dealer.
I took it directly from the dealer to a man named Anthony, who had his own garage.
He and I had spoken a week or so earlier, when I’d called him and told him that I was looking for someone to create a shade of pink for me and paint my car in the created color.
I shared with him the Love story that Chuck and I had for 24 years. I told him what Chuck said about me wearing pink after his death. He knew I’d need color around me. I told him about our Happily Homeless travels for our last 4 years together. I told him that I was staying on the road, alone, and I was terrified and devastated and didn’t know how to do it, but I was doing it.
The price he gave me was just too high for me, but I told him how very much I appreciated that he listened to me and we hung up.
Not half an hour later, Anthony called me up again and quoted me a lower price. He really wanted to create a color for me and paint my silver car.
The first shade of pink that he did was too dark, and I told him to lift the brown out, and add a creamy white, but that I didn’t need to see the second shade. Paint my car in the color you get and it will be the exact right shade.
A couple weeks later I went with my daughter to pick up my car. She cried and I cried when I saw it, and we cried more when Anthony handed the can to me, with the formula for the paint on it…and the name he’d named it.
The name….
It’s to give you courage to return to the road on your own Anthony said.
Chuck’s Watchin’ Over Me was what he’d named the color.
God, did I cry.
And a few months later, I bought my tiny trailer. It’s a T@b Teardrop, and before taking it off the lot, I gave the guy my paint can with the formula on it and said anything that’s yellow, paint it pink! 16114600_1227243173997281_3474194353379356472_n
I was terrified to return to the road on my own. My heart was shattered into pieces and it felt as if a meat slicer was in my chest. Alternatively, it felt as if my heart had been seized from my chest and thrown on the ground and a sharp-edged ax was slicing at it haphazardly.
I’d never camped and I’d never towed anything.
I knew nothing about what I was about to do, and I was fucking riddled with anxiety. Waking up every morning was unbearable. How could I do this when I didn’t even want to live? When I felt numb and breathless with pain at one and the same time? When I couldn’t focus on maps and reservations and routes? When I didn’t know where campgrounds even existed and how to make reservations with them? How far would I drive each day? What if I broke down? What if I was attacked? What if I just couldn’t do it suddenly, and I stranded myself somewhere?
How could I possibly do any of it, when all I wanted was my husband?
Maybe it was fortunate that I didn’t have a home to return to. Maybe it was fortunate that I was too young (55) to live with my kids. Maybe I was fortunate that I didn’t know what else to do. Maybe it was fortunate that I was so filled with fear and anxiety that it opened my eyes to doing the impossible. Maybe it was fortunate that the fierce grief and exhaustion, even as it killed my energy, forced me on.
I learned as I did it. I didn’t have a fucking clue what I was doing or where I was going. So I learned to make myself vulnerable and ask for help from whoever happened to be standing near me.
I learned as I joined every fb group of campers and military people that I could find, so that I could reach out with my concerns and confusion.
I learned as I began writing my blog and posting daily on my Happily Homeless is MoonStruck page, knowing that all that I held inside my heart and soul was impossible to hold inside for long.
I learned as I began saying why not to any idea that came into my head, no matter how outlandish it might seem.
I learned as I began listening to my heart, trusting it to guide me much more than I trusted my brain.
I learned as I insisted, to myself, that the Love Chuck left behind for me must must must be fucking stronger than the grief, or I’d go over the edge completely.
I learned as I reached out to my widowed community and began visiting them around the country. I got so many hugs and each one took me another mile.
I did whatever I had to, reached out, pushed my boundaries and comfort zones and grew Love bigger.
I miss Chuck unbearably to this day, 5 years later. I always will. Life is less than without him. My heart and soul get so tired. My body gets tired, being out on the road constantly. When it gets to be too much, I find rest with family or friends.
What I learned, most importantly, I think, is that there ain’t nobody going to do this for me. This is it…my life. I had 24 years of Love from a man I adored, who adored me. And my world now, will never be the same. And that isn’t okay in any way. But this is what I have.
And by fucking god, I will, and I AM, living it in color, living it as much over the top as I can manage and I’m doing it in Chuck’s name and in the name of our Love story, and in the name of Love.
That’s it in a nutshell.
All the pink. It’s the color of my courage and determination and the Love Chuck left behind for me, and the Love that meets me on the road daily.
You don’t have to wait to feel better to do whatever it is you think you might want to do. You don’t have to wait til you’re not as sad as you are now. You don’t have to wait for anyone’s approval.
You just pack every damn bit of that stuff up in a suitcase and take it with you.
It’s in the doing that you learn. It’s in the doing that you gain some measure of confidence. And it’s in the doing that you find that dark bit of humor that lets you announce to the world that you really don’t have a grand flying fuck clue what you’re doing….
But you’re doing it anyways.
So, no, this anniversary isn’t about Chuck. But yes, it’s all about Chuck and the mission that he started me on, as his cancer filled body lay on that hospice bed and I told him that my plan was to continue traveling, as he and I had done, and he asked me to return to our favorite places and scatter his cremains but he only named 4 places because the other places would be up to me, and I’d have to keep my heart open in order to know them. And, in keeping my heart open, I know that he hoped I’d create a new life for myself.
My Odyssey of Love continues, beloved husband.
My knight, my lover, my hero, my light, my life…529438_552029828185289_1995679461_n

