These Few Words~

 

I will sing you to me…..

These words curve around my lower right leg, from knee to ankle.

My 3rd tattoo.  My first one says nothin’ but love, our credo in hospice.  Those words swirl in a circle on the back of my neck, with the circle ending in a small heart, and the circle is left open.  As my heart must be in this new life without him.

My second one simply says Love, and is on the inside of my left wrist, in the exact location where the tumor I named Wilson, first showed up on Chuck.  It took a 11-hour surgery and 4 reconstructive surgeries afterwards to rid ourselves of Wilson and reconstruct Chuck’s arm.  His right thigh looked like hamburger when they were through.

Each of my tattoos carry special meaning, as all tattoos must.

But…my 3rd tattoo…

Chuck and I both enjoyed watching the movie Australia; a movie set in pre-WW2 Australia, dealing both with the invasion by the Japanese, and the kidnapping of mixed race Aboriginal children from their parents.  The kids were sent to orphanages where they were taught white ways. 

One of the most charming characters in the movie is a little boy named Nullah, a mixed-race boy, taken in by the character of Nicole Kidman.  The two are separated, in the movie, by the kidnapping of Nullah.  As she stands on the pier, desperately trying to keep him with her…as he is taken away to an island for orphans, he says to her I will sing you to me.

And she responds and I will hear you…

In our Happily Homeless travels, Chuck and I visited the huge bike rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.  We didn’t go there specifically for it, but it was going on when we were there, and we walked around and admired the bikes and fell in love with the state.

In the second year after his death, my daughter, Rachael-Grace, went on the road with me for 6 months, supporting me in my Odyssey of Love.  We crisscrossed the USA, and, in the process, ended up in Sturgis, SD, and, again, happened upon the Sturgis bike rally.

South Dakota is home to Crazy Horse National Monument, one of the places Chuck and I visited together, and the final place he’d asked me to return to, to scatter his cremains.

Rae created a beautiful ritual at Crazy Horse, and was the one to scatter her dad’s cremains there.  And then we walked around Sturgis.  Which is where I found the tattoo artist who created my 3rd tattoo.  I’d told him about our Love story, about my Odyssey of Love, and though I didn’t know when I first got there to SD what my tattoo would look like, the words came to me as I walked about, and he did a quick sketch.  Unfortunately, the cost was too much for me to justify, and I was honest with him about that.  Another of the artists, who had listened in to my story, told me that he thought I really needed to get the tattoo there…it was the last place Chuck had named, after all, and given the words I wanted, it was perfect. So, he offered to pay for half, stunning me.

I will sing you to me….

Words spoken in the movie Australia, among the Aboriginals, when saying goodbye to a loved one, with no idea whether that one will be seen again.  Words of hope for the future, maybe…

I’ve no idea whether this phrase, and the concept behind it, are true to the Aboriginals or not.  I honestly don’t care; the idea of the words touched my heart years ago, and they touch my heart now.  And I seek comfort where I can find it.

I will sing you to me…

These words that wind around my calf speak of my wish to believe, even as I struggle with believing, that I will see Chuck again someday.  Somehow, maybe, he will greet me when I die.  Maybe.

Meanwhile, in this life that I must live without him, maybe I can sing him to me in my heart, by living the Love he left behind, by reaching out with kindness, in service to others. 

I will sing him to me…

And the other half of the meaning of those words for me?

Maybe, maybe, maybe, I will sing my future to me even as I live each moment without him, as I continue this Odyssey of Love.  The future that I still don’t want, that I don’t care about, but one that seems as if it must be lived for all the days of my life until my own death.

I hold these words to me, written as clearly on my heart as they are written on my calf.

I will sing you to me…

 

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Things and Stuff~

Grief, at least mine, has run a scorched earth policy through my life and its’ made me think about things.  In this case, physical things and stuff.  Stuff that can cause so much uproar when a loved one sickens and dies.  The stuff they leave behind.

I’m not preachifying.  Things and belongings, and our reaction to them  affect us humans in different ways.  We become attached to things and rules and “shoulds” and “have to’s”.  Maybe too attached, do you ever think?

Handsome Husband and I spent the last 4 years ridding ourselves of external, material things.  Every time we went to our storage unit, we rid ourselves of more.  When I stopped there on my way East, after his death, I stopped there again and went through everything of ours, his and mine, and donated more.  All of his stuff was either donated or given to our kids or to his friends.  Recently I sold the car we’d traveled in these last few years to our older son.  I had to remove his name from joint accounts, start my own bank account, and close his phone account.  That was really hard.

All of it has been hard to do, I won’t lie to you.  It’s been fucking impossible. In many ways I feel like I’ve wiped him out of my life physically, and in most external ways, I guess I have.  What I  travel with now is a small bag of his clothes, his cremains in a box next to me on the seat and the flag that was given to me at his service.  I have pictures of the two of us plastered all over the dashboard of my car so that I can look at them and remember and feel as if he is with me.  I want these few reminders because I don’t feel him around me psychically.  I also have a small filigree cylinder around my neck that holds some of his cremains.  His wedding ring remains on my right hand ring finger, as mine remains on my left ring finger.  I change them around frequently, uncertain about what to do with them but still wanting them.  I still feel very much his, and I like that I do.

