Grief's Grip Again

Clearly, 4 ½ years is far too long to miss the love of your life since society continues to tell me not to miss my wife anymore.  The thrust of the conversation is aimed at pushing me to stop talking about missing my wife and get over it!  As a result, we all learn to judge our social environment carefully before bringing illness, longing and/or death, if only grief weren’t so powerful.

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Numbers Again~

On May 29 I celebrated 10 years of fulltiming on the open road.

The first 4 were with my beloved husband, Chuck.

The last 6 have been solo. Widowed.

Wishing for it to be different, and living it fully, at the same time.

Living on the road in my little pink trailer, driving my pink car, this Odyssey of Love, is just what I do, and I don't give a whole lot of thought to it.

But my DIL and one of my best friends suggested to me that a decade of living on the road was something I needed to acknowledge publicly, and celebrate.

Since I'm workamping at Opera in the Ozarks, I thought it would be the perfect place to have the celebration, so I planned it out pdq.

I decorated the tables in the cafeteria with pink tablecloths and strewed pink heart beads and necklaces across it, and pink napkins.

Our on site baker made a cake for all of us. Strawberry cake with chocolate frosting, with a road made of pink glitter and a pink camper she'd found perched upright on that road. Underneath the road flowed the words of my motto Love leads the way.

I bought sparkling cider for everyone, because I wanted them to toast with me.

Lots of the students wore pink in my honor.

When dinner was finished I stood up and shared how my Odyssey of Love began, and the power of the Love that fuels every mile.

It is only because of Love that I'm still here, and sane.

I told them that it's up to us, even when we're devastated, to go out into the world and create community for ourselves, and build connections with others, because nobody but we ourselves can do the footwork.

I explained to them all the names and messages of Love written all over my pink rig.

I told them about Chuck and how much he loved me, and I, him.

And then I asked them all to raise their glasses in a toast to the most powerful force in the Universe.

Love.

When I sat down, my chair had my back facing the rest of the room and I knew that everyone was applauding but one of our staff told me to turn around and look.

Which I did, and they were all standing, applauding.

It choked me up.

I'm on year 10 of my life on the road.

I've been on the road solo for 6 years. 

The same amount of time that I've been widowed.

In a few days I'll be 61 years old.

That's one year older than Chuck got to live.

My heart breaks when i think of it.

While this life that I've created is colorful and adventurous, at least to some, it isn't my first choice.

I'm only living it because Chuck died and I had to find a way to make everything that he and I had together, matter.

I had to make our Love matter.

I had to find a way to live with purpose.

I've done that. I have purpose in my Odyssey of Love.

I live on memories and on the Love that I find in the community I've created for myself.

And I don't much care whether that meets the approval of the latest psychological studies or not.

10 years. 

4 with him.

6 without him.

In a few days, 1 year older than he was when he died.

I don't know what to do with any of this, if I stop and think about it.

So, I don't think about it.

I just hug people and allow myself to be hugged.

Love is the only thing I hold to be true.

Here's to Chuck and the Love he left behind for me that gave me, gives me, the courage to set out on the open road by myself.

Here's to me, and listening to my heart.

And...here's to Love~

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Death Sucks

Does anyone else feel like they pay less attention to deaths these days?  Hear me out. I’ve noticed this trend, at least in me, of learning of a person that might have been significant to me has died.  I note it, give it a quick “that sucks, for their widow”, and go about my business.

Tim Conway (a comedian I grew up admiring), Bart Starr (a legendary quarterback that I was a fan of), or Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca!) have all died in the past month or so, and I kind of shrugged it off.  I didn’t write out some long, heartfelt facebook post about how they meant the world to me. I didn’t really even “mourn” them. I acknowledged the death, thought about their widows for a second, a promptly moved on with my day.

Death happens now.  It happens to young, old, married, unmarried, long-term, sudden, the worst of us, and the best of us.  It just “is”. It’s not discriminatory or choosy. It’s random. When those deaths occured, they were just one each, in a line of billions over the millenia.  

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Empty Act

Today was ”okay”.  My grief wasn’t especially heavy.   But, this is not usual.  Most of the time I feel completely empty inside.  The landscape of my Soul is barren since Mike died.  I wish it was different, but it's not.  I feel empty.  There is an awful hollowness that lives inside me that I can't lose.  

However, most people in my proximity are unaware of my emptiness.  They only see the vibrant life I have.  At first glance, my life appears fairly enviable.  With the exception of Mike's death, I have all the trappings of a good life.  I have the kids, the house, the car, and the career.  I have managed to achieve a lot of success in Suburbia.  The boxes are checked.  My life does not appear to be lacking, but it is...