 

Looking at the Numbers~

Almost 5 years.
5 years without you.
Don’t ask me how I’ve gone 5 years without you.
I don’t know.
Sheer grit and determination.
And a whole lot of the Love that you left behind for me.
It isn’t enough, you know.
Living on memories of your Love for me.
Mine for you.
But it has to be. Enough, I mean.
24 years with you wasn’t enough.
We thought we’d have at least 35, calculating our ages.
We had 24.
23 of those in marriage.
We had 4 years together, living on the road.
Adventuring and loving and bonding more deeply than we’d ever thought possible.
4 years. Our last 4 years.
I spent 3 weeks after your death, alone in that condo in southern California.
And then returned to the road, alone.
It’s almost 5 years now that I’ve been on the road by myself, on my Odyssey of Love.
I’ve been on the road alone longer than we were on the road together
115,000 miles solo.
North, south, east and west.
8 times around the country.
I will never stop missing you,
No matter how many miles behind me,
No matter how many miles in front of me.
I miss you, D.
I just miss you.  2018-03-21

Just Drive. Just Talk. Just Dance~

In no time at all, I’ll be going back on the road.  Launch date:  May 1 at the latest. My intention is to stay out on the road this time.  I’ll visit friends and family, but will stay in my T@b Teardrop, PinkMagic, primarily.  I’ve missed the coziness of her, the cocoon that she is to me.

This time in Arizona has been what I needed it to be, what I intended it to be. While I’ve fallen off the wagon as far as regular exercise, I have been working hard in counseling. It’s been incredibly intense, now that I’ve added EMDR to the process.

Because it’s Tuesday, my day for EMDR, I’m very tired. It takes a physical and emotional toll on me, which is okay; how can it not be wearying when I’m delving into all the fucking trauma of Chuck’s death and the months afterwards?

So…idle thoughts running through my head:

My therapist who does the EMDR is a knowledgeable woman who gives her all. She’s done the EMDR, guided me through a tapping exercise I can do myself, and today taught me TRE, which is a trauma release exercise. It works through a series of physical positions that stress the body into shaking and tremors, and through those physical reactions, the trauma in muscle memory is released. All of it is fascinating and not completely understood as to why it works; it’s just been found to work.

My Saturday’s are taken up with burlesque dance classes and throughout the remainder of the week I work on my costumes, glittering and sparkling them up. When I return to the road this time, my altar-identity of FWG will be stronger and more vivid than ever. This class has already filled my intention, which was to find some level of creativity again, and awareness of my body.

I’ve created and designed both costumes for my performance, and most of the choreography. The Merry Widow (definitely a play on words with that cuz there ain’t no merry about it), morphs into an FWG.  My entrance onto the stage will be to Leonard Cohen singing Dance Me to the End of Love.  I’ll be dressed in a long, trailing, frayed, black skirt.  Over my head I’ll carry a parasol, draped in black veiling that hangs to my hips.  I’ll swirl to stage center, and, as the words to the tune begin, I’ll dance as if I’m dancing with my beloved husband, not a hard thing to do, as he and I danced to this tune many times.

