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~

This Baseline~

It’s a constant dichotomy, this life without Chuck.

The promise (if that is the right way to describe it) that we all hear, after going through a death or traumatic event (sometimes they are one and the same), is about finding that new normal.

This so-called new normal of mine, since April 21, 2013, is a life lived without Chuck.  Which is emotionally and physically exhausting, no matter which way I try to navigate it.  Practical, day to day, living, is a crap shoot.  Emotions…well, life has to be lived, and shit has to get done, so I can’t lie abed all day, I can’t curl up in a fetal position in the corner, so I have to get up and do the living thing.

In these 3 years and 4 months since Chuck died, I’ve been laying a foundation for the next part of my life;  I’ve been writing my first book and putting together my first public presentation on this Odyssey of Love, and thinking. thinking, thinking, constantly, and working every day, creating workshops, networking, reaching out in every way I can to those around me.

And I’m tired.  Bone  tired.  Soul tired.  Exhausted.  Today I realized that my body is strung as tightly as a rubber band right before it snaps.  My nerves are humming along the surface of my skin.  My heart is racing.  I must consciously remind myself to take a breath.  There is a consistent, low-grade itching all over my body.  My mind feels as tightly wound as my body and all I want to do is run shrieking into whatever oblivion I can find.

I can’t do this anymore.  And yet, this is what I have, what I am, where I am, so I must.

So I use my homeopathic remedies for grief and trauma.  Star of Bethlehem.  Ignatia Amara.  Rescue Remedy.  Relaxation essential oil on my pulse points and in a mister that shoots the scent into this room where I sit.

What do you do when you can’t stand the silence and the alone-ness and the missing-ness any longer, but you have to stand it because this is it?  This is life now, simply stated.  Chuck will always be dead, for the rest of my life.

In order to create this part of my life that will bring me into a semblance of financial security, I have to project, in some measure, into the future.  A future I don’t want to consider because it is a future without him.  But I have to consider that future, practically thinking, no matter what I feel at any given moment.

Doing so hitches my breath and causes anxiety to rise in frantic measures to every nerve ending.  It is as if flood waters are pouring through a breached wall.

I allow some of this to happen;  I know the futility of trying to hold it back.  But, at the same time, how much do I allow and how much control do I have with it and over it?

Rhetorical questions, all.   I do what I can to manage it all, but I know it’s a temporary fix.  I’ve done counseling, one on one, and in a group.  I’ve gone through various trauma modalities, and they have made a difference.  But none of it can remove what this new normal is, what it will be for the time I have left living;  Chuck is dead and life without him is empty.

And, honestly, none of this is a plea for sympathy.   I’ll still do whatever needs to be done to create some semblance of a life for the rest of my life.  Nor is this a pity party.  It is, simply, an acknowledgement from me that this life of widowhood is the most difficult, unbearable, impossible, thing I’ve ever tried to do and my heart hurts.  Desperately.

I miss my husband.  I miss Chuck.  The space next to me, where he stood for 24 years, is empty.  And I cannot convey to you in any real way what it feels like, what this life feels like, without him.  It is silence and it is loneliness and it is emptiness, no matter how I strive to change it or accept it or balance it.  It is as if I’m blindly throwing darts at an unseen dart board, with no idea of where or how they land.

That’s all.

 

 

Upon This, I do Insist~

I wonder, frequently, when grief changed from a normal, human response to the death of a loved one, to a condition that, seemingly, must be gotten through (with all due speed, thank you very much for your consideration), with clinical protocols assigned to it?

When did grief get designated as complicated and unhealthy and uncomfortable and perceived as an enemy to be overcome?  When did our culture start demanding of us that we, as grievers, choose life again as quickly as possible, focus only on the happy memories of life and not dwell in the layers of sorrow that come with death? When did grief become something to hide from the world at large?

When did we medicalize grief so that our approach is clinical instead of soulful?

Years ago I read about traumatic stress and the military, what is seen and done in war, and the suffering that occurs as a consequence of what is seen and experienced by our military. I read that it wasn’t always called traumatic stress. In past times it was called combat fatigue, shell shock, war neurosis. The term that most appealed to me and best described it was from the Civil War era. It was called soldier’s heart.

An apt description, don’t you think?

