My Two-ish Selves~

I oftentimes read posts/blogs of people who are grieving who speak about how they feel, after some time has passed, presenting themselves to the world in a way that isn’t real but that they feel is required of them.
In that, they don’t show their grief to the world.  For many reasons, of course, but they feel unable to show who they really are.  Which I totally understand.
Our world is unforgiving of grief that continues on for more than, say….6 months.  Okay, maybe a year, if you find some really empathetic people.
Other than other widow/ers, I mean.
I do get that argument.  We have to function, right?  Life goes on and we have to return to jobs and parenting and, I don’t know…everything.
And you just can’t be in a fetal position on the floor, or sobbing in your cubicle, or at the lunch table.  Or anywhere in public.
What I would argue is that those of us who present The Face to the world aren’t being fake.  We really aren’t.
We’re being functional.
It’s all still in there, bubbling right below the surface, humming along our veins as our blood pumps from our hearts to the rest of our bodies.  It isn’t that we’re stuffing it down, really.  I liken it more to the idea of applying pressure to a wound in an effort to keep the blood from spurting out.  We apply pressure to hold down the grief so that we can get our days done, our responsibilities…stuff and such.
We laugh if something is funny, we engage with the people we meet throughout our daytime hours.  Because that’s what life is and we’re still alive.
What I’ve found, for me at least, is that I can be what I just described, on any given day.  And every bit of it is authentic.
It’s just that, since Chuck died, even while I do all that, I’m also dying inside.  Missing him. Wishing him. Wanting him.  Sharply feeling his absence.  His gone-ness. Feeling empty. Even as I smile and engage with people, the hum in my blood, through my veins, with each pump of my heart, is….he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.
I am two people since Chuck died.  Here and not here.  Smiling outside and crying inside at the same time.  Paying attention and hearing you and listening to my own inner conversation at the same time.
Both of these me’s are real and both show up daily.
This may freak out those of you who have never lived in this widow world, but I’m strangely okay with it, in my world of nothing being okay.  And honestly, I can handle this dichotomy, because I’m a Gemini.
I’m one person and I’m two people at the same time.  I don’t stuff any of the grief down.  It’s just that one of the me’s is the functioning out in the world person, and the other one is the me who is….I don’t even know.
But both of these me’s are real in every way.

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Return To Me~

Return to me…
Please come back…
Return to me, with your strong arms
That wrapped round me…
And made me feel safe and secure
No matter what was going on around us.
Return to me, with your broad shoulders
Upon which I rested my head
And listened to your heartbeat…
Until our breathing became one breath and I felt reassured and knew, always,
That my world was good, and would always be good
Because you were in it.
Return to me…
With your smile that lit up my world
And brightened my days
Even if we were on the phone and you were far away
I’d feel your smile and…
My world was serene.
Return to me…
With your green eyes that would catch mine across a crowded room
And the one would crinkle in a slow wink
Meant only for me…
A wink that carried promises of passion and flirtation and teasing
And my heart would grow giddy and butterflies flutter in my stomach.
Return to me…
Take my hand in yours again, wrap your fingers around mine…
Return to me, my beloved
I beg of you…
Hold me, touch me, love me, dance with me, put your hand upon my knee, kiss me, envelop me.
My body longs for you
My heart beats for you
My mind wanders to you and me and what we had…
My pulse is your pulse…
And I die inside a little each day, that I don’t have you any longer…
That you don’t have me any longer…
That we are gone and it is just me here on this earth…
Return to me, my beloved…

Widow Speak~

There really is no explaining it

In words that either convey or make sense to anyone

WIDOW

The depths of the word change daily and minute by minute

Depending on the day or the minute

In the beginning, it means devastation conflagration incineration annihilation

Each of those feeling remain or don’t

Depending on the day or the minute

It’s going to bed alone and leaving the TV or radio on low so that the hum of voices distracts you as you wake through the night and if you don’t have the distraction your mind hums with memories and the grief that no more memories will ever be made.

Grasping his pillow close and arranging your body sometimes unconsciously to the side you slept when you slept with him so that he could curl his body around you his arm curving under you his other arm draping over you his hand curled around your breast.

