Ignorance Gives Me Writing Material~

A huge shout out to a person no longer in my life, and her partner, for providing material for this blog.

This topic has only arisen a couple of times since I began my Odyssey of Love, and I addressed it then, and will now.  Possibly laying it to rest, now and forever.  Amen.

*I do not write this with angst.  I simply wish to address the issue*

Recently, this person accused me of driving all around the country as if I am on vacation.

Webster’s Dictionary defines vacation as a period spent away from home or business in travel or amusement.

First of all…sigh….

Second of all…sigh followed by raised eyebrow as if to say seriously?

So…I haven’t had a sticks and bricks home since May 29, 2009 when Chuck and I sold it and went on the road together.  My home, now, and since October 2013 has been my T@b trailer.   My home on the road, as it were.

And this is for amusement…how?  Wow.  If this particular male personage defines vacation by what I’m doing,  then thank you very much but I’ll pass on going on one with you!  My idea of a vacation is more along the lines of a white sand beach in a warm climate, on a very comfy lounger, with a seriously good book, sipping non-alcoholic but delicious drinks with umbrellas in them.  It most definitely is not my husband’s cremains sitting on the passenger seat next to me.  With the flag from his memorial service next to his cremains.  untitledbbbLiving in a trailer, driving headlong into grief on a continual basis, but meeting up with so much love from those I meet on the road *except from you.  No love from you.  And, apparently, not even a wisp of a clue about my Odyssey, bless your heart*

Here’s the thing, folks.  Or folk.  Person.  You know who you are.  This Odyssey of Love is so not a vacation.  Duh. It is my life.  The same way that the life Chuck and I led on the road was not a vacation;  it was how we lived.  Now it is how I live.  I’m doing it on a wing and a prayer because it is what I need to do.  And in these last 4 years since Chuck’s death, I’ve been building a foundation that will, I say hopefully and prayerfully, take me into the next part of my life with some semblance of financial security.

I do, of course, fully realize that there are people in life, those who exist to tear others down, who cannot see beyond what they were taught to see.  They do not, and cannot, envision a life lived simply, with few accumulated material possessions, a life that doesn’t conform to a narrow-eyed version of the precepts with which they were raised.  Where, you know, people matter more than things and life is a continually unfolding mystery on a daily basis.

I was raised to look beyond my own vision, to look at possibilities, to use my imagination as a vehicle for what could be instead of what is.  That is the very thing that allowed me to say yes to Chuck when he suggested selling it all and going out on the road together.  Individually, we didn’t care to fit into the so-called norm.  Together we forged a life beyond what we could see and, in the process, we found others of similar thinking, and I thank god for it.

Chuck’s death blew my world into smithereens.  I took what I’d learned in our 4 years on the road, I took what I’d been taught about having imagination and vision, and I bought a trailer and stepped way outside my comfort zone, choosing to live a gypsy life.  It isn’t always easy, by any means, but in my thinking, it’s no more difficult than living in an apartment somewhere.  And I’ll continue living it until I’m done living it.

Vacation?  Jesus, I’d love to take one.

Book one for me, won’t you?

*more response blogs, as I call them, coming soon to a computer near you*

#thankyouforignorantpeoplewhogivemewritingmaterial

 

 

An Unconventional Life~

I have a difficult time defining my life to myself since Chuck died, never mind to anyone else. Not that I need to explain it to anyone, but, holy shit, does it come up in conversation. Not just this widowhood, but my lifestyle.

I full-time on the road, as many of you know. In the last year I’ve taken more time off the road than I ordinarily would so that I could take care of various issues, such as getting intensive grief/trauma counseling, which kept me in Arizona for just shy of 6 months, but the open road is my home, as it was when Chuck was alive.  I’m in Arkansas now and I’d initially planned on a lengthier stay, but as it happens, I’m leaving for points east after not quite a month here.

A scholarship came through for me to attend a Where Womyn Gather festival in PA. 4 days of creative workshops, sweat lodges,crone councils, artistic endeavors, and meeting women from around the country. It will be a great way for me to immerse myself in the healing arts and I intend to soak up every bit of it and, someday soon, return to facilitate a workshop.

Additionally, while here in Arkansas, I applied to volunteer with Team Rubicon USA, a non-profit that does disaster response, nationwide and overseas, wherever they’re needed. A friend told me about them months back and I researched their website and was immediately impressed when I saw that their motto is We get shit done. In that language. How could a woman like me, who uses the word fuck liberally, NOT be impressed with the real-ness of that? They primarily hire veterans to work in both paid and volunteer positions but also accept kickass civilians. My kind of people, right? I’m pretty sure I qualify as a kickass civilian at this point in my life.