Science has discovered neurons and all sorts of scientific stuff about the brain and grief; our brains that are, of course, involved, when it comes to grief. We feel crazy and our thinking and focus goes all to hell and back again, ad infinitum. Maybe drugs calm all that shit down sometimes, and it’s good to have options to treat the crazy.  Modern times and all that…

Speaking only for myself, I see grief as a matter of the heart. I believe that every grief is potentially complicated, simply because our worlds disintegrate after our loved ones die, and that’s kind of, you know, complicated. I believe that every death potentially is traumatic because grasping the forever-ness of death is beyond human comprehension, and trying to grasp that particular concept is kind of, you know, traumatic. And once we work our way, sometimes with a good therapist, through the worst of the trauma, layers of grief remain that we must muck through and that takes a fuck load more time than the 6 months that the DSM allows for complicated grief.

A matter of the heart…

Thursday, April 21, at 11:21pm will be 3 years since my beloved husband, Chuck, died of a cancer that ate him up and killed him dead.  I was present when he died and I wonder when was the last time he looked at me and saw me before closing his eyes forever? After he died, I bathed him and dressed him and wrapped him in beautiful blankets because I didn’t want him put in a body bag uncovered. Before the mortuary took him away, I spoke with them and told them his name, that he served in our military, that he was a dad of 4 kids-3 of them step kids who never, ever, felt like step kids. Before they took him away, I told them that he was a man of honor who loved me every day of our 24 years together and that I knew they would treat him with all the respect that he deserved. And made them promise me that they would.

Before he was cremated, I opened the box that held his body and covered him with stunningly bright and beautiful flower bouquets. After gently closing the box over him again, I pressed the switch to open the doors of the crematory and watched as his body slid inside and felt sick to my stomach. After he was cremated, I retrieved his cremains that were still almost warm to the touch. I know because I touched them and buried my hands in them, bringing my hands to my face as I huddled into myself and sobbed.

In the years since, Chuck’s cremains have traveled shotgun with me, next to his flag that was presented to me at his memorial service, the jacket from his BDUs, and a picture of him as a flight engineer on the 141’s. With these precious tangibles of our love story, I’ve criss-crossed the country 8 times in my PinkMagic rig.

All of this…all of these memories, all of these tangible reminders of his existence in my life, all of the reminders that our existence together is no more…these are matters of the heart. Matters of the soul. Matters that deserve my time and attention because they were…they are…sacred times.  I have Widows Heart.

We are not bound to what our culture teaches us about grief.

Grief, in reality, has the potential to bring us to a place of our strongest connection to life. It smashes open our hearts and souls and insists on recognition of all that is holy and sacred in life. It is, perhaps, one of the few times in our busy lives that we are forced to slow down, waken to our souls, and listen to what makes us human.

I will not see grief as negative or positive. I will not see it as an adversary, something to be gotten through. I will not force it away by doing whatever it is that I’m supposed to do so that I don’t feel it, or feel it as strongly. I will not push it and shove it and force it in one direction or another. I will not run away from it. Nor will I wallow in it.

What I will do.  I will continue to be honest about grief’s impact on my life. I will continue to connect with my widowed community and the community of love that surrounds me on the road and as I tarry in one place or another.  I will continue to become familiar with my grief, because that is, I believe, how it will ultimately soften around the edges. It is not my enemy, as much as I detest its’ presence in my life.  Grief is an emotion to be honored. It is the twin to Love.

And, in the end, this grief…my grief…in the end…it is about my dearest, most beloved husband, Chuck D, the man I will carry with me in every breath I take, forevermore.

I miss you, my dearest love. I miss you. I miss you, I miss you…

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Those Million Days Ago…Yesterday…

This day, 3 years ago…

Handsome Husband and I arrived in Cathedral City, California.

We’d come from 3 months in the Phoenix, Arizona area, where we’d visited with 2 of our kids, and we’d adventured along the way in Vegas, and Red Rock Canyon outside of Vegas, where we’d stayed with an Air Force buddy and his wife. IMG_9612

We’d gone to Death Valley…yeah, how fucking ironic is that? and I remember Chuck teasing me as I’d apprehensively and not terribly gracefully, climbed down a rock facing..

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…stopped at Edwards AFB to visit another Air Force buddy, IMG_0389

…contemplated WW2 at the Japanese Internment Camp in Manzanar, IMG_0364

and vowed to return to the Salton Sea on a day trip as we meandered along I-10.

I can still recall the heavy scent of orange blossoms as we parked our car at our rented condo.  There was a huge orange tree in a tiny grassed area to the right of the stairs.  IMG_110015 steps led us to our 2nd floor temporary home.  I remember that, too, because I counted them as Handsome Husband slowly ascended them.  He, who ordinarily carried all of our heavy stuff, carried a small pillow and our camera…all that he could manage and even that exhausted him.  I walked behind him in case he fell;  he was suddenly tired and frail.  It was left to me to trudge the remainder of our belongings up those stairs;  he couldn’t, and it broke his heart.  I could see the frustration in his eyes as he watched me.