It’s waking each morning and wishing that you could have that unsuspecting moment that you’re waking to your old life like you hear people speak about but your body and mind are instantly aware that he’s still dead and this is another morning and you’re exhausted because your mind has been going all night long even when you slept but really didn’t sleep.

And you make the decision to get up anyways because you can’t just lay abed endlessly right?

Go through a morning routine getting ready shower don’t cry or yes, do cry try to push away the thoughts that I just can’t do this again but you do it again anyways because what other choice is there?

Breakfast even though you really aren’t hungry but what does hunger have to do with eating its habit more than anything or eat because you aren’t hungry but you have to do something and the clock says breakfast time and you eat but you don’t taste because food doesn’t matter to you anymore.

It’s going through your day whatever your day used to mean but now doesn’t except that distractions help sometimes but not really because there underneath everything is your new pulsebeat of dead dead dead he’s gone gone gone.

Try to get home early if you’re out because there’s just something about that time of the early evening that makes missing him more powerful than all the powerful moments of the earlier part of the day.  Once you get home wherever home is now home was when I was with him wander around the kitchen the bedroom the house turn the TV on for noise eat food out of the fridge because who cares eat junk.

Go to bed because you need the day to end or don’t go to bed because you can’t bear being alone in bed so sleep on the couch somehow the back of the couch against your back helps you feel more secure.

One season follows another and the days drift and bend and each season carries its’ own cuts and bruises of remembrance and oh he would love the colors of the flowers the trees the snow the ocean that gust of wind feel that feeling in the air and he isn’t here and my soul can’t bear this beauty and I’m not ignoring the beauty but the beauty hurts because I’m seeing it feeling it being it on my own and that cuts into me again like a chain saw.

We’re supposed to be grateful we had what we had and I am and we’re complimented on being so strong and I am but also exhausted from being strong encouraged to remember and I do but what does that have to do with anything I wonder and we’re told that look you have your kids and your grandkids and your life and other people who love you and I do and I know that but what the fuck does that have to do with anything and how on god’s green earth does any of that change anything or make up for anything most especially the fact that for god’s sake he’s dead?

What do you say when there are no words in our language to fully and really and completely tell you that I say what I need to say and do what I need to do and I’m whatever I need to be to meet this fucking real life challenge but none of it means a damn thing and I’m not pretending anything to anyone but life does fucking go on and I have to support myself and shop and do all the daily tasks that constitute living but if you really really really want to know the truth with no qualifications and no prevarications…

My heart is broken and I’m not really strong and I hate living without him and life is unbearable and I’ve run out of words and I have no energy for this and I’m really not okay but I have to be okay so I try to be okay but my soul inside this body that shows up every day even as I’m doing and talking and going through each day is just missing him as he is missing from me and it hurts and there isn’t one damn thing that doesn’t remind me of him including the very act of breathing.  And all the milestones and holidays and anniversaries and birthdays amid the everydays make me miss him even more and I want nothing more than to be held by him feel his arms around me his lips on mine feel safe again feel secure again dance with him sleep with him have wild sex with him wake with him share nothing and everything important with him live again knowing how special I am to someone in this life just have him back please please please

Be his wife his lover again.

Not his widow.

This Ugly World…but, oh….the Love~

It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?  The ugliness of the world, I mean.  At a time when I, and many other widow/ers are trying to figure out our own smaller worlds, without our beloveds in our life.   At a time when the world already seems so unsafe and so uncertain because that person, our person, is no longer here, and then…another big ugly thing happens.

Chuck was active duty during 9/11.  He wasn’t able to come home until near midnight on that day and I was filled with anxiety, anticipating that McGuire AFB, where he was stationed, would be the next target for the terrorists.  But he did come home and I felt safer and reassured as soon as I saw him and was able to hug him.  He was able to tell me things  in the days and weeks after that made me feel more okay even though the world remained insane.  He was there with his solid presence, his calm manner, and…I felt better.

