Casting a Double-Dare Spell into the Universe~

The mere idea of dipping my feet into the dating scene, no matter how lonely I am at any given point, invokes in me a huge HELL NO! The quantity of nightmare stories I’ve heard from the widowed community about the quality of people in that scene, both male and female and what they’re looking for…no, please. There is, I hear, that 1% chance of meeting someone, that wonderful someone who brings beauty to a lonely life, but that’s not enough to entice me into the quagmire. I’m still in love with Chuck, for one thing, even as my heart is open. That might sound like a contradiction to you…widowhood is filled with contradictions…but I believe that the heart expands to Love, and I can fall in love again, with the perfect man. Having said that, the perfect man would have to materialize in front of me, with immediate recognition in both of our hearts that…THIS.    It saddens me that there are many in the widowed community who feel that their widow experience has left them broken, and finding a person to accept their broken-ness seems impossible.  Honestly, I don’t see myself as broken or damaged at all. On the contrary, my experience shows that I’m good at Love, good at healthy relationships. Yes, I feel life intensely, I’m brought to tears by all that is real in life…reunions, watching people fall in love, commercials, the certain blue of sky out my moon roof, stars lighting up the Universe at night…tears are never far away. I live on a higher adrenalin level than I did prior to Chuck’s death, coming from the realization that life really can, and does, change on a fucking dime. But that doesn’t make me broken; that makes me conscious. Which I was before he died, so only more so, now.
No, I won’t join a dating site. But All Hollows Eve is coming upon us, at the end of this month and the following words are what I will write out on paper for that evening, that I’ll put in a lovely bowl, add bright yellow and orange marigold and chrysanthemum petals, an essential oil…maybe “future”, burn the mix and let the ash ascend into the night skies, chanting a spell all the while. I’m creating a witch hat for the occasion, black but with pink tulle and flowers strewn over it.
This is what I’ll write to the Universe that night…
…I’m a widow of 5 years and 6 months. I live full-time on the road, towing a trailer, and I’ve done this since my husband’s death. The car is pink. My trailer trim is in the same shade of pink. The shade was customized for me, in my husband’s memory, giving me courage to return to the road solo, following his death. I wear a lot of pink. Not a wussy, Barbie pink, but a Fucking Warrior Goddess pink.
I’m a recovered alcoholic of 30+ years and I’m comfortable around alcohol but have no tolerance for drunken behavior. I believe in being present and conscious about life and you can’t do that if you’re drunk and stupid. If you have a prison record, if you’re doing drugs of any kind, don’t bother contacting me. Bless your heart and all that and no judgement but I will not deal with that shit and the emotional fallout that comes with it.
I believe in romance and Love stories, because I had both in my marriage. Which makes me a romantic but not a fool.
I’m 60 years old and my hair is naturally bland dark blonde but I color it regularly in whatever shade strikes my fancy. Also, 60 is a lot younger than it seemed to me when I was in my 30’s.
God, I need to lose a few pounds so if you’re someone who exercises, maybe you’ll inspire me to get back to it. I’m a sporadic exerciser at best. But no gym rats, please. A healthy outlook on fitness is good.
What gives me sex appeal is not because I wear skimpy dresses and heels high enough to turn my ankle and a fully made up face but my strength and determination. My blue eyes show my heart. I know how to love.
I know that Love is an action word. Words are easy. I love the words, but Love must be shown, too. I do both and I expect the same of any man in my life. Tenderness and passion. If you’re the right man, you’ll get it.