Thus began our final almost 2 months together.  We thought his illness came from a systemic fungal infection.  We were wrong.  The fucking cancer had returned.

Why return to those times, you might ask?  Why submit myself to the pain of it again, by remembering, by writing about it yet one more time?

I don’t know that there is any good answer, except to say that it is my history.  It is our final history together and that matters to me.  There was so much uncertainty in those early days in the condo, but there was also a deepening of the love we had with and for each other.  Our sex life was a thing of the past and I distinctly remember thinking back to our beginning times when I told him that I  was so much in love with him that I wanted to be with him even if we could no longer make love…which was a strong statement from me, because our love life was passionate from the very beginning.  But the remembrance of that early thought was there in my mind, along with everything else that scrambled through it as he and I dealt with his ever-worsening health.

I need to remember these days and weeks as much right now as I need to breathe.  That time wasn’t all of our lives together by any means, but it was a defining moment in the hugest way possible.  Something was so very wrong, and we set our minds to deal with it as best we could, researching alternative methods of treatment and doing all we could, and loving each other intensely in spite of, because of, and no matter what.

In a meeting that only showed as horribly ironic much later, after his death, we met a woman in the hot tub the first time we ventured into it, who shared with us that she was newly widowed. We asked her gently about her circumstances, but didn’t speak too much about it later.  She was the one person we met while in California…the only person we met.  And she was a widow…

I write about that time, at this time, 3 years later, because the death of my husband was and is as much my life with him as our previous 23 years, and because, as traumatic as that time was, and as much as it echoes in me still, it was the time I said goodbye to a man who loomed so largely in my life because of how he loved me and how much he loved me and I will never forget it.

I write about these last times he and I had, to honor him and the valor and humor and love that he displayed, right up til the end, and to honor the love I, and our kids, and our friends, and his Air Force buddies, and his AA buddies, brought to that time, for him, and because of him.

I write about those last times because it was our last times together and I miss him unbearably and in a part of me that directs my blood to continue running through my body…I just can’t believe he’s gone…

Holding on~

I’ve put off writing this blog as long as I possibly can this evening. Fiddled around on face book, pinned some pins to pinterest. Organized some of the pictures cluttering my desktop…

This blog must be written. Not for any other reason except that the words are burning in me and need to be gotten out of my system and onto paper. The idea of zoning out to a stupid show on my computer, with my glasses off as I nod into sleep and wake a few minutes later only to nod off again, is tempting, rather than acknowledging in words where I am right now, emotionally.

Honestly?  Emotions are roiling my insides and it feels like I’m swirling in the confusion of the days and months after Chuck’s death, dealing with memories and devastation anew. The reason for this is that today I underwent my first EMDR, which, for those of you who maybe unfamiliar with the therapy, has to do with the bilateral rhythms of the brain and reconstructing them.  Or something.  I can never remember the exact terminology but it has to do with reliving traumatic events while a trained therapist taps (in my case, on my knees) which somehow, (and even the trained brains don’t know exactly how or why it happens) causes a re-processing of said traumatic event, easing the level of distress and trauma.

All of which is to say this will hopefully help me break through the blockage that has me stuck in this godawful grief.

Isn’t it funny how conversations can start casually, and meander along for a few minutes, seemingly innocuously, and then suddenly BAM! you’re in the midst of this massive groundswell of emotional vomiting?  All my therapist did was mention about moving boxes of books this past weekend so she could de-clutter, and I mentioned how I’m an artist at living small now, since I live in my T@b, and then about how Chuck and I sold everything in Jersey and went on the road, which is where he died, when we were in southern California, and, well, there you go… all the stories and details of his final days in hospice and his death were spilling from me.

Which was good, insofar as I was suddenly talking about exactly what I needed to talk about, and she began her tapping.

Without fancy detail, here’s the gist of it:

Initially, before beginning tapping, the therapist wants to establish a safe place to which a client can return, if and when talking becomes too emotional. Trying to establish a safe place was, for me, a fail; I couldn’t come up with a safe place because, pretty much, there is no safe place for me since Chuck died. So we’ll revisit that next week.