I had no idea what my next step would be when I contemplated Arkansas. All I knew was that I needed to return to the road full-time. What I did believe is that my next step would reveal itself to me once I got here. Which is what happened.

I have faith in very little since Chuck’s death. I have no religious faith, but I do know that he left me an incredible legacy of love, and I know that I have a huge support community around the country, seen in the hundreds of hugs from strangers on the road, as I travel. Love, really, is my spiritual baseline and it’s how I stay strong.

Generating an income is necessary, of course. Not imminently so if I’m careful, but I don’t want to leave it to a time when it’s an emergency, so I’m always thinking about it. Mostly my ideas seem to float around in the atmosphere and I’m unable to grasp onto them; it’s hard to know where to start. But I refuse to allow anxiety to rule my days.

Because what I do know, what I’ve known instinctively since April 21, 2013 when Chuck died, and I set out on the road solo a month later, is that I’m building a foundation, have been building it for 3 years, and it will lead me to what I need. Not in a pie in the sky oh magic will happen and there will be enough money way, but because of that trust I have in the love he left behind for me, trust in my abilities and some instinct that tells me to continue doing what I’m doing….being out on the road, meeting people, connecting…this is all leading somewhere. Don’t ask me how I’m so certain of that; I just am. In my old life I would have thought myself crazy and spent endless days worrying myself sick about the practicalities of life. Not these days…and I really can’t explain the whys and wherefores of it. It is just something that is as real to me as the love he felt for me and I, for him.

A woman came to me shortly after Chuck died, a woman who didn’t know me, didn’t know my story, couldn’t know my story. I’d mentioned Chuck’s name so she knew that, but no more than that. This woman delivered to me a message from Chuck…I wouldn’t leave you without a road map, he said. Be aware of the sign posts I’ve left for you, both tangible and intangible.

Numerous other strangers along my way have also sought me out in a similar manner, encouraging me to continue doing whatever it is that I’m doing, because I’m on the right path, they say. They have said things to me that could only come from Chuck, even if I try to convince myself that their words couldn’t possibly come from him.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this post.

It was difficult enough for people to understand that Chuck and I chose to live on the road, driving and adventuring. And it’s 100 times more difficult for them to understand my choice to solo on the road, a woman alone, with all this grief and uncertainty and all the possible dangers.

Why on earth would I choose to live this way?

I’m going into my 8th year on the road. 4 years with Chuck, 3 on my own, now on the 4th year. At the end of this year I’ll have been on the road for as long as Chuck and I were.  I’m a long, long way from the days of living in a sticks and bricks home. Not that a sticks and bricks was my definition of home in any case. Chuck was my home, as I was his. Now that he’s gone, I feel a visceral need to maintain this way of life.

Yes, it’s tough living this way at times, and grief lies around the corner at any point. But for me, it would be much tougher to stay put. So I drive.

My driving next week will take me to PA, and, as soon as I fulfill beginning requirements with Team Rubicon, I’ll volunteer from wherever I happen to be in the country. Anticipation of working with them is the first true spark of life I’ve felt in this grief. I’ll be working side by side with veterans and will feel closer to Chuck because of that. Disaster response is what I need to do in this part of my life; I need something that equals the hugeness of what is in my heart and body and soul, and this meets that mark.

All of this…this unconventional life that I live…is leading me to where I need to be, where I’ll have financial security and be okay. That’s all I know to say. I’m going somewhere and I know this in my bones and in my heart and soul. My life isn’t the life for everyone and my choice is difficult to understand for those who are accustomed to a more traditional lifestyle. But it’s my life and works for me to the degree that anything works for me since Chuck’s death.

My heart, the love that filled my heart when Chuck was alive, the love that he left for me, and his memory that I carry fervently in my heart now…I have to believe that it will, that it is, carrying me into a future that will be squarely mine.

PinkMagic is the chariot carrying me into that future…sss10649826_10203576907175805_5053873018434830644_n

7 Years of January 7~

Facebook timelines and grief and reflection. Much of grief is about meaning making, about looking back, trying to make sense of stuff that really doesn’t make sense but striving to anyways.

Timeline on fb is a sure way to show us all how quickly life changes:

On January 7, 2009, Handsome Husband and I signed the papers that put our house in Jersey on the market.

srj traveling

Handsome Husband

We wanted to sell everything and go on the road and adventure together. Which is what we did, and loved it. He was “time wealthy” he told people.