There are very few traces of him left in a physical way and that in and of itself is kind of fitting.  He was Buddhist and practiced non-attachment, and he and I together certainly practiced simplicity in our traveling life.  As we shed the external material things, we started looking at the internal things we could also shed:  behavioral patterns, old thinking, social expectations, whatever came up was studied with a critical eye and held onto or shed if we realized it was more about habit than thought.  The same holds true in a different way for me in regards to his physical possessions.  The fewer of his possessions that I hold, the stronger my memories and the love of him become.  There is no external distraction.  What I hold inside is so much more valuable than anything he owned.  He left everything to me in his will and I’ve willingly shared things around with our kids and friends and strangers and anyone else I thought might like to have a part of him.  He would appreciate that.  There’s been no arguments regarding any of his physical possessions.  Any struggle about ownership, so to speak,  has been of him, of his memory, in a more emotional way, in our family.  Which has been resolved by letting go of needing to have ownership.

I always swore I’d never get a tattoo.  Why pay for pain, I asked?  In the last 2 weeks, I’ve gotten 2 tattoos and nobody is more surprised than I.  One on the back of my neck, saying “Nothin’ but Love” and the other on the inside of my left wrist that says “Love” in very graceful lettering.   I thought to have his initials put on the inside of the circle on the back of my neck, but this, my new life, is about more than just him as my husband.  This life, and the tattoos that reflect it, are about what he truly left behind for me, which is all the love and passion that he and I shared in our 24 years together.  Does it make sense to you when I say that is bigger than his initials?  This life I’m creating for myself is about his spirit and mine and that very passion, and the initials would be kind of meaningless.  The stuff I have can never be taken from me by anyone.

Which brings me back to what I think about when I think about material possessions left behind by those who have died, or who are downsizing for any and all reasons.  People fight about them, families are ripped apart, and general chaos and mayhem and ugliness results.  What we’re seeking, when we rip and pull at each other about such things, is affirmation that we mattered to our mom, to our dad, to the one who is leaving this life.  That we are loved and acknowledged.  We can get trapped into thinking that it really is about that THING, when if you really look at it, it isn’t.

I get it.  We’re human.  Shit about stuff happens.  But those things really don’t matter.  Who gives a flying fuck about any of it?  How about instead we connect with each other, as we nurse our loved ones through their final stages of life and then bury them?  How about instead of talking about THINGS, we talk with each other about the memories, the love, and what really matters?  How about if we connect with each other in love instead of hate and vitriol?

Death happens in life.  We acknowledge that in principle but I think we don’t really take it in until it happens and the person you love so much is lying in front of you, their body frozen in death, white as a sheet, unmoving, unblinking, heart stopped.  Death is cold and heartless and we can get protective of what stuff is left when the physical body is no more.  In our need to feel loved, we can end up one-upping the love quotient.  He loved me more.  I was her favorite.  My grief is stronger than your grief.  She wanted me to have this particular stuff of hers.  No, she wanted me to have it.  Disagreement.  Anger.  Shredding of self and others.  All over stuff.  Stuff.  And Things.  Here’s my test for you.  If this person you’re arguing with about stuff were to die tomorrow, would you feel guilty about the argument?  Have regrets?  Wish you’d done it differently?   Feel just plain stupid? Hopefully so, I say hopefully.  If the answer is yes, then open your heart to the discussion about the stuff.  Or don’t even discuss it.  Just let it go with love.

Enough about Stuff.   I know you all know this, so I’m preaching to the choir.   It isn’t Stuff that matters.  It’s Love.  That’s all there is.  Not in a song title way but in a very serious way.   Don’t. Allow. Things. To. Be. More. Important. Than. The. LOVE.

Another Never~

I got my first tattoo today and added another “I’ll never” to my list I just dids.  Can I count the times I said to Handsome Husband, to friends, to so many, that I’d never get a tattoo?

The tattoo is now on the list with the camping that I’ll be doing, that I’m already doing, in this new life of mine.  Never, I swore to him.  Never, ever, will I camp.  Yuck and all that.

Here I sit, in my T@b trailer.   Writing from a bed that would suit the two of us comfortably.  Surrounded by odds and ends of my disorganization as I attempt to figure this all out.  photo

There will be more I nevers, inevitably, because there is nothing of my old life left.  Except the love that I carry with me, that he had for me and I for him.

My tattoo reflects the message I created for him while he was in hospice.  I wanted him to be surrounded and immersed in the love we all had for him;  I wanted him to feel the love returned to him that he’d given to so many throughout his life.  So, when people called or visited, I’d say to them that “there’s nothing but love here”.    The “L” in love in my tattoo is capped because it’s that important to me.  What we had and what I carry with me now, and what I want my life to be about.  There is a small opening to the circle.  I vowed after Handsome Husband’s death that the more my heart hurt, the wider I would open it to love and to life.

4 years ago, Handsome Husband and I sold everything lock/stock and barrel, got out of the rat race, and went out on the road to live a life of love and adventure, relishing our time together.  In that time I learned to let go and open up.  Let go of things, of places, and opened up to new experiences, new people, and a new way of living.  I learned to live simply and push my boundaries and comfort zones.  I climbed heights that gave me the shivers and hiked and explored and lived in a way that I’d never considered and did it all happily, with the love of my husband right next to me.

All along, the life that Handsome Husband and I lived was preparing me for this life that I’m living now.  No, neither of us knew the future of course.  It was happenstance.  But yes, it did prepare me, certainly in a practical way but very much in a bigger way of being unafraid of life and adventure.

This isn’t an adventure I want in any way but it’s what I have.  And Handsome Husband knew me to my core and knew that I would do this.

He is at my right side, where he always was in life.  I don’t feel him but my belief in the love he and I shared tells me that he is, that he has to be.  In his final message to me he told me he would always be with me and he never broke a promise to me ever.

So, yes, another I never is now look what I did.  This is my tribute, my message to him, wherever he is.  I love you always, D.  I carry you in my heart.  And now, on the back of my neck.  Right where you would kiss me and send shivers down my spine.  I love you.photo