I spoke of washing him after he died, and turning him over and seeing a hole the size of a quarter on the base of his spine, which allowed me to see inside of his body. The bed sore in the tumor had eaten his skin away.  And, yes, in response to the unseen person asking the question…yes, I needed to be the one to wash him after he died.  It was a final act of service to this man I loved so deeply, and I have no regrets.

I spoke of the night his daughter laid on his bed sobbing, with him begging her to tell him what was wrong, what had happened to her, while, in the hall outside, I held my sons back as they fell apart because it was their last night with their dad but they couldn’t go in with her there and she wouldn’t leave (and we didn’t feel we could barge in on whatever was going on).  When she finally came out, they only had a few hours left with him, and he fell asleep and they left in the morning and never saw him again.  Chuck told me the following morning what she’d told him and he was in tears (it was something pretty bad and he was in agony that he hadn’t been able to protect her).  When I remarked upon that information in the months after his death, she denied telling him any such thing.  For the first 2 years after he died, I’d wake from nightmares, my heart pounding and riddled with anxiety that she’d spoken to him of what she told me had actually happened to her.  (I don’t mean to sound mysterious but that part is her story, not mine).  It made me physically ill that he had to bear any of that on his death bed.

I spoke of my almost breakdown brought about by the horrific things said to me by her after he died, about how I’d agitated him, how he questioned my care and love of and for him, how he’d dated other women during our engagement;  horror, once again, brought about because, in my broken state I allowed her words to penetrate my brain and I actually questioned whether I’d even known the man I was in love with and who loved me.  And I spoke of the rage I felt at Chuck when I lifted the cover of his cardboard coffin prior to cremation.  Rage because he’d never said to her what needed to be said, enabling her to feel free to behave as she did and say the things to me that she did.  It horrified me to have rage be my last feeling for him before his body disappeared, when I’d never felt that emotion towards him in my 24 years with him.  I felt like I’d betrayed him.

These things I’ve carried with me and in me.  Rationally I know that he loved me and I loved him and I cared for him and made an impossible time as sacred and beautiful as I could for him and he knew it and loved me more for it.  In my heart, I’m carrying all the trauma from those 3 weeks when I went into auto pilot, (as we all do at such a time). Those 3 weeks where I was as present as could be to the best of my abilities as he and I said our goodbyes and my heart broke into pieces that were so huge and so small that they became invisible shards, but 3 weeks where I wasn’t really present at all to myself because I couldn’t bear what was happening.

My favorite military term that I learned from Chuck is the word clusterfuck. That’s what it was then, and that’s what it all feels like now. T ruthfully, it has never yet stopped feeling like a clusterfuck, and that’s what I’ll be addressing in the next few weeks as I continue the EMDR. I need to deal with the trauma of it, and then we’ll get to the grief.

In some ways, as emotionally exhausting as today was, as done in as I am at this moment, it is also kind of freeing to just fucking openly say You know what, world?  My husband’s death was traumatizing.  The months afterwards were equally traumatizing and I don’t know how I didn’t end up in the looney bin.  I don’t know how I’m even walking around.  I don’t know how I’m upright.  How on earth am I making any kind of sense when I speak?

But you know what, part 2?  In spite of the trauma, I’ve still gone out and done shit and I’ll continue to do shit even while I deal with this and maybe, maybe, maybe, this will make a difference for me, but even if it does, I know that this treatment isn’t about not missing him, not longing for him.  It’s about easing the trauma, and I’m not going to apologize to anyone for what remains after I work through this part.  I’m not going to pressure myself to be better, or feel happiness or joy or any damn thing because for me, life isn’t about such words.  Life is only about letting love be stronger than grief.  I’m going to get to the other side of this trauma, at least in part, by admitting that, yeah, the word trauma pretty well fits what it was and what it is and it’s actually liberating to hear someone identify it as that and speak that word openly to me and then work with me on the trauma itself and not worry about trying to make me feel better or dose me with medications or label me as insert label here.

Work on the trauma and that will free up the grief. It sounds simple and it kind of is simple to me.  I’m okay with going through it and reliving it because I know it has to be done.  The way to it has been presented to me, so it’s time to saddle up, right?

Isn’t it strange, though, when my first thought in approaching this therapy is the entirely unrealistic thought that, hey if I go through this trauma and get through it, and prove that I can do it, that I’m strong enough to get to the other side, then maybe my prize on the other side of it will be….Chuck.  It isn’t real to have that thought, I know, but somewhere deep inside of me….well, there you go.

Onwards and upwards. Onwards and upwards.

Ending the Search~

It’s confusing really.  This grief, I mean.

