To My Beloved Husband~

To my beloved husband, Chuck D, as we approach the 5th anniversary of your memorial service, which we held 6 months out from your death…
I know I did everything as perfectly as I could in those few short weeks between finding the cancer, our hospice time, and your death.
I know this more than I know anything else in my life.
And yet…
Doubt lingers in the corners of my mind and pops out in my most vulnerable moments, such as now. Such as everyday of living without you.
Just one doubt.
Was I at your side enough in our hospice time? Should I have moved into that hospice room with you and not moved until I had to? Did I err in going, every so often, back to our rented condo, to sleep…even though I never slept when I was there. Shadows of your impending death were ever on my mind. I knew I was a widow in waiting, no matter where I was. I didn’t need to hear a clock ticking away the time: my heart was more of a reminder than any clock.
I didn’t stay with you every night, and that thought has more power over me than I want it to.
There were many nights that I did, and I was there every day, but I wasn’t there every minute, even though I wanted to be. What I wanted was to lay down beside you and never move. Hold onto you for every breath. Breathe with you and for you. Take your place in that bed, with cancer attacking my body relentlessly.
I wanted to do all of that.
But I know you worried for me. I know that you watched me as I moved about your room. That you spoke to others of your concern for me. That you loved me beyond anyone else and you would want me to take care of myself, even as I cared for you.
So I preempted the conversation you might have with me, and took it upon myself to kiss you good night and return to our rented condo, having ensured that one of the kids was with you overnight. They would care for you as lovingly as I could and I entrusted your care to them so that you wouldn’t worry about me.
I was told after you died that you would ask where I was at times, and I wonder. Did you feel that I abandoned you on those nights? Or for the few hours I’d take to grab food with one of the kids? These thoughts aren’t logical, I know, especially as I consider the source from which the words came…but I wonder anyways.
I wanted to curl up beside you. I wanted to be so close to you that I became you and our bodies would be one body and even though that meant I would feel your pain, you…you would feel more strongly than ever, the depth of Love I had for you, and that would be so much more powerful that the pain of the cancer would be meaningless. I wanted to clutch your hand in my two hands and squeeze hard and hold on…but I knew I had to tell you that I would be okay and that you could go whenever your body and mind had done this enough. I wanted to look into your eyes and stare into forever…not the forever of death but the forever of a passionate Love. I wanted to turn back time and live our together life again and again, an endless round of Groundhog’s Day…so that our life together would never end. I wanted my fingers to trace the bone of your brow that I’d stroked so often over so many years, run my hand gently through the hair on your arm…while you still breathed. I wanted to breathe deeply of the breath we both shared and make it last forever…not watch as you suffocated and took a sharp inbreath and…nothing.
Instead, because I knew you would want me to take care of myself in whatever way I could, I would kiss you softly and tell you I’d see you in the morning and return to that condo and lie down on that bed that was never ours…and stare into the darkness. Waiting, waiting, waiting, until I could rise and shower and drive back over to your hospice and kiss you good morning and begin a day of living in the moment and offering Love in all the ways that I could while I shattered again and again, watching you disappear from me.   532901_10152250938645400_1112002834_n
I know you would forgive me, my beloved D. I don’t know that I can forgive myself. I know what you would say and how you would say it and how you would hug me and love me even more, for having cared for myself to whatever degree I was able to.
This one doubt crowds my heart sometimes, and mixes in with the godawful missingness of you.
As we who love you approach the 6-year mark of the day of your memorial service, all that my heart will permit me to say to you is this…
I miss you. I love you. I crave your touch. If I could only gaze into your eyes gazing into mine. If I could tuck my hand into yours and feel our fingers intertwine. If I could feel the strength of your arms enclosing me. My life is so different from what it was, with you. I’m so different, in ways that make me feel like an alien to my own self. IMG_4895
God, if I could just sink into your welcoming embrace and hear your heartbeat in my ear. Wrap my arms around your waist. Sink into all that you were, with all that I am, and breathe in, again, the peace that was…us.