My financial stability comes from temporary jobs. I’ve already done the 9-5 thing and temp jobs allow me to stay on the road. So, I’m not rich by any means. I can pay my bills but can’t afford to eat out very often. I’m uncertain how finances play out in the dating scene, or even in a relationship at this later part of my life, but I’m sure it could be figured out.
I’m unique because I’m a kick ass woman. Not aggressive, not a bitch, but assertive as needed. I’m kick ass because I make the decision every day to suit up and show up and show Love, when I’d just as soon stay under the covers.
Here’s how strongly I can love, and what a determined woman I am: I went with my husband as he was cremated, and I’m the one who pressed the switch to open the crematorium doors to admit his body. I did this as a final act of love and service to him.
My taste in music runs to bagpipes, tribal drumming, country western, 50’s rock and roll, chanting, whatever suits my mood. No rap, no heavy metal~
My beloved husband was a passionate man, an educated man, an AF veteran, well-traveled, and he loved me with everything he had. I loved him the same way. I’ll accept nothing less from any other man.
I want a man who is masculine but not macho. I hope you know the difference. I want a man who is romantic but not a weenie. I want a man who shows emotions but doesn’t weep all over the place. I know; it’s confusing. But there you go. Think McGarrett on the new Hawaii 5-0. Or Chin Ho. Yes, they’re fictional characters but the same could almost be said of my husband, because of how he was the perfect mix of all that I adore. Yes, I have very high standards. Bless your heart if that intimidates you.
In the movie “Practical Magic”, Sally creates a wish for a man who doesn’t exist, and sends that wish into the Universe. I’d love to believe that a real man, who is strong and confident in himself, actually exists, but I kind of also believe that my beloved was the last of his kind. You may or may not be man enough to prove that premise wrong.
I’m not at all interested in showmanship, though I do love performance theater.  I’ve got a good b.s. meter. I’ve heard from many of my women friends who date who tell me  that the minute they exchange phone numbers with a guy, they almost immediately begin receiving dick pics via text. Believe me, such pictures DON’T impress me in the least. Show me something real, instead. Show me who YOU are. Use some imagination, for god’s sake. I mean, seriously…who the hell came up with that idea and said yeah, I think I’ll impress this woman I don’t know, with pictures of my dick.  Jesus.
Because I’m a determined and strong woman, which I’ve always been, and more so since my husband’s death, I will accept no less than an equal partner, and be an equal partner in return.
If you’re a widower, please be assured that I am not threatened by your dead wife, any more than I expect you to be threatened by my dead husband. A heart that has known real Love only expands with more Love. I will always talk about my beloved husband, even as I love you deeply, and I fully anticipate that you will speak of your dead wife. If you have her cremains in an urn and you carry them with you, cool. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. We’ll create a beautiful altar for them both, wherever we are, and each All Hallows Eve, we’ll invoke their names as the veil between their world and ours, thins. Maybe we’ll dance naked around a huge bonfire, with drums beating in the darkness.
If you haven’t been widowed, you need to be strong and confident enough in yourself to know that I’m the woman I am because I was shaped by many beautiful years with my husband. He will always be a part of me and my life and who I am. And because I loved him so passionately, was in Love with him, still am, honestly, that means I can love you just as strongly. Yes, it’s possible to be in love with two men at once. At least, it is when one of them is dead.
*Wimps and fakes need not apply*
I send this out to the Universe from a heart that has been broken and shredded from grief but a heart that believes in the power of Love, but also, with no belief that such a man exists in this realm. So, it’s, you know, a safe cast.
Here you go, Universe, I dare you.
In fact, I double dare you~