As that tune ends I’ll step behind a tall screen, which will be backlit so the audience can see my silhouette, and, in very theatrical movements, I’ll toss my parasol to the floor and shed my black widow’s weeds and begin donning the bright pink and orange of an FWG. Two layers, two shades, of pink tutus, with pale pink stockings, pink and silver glittered shoes, and a flaming orange short cape.  My last accessory will be a glittering sword, and I’ll move to the tune of Girl on Fire as I step from behind the screen and assume a Warrior Goddess pose as the lights flash on to the sound of an explosion.

I don’t know where this will lead, this burlesque, and I mostly don’t think about it.  It’s simply one avenue of my therapy for myself.

I do think of Chuck, if he could see me now, doing this. Doing all of this that I’ve done since that April night, and he wouldn’t be so much proud as fucking impressed with the chutzpah that has been required of me to bust down walls emotionally and physically.

I haven’t conquered the grief but that has never been, and never will be, my intention in anything I’ve done in the almost 3 years since he died.  My only intent has been, ever will be, to be as honest as possible with myself and with others, about this clusterfuck of grief.  I swore, right after he died, that I would write directly and in as raw a manner as I needed about it, and not try to pretty it up to make it palatable to the world at large. I need strong people in my life and if they get scared off by how I am or how I express it, then they need to pretty much just get out of my way to make room for those who can bear it with me. No hard feelings, just go over there thank you very much.

I’ve been clear with people regarding the following:

Don’t tell me everything is going to be okay you don’t know that, nor do I.

Don’t tell me he’s with me you don’t know that neither do I.

Don’t tell me I’ll be a better person for going through this that’s bullshit. I was a damn good person before he died.

Don’t tell me anything about God thank you very much, about how He/She/It must have wanted another angel bullshit. Bullshit.

Don’t tell me there’s a plan. I don’t believe it. God, if He/She/It exists, is, I’m sure, busy doing other shit and not looking down to see who can be stricken and killed next.

Don’t tell me there’s a reason and it will reveal itself to me in time. That’s bullshit. The reason he died was that he got fucking cancer and it ate him up and he died. God had nothing to do with it.

But here’s what you can do:

Cheer me on as I continue to make the decision every day to get up and face the damn day and do whatever I can to engage with people and things, even if I’d rather not be here on this earth.

Cheer me on as I face all the fucking trauma of his dying time and saying a final goodbye and sob that trauma out each week in counseling and EMDR.

Cheer me on as I hitch up my trailer again and drive out into this country, going only on my heart’s instinct as a guide, and pass by spots where he and I stopped for lunch, or went hiking. We spent 4 years on the road; there is hardly anywhere that isn’t as a spear to my heart with each and every goddamn and blessed memory.

Cheer me on as I don pink, pink, pink, and glitter it up on a stage, dancing my way through this devastation and in spite of this devastation because it’s what he would expect of me. He knew that, however I did this, it would be in a large way because he knew the woman I am.

Idle thoughts…driving, dancing, sobbing, embracing the pain and grief, keeping my heart open no matter what, gripping the sword of battle in my hand and facing into the fucking wind because it’s what I do and this grief is a battle for me and I don’t take it lightly at all and no matter how often I stumble and fall, and fall apart, I will always,always stand back up.

No matter what.

Time and Gestation~

Geographically, I’ve come full-circle.   9 months ago, I left Newtown Connecticut, and here I am back again, visiting our son, Fireman Nick, and his girlfriend, SugaPie.  I began this Odyssey of Love when Handsome Husband had been dead for 8 months.  In total I’ve been on the road for 5 years.   4 of those years were with Handsome Husband;  this last one on my own.  Which is to say, without him.  For the first 2 weeks last December, Fireman Nick traveled with me.  For the last 2 months our daughter Rachael-Grace has been with me.  I just finished my 3rd trek across country since he died.

Numbers.  They mean everything and they mean nothing.  Most especially nothing without him.  So, I’ve been asked, What’s different?  Is your grief different?  What have you learned?  How is it being on the road?  Are you happy doing this?  Is this exciting?  What is it like driving the roads you drove with your husband?  How has it been, scattering his cremains?

Practical fears paralyzed me as I began this, towing my pink-trimmed trailer behind me.  How could I possibly  learn how to tow?  How to unhitch?  How to camp?  How to travel the country?  How to be safe on my own?  How to allow grief the space it demands while creating this, believe me, wholly unwanted life?