Love…in Time~

Where, my Beloved, did you go,
That long-ago night when you left me?
Where did you go,
That darkest of nights forever ago,
But yesterday?
Watching as your chest quivered in and out,
Until it quite simply…didn’t.
And my heart that was your heart that was my heart again, and yours,
Shattered and splintered,
Even as it crystalized into nothingness and everything.
Even as my traitorous mind went blank, searching for memories of you and I and us.
Frozen in time.
Time.
That time.
You, gone.
Me, still here.
Grasping the starkness of my new world,
Without you.
Where did you go, my beloved?
As I placed my hand on your chest something I’d done so often…
And didn’t feel you place your hand over mine something you’d always done.
Two hearts. One heart. Your heart. My heart.
Your heart and your Love into my heart and Love magnified in me.
Where you went, my beloved, was into nothing and into everything that is my world without you.
Spirit. Essence. Heart. Soul. Green eyes. Strong shoulders. Warm embrace.
We became me, and us and who we were, became who I now am in my world without you.
Love.
Magnified.

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~

What I Know for Certain~

But don’t you want to be happy? Don’t you owe it to your kids to remember you as happy? Life is supposed to be happy. Maybe you’re depressed. Don’t you want to be happy?
If you’re a widow/er, then you’ve heard the same questions and comments. I know you have. Or, if you’re public about your grief, as I am, you hear it from the general public. Less frequently, possibly, as the years pass. But you hear it. Such comments were more prominent somewhere in the second half of my 3rd year. Apparently, if one is still grieving in the 3rd year, bells of doubt start ringing in the minds of those around you, whispering words like depression complicated grief not moving on not getting on with it medications therapy etc…
I’m embarrassed to admit that, upon hearing these comments (and let’s be honest, it’s thinly veiled criticism because it comes across exactly as it sounds: a judgement, as if I’m doing something wrong), I initially and inevitably ended up defending myself, and trying to explain myself, even as I knew I had no reason to defend myself. But those words made me feel defensive and attacked. So, I defended.
No longer. No. Longer.
Guess what? I’m perfectly content with my legacy. If I were to die right now, this fucking minute, I’d have zero regrets. None. Nada. Zero.
And I owe my kids nothing, because they already have all the Love in the world from me.
I know exactly how my kids will remember me and I know what my kids will remember about me. Whether I die today, or tomorrow or years from now.
Our mom was THE most kickass mom ever. She and pop had a Love story for the ages. They sold everything and traveled the country together and remember when we’d call them up we’d ask them where are you now? She nursed him with so much Love through his first cancer and they kept on traveling and when the cancer came back, she did it all again, and bigger. She ensured that all of us had one on one time with him in hospice and she honored and supported us through our own grief, even as she grieved. She bought a trailer after he died and painted it and her car pink and she dressed in pink and she drove all over the entire fucking country, honoring him and their Love and connecting with people everywhere. She was a connector. She inspired people. She was colorful and crazy and she was the Love Warrior and a Fucking Warrior Goddess and she did all that while she was grieving because she loved pop so much and her life felt empty without him and she fucking did it all anyways. She left an example to all of us and to her grandkids about determination and grit and Love. She cried and she laughed and none of it meant anything and all of it meant everything and she lived when she didn’t want to live and she talked to us honestly about the impact of his death on her and she loved hard because Love was all that was left amid the ashes of her life when pop died. She was unapologetic about her grief and her Love and she lived in spite of it and with it. And we are proud of who she was and what she was because she was real and being real was all that mattered. She was a Fucking Warrior Goddess.
No. I have no qualms about the memories I’ll leave behind for my kids, or for anyone else who might remember me.
My epitaph will read Here lies a woman who lived the duality of Love and Grief, who made everything around her shimmer and sparkle with Love, with a shattered heart, and she did it all in pink. She was a Fucking Warrior Goddess.