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If What is Left, is This…then, Yes~

As 5 years without you, edges its’ way ever nearer to me, and as my heart and soul hear the shuffle of time coming closer, creeping past, zooming closer, flying past..

As these ten thousand years have passed, since his death, as each nanosecond passes in the here and now, I remember how he loved me, how I loved him.

I remember his calm spirit and his groan-worthy jokes. I remember his dedication to the military and how glad he was to retire, having done his time. His quiet rebellions that grew from holding his own counsel and just going about business in the way he knew he needed to do. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, he told me many times, and that thought carried him through his military service. I remember how he not only read the Big Book of AA but read what it all meant, and the history of it; he gave context to AA and the 12 Steps and Tradition, and living a life of sobriety. Chuck lived his sobriety as honestly as he could, every day. Not perfectly, but as well as he could, and he earned the respect of many because of it.

His promise wasn’t given lightly, and I could count on his promises being kept. His promises were his word, given as a gentleman of old times would give his word. It was his honor, and he held true to it, whether that promise was made to me or one of our kids or a friend or anyone else.

He would, as knights of bygone days of chivalry and honor, have given his life for me. Sometimes, in my mind then, as he was living, and now, since his death, I’d picture the two of us strolling through shadowed hills of a glade, or the bare red rocks of the West, and, if this were times of old, he’d have my hand in his, and a sword in the other. It is as if, when he took his marriage vows, he not only promised to care for and cherish me, but to protect me with his body and his strong arm. And I can hear those who are less romantic minded, scoff at such imaginings, but here’s the thing that will make you secretly drool with jealousy…Chuck was that man. I knew he would protect me with his life. He was a lover and a warrior both, and I was the most fortunate of women to be his chosen.

His kisses melted my knees and left me desiring more. He was the loveliest of slow dancers, holding me firmly against him and guiding me around the dance floor, smiling down at me, sometimes humming along (in a voice that was kind of always off). He was the most passionate of lovers and I returned that passion in spades. We were well suited to each other in our strengths and our joy in each other.

He was all that I’d never dreamed to be possible in the dark days of my first marriage and in my years as a single parent of 3… until it became possible one day when he knocked at the door of my mom’s house and I answered it, wearing my military issue ugly frame glasses and a book in hand with a finger marking my place. He remembered that moment to me often over the years. He loved when I wore my glasses, and he bragged to any and all about my reading prowess. Alison reads at least 50 books a week, he’d say proudly.

And now my lover, my warrior, is dead. And I love him, am in love with him, no less now than when he breathed the air I now breathe alone.

If this is all that I will have for the remainder of my life…the memories of his kisses, his arms around me, his glances at me across the room, the feeling of swaying against him in a dance where only he and I existed…if all that I have forevermore is the memory of his body and mine twined together before sleeping…well, then, that is more than many, if not most, find, and I will be content in journeying back to those moments of ten thousand years ago, ten nanoseconds ago.

Memories don’t keep me warm at night, but oh, they are such memories and I hold them close.

Yes, I’m still in Love. It’s just that I’m in Love with a dead man. And my heart aches because of his gone-ness.

At the end of each day, after doing and being and connecting and engaging and interacting and peopling…at the end of a day, these memories are what I take with me…

As I gently and quietly close my bedroom door…

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This Particular and Peculiar Sense of Not Being~

There is a particular and peculiar loneliness of the sort that cannot be imagined for its’ overwhelming and enveloping totality, that strikes me when I am in a crowded room with those who are familiar to me or not.  It’s a loneliness whose depth is equal to the surge of desire I would feel as I rose on my tiptoes to meet Chuck’s lips in a kiss.  It is a loneliness that hits like a lightning bolt out of the stormy sky, with thunder rolling in dark tones onwards and onwards and onwards again until I finally have no sense of self or place as it consumes me into it.

This particular and peculiar loneliness does not confine itself or define itself by my circumstances of living on the road, though I can and will admit that I am so much out of my element in the outdoors that I find myself ruminating on the sheer oddity of sitting in my trailer each night, or walking about in the darkness of evening, contemplating what happened to my life.  It is as if I came from outer space and all that was familiar to me is gone, and nothing familiar is to be found:  my environs, language, people, my own identity…I gaze upon it all with a wrinkled brow, attempting to understand what cannot be understood because there is no way to translate any of it.

The same feelings and emotions run rampantly through me as I stay with friends and family.  Not because of a lack on their part, ever.  It is simply because, at some point I must still close a door and find my pajamas and wash my face and busy myself until exhaustion overtakes me and I turn out the lights of wherever I am, and put my head upon Chuck’s pillow and my hand on his flag that rests at the head of whatever bed I lay upon…and sleep the sleep of a dead man who wakes frequently from that sleep to toss and turn.