My life philosophy is I haven’t died so apparently I must live and I must create a life for myself beyond the us that I had with him for 24 years.  It must be done.  I thought a broken heart would most assuredly kill me but it hasn’t.  And I frequently damn the fact, because this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I hate life without him and it fucking hurts with every breath.

Today is 16 months since my husband, my lover, my safety system, the man I loved more than my own life, took his last breath and so did I.   God, that’s so dramatic, isn’t it?  And yet, so true.

I’ve grown in confidence.  I tow PinkMagic like a pro.  I hitch it up and so far, its’ always gone with me.  I can break it down and set it up, lowering the legs, plugging in as needed, set up my bed, organize the inside…and then reverse it all when I leave wherever I am.  I’ve cooked on the propane stove (though not frequently).   The electric broke and I got it fixed.  I back it up and I’ve even parallel parked it.  Bam!

I’ve learned to ask for help.  I have no problem standing out where I can be seen and asking the first person who passes if they can help me with whatever situation arises.  I can’t know everything, nor do I wish to.  Mostly people want to help, I’ve found.  I certainly assume that they do.  And if the first person can’t help, I politely ask them to move out of my way so that I can find someone who is able.

I have no fear.  The term “FWG” that I coined, is serious business to me.  It means that I stared Death in the face and I suited up and showed up in spite of and alongside of.   I’ve learned to live on the road, camping, and I am not a camper.  I’ve learned to state my mind even more so than before Handsome Husband died.  I state my needs clearly, with no apologies.  I’ve learned to own the talents and gifts that were given to me upon birth and through self-development.  I am a gypsy.  I am a story-teller.  I am a hugger of people.  I am a listener of tales.  I am a giver and a receiver both.  I am a writer.  I am a woman who wanders and discovers.

I have no expectations on outcomes.  Not in a negative way;  just in a way that if one way doesn’t work, I’ll try another.  I have no expectations of people and how they may or may not behave.  I will accept only those in my life who are interested in honest, authentic relationships.  (I still have some coming to Jesus meetings with a few that need clarification and that’s on my near schedule, believe me).   I expect, and demand, honesty, whether it hurts or not, both in giving and receiving.

Handsome Husband was the Buddhist in the family but what’s happened as a result of his death is that I’ve become a perfect Buddhist.  I have genuinely emotionally detached from outcome, results, and life, by which I mean I get that it is entirely fleeting and can be gone in an instant, and so I’m not terribly attached to it.  I’ve had the hardline talks with our kids about my own end of life and what I expect from them in support when I make the choices that I will make.

I’ve learned to allow myself to dwell in dark spaces  where my eyes are of no use and allow my other senses to heighten instead so that they might aid me in finding my way.  And I’ve learned to challenge those who would question my grief, both the intensity and the length.  This is my grief, not yours, I say.  Fuck off. (said with love, of course).

I live fiercely.  I love fiercely.  I grieve fiercely because I loved fiercely.  Those around me and those I meet on the road are fire in my blood.  Yes, I can say I love them, these new friends not yet met, or met only briefly.  They each have their stories as I have mine and in this way we connect.  I am incredibly comfortable about approaching strangers and being approached.  Talking in front of a crowd?  Pfft!  Whatevers.

Handsome Husband hoped that I would find another man to love someday.  That may or may not happen.  What I can say is that any man who joins in my life is the damn luckiest man in the world because I know how to love and I’m not afraid to show it, every second of every day because each second can be the last second and I will make damn certain that every second matters, as I did with Handsome Husband.

Whatever I knew before he died, I know in the very marrow of my bones now.  Oh, yeah, this last year has changed me in ways that I haven’t even defined yet.  I coined FWG without full knowledge of what it would come to mean to me as time passed and I’m still growing into it.  And always will be.

Fierce.  Determined.  Take no prisoners.  No apologies.  Passionate.  With a heart open to love, everyday.

#FWG rising.  Damn right.  10612999_10202636518455039_3458728546477215861_n

Wimps Need Not Apply~

Grief is indeed a holistic experience.   Mind, body, emotions, spirit.

I breathe in.  I breathe out.  Consciously.  Letting go of pain, opening up to Love.  Opening to Life.   I go all Zen about it and try not to try while doing it.  I just let it be whatever it is, with no judgement.  Yup.

Or I dig in and allow the flood of emotion.  I allow the force of memories (all good ones) and let the grief wash through me, stabbing and drawing blood and gushing forth devastation.