There have been numerous terrorist events since his death, and at each one, I have missed him more.  I’m grateful I have my adult kids, my friends, to whom I can speak about my anxieties, about the ugliness of it, but, at the end of the day, his side of the bed is still empty and the conversations continue in my head, because his arms aren’t around me.

My world felt safer with Chuck in it.

I was at a Where Womyn Gather festival in the Poconos when Orlando happened.  I didn’t hear about it til the late afternoon;  I was off the grid.  As a group, a couple hundred women stood around a huge fire that had been kept burning through the weekend and we offered our prayers to the skies above, and we hugged each other.  A lot.

That’s really all I know how to do since Chuck died.  Hug people, I mean.  My brain doesn’t seem to function as well as it did as far as figuring shit out, so I don’t think much.  And so much doesn’t matter to me anyways.  Mostly it seems that much of what our culture, and the world at large, values, carries no value for me.  And I feel overwhelmed and helpless when it comes to the ugliness of the world.

So, I hug people.  And I accept hugs from people.   Then I drive somewhere else and I hug people there, wherever there happens to be.  The pink of my car and trailer bring smiles to those I meet on the highways and  backroads of this country, and I’m glad for that; smiles are good.  The color of my rig draws people to me and they tell me what is in their hearts or what lies heavy on their minds as we sit in the pink chairs that I put out next to my trailer.  Sometimes we share a glass of pink lemonade that I make sure to have on hand.

In a world of what I can’t do, I find what I can do.  I can, and do, open my heart to Love, more fully than ever.  I hug more people, and I hug them tightly.  I’m a really good hugger.  In some circles, I actually have quite a reputation for being an excellent hugger.  In that, if you’ve been hugged by me, you know you’ve been hugged.  I like that I have such a reputation.  If that is the only legacy I leave behind, then I’m pleased.

I have to focus on the Love that is bigger, or go insane with grief.  Not only personally, because of my own grief but grief for  the world at large.  Yes, another man took his rage that had many sources, and murdered 49 people.  And a man in France, using the same excuse, horribly stole the lives of a husband and wife and left their 3 year son an orphan.  Yes, yes, yes…the ugliness continues on and on, forever.

But so does the Love.  I insist upon the Love.  It’s all I can do.  It’s the only power I have.  I don’t have it in the huge, world sense, but I do have it in my small world sense and the Love I give in my small world has the possibility of rippling out into other’s worlds, again and again and again.

I hold onto this, in this time, again and again and again, when I cry out for Chuck to put his arms around me and tell me that, in the midst of nothing being okay in this ugly world, it’s still okay, because there is always, always and forever, Love that is always present and bigger, even though it seems not present and much smaller than hate or grief or uncertainty.

My soul insists and demands that Love must be stronger.

Remember that.  Hold onto it.  Surround yourself with it.  Immerse those around you in it.  Send it out to the loved ones who are new to the world of grief.  Send it out again and again and again and never stop.

Please, never stop.

#LongLiveLove

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

The 5 Letter W Word~

Widow.

It’s a loaded word, isn’t it?

I use the word in reference to both women and men, or I write the word widow and just add a slash and an er at the end.

Because I’m a bottom line type of person, I appreciated best the definition from Thesaurus.com.  Noun:  woman with dead husband.  That definition suits me primarily because it isn’t dressed up. You can’t soften this blow for me, so please tell it like it is, with all the harshness that the word implies.

It horrified me, when Chuck died, to realize that I was a widow.  Using that term in reference to myself was shocking. The implications of those 5 letters, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually…shattering.  It meant I was now alone. That I’d never see him again. Done. Finito. Gone.

And because my mind takes me on strange and weird meanderings at times, I’d wonder to myself what kind of widow would I be?  Dramatically dressed in black with a huge hat and flowing black veil and black gloves?  It would be my thing…people would say oh yes, that’s the Black Widow in awe-struck and possibly fearful tones as I passed by.

Or I would be the Merry Widow.  Showing a brave face to the world while I partied the nights away, hiding my grief behind, yes…a black veil.  Which would flutter in the wind as I drove past in my black convertible.