Life in the Hood…

I’ve grieved before.  My brother and my mom died within 6 months of one another, back in 1996.  It knocked me senseless for…hmm…4 years or so?

After the first year I volunteered at a local hospice and sought out one training after another, getting certified in various aspects of grief and crisis response and compassion fatigue.  Which led me to training that allowed me to facilitate bereavement groups for the community.

I knew shit, you know?  Ask me a question about grief and the impact of grief and the many ways people grieve and I could tell you shit that would make a difference in your life. I have stacks of notes and testimonials citing the many ways I helped people.

And then Chuck died.

BAM!

I don’t know shit about grief.  Or rather, I know a shit load of stuff about grief and what I know doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to how I’m grieving and I question my sanity as much as any newbie and I feel the same disconnect between my heart and head as many in my groups expressed to me in their time.

I don’t know shit.

And I depend upon my friends in the bereavement field to tell me naw, you ain’t crazy. You’re grieving.  Make sure you hydrate.  Remind yourself to breathe effectively.  Call me when you think you’re crazy and I’ll listen.

Even more so I depend upon my widowed community.  Those people get it. Big time.  I’ve met numerous widows who fucking rock their widowhood.  Not because they’ve gotten it all figured out but because they are so open and vulnerable about it and with it.  Which I admire to the nth degree.  Honesty also makes a person vulnerable to judgement and criticism, of course, and cries of oh you must be positive you must flip that switch so that you’re happy instead of sad you are choosing this way of reacting…and blah blah blah.

Life in the hood, as my son laughingly called it and I loved that he laughed when he said it, is fucking hard.  I’m beyond blessed that I have a strong, supportive, community around me for the most part.  And by that I don’t mean people who yes me to death how fucking boring that would be but people who understand that there is a difference a ginormous difference, between encouragement and judgement.

Encouragement is I’m right here with you this sucks the big one want to talk about Chuck or would you rather be distracted?  It’s understanding my blunt response when you ask if I’m having fun and I say fuck no because that word and its’ definition don’t even register with me and that’s okay.  It’s just cheering me on in my sometimes huge strides and my more often desperate yet intentional attempts to make something of this new life in the hood.  It’s not just moving your lips when you say there is no timeline to grief but meaning it in your heart and giving me that space while I figure this shit out. It’s working with me on ideas to earn money and stay on the road or just joking with me about how fucked up all this is.  I’ll take care of the emotional shit.  Help me with the practical and/or logistical.  But no trying to fix that, either.  Just work with me.

Look, grief is hard.  I know it.  You know it.  I think you do.  I hope you do.  Except actually not because it means that a loved one of yours died and I don’t wish this shit on anyone.  I’m not going to sit here and compare one grief over another;  it sucks no matter what.  What makes life in the hood just a difference in matters of degree is this:  most often, when 2 adults partner up for life, is that every fucking area of your lives entwine and entangle.  In a good way, not in a and this comes with judgement in tone but as a woman you’re supposed to be your own person even if you’re married!  How horrible that you weren’t your own person! Where’s your own identity?  How could you lose your own identity? 

Fuck that.  Keep your judgements to yourself, right?  Also, let me introduce you to what being really, deeply, passionately, in love is like, hmm?  In that most wonderful way that you feel stronger and more confident in your own sweet self as you have ever felt.  Ever. Because you were married to this incredibly cool guy who pushed you and encouraged you and supported you and your dreams in all the ways that he could.  Because he, you know, loved you just as much, if not more, than you loved him.

Let me be totally and brutally frank and honest here, okay?  Cover your eyes if you need to, peek between your fingers if you wish, clap your hands over your ears, or don’t read beyond this point if your sensibilities are too delicate or you’re one of our kids.