 

On January 7, 2010 he and I were on the road as Happily Homeless, IMG_2784and back in New England, celebrating the holidays with our kids and grands.

 

On January 7, 2011, Handsome Husband underwent a 4 hour surgery to biopsy a tumor that, in the space of 4 months, had grown from the size of a bb pellet to the size of a grapefruit. His oncologist was so concerned that he personally walked it down to the lab for immediate results. It ended up taking a couple weeks to determine the type of cancer and all the details. It was a peripheral nerve sheath tumor, on the inside of his left wrist.  189597_1650969277272_3069653_nIt was incredibly aggressive and very rare. Our travels stopped short as we dealt with what would end up being 5 major surgeries. I remember well how, hearing his oncologist say the word “cancer” took my breath away.

On January 7, 2012, with the primary, 12 hour surgery to remove “Wilson” as I called it (the tumor was so huge it needed its’ own zip code and I thought naming it might remove some of the fear), he and I were back out on the road, and in Destin, FL, sitting on the crystal white sands, absorbing the warmth of the sun.  403752_280915965296678_1988399988_n

On January 7, 2013, Handsome Husband and I were on our way west from Arizona, after spending the holidays with a couple of our kids. He’d been ill over the winter months, with what we thought was a systemic fungal infection. We did what we could to treat it IMG_9385homeopathically, as he wasn’t getting any satisfaction from allopathic doctors.

All told, we had just shy of 4 years on the road together, as Happily Homeless. downsized_0813121702

On January 7, 2014, I was a widow, and had begun my Odyssey of Love for him, scattering his cremains at our favorite places.  I’d only been on the road for roughly a month, and was at Sigsbee NAS, in Key West, FL. Our youngest son, Fireman Nick, accompanied me from Connecticut to Florida, to help me scatter Chuck’s cremains at the first spot: the Dry Tortugas, off of Key West.

On January 7, 2015, I was in Arizona, visiting a couple of our kids, before continuing my Odyssey of Love. A 6 month long road trip with my daughter was already in the planning stages and would culminate in a cross-country trek as she and I honored my husband/her dad, scattering his cremains at his and my favorite places.  fueledbymagic.jpg

January 7, 2016…here I am, in Arizona, trying to get my shit together, knowing I need to return to the road.

Life bounces us around gently sometimes. Other times it’s a blood-curdling, holding on by fingernails type of ride. It can rock us slowly, then abruptly turn us upside down and spin us at the same time.

4 years on the road with him.  Almost 3 years on the road without him, making it work somehow, when I didn’t know how to do one day without him. But I bygod have made it work, however messy it might look.

Love is the only thing, as far as I know, that makes it all make sense~ Collage

Becoming…

This almost sacred becoming, and how it happens…

I’ve spent the last 27 months on this Odyssey of Love for my dearest husband.  For the man who helped me become who I am so that I could go out and do this. For the man who loved me with strength and humor and dedication.  The man I loved in return.

I’ve gone to the 4 places he named for me.  He was setting me on his own version of P.S. I Love You.  Minus the actual letters/notes/gifts.  I haven’t had anyone handing me those letters, as happened in the movie, but I’ve had people show up along the road, people who had no idea who I was, what my story is, who might as well have given me those tangible messages.  Instead of that, Chuck sent me actual people to speak those messages to me.

Because this is how the messages are delivered to me, I know that I must continue on the road, finding those other places for scattering his cremains.  This Odyssey is the creative process for my new life without him.

What I haven’t yet done in these past couple years and few months is fully own my part in this Odyssey. I’ve attributed all that has happened to the love he left behind for me. And it’s true that is what drives me, but I need to get fully honest with this.

A writer from a glamping magazine recently wrote a blog about my Odyssey *you can find it at http://www.farmgirlbloggers.com/category/suburban_farmgirl*,  which I mention primarily because the article made me really look at myself through her eyes and shifted my perceptions for the first time.  It made me look more deeply into how skewed my perceptions of self are so vastly different from what the world seems to see.  And maybe that’s a good thing; it makes me feel stronger.

I saw what I think is the real me in that article and what I’ve done on this Odyssey for the first time, which I know can sound odd but is the truth.

So this is what I’m now acknowledging to myself:

My husband died and I took that devastation out on the road, when I was terrified to go out on the road alone but I was determined to carry out his final wishes and I bought a trailer even though I didn’t have a fucking clue what I was doing with that and I’d never camped and didn’t have a clue about that and I was worried about navigation and how hitch and unhitch and what if I got on the wrong road and had to back up holymotherofgod and how would I find my way and how would I see through the waterfall of tears and how would I know what to do and, ultimately, how would I live without him?