I knew right away I couldn’t carry off the Pathetic Widow.  Weeping mournfully, hiding myself away, delicately dabbing at my eyes with a lace hankie behind my…black veil.  Handing out peppermint candies to little children and sighing a lot…behind my black veil.

The military uses the term Un-remarried Widow.  I’m sure it’s for documentation and military privilege purposes.  It’s actually a pretty good term, I think.

As I’ve traveled in these 2 years since Chuck’s death, I’ve stayed at many a military family camp (famcamp to those in the know, which, apparently, I am now), and I’ve met and spoken to veterans who are there for the same purpose as I am;  camping.  Early on, one of them referred to me as a Military Widow which, honestly, took me by surprise, as I’d never thought of myself as that.  Chuck had been retired for many years and we hadn’t had much to do with the military, so it just wasn’t on my radar.  Military Widow, to me, meant a young wife of active duty personnel.

But then I had to fill out paperwork with the VA and get other shit done referencing his time in service and I realized that, yeah, I’m a Military Widow..

So, here I am, 2 years and 3 months (as of tonight), re-thinking the widow word thing.  Like any other woman with a dead husband, I hate the word widow because, well, it means that my husband is dead.  But I’m kind of okay with it too, now.  Because, yeah, I’m Chuck Dearing’s widow, but, yes, I’m Chuck Dearing’s Widow and what that means is that he spent the last part of his life with me, he loved me and I loved him and there is strength in that for me.  It’s a connector to him that I crave, and it means as much to me now as the word wife meant to me when he was alive.

Widow.  It carries different meanings for everyone, understandably, and we wear it uneasily or comfortingly and it makes us weary and it makes us strong and it’s made me wonder in the dark hours of the night when my brain refuses to turn off about what it means for me and to me and finally…finally, I know.

I’m Chuck Dearing’s Widow and that means that love truly is my super-power.  11231020_874401225948146_3605702477485355746_n

What Meds Don’t Do~

Here’s what I now know about medications and grief.  This isn’t all personal experience, at least as far as allopathic medications are concerned; this is what I’ve gathered from other widow/ers.  I speak only of the herbs/homeopathic remedies that I’ve employed to help me with my grief.

This St John’s Wort, widely used in Europe as a mood elevator, works for me in that it almost immediately dropped a gossamer veil between me and my grief.  I picture my grief now as the filter used in old-time movies to soften the features of the actors and actresses.  I know my grief is there but there is very clearly something keeping me from fully absorbing it.  And that is indeed the purpose of St John’s Wort so…mission accomplished on that.

What it doesn’t do is take away or remove everything else that companions the meat-cutter of grief.  There is no filter on the shattering loneliness.  The lost feelings of being someone’s someone.  The steady thrum of starvation from the lack of touch by the man I love.  The empty silence where all the words I want to speak fall not on deaf ears but no ears.  The shuddering absence of the energy that shimmered and shifted next to me through the years.  The hole in my soul.

I don’t believe that there is any medication or herb in the world that changes these realities.

Yes, I can find a group of people with whom to discuss issues.  And I do talk with people constantly in the course of my day. And my kids and friends call, and they give me hugs and I’m so thankful for that. And yes, I have grand-kids and I love them all dearly. And none of that makes up for/replaces what I had with Handsome Husband.

I crave his touch and my body starves, knowing I’ll never feel his hands on me again. I wonder how it would feel to have another man’s hands on me, feel another man’s arms around me, dance with another man, even as I realize it is my husband I desire, not just any man.  And I know that even if I invite another man into my life someday, Handsome Husband will always be my husband even should I fall in love (which I hope to do).  I’ll always be his widow because he was my husband and there is some strange beauty in that in this fucking weird new world without him.

These thoughts spin round and round in my heart these days and, contrary to how I appear, I’m really very confused.  Which is, I know, pretty well reflected in this particular piece of writing.

Really, all I know is that I miss my husband.  I miss Chuck.  I miss him in ways that can only be imagined in the nightmares that come in the deepest, darkest hours of sleep that waken you sweating and screaming and breathless with adrenalin.

Beat, thrum, throb, cut, slice goes my heart…

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