I was asked recently to speak at an AA meeting in my old community in NJ.
I’ll be traveling there at the end of this week. It’s been 3 years since I’ve connected with family and friends there. Family and friends who knew Chuck, who knew me when I was with Chuck.
Memories will hit hard. I’m not trying to set myself up for that; I’m merely acknowledging the fact.
Family and friends will surround me with Love.
That’s a good thing.
So the topic of the particular meeting that I’m speaking at is “gratitude”, which is a really tough word for me to grasp.
Because here’s the truth of the truth of the tree of life that is my life since Chuck died…
I don’t feel gratitude for anything in my life. I know that’s a terrible, forbidden thing to say, in life, but, I think, especially as a widow.
We’re supposed to have gratitude for, I don’t know…everything.
But it’s hard to feel gratitude anything when I don’t feel gratitude for life.
Which is also practically sinful to say, I realize. How can anyone not feel gratitude for being alive?
Alas and alack…I don’t.
I find life without Chuck incredibly stressful in every way, no matter what else I’m doing.
It’s lonely without him. Finances are tight. I crave his touch. His smile. Our daily interaction.
How on earth do I speak of gratitude when I don’t feel any?
Here’s the thing.
Since I’m unable to relate to the word “gratitude”, I researched the etymology and I discovered that, in Latin, it’s loosely related to the word “grace”.
Grace, I can understand. I can feel it. The word “grace” fills me with Love.
And Love, ultimately, is what this life without Chuck is all about, for me. It’s what he and I had, what he and I were about, and how it all translates now, for me.
Grace is what got me sober in the first place, 30+ years ago. It’s what got Chuck sober. It’s what allowed us to create our Love story. It’s what carried us through 24 years of blending our family of 4 kids. Grace gave him the opportunity to retire early and Grace took us out on the road to adventure together for our last 4 years. It took us through his first cancer and into hospice with the second cancer and Grace held me and him and our kids as he took his last breath.
Grace has held me within her embrace, when I first bought my trailer and painted the color pink all around me and set out on my Odyssey of Love. She has placed people in my life to love me and walk with me and guide me over all the uncertain roads of widowhood and life without my beloved.
I don’t relate to the word “gratitude”.
Grace fills my heart and my soul.
Grace and Love sees me through my days and my nights without him.
A 5-letter word that, in this 5th year without him, is this life without him.