It takes time.  Don’t rush it.  Allow yourself to be where you are.  You sound like you’re giving up.  It’s your time frame, not anyone else’s.  Just be.  Get busy.  Don’t get too busy.  You need to date.  Don’t date too soon.  

I do it all.  What’s suggested to me, what I think of doing on my own.  I do nothing.  I do everything.  I move.  I maintain stillness.  All in an effort to figure this out.  Or not figure it out.  Or whatever is in between.

So, here I am, days shy of 2 years since my beloved husband died.  I’m going to counseling, where we’re using aural acupuncture and will, in the near future, use EMDR, to assist with the trauma.  Because yes, there’s been trauma.  Not only because of the bullshit that happened when he was in hospice and how it played out in the months after, but, quite simply, because of the intensity of our relationship and the every day of being without him.  As simple as that.

On a daily basis I use St John’s Wort, which is a natural mood enhancer.  Essential oils that assist in release of grief, homeopathic remedies that bring me through those horrible moments that happen 24 hours a day, and intense exercise with the Warrior training program 3 times a week, to help move the grief energy through my body.

And yet…I’ve been told (by professionals and everyday people) that the pain of this particular grief, the grief of missing-ness of one’s spouse (because it is, or can be, hopefully is, such a close, intimate relationship) can last for up to 10 years before there is any true relief, before the memories bring comfort instead of pain.

Here’s my conclusions about grief.  First, it makes no impression on me any longer, the judgements cast by anyone regarding where I am with it or how I’m doing it.  This is my grief, after all, and my body knows what and how I need to do it. Secondly, I suspect that any sort of relief or peace of any semblance will happen in my heart and soul and body only when I come to grips with the idea that the new normal that everyone refers to, means that I just have to accept the fact that this grief will always be present in my blood and heartbeat, as opposed to continually searching for ways and means of being without it entirely.  Of course, if you say any such thing to the public at large they immediately say oh that’s your choice as to whether or not you allow that grief to stay present.  That all sounds very Zen and Buddhist etc and I’m glad for those who seem able to so easily dismiss this depth of emotion, but, hey, whatever each person is able to attain, right?

It’s kind of like being able to say that, in a world that is not in any way okay, and me not being okay within it, I’m okay.  Saying that releases people from feeling obliged to fix this shit.

What I do know for certain.  My life changed forever at 11:21 pm on April 21, 2013 when Handsome Husband died, and I’ll never be okay with his gone-ness.

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Holograms and Other Worlds~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Angels and Odysseys~

Words.  Phrases.  Images.  All swirl through my body as a tornado, dipping and weaving in my consciousness, coming from long-forgotten spaces.  Voices murmur and rise up and linger in the air around me, dancing fairy dust.  I can feel them, though I sense that it isn’t intended for me to reach out and grasp these nebulous thoughts.  No, this calls for me only to close my eyes, trust, and sharpen my senses, standing open amidst the delicacy and shimmer of this….yes, magic, I think.

An awareness and awakening is within me in the last few weeks.  I’ve been watching dvds through the night, shows and movies chosen randomly to distract me through the night as I waken, only to nod off again.  Random.  Except maybe not so much.  There really has been no rhyme or reason to my viewing choices but scattered throughout all the dialogue skirting the edges of my mind are words and phrases that seem directed specifically to me.  Shows with angels, shows of loss, comedy that suddenly flips into intense messages for me, careless words seemingly, except it seems as if they are being spoken through a bullhorn, directly at me.

The words I hear in the night darkness are echoes of the words spoken to me as I’ve traveled this Odyssey of Love for Handsome Husband.  Do you know that you are surrounded by angels?  one woman said to me.  They are all around you.  Another said continue whatever it is you’re doing you’re on the right path.  Susan, at the very beginning of this, said he wants me to tell you he wouldn’t leave you without a road map.  Handsome Husband said to me I will always be with you.  Images of the hundreds of people I’ve met on the road leap and bound in my memory.  Giving and receiving hugs around the country.  Smiles and thumbs up as cars and motorcycles and trucks pass my pink car, towing my pink-trimmed T@b.  Notes left on the step to my colorful trailer, wishing me happy trails, accompanied by travel angels, little snacks, and other mementoes.

Have you ever felt chosen?  As in, you’re really not in charge of whatever this is and you resist because look at the horrible circumstance that brought you to where you are and you know what?  You need to do it anyways and worries and concern about the hows and whys of it can’t interfere because this is, plain and simply, your mission.  This has already been laid out for you, so go do it and all will fall into place.