And I did it.  And I’m doing it.  And the love has fueled me, and continues to fuel me.  And even in the midst of that very early grief, I knew enough to paint my car pink and the trailer too because I knew grief is isolating and I didn’t know anyone on the road and it would draw people to me and fucking force me to not isolate and talk to people and share my story because telling the story is how you get through it and I contacted newspapers and news stations and magazines and joined camping/T@bbing/glamping/women who solo on the road, groups and shared my story with them all and I grabbed emails with names of people I didn’t know and said  I’m a widow and I want to write for your organization and now I am and I began writing my book and I connected with people all over the country and I talked and I talked and I continue to talk and reach out and I respond to emails from other widow/ers and sometimes veterans and people who are hoarders who want to not be hoarders any longer and how did I rid myself of my stuff they ask and not one damn bit of this happened by chance.

I’m going back out on the road this weekend, making my way to Texas, visiting friends and family along the way.  I’ve a long way to go in this Odyssey of Love yet.  Healing and the future and all that both of those words entail mean nothing to me and I’m not worried about either of them.  Honestly, I’m struggling a lot these days; the grief is overwhelming but that’s okay. I have this story and I have PinkMagic and I have the open road and these are the things that will create whatever needs to be created.

This is what I’m promising myself and what I want to say aloud to you, all of my dear friends/family/followers:

The next phase of this Odyssey of Love  is more sacred than ever before.  My heart must be ever more open so that I recognize where I need to scatter my beloved husband’s cremains.  This is on me now.  It requires honesty from me; I must truly own my strength that has been there since the night he died.  Yeah, it might sound overly dramatic to call this sacred but for anyone who knows of me and Chuck, and our love story and the story of our Happily Homeless travels and how it morphed into Happily Homeless is MoonStruck, you will know that no word can better describe it.

He and I had a love story.  That love made me stronger.  That love was…is…sacred in my life.  It is the blood that flows through my veins, it is the beat of my heart, it is the determination in my gut, it is what causes me to turn right or left with my pink car that tows my pink trailer.

This…this is holy to me.  And I don’t have to not feel the grief, not feel the devastation.  I don’t have to change anything in me, I don’t have to stop the tears, not feel torn in every direction, not feel desolate without him, not feel confused and dislocated..nothing.  All of that can, and will, come right along with me and I freely and openly own every bit of it, because this is my love story and I will live it forever because he was mine and I was his and that isn’t gone and it will never be gone and the world be damned if they get tired of hearing me talk about it because I haven’t even begun to tell this story.  The world needs real love stories to balance the cynicism and lack of belief and so, folks, here’s one for the ages.  Hear ye, hear ye…

This girl, who was loved by this man, who knew her better than she knew herself…this girl is on fire.  It’s a sacred fire that will take me in all directions and, if you’re lucky, you might be able to hear it in person.

Living up to what is on my T@b:  FWGFucking Warrior Goddess~ IMG_2607 IMG_2032

This Curious Grief~

As shocking as it is still to me, I have now lived for 22 months without my husband.

Am I supposed to be further along with this grief than I am?  I’m just kind of letting it happen in a way I’ve never allowed anything to just happen ever before in my life.  I’ve always grabbed life by the balls and done whatever I could to influence it.  I’ve always been passionate about life but, yeah, that feeling is gone.  Quite honestly, I’m allowing life to just happen more because I don’t have energy to do anything else.  While it’s just happening, I’m going out there and creating a life for myself without him, as I’m supposed to do and as I have to do because here’s the thing.  I’m still alive.  And, as I’m not going to kill myself, that entails a certain amount of effort to ensure that I have a place to sleep, food to eat and…well, that’s pretty much it for what I’m caring about.

Let me shock and appall the general public with my next statement.  I don’t give a flying fuck about life since Chuck died.  Quickly, quickly, let me respond to the in- drawn breaths of horror that statement likely invokes, and please take back the anti-depressants you’re holding out to me.  Yes, Chuck would want me to be happy.  Yes, I know I’m supposed to be grateful for being alive.  Yes, I have kids and grandkids I love desperately and that should be enough to make me feel engaged in life.  Yes, I know you (that’s a general you) are horrified that I’ve given up (or seem to have given up).  Yes, I know you believe that Chuck is everywhere around me.  Yes, I know I’m supposed to think positively towards life and not allow negative thoughts in my head. (and I will as soon as someone tells me what is positive about the love of my life dying).