Physically I push myself out into the world, meeting new people daily, learning a new environment as I tow my rig and camp for the first time in my life.  I’d like to say I exercise so I seem all virtuous and stuff but I’d by lying.  I know exercise is a helpful thing during grief but I just can’t get there. Mostly, I don’t even remember that it’s an option and secondly, there is an over-riding exhaustion in me from doing the first two things from the top of this blog and my body and mind don’t align to get me out there to even do a meandering walk. I could push myself to push through that probably, with a great deal of focus, which is something I also seem to have lost since Handsome Husband died.

Nutrition? Vitamins? It’s hard enough to do with a home base, never mind living on the road. I don’t have a clue.

Papers get lost, even though I intentionally place them in the most obvious location to be found.  Things I know that I possess scatter into the stratosphere, to be found again purely through chance.  I plot routines in order to make habits, only to forget them or, if I write the routine down to remind myself, I then lose what I wrote.  Including if I noted it on my computer.  Passwords to various links swirl in my head, lost and found intermittently.

Phone calls that need to be returned.  Emails that need response.  The best intentions on both until they join the morass that is my brain these days. (So, please forgive me for that phone call you didn’t get from me).

Some of this can be blamed on the full-time traveling lifestyle I live.  Small space, attempts to organize, followed by the feeling that I’m lucky I can find my keys to drive at any point.   Most of it I attribute to grief primarily because I used to be really well-organized and competent.

So I go back to trying to breathe, which I haven’t done well since my husband died.  I try to feel joy in what I’m experiencing (because there is cause for joy, after all).  I try to feel contentment.  Or serenity.  Or anything other than grief but those emotions are intellectual exercises for me and can’t seem to make their way past the acid lump in my throat or the meat-slicer that resides in my chest or the exhaustion that sings through my veins or the heaviness that is my body or the maelstrom of devastation that is my self.  And I hate that I’ve lost who I was and have no concept of who I will be and I hate that I have to be me without him but that’s what I’ve got.

I was a strong woman with a solid sense of myself for the 24 years I was married to Handsome Husband.  We had an interdependent relationship and I felt strong within it and I mourn the lost me.  Because I feel no strength in this new life, I have no trust in it and honestly, I don’t care about it or a future.  I’m in this moment, surviving and trying to remember where the fuck anything is.

Which is why I give myself the FWG image to live into each day.  It’s the only thing I do remember to do.  I remind myself that I can do this because I fucking have to do this.  Period.  End of story.

Grief isn’t for wimps.

#FWG rising~IMG_2053

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.

 

So….

It looks so bright and cheery, doesn’t it?  My rig, I call it.  PinkMagic.  10433904_10154330525025441_6084715618478075880_n

Buying this car and, a few months later, this T@b trailer, was a major decision in the year after Handsome Husband died.  You know, the major decisions that you aren’t supposed to make in the year after a death.  Those decisions.

I was on my own for the first few months of travel in PinkMagic.  Now our daughter Rachael-Grace (Rae) is with me for the next 6 months as we continue this Odyssey of Love, fulfilling my husband’s final request of me, to scatter his cremains at his favorite places.

The life that I’m living now probably seems like a dream come true to so many people who only see the pink and our traveling life and who don’t know the story, or the depth of the story and see only the surface image.  Or who only want to see this external image.

This trailer is my home on the road.  I knew after Chuck’s death that emotionally I couldn’t handle traveling in the same fashion that he and I had but I did need a familiar place to lay my head at night.  He and I called ourselves Happily Homeless for our 4 years but after he died I only felt homeless.  Lost.  So I bought this trailer and painted it in the same pink as my car.  Even though I’d never towed and don’t care for camping.  Or driving much.   And still feel lost.  And I lie alone at night or walk around a campground and wonder how the fucking hell is this my life and how is it that he’s dead and gone from me?  This PinkMagic rig is part of the armor that strengthens me each day.  Handsome Husband told me to mourn for him in pink, not black.  I took his words seriously.  As you can tell. (and he so often complained that I never listened to him…)

You see hula-hoops.  Looks like so much fun, yes?  And it’s not that it isn’t fun.   But, yes, a deeper reason exists.  Rae makes and sells them on the road for income.  We use them for exercise at the end of a day of driving.  We use them to move the grief energy throughout our bodies.  Passersby see them and stop to join us.  They help us meet people.  Grief is isolating.  We’re always new to an area.  Same, same for PinkMagic.   We meet lots of people on and off the road.  Lots of hugs are given and received.