I’ve never gone completely on faith.  Ever.  Maybe my word for faith is, instead, Love, and that has carried me since Handsome Husband died and it won’t leave me hanging mid-stride, will it?  How can it, really?

All I know is that my part in this is suiting up and showing up, keeping my heart open and…driving my rig in whatever direction I’m shown.

My Odyssey of Love, part two, on January 19.  Truly, nothin’ but Love~10387701_747603311961272_7235520015657922373_n

 

 

This Odyssey-and Magical People~

They seek me out.  I’ve no need to find a psychic or a medium and pay for them to fish in my life in order to give me reassurances about Handsome Husband or what I’m doing.  Not that I’ve ever been tempted; I’m actually kind of suspicious of anyone who receives payment in return for telling us about our loved ones.  Not that I have a problem with the entrepreneurial spirit at all-it’s just that in the case of psychics, I always figure that they’re very good with reading people and cast out such generalities that someone in the audience is bound to connect.

Here’s the thing.  Since I began this Odyssey of Love, following Handsome Husband’s death, there have been people I would term either intuitives, or actual angels (sometimes), who have sought me out, and the things they tell me leave me, most often, breathless with their accuracy.

My daughter and I are in Key West and while wandering Duval St yesterday, we chanced upon a shop and entered on a whim to browse.  She quickly found a few articles of clothing that are perfect for hooping and went to the dressing room while I continued to check the racks.  The proprietor, (Leslie by name, as we discovered), had been very friendly, bidding us hello as we came into her shop.  But nothing more, really.

Until.

As I moved hangars around on the rack, Leslie, who was standing not far from me, looked over at me and said You’ve been through a devastating change recently, haven’t you?  I was startled and didn’t reply immediately and she went on to say  You know you’re okay, don’t you?  Even though you don’t feel as if you are.  You’re okay.  And whatever it is that you’re doing, you need to continue doing it.  You’re on the right path.

She spoke to me for maybe another 20 minutes and I said nothing.  Really there was nothing for me to say;  I was just trying to take it all in.  At one point I almost reached for Rae’s hand to steady myself because there was a buzzing sound in my ears and I was actually seeing stars dance in front of my eyes.  Ultimately, I told her of my husband’s death and my Odyssey of Love and showed her a picture of my rig.  She was more than ever convinced of her message to me.   She told me (paraphrasing) that she had become aware of the energy around me when I entered her shop and felt compelled to speak to me and tell me what she did.  We left the store after an hour, with my head still reeling.  I didn’t seek her out.  I solicited nothing.  No money exchanged hands.  I’d never seen her before.

Last year as I made my way along the FL Gulf coast, as I took a break from driving at a Target store, an employee in the women’s section complimented me on my pink shirt and this led into a discussion of the color pink and my rig, etc.  We weren’t too far into the conversation when she took both my hands in hers and very earnestly said to me I have the ability to see things, and I want you to know that you are surrounded by angels.  They are all around you.

I’ve already written of the woman I met in NJ last year who, having no knowledge of my life, of Handsome Husband (other than to know that he had died and we’d traveled together), took my hands and looked directly into my eyes and said He wants me to tell you that he wouldn’t leave you without a road map.  And many other things that were…well…true.

I don’t know what to think about any of this, except to say that, as Handsome Husband was in hospice, I knew that something big was going on.  Not just his death, as huge as that was, and is.  But something bigger than his death and the grief that ran with it.  I termed it as something magical because I didn’t know what other word to use.

All I know, since he died, all I believe in, is that he and I were very much in love and I have to believe that the love is still present and that is what fuels me each and every day as I drive this Odyssey for him.  Meeting the people I have, being approached by messengers, the affirmations I receive from them, the messages they deliver to me, at no prompting from me…that is the magic and I can’t explain it but I know, I know, and I know, that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  I don’t have much money and I wonder if I should fret and worry about it running out, as it will soon, and I’m new to this full-time trailer life-style, and there is so much that could freak me out.  And yet, it doesn’t.  I don’t know why;  I’ve always worried about money.  Always.  Except now.  Not because I think money will magically appear in front of me, but because I know that this Odyssey is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and it will be okay somehow.

Our younger son, Fireman Nick, when I told him about yesterday, said to me, Ma, Pop said he wouldn’t leave you without a road map and he never broke his word.

This type of thing never happened to me prior to Handsome Husband’s death.  Never.  But even I can’t ignore that, in this Odyssey of Love, magic is very much afoot.  Somehow.

Love.  Grief.  Magic.  The open road…to what?

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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