Its’ almost become a humorous thing for me, the degree of grief I feel and the almost instantaneous response I get when I speak of it at times.  Because we’re supposed to get on with it, don’t you know?  We’re supposed to at least be grateful to be alive!  And it discombobulates people when you don’t follow the general life program.  Fortunately, those who people my life are supportive (though they have been called enabling by others) and encouraging but holy shit, the stuff I hear from others in grief and what they go through isn’t to be believed.

See, I’m not really here.  My body is here, but I’m not.  That woman who was deeply in love with her husband, the woman who lived passionately and absorbed and enjoyed the sensuality of life and love…she’s not here any longer and I don’t have a fucking clue who this woman is who wears my body.

Pity is unnecessary and unwelcome.  No sympathy needed.  Just trying to be honest here.

For god’s sake, go find someone who’s grieving and offer them empathy.  Go right now.  Pick up your phone and call them.  Ask them if they would like to talk about any of this shit and what it’s like for them.

That’s how you can make a difference and, maybe, help them find themselves again~

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

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

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

Happily Homeless is Moonstruck. Are You?

The weeks since March 27, the day I took my most beloved husband to the ER in southern CA, have been a Retrospective-the final travels of Happily Homeless.  It was gut-wrenching, re-living those days but I found a little more balance with hindsight and I’m glad I sifted through the memories in pictures and words.  Present over everything, seeping into the nooks and crannies of that experience, was the fullness of love.  For Handsome Husband, from Handsome Husband.   I still have questions but there is a little bit more of letting go of needing to find the answers, some of the anger around it, and even some of the questions and doubts.

The story of Happily Homeless.  How a man and a woman, children grown and out of the house, decided to sell house and belongings, get out of the rat race and adventure together.  A love story, perfect for us.  Four years on the road together, learning about this country, learning more about each other, fighting at times, loving always, dancing in Death Valley, watching the moon rise over all the lower 48’s, dealing with a first cancer successfully, and getting right back on the road, continuing on until the very end and then bringing Nothin’ but Love to him as a second cancer killed him.  A Once Upon a Time Love Story of me and Handsome Husband.

Here I am now, in Arizona, with a broken heart that somehow hasn’t killed me.  A life that is 100% changed except for the Love that he left behind.  And a mission to fulfill his final request of scattering his cremains at our favorite places from our 4 years of travel.

I return to the road full-time on June 20 in my PinkMagic rig.  My T@b trailer has been fitted out inside as a sanctuary at the end of the day.   Yet to be added on the outside front are the letters “FWG” in raspberry pink.  The polite meaning of those letters is “fierce Warrior Goddess”, for those of you who might be offended by what it really means to me-“Fucking Warrior Goddess”.  Because that’s what I am now.

I won’t be alone as I return to the road.  Our younger daughter, Kamahooptra, will travel with me on what we are calling our 2014 Nothin’ But Love Tour.

Here’s the big announcement, dear readers.  Happily Homeless is merging with Moonstruck, the business born of the Love left behind by the man who was my husband and her dad.   Happily Homeless is the story.  Moonstruck is the telling of that story and the love that has grown and rippled out in furious waves since his death.

What is Moonstruck?  How’s this for an explanation?  Moonstruck is a trailblazing, kick-ass, mom/daughter duo on an extraordinary mission of love that will inspire you, challenge you, and, just maybe, change your life.

Our face book page will stay the same, with a slight name change.  All will be easily accessible to you so that you can follow our adventures.  Believe me, the Happily Homeless story is only going to get bigger.  We’re going to make our mark on this country.  The story of this Odyssey of Love is going to draw in more people as Kamahooptra and I travel.  We’ll be blogging together and separately, updating you daily, posting pictures as we travel first north and west, then north, turning right to head to the upper West, south to Colorado, east to Indiana, NJ and New England, then south along the Atlantic coast to Key West, then along the Gulf coast to return to Arizona sometime next year.  Along the way we’ll offer workshops, blessingways, moon circles, videos about ritual, about where we are and what we’re seeing, and yes, what its like traveling as mom and daughter in this magical PinkMagic rig.

My life of travel with Handsome Husband is what prepared me to be able to do this.  This, the next year out on the road, is where I’ll find him again.  Re-visiting our favorite places, fulfilling his final wishes, carrying the story, spreading the Love..its where he’ll find me too.  As he told me he would.

You don’t want to miss this.  I promise, as you travel along with me and my daughter, you are in for an eye-opening ride of a lifetime.  10151125_642655059122765_1247848368_n