It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? The ugliness of the world, I mean. At a time when we 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.