The FWG on the front of my T@b?  If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know what it means.  I make no apologies for anyone who takes offense at the imagined crudeness.  Fucking Warrior Goddess.  It gives me an image to live into every damn day that I have to wake up to another day without him.  It is my battle cry.  It says to me step into this and find strength.  See who you are who he knew you were and be that.  Take the love you shared and live fiercely.  Just fucking love and let it be stronger than the grief.

Anyone who would like to step into my shoes and live this life as you see it, be my guest.  Please.  You be the one to drive with your husband’s cremains on the seat next to you, with the folded flag presented to you at his memorial service next to that.  You enfold his ID tags in your fingers.  You breathe in the scent of your husband’s uniform jacket  that hangs on the back of the passenger seat where you used to sit while he drove because he was a rotten passenger, even though his scent is long gone but you do it because it’s what is left of him.  You wear his shirt at night-time so that you can pretend his arms are wrapped around you.  You put your hand out to touch the urn next to your bed and feel your heart shred yet again because he’s gone. Forever fucking gone.

And then you get up and drive the roads you traveled with a man you loved more than life itself, with the memory of his hand on your knee and wish to fucking god that he was here with you now and wonder how the fuck you’re going to live the entirety of the rest of your life without him.  You force yourself to return to those places he asked you to and stand with the pain and scatter his cremains and utter a prayer of thanksgiving that you had a life of love with someone who died way too fucking soon, who suffocated to death in front of you.  Breathe in that pain and agony because it’s there and you just have to bear with it until it eases and you hope to god it’s soon because you’ve never been in so much slicing, dicing, shredding, soul-destroying pain in your life.

And repeat.

And then tell me how much fun this is and how great it is to be on vacation. Collasssge

YOU~

Today is my birthday.  Its my second birthday without Handsome Husband.  I’m 56 in regular years, but…its my second birthday without Handsome Husband and that number  holds so much more power than my actual years of being on this earth.  The day, the number 56, is means nothing to me, which I realize probably sounds so very depressing but to me is neither one thing or another.  It just is what it is. But don’t stop reading-there is more to it, I promise.

See that massive hole in the ground  in front of you that is so huge its cavernous?  That hole appears to be all black volcanic rock, broken up with sharp and brittle gaps separated with what seems like bottomless crevasses between them, stretching down, down, down into nothingness.collageThe bottom is invisible  from the top. But if you could see the bottom and you looked closely, somewhere maybe around a 1/3rd of the way from the bottom, there is a barely discernible figure, clad in, surprisingly but it’s why you can make this figure out at all…yes, pink. It’s a woman.  On her back is a clearly very heavy backpack and her feet are clod in climbing boots.  Her hair is matted to her head with sweat and her fingers are red and cut from grasping the rocks for leverage and to keep from falling backwards into the blackness.  If you could see her eyes from that distance, you’d see that their cornflower blue is clouded with devastation and loss but sharp with determination.  She doesn’t look up; her eyes are trained directly on the rocks in front of her.  It’s a slow climb, as she must continually pause to gather her strength and take a gasping breath.

She’s in survival mode.  It uses up everything physical, everything emotional and everything spiritual and mental that is in her to raise her foot one more time to lever herself up one more rock.  And you know what?  Its okay.  She’s a sweaty, devastated with grief, FWG and its okay.  She isn’t sad about being sad, she is just doing what needs to be done.b2513ddfbf608eb4ebc36d9f2712dfb2

Would you like to know what keeps her breathing?   Study this~

d178be5975dab55c10a98ddaa6c9c73dThere is a quote that says there is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.

You, my family, my friends, my fellow Tabbers, my military family, my Second Firsts family, my angel sisters of Tapestries of Hope, my SOTF, my Glampers, my faithful blog followers, my fellow widows, met and not yet met-all of you who are my community.  You are the cracks.  You are the ones who are letting the light into my heart and soul and you keep me climbing those black rocks.  Out of the darkness.

What else is there for me to say on this birthday but thank you?  From me, and I know, from Hands0me Husband, who would hug each of you individually for the love you are giving to the woman he loved more than himself.

I bow my head to you in acknowledgement.