What takes widowhood to that whole different level is, let me put this delicately, or try…the continual exchange of bodily fluids over the course of a healthy marriage.  Passion? Sexing? Doing the nasty?  Okay, fucking.  You know, that thing that married people love doing I hope you loved doing it as much as Chuck and I did sorry if you don’t.  When you have that with your person, when you do that regularly because you are in a really amazing, excellent, loving. relationship/marriage, it brings a whole level of intimacy to the life that you share and is the very basis of everything else  that you share.  Sex, finances, chores, more sex, love, jobs, kids, daily life, sex…it all entangles you, hopefully, in a gorgeous package of intimacy;  legs and arms and hearts and minds and tongues and words and souls and bone and I swear, cells of your damn body and thoughts in a sweaty heap on the bed.  Or the floor. Wherever.

And that is what takes life in the hood to that deeper level.  No comparisons to other grief, I promise. Just sayin’, right?

Did I just veer completely off my original talking point?  I think I did.

Anyways…encouragement is a good thing, okay?  Let’s do a judgement free zone, hmm?

Thank you.

*I blame the raw honesty of this blog on those of my widow sisters *you know who you are* whose favorite word is fuck and the widow sisters who write openly about sex in the widowed community *gasp*.  It’s your fault and, also, thank you*

*Also this does not apply to my own support community because they you, pretty much rock*

 

 

 

On Being Cherished…and Kissed~

I was cherished in this life.

Cherished by a man who determined, from the time of meeting, that I was the one for him.

Cherished by a man who set out to show that love to me each and every day of our lives together, in word and deed.

This is the time, 3 years ago, that my beloved husband, Chuck, and I, began, so very unknowingly, our final 2 months together. If possible, as our world narrowed into physical pain and emotional trauma, our love expanded and deepened.

I was cherished in our healthy years, and in our cancer times.  No matter what, Chuck sought to love me even as his brow furrowed in distress and discomfort.

Oh, how he cherished me.  And, oh, how I remember his kisses upon my lips, on the top of my head, and on my hand as he’d take it in his as we finished dancing, and raise it to his lips, as a gentleman of old would have done.

His kisses rained down upon me on every occasion.  I recall reading a book about relationships early in our marriage, suggesting that a couple kiss consciously, rather than, say, a quick peck on the cheek.  I mentioned that little fact to him and he put it into practice immediately.  Our kisses at the door, as he left for work, or at the door, when he arrived home, lingered for up to a minute.  Sometimes we’d tease each other if we left the kiss too soon, so we’d start all over again.

He kissed me under the full moon as we sat on the curb in New Hampshire, our first weekend away together.

He kissed me under a full moon as we gazed at it in New Jersey, when I rented my first apartment after living with my mom post-divorce, and we stood on the balcony, savoring the pure contentedness of having our own space.

He kissed me again under that full moon in Indiana when we visited his folks, and he came to get me, grabbing my hand, wanting me to share the brightness and beauty of that full moon with him from their front porch.

He kissed me, every time he kissed me, with passion, with so much love, with possessiveness, with happiness, with pure pleasure…and I kissed him back with the same fire.  His hand behind my neck, or cupping my chin in his hands, pulling me to him…sometimes stooping down a bit, as he was taller than I, but just as much I loved to stand on tiptoe and put my arms around his neck and feel his arms around me, holding me closely and tightly…

In those final weeks before making our wild and unplanned for trip to the ER in southern California, something in the depths of my heart murmured to me and said remember this and after we kissed I’d stand on tiptoe again, leaning in close to where his neck and shoulders joined and I’d inhale deeply.  He noticed, of course, and asked me about it and I said to him I’m memorizing you…  He smiled, figuring I’d picked up another tidbit from another book.

We kissed in the hospital, and in hospice.  It was I, then, who would lean down to him, in the hospital bed, or at the mirror in the bathroom as he studied his image, wondering, I’m sure, what the fuck had happened to his face and body. I’d see that look and I’d turn him to me and take his face between my two hands and say you’re still my knight in shining armor you’re still the handsomest man I’ve ever met

I leaned down to kiss him when he could no longer kiss me because his spirit was no longer in his body.  In that kiss that I pressed upon the lips of this man I loved more than my own breath was the love of 24 years and every full moon we’d gazed upon, and every dance we’d ever danced and every piece of my heart and soul.