 

 

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The Scariest Part of Surgery

This blog will be short because I had a lasik procedure this week and my eyes get tired quickly.

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Space

 

Whenever my daughtyer and I sleep next to each other there is a space  beside us.

When I am getting Anisha ready for school there is a space next to us.

When we sleep next to each other, there is a space next to us.

When we have breakfast, lunch and dinner, there is a space next to us.

When we walk to a playground, there is a space next to us.

When we go for chocolate ice cream, there is a space next to us.

Space, spacc, space, always so much space that was once occupied by her touch.

 

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Shaken, Foggy, Shocked

Yesterday, I was driving to my Soaring Spirits Widowed Social Group meetup that I co-lead. 

We meet 2x per month, at various coffee shops and restaurants and such. 

We provide friendship, support, and a place to safely be our widowed selves, 

whether thats crying, laughing, venting, or anything in between. 

 

Yesterday we met at a new location. A restaurant we had not yet met at before.

I had never been there before.

The location of the restaurant is on the right side of a street where a 4-way intersection meets.

Getting to the parking lot is a bit confusing. 

I drove past the restaurant, because I couldnt find the entrance to it. 

So I drove up a couple thousand feet up the road, made a left onto a secondary street, slowed down, put my directional on, and made a U-Turn to get back onto the street where the restaurant was. 

In the midst of my U-turn, the driver who was behind me smashed into my car, on the left drivers rear side. 

Suddenly, out of nowhere, my car was being pushed off the road by the impact, I was in a fog of some kind, and I had been slammed pretty hard. 

One second, everything was fine and normal. 

Then, with no warning at all, 

SMASH! 

And although a car accident is different than someone having a sudden heart attack and dying, as my husband did, 

I know what both feel like. The shock and fog and cloudy feeling is no joke. 

As we called 911 and asked each other "are you okay?" and all the other chaos that happens in the moments after an accident, 

my mind felt thick and unsure. I felt in a daze of some kind. Like I was watching a movie in slow-motion, and not really understanding the plot. 

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Loved Still, Loved Always ~ Flash Back

Alison wrote in today to say that she wouldn't be able to write her blog, so we chose a piece that she shared in 2016 that we thought you would enjoy. <3

These days that stretch and wind and turn and curve

Nights that do the same

This life filled with unknowing and uncertainty

And grief and loss and wandering and wondering

Roads that stretch and wind and turn and curve

Thousands of miles since you died, my Love

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Nice to Meet You

When your spouse has a long-term, terminal illness, it’s very easy to devote all of your attention to their well-being.  I rationalized for years that there was quite literally nothing as bad as what Megan was going through, so anything regarding my own health or person was minimal.

It wasn’t healthy in and of itself, but in the grand scheme of things, I felt “fine”.  Megan was the important thing to focus on, just trying to get her to the next day, week, or month.  I would simply hold down the fort at home while she was in treatment, go about the routines, and worry about myself later.

It’s now “later”.

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Strongish at Best

Most people on the periphery assume we are strong because they see us doing life.  They see us on our driveways.  They watch us get into our vehicles as we are on our way to participate in the stuff of living. Yes, we are doing things.  They are witness to it.  And, the assumption is that we’ve got this.  And, maybe part of us does have this.  But, there is also a big part of us that is just not okay.  At best, we are “okayish” which leaves room for improvement.

In our new life, we participate in activities and half-heartedly go through the motions because after a while, despite our brokenness, we must return to our responsibilities.  On ordinary days, I frantically multitask because where there was once two people adulting, now there is only one.  Without choice, I now bear the full weight of life in suburbia. 

Like many of you reading this, I continue to: raise children, maintain my career, pay my mortgage, plan holidays, unclog drains, and even liberally apply moss killer to the lawn.  I pay my bills online while I sit in my car waiting for my son to finish his haircut.  I renew house insurance, attend graduations, get routine oil changes on my vehicle, and take my kid to the orthodontist.  I stand in line waiting for shaved ham at the deli counter.  And, then I lovingly pack this ham into bagged lunches.   And, on most days, while doing all this, I attempt to comb my hair into a style that doesn’t resemble frazzled. 

 

Widowed people do this stuff. 

All of it. 

Every last thing.

We fall back into the mundane rhythm of an ordinary life.

Except our new existence is far from ordinary.

We diligently do all the things life requires of us. 

But, now, there is a distinct hollowness to it.

Every single day we make something hard look easy.

 

 

 

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