Here’s the thing:  there are many ways to keep busy during a day, but night will invariably arrive, and, in sleep, my body knows.  My mind, that part that lurks behind the daily activity..my mind knows his absence.  My heart that aches through the day but strives to keep balanced in spite of the ache…my heart knows his absence.  And my soul…my soul that knew his soul and cannot be separated from his soul…my soul recognizes his absence, and my mind and my heart and my soul feel his absence more clearly in the evening hours and into and through the night, and I ache. Oh, how I ache…

I was a woman who was energized in a social situation.  I always knew what to say and I loved being in a crowd of those I knew and I was good at it, and now that woman is gone and I feel her absence just as strongly and I feel awkward and mostly I don’t know what to say to anyone because mostly what I want to say is that I don’t know how to be here and I feel out of place and I don’t know how to find my place and I end up feeling rude and socially inept and I want to say it’s loneliness please forgive me I don’t know how to be anymore!

So…mostly I’m silent and my mind is millions of miles away, somewhere and everywhere in the past, remembering and missing and wondering at how it is possible to feel all of this, yet be so numb.  How it is possible to face one more day and one more night and repeat those days and nights constantly and continually while this loneliness of forever beats in me instead of my heart?

I am lonely.  Chuck is missing from me, and I am missing from myself~

Ghost Dancing~

No, I’m not crazy.  Yes, it might appear that way to anyone observing me last night in my daughter’s living room.  She was there.  My daughter, I mean.  Last night was 10 weeks since Handsome Husband died.  Since my life changed forever.  Since so many lives changed forever.  Ten weeks. 10 weeks.  How many ways are there to write that and what do those simple numbers really reflect?  Ten weeks of pain and grief and hitched breathing and achy body and turmoil and doing what needs to be done, and confronting change on a daily basis.  Since this dear man died in southern California, I’ve given away many of his possessions, I’ve brought a new car, sold our old one, traveled to Arizona, stayed for a month in the final place where he’d made reservations for us, welcomed a new grand-daughter to the world and…well, now, I’m with my daughter and son-in-law and organizing for the next part of my life on Thursday when I’ll leave here and drive to Colorado.  None of what I do is done willingly.  Everything is done under the cloud of grief.  No, I don’t feel hopeful for my future.  No, I can’t see my future at all.  No, I don’t want to see my future, because it is a future without him.  No, I don’t feel any excitement about, well, anything.  On the contrary, I’m either numb or in extreme emotional pain.  I’m enduring.  And, in a convoluted way, that’s kind of okay with me.

Which brings me to last night and why it might seem to some that I’ve tipped over the edge.  My daughter and I were talking about Handsome Husband and I played some of the voice mails I’d saved to my hard drive.  Our grandson Soren telling his papa how he was the best grandpa in the world, and wishing him a Happy Veteran’s Day.  I found that message on his phone and thought well, if he wanted to save it, then I do too.  Another saved message from our older son wishing me happy birthday a few years ago when death wasn’t on my radar and I was, yes, happy.  And I played for our daughter the barely able to be heard last message that Handsome Husband left for me on my phone, telling me how much he loved me and that he would always, always be with me, no matter where I was and that he would see me again, no matter how much time passed.  And, “P.S. I love you.”

We both cried.  The missing of him is so deep.  And then talked about his memorial service and what music we might choose, what were his favorites, what did he love?   This younger daughter is a hoop dancer and I suggested to her that she might like to do a hoop performance at his service.  Grief is a spiral, and hooping is up and down spirals and so appropriate.  Maybe some wild music for the hooping.  He and I used to go to the PA RenFaire and there was a tribal drumming/bagpipe band there, called Albannach.  We loved them, and would catch every performance.  It’s wild, primal drumming that makes you want to spin and whirl and be nothing but energy.  Whatever she does, it will be beautiful.

From there, I played some of the music he and I danced to, music that I’ll put together for the memorial service.  He loved Clint Black and Alan Jackson, and we’d play their tunes as our tires trod the roads.  He loved dancing to their music.  He’d put one on iTunes-maybe “Easy For Me to Say” by Clint Black.  We really loved that one.