That last kiss held all of the honor he’d given me, and all that I’d returned to him in our living love story. In that last kiss was our beginning, all of our wonderful in-betweens, and our end…

My dearest, my most beloved husband…Chuck Dearing…

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Expectations…and Revelations

ImageDid you ever have one of those Aha! moments? Well, I did the other day. It didn’t exactly happen all of a sudden; it kind of continued to reveal itself to me as it was happening. It was like a holyshitIcan’tbelieveIamjustnowrealizingthis kind of thing, and it was brilliant. My mom and I were having a discussion about the expectations in grief- the ones we put on ourselves. Here is the story of my epiphany…

As most of us likely do, we compare our grief to the other grievers around us- past or present. My mom has certainly been looking at hers and wondering if she should be “further” along/why she is still grieving so intensely? I have been looking at mine and wondering why I appear to not be grieving more deeply? I loved (love) my dad with every fiber of my being- there is no question about that, so it seemed natural to me that I “should” (there’s that crazy word) be crying more, or angry more, or just overall way more sad than I appear to be. And it’s crazy for either one of us to be questioning these things. We understand that intellectually. But it’s the nature of the beast.

Mydadisinhospice anticipatory grief to my now in full swing grief has ebbed and flowed. However, I strongly recall having moments of absolute peace in my heart even when my dad’s body continued to attack him and I had no idea where that feeling was coming from. I even mentioned it a couple of times to my mom. Just a little more than a year later, and I still am able to get through most days with relative ease. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully capable of dropping to my knees in a puddle on the floor in complete agony and missing-ness, but on the whole there is a peace to my grief. And that’s when the thoughts and words started to connect. The way in which I am grieving speaks to the nature of the relationship I had with my dad. It was calm, relaxed, and moved with ease. As I began to explain this to my mom, I could see a look of deeply rooted knowing move across her face. Of course. It made perfect sense. We began to look at the dynamic of relationship and grief among others who loved my dad, and we continued to see a link.

The scientific community and the metaphysical/spiritual community both know and agree that energy exists- beyond what the human eye can see. And that energy doesn’t die. It adapts, moves, and changes. Yes, my dad died. But the energy that we shared and moved between us didn’t. It had to go somewhere. It just simply took on another form- by way of my grief. I still very much carry the energy of my relationship with my dad. No, it’s not the way I would prefer it to be, but it is there. And that’s some pretty fucking powerful stuff.

So no more judgement. No more comparing. My grief is exactly what it is supposed to be. And yours is exactly what yours is supposed to be. The. End.

*Perhaps a psychology journal will publish my revelation…*

The Why of My Currently Lived Life~

One year ago at this time, the nightmare of coughing and pain in the lower back and trying to figure out what was going on took us into the hospital and then hospice, as cancer was diagnosed and Handsome Husband and I realized this was the end and time moved faster than it ever did and yet slowed to a crawl.

We (me and our kids) documented every moment of that time, in the words we wrote and in pictures we took  Yes, the pictures are incredibly intimate and, both then and now, they can send pain coursing through you.  I know that.  I knew that at the time.  How could they not?

But look closely at the pictures and see the pictures in the words.  Do you feel the love that coursed through us as we took those pictures of one another as we took him walkabout through the hospital corridors, or sat with him or tended to him?   Yes, death was approaching but the real happening was love and that fairly glowed.

We had friends and family all around the country, texts and phone calls coming in faster than I could respond and my voice mail would fill up and we knew everyone wanted, needed, to be a part of this ongoing final time and I was okay with that.  We didn’t hide anything.  We weren’t going to hide death.  It would have been so easy to do that.

Our culture tells us to be positive and upbeat and look at the bigger picture and be happy.  Illness and death are uncomfortable and mostly we like to shuttle all of it into the hospital behind closed doors and once death happens, family members are given a few weeks, maybe a couple of months and then just please get on with it.  Most certainly don’t talk about the death, especially while it’s happening.  Don’t show me your grief afterwards.  Come on, be positive!

When my husband went into the hospital, and then into hospice, yes, it was horrifying, it was ugly in so many ways, it was every word you can imagine and it was beautiful because of the love and we weren’t going to hide it away.   It made some people uncomfortable and they didn’t need to look.  But it was life and our grief that is still so raw is life and I wanted to shine a light on, well….life.

My heart and my mind are re-living those moments of last year, as are our kids and all who loved him and so yes, I’m sharing again those words and pictures in a retrospective on our face book page.  No, it isn’t healing for me to do so.   It’s simply the video that is playing in my mind as I go about my day.  Many of you lived through that time with us.  In the past year as I’ve been on the road on my own, I’ve met hundreds of people and you know the overview of our story but not the intricacies of it and the real beauty of it and not the real-ness of the end of it.

Death is as much a part of life as birth and both are sacred times and I refuse to hide from pain as much as I hope that someday again I’ll seek joy.  Every moment of the final travels of me and my husband as Happily Homeless were real-life moments.   Each day, on our face book page, I’ll introduce you to our kids, who brought their gifts of love to their dad and to me, and the friends of AA and the military who came across country to have time with him and pay their respects and say goodbye and our kids’ friends who brought love to support us.  And you’ll gain more understanding of the intensity of my Odyssey of Love.

That time was worth noting.  It is worth noting.  Once upon a time Handsome Husband and I had a love story.   It continued until his final breath and I still carry it in my heart.  His days in hospice were filled not just with cancer and pain but with so much love.  I determined to surround him with it, immerse him in it and so fill him with it that it would be bigger and brighter than the cancer and it wasn’t done perfectly but it was done and he felt it.

He knew nothin’ but love and that’s all that mattered~ 521720_4633848285294_1629378181_n

These Moments~

The real me exists in the late afternoons as the sun is waning, in those moments when there is a stillness to the air and my heart and soul feels the shattering grief of missing you, as I wander back over the years to all those moments we had in this same hour, as we’d sit in the gazebo on our swing in the backyard and meander through my gardens and your day, as we’d hike a trail, as we would slow our day down and revel in our togetherness…

This gloaming time, as the sun falls, is when I can let fall this warrior goddess armor that allows me to create my life without you and just let my heart be what it is, which is broken and shattered and missing you and your arms around me and your strong chest and shoulders that supported and encouraged me and made me feel strong and invincible.

These night-time hours, when sister Moon is high overhead and I shift and move and turn in my bed in this Oasis I’m painting with color and love because I can’t hug you and touch you and hold your hand any more…these night-time hours when my heart bleeds with missing you and I can feel the energy in my body straining towards where you used to be.  My right side.  Always on my right side because you had so little hearing left in your right ear.   For 24 years you walked on my right side, you slept on my right side and now as the 9 month point of your gone-ness approaches, my body feels your absence just as strongly as the night you died and I looked at your sharply carved face, at the lips that I’d kissed, at your eyes that would no longer twinkle at me, or wink at me from across the room, and I traced my fingers over your brows as I’d so often done before busying myself with my almost final service of love and bathing you and dressing you in your own clothes because I was damned if you were going to be cremated in that hospital gown you so hated and I wasn’t going to let strangers, as kind as they were, take care of you.

It’s impossible to look at pictures and yet…I’m compelled to look at our thousands of pictures.  You and I, always, always, sitting closely together, our hands entwined, your body around mine.  We were two people who came into our marriage with scars from our first ones.  Sometimes, early on, when we fought, you would just look at me and say “I’m not your ex” and I’d pull myself up short and realize that you were a man who did, and always would, honor and protect me and I could trust you with my life.  Which I did.  I told you from the beginning that you were my knight in shining armor and I never lost that belief, even as I scrubbed your back and helped you dress in your hospice time.  You would gaze at your face in the mirror in that little bathroom, after making that short and yet for you in your illness, long trek to the bathroom because you were going to do what you could do as long as you could do it, and I know what you were thinking as you surveyed your face and body and the godawful changes being wrought on you from the fucking cancer.  You were so strong, so loving, so confident and here was your body betraying you at every turn and here was the woman you loved and you felt your strengths and your will fading and your focus turning inwards and you knew your time to leave would be soon and what about this woman you loved who met your gaze in the mirror and all that love was in her eyes and all that pain because she knew time was short and what would this do to her?