So, last night, I put that one on my iTunes.  I pictured Handsome Husband coming over to me, holding out his hand to me, pulling me up from my seat.  I rose and stepped to the middle of the room and felt him in, my mind’s eye, put his arm around me and take my hand in his.  I placed my hand on his shoulder and felt him wrap his hand warmly around mine and we started moving together.  He used to tease me about not letting him lead, and he was right.  I’d been on my own for so long as a single parent that it was a new for me to learn that it was okay to lean on a strong man, to allow him to take the lead, to trust.  It was a lesson I learned and, ultimately, loved, and I especially loved to dance with him, to feel his strength radiating to me, enveloping me.  Feeling his love enveloping me.

I danced with Handsome Husband last night, with his spirit, with his love.  I followed him within that small space, moving my feet forward and back as he gracefully turned me and guided me with nothing more than familiarity.  My eyes closed and I felt his body against mine and I remembered his love and our love and how we danced over the years-in the kitchen, in the living room,  at AA dances, at our daughter’s wedding, on the side of the road in Death Valley.  He and I will always dance.  Our love called for the movement and the music and the magic of dance.  Nothing fancy, mind you.  Nothing even near Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but more than just standing together and moving our feet back and forth.  (Though, if that’s all you know how to do, then do it, because dancing together is, I think, a necessary component for expressing love and passion in a marriage).

Handsome Husband showed his love for me in many ways on a daily basis, over our lifetime together.  Dancing together was just one of the ways, one that I loved, one that I will always remember.  Dancing with him last night was the closest I’ve felt to him since he died and I’m going to dance with him again as my days and weeks and months without him continue.  I’m going to play our music and I’m going to take the hand he offers me and close my eyes and turn and spin and find his magic again.

My husband, my lover, my lead.  Always loved. Always missed.  And always my partner in dance.

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a Texas state of mind~

Is Texas a state of mind?  If one is born in one place, leaves, and returns many,many, years later, is there a natural born affinity for that place?  Good question, and who knows what the answer might be? I can tell you, I love Texas! We have been here for a few days now, and not even covered much of the state–it is indeed huge! As we’ve driven through the state, I have felt my mind and my lungs opening up–I feel like I’m able to breathe. The sky is wide open, and as blue as can be-and it goes on forever. I saw my first REAL cowboy today–a guy on a horse, wearing a cowboy hat and boots-does life get any better? My first dust devil–a mini dirt tornado, springing from the dry ground–it is dry here in the hill country, and the wind blows endlessly.  I told Handsome Husband that we could anchor a kite to the ground (we love kite-flying), and leave it, and it would fly endlessly because of the wind. This constant wind would probably drive some people crazy but I like it. AND, what is the name of the song that has in it “where the deer and the antelope play”? Well, I saw antelope playing….well, not actually playing….they were standing still….but they were antelope, right out there in the unending waves of low-growing mesquite and sage. Tonight I’ll step outside our hotel room and see if the stars at night really are big and bright (clap, clap, clap), deep in the heart of Texas! Because we are deep in the very heart of Texas–and though it is still hill country, its different from the Eastern part of hill country.

Perhaps I’ve fallen in love with the romance of the West-there is a real sense of independence here.  The flag is on display everywhere, and by flag, I mean the Texas state flag.  Of course you see the American flag also, but most often the Texas state flag is right beside it.  I think back to the original settlers who came out this way, and picture one of them sitting on his horse as he came over the hill, and saying “Holy hell,Batman!  Does this state never end?”  The land does really go on forever.

So, this immediate part of the state doesn’t appeal to us-we prefer the hill country between Austin and San Antonio.  We’ll return to that area at some point and, in the meanwhile, we’ll research housing prices on the internet. (research is just so much easier these days with google, isn’t it?) I did have an intense moment of people sickness this afternoon-just missing everyone, and my life with Tapestries of Hope.  But life is about learning to let go, isn’t it?  And that’s what I’m practicing with Tapestries, and my old life.

Next is Alamogordo, New Mexico, and then Las Cruces.  We’ll see what those areas look like for settling down, but I’m pretty sold on Texas.  There are so many places to explore in this country, and I think we’ll be on the road for a long while yet, as neither of us seems anxious to settle.

Vaya con Dios, y’all!