I know what your thoughts were.  I think about your thoughts at the end and my thoughts and our entwined hearts and the horrible pain of saying goodbye and letting go and my heart shatters over and over and I cry the tears I didn’t cry then because I didn’t want to make it harder for you to go.  I just wanted the love to be there for you and I know you felt it and I hope that was your last conscious thought before you drifted away from me.  That I loved you.  That I had loved you and was still madly, passionately in love with you and you were always my strong arm, my lover, my protector, my knight, my sparring partner, my annoyance, my light, my magician, my everything.  I saw what was in your eyes and I would turn you and put my hands on each side of your face and say to you that you were still my knight and still the most handsome man I’d ever met and your eyes would smile at me even when it took too much energy for your lips to smile.  You knew.  I knew.  We had all we needed.

These night-time hours.  Where I break open and bleed love.

If I could~

There isn’t much I would change about Handsome Husband’s time in hospice.  I certainly wouldn’t change the overall scope of how it all played out, because I was able to give him exactly what he deserved: he was surrounded by all the love that he’d given to so many over the years.  From the moment we checked him into the hospital and I started making those godawful phone calls, I had an idea in mind and everyone came on board to assist me in making that love felt by him.

Yes, there is one major, huge change, I’d make, in hindsight.   Oh, how I’d change this one thing!

The nights would belong to us.  To us, as husband and wife.  No matter who else wanted to be there with him, we’d have our nights together.  After dinner, after the kids or our friends and his buddies visited with him, we would say goodnight and I’d close the door to his hospice room, pull the chair up close to his bed, and the two of us would talk.  We’d talk about our wedding day, about raising the kids, about the difficulties, about our triumphs, about our decision to retire and go on the road, about our favorite travel stories, our favorite places, our favorite memories.

I think I would even move the other bed that was in the room over next to his, so that I could sleep next to him again, without fear of hurting him.  I’d put my bed in the up position, same as his, so that we could be level with each other.  As he tired, we’d whisper of our love for each other, how glad we were that he knocked on my door that long ago October day and found us.  We would say to one another all the words that two people who are in love with one another and saying a forever goodbye say to one another.  We’d say it in words, and we’d say it in the touching of our hands, and in the love that shone from his eyes to me and back again.

We’d be us again.  Yes, we both loved the kids so, so much, as parents do.  But we’d always guarded our marriage, the me and the him in it.  When the kids were small, our bedroom was ours.  They had the run of the rest of the house.  Out there we were parents.  In our bedroom, we were man/woman, husband/wife, lovers.  The kids had to knock if they wanted to enter, even if the door was open. They didn’t lounge on our marriage bed, and (how I can hear the screech of protests on this) we didn’t cuddle with them on weekend mornings.  He and I cuddled on weekend mornings, (I’m keeping this clean, folks), then went out to the kids and were their loving parents.  Once the kids grew up and left home, we didn’t have to try to find each other as lovers again-we never stopped.   All it did was get better, once we had the uninterrupted time.  We loved our time together then, and loved it more when we started our traveling life.   We were strongest when together, as us.

So, yes, if I could re-visit that nightmare-yet-filled-with-love, time, I’d take back our bedroom, even if it was in a hospice.  The door would be closed to the world, opened only to the necessary nurses, until the morning arrived and I opened it and we’d be parents again, he’d be a patient again, all the other roles would continue.

Hindsight.  It serves no purpose, really.  Though sometimes, I do think it can soothe the heart.  IMG_1142