Language has changed for me in this time since Chuck died.
I'm certain I'm not the only one who has heard people say "Your fillintheblank would want you to be happy".
Happy is one of the words that has changed for me. Happiness is a fleeting thing and I'm not concerned about being happy. Life is deeper than that for me now. I hope someday I feel peaceful again. Serene. Joyful. Content. I'd like to feel passionate about a man again. But happiness no longer seems to fit what my future might be. I'll always miss my husband and that will always tinge whatever else is going on.
But maybe all of those words add up to happy. I don't know. And I don't really care.
Today I watched the flashmob video from Camp Widow. I was inspired to watch it after seeing the tutorial video on the Soaring Spirits Loss face book page.
The tutorial. I barely got through it and only got through it with tears coming from my eyes and my chest feeling tight and sorrow filling every part of my body. And the whys of that were immediately evident to me.
Since Chuck died one year, one month and 18 days ago, I've lost all sense of my body and I marveled at the dancers on the video because of this loss. As I travel now, I realize that I am so completely in survival mode that I feel like an animal. Which is so weird to say, I guess but, well, there you have it.
I've been on the road for two weeks now with my daughter in this continuing Odyssey of Love. Not necessarily by plan but happening nonetheless, we're traveling the same roads my husband and I drove in our first year out on the road. Not by plan only because all we know is that we're headed north to Washington state, where we'll turn East and make our way eventually to the Atlantic coast.
This is incredibly painful and I don't know how I'm going to sustain it over the next 6 months except that I will because this is what I need to do. This is the road Chuck set me on when he asked me to return to his favorite places and scatter his cremains. He knew the kind of woman I am and that this is what would help me best manage my grief. So, its okay within the parameters of everything really not being okay at all, if that makes sense. (and I know it does to you who are living this alone life now). My only alternative is settling down without him, and I just can't do that. Soldier on is my motto. One step, one breath, one heart beat.
I'll be very blunt here. Christina Rasmussen, the visionary of Second Firsts, continues to help save my sanity by holding out hope. Her story helps me know that I just might get through this devastating grief brought into my soul by my beloved husband's death. I personally don't feel hope but I see the life she's built after her husband's death and I recognize intellectually that it's possible because she has shown that to me.
Her story inspired me to take the life insurance my husband left for me and use it as a springboard to create a new life without him. I don't want to create a new life without him. I must create a new life without him. I read some of her story just a few weeks after Chuck died, where she wrote of using her husband's life insurance to start a new life for herself and that was the first time I started thinking about how I could live a life without him, logistically.
FWG. A term I made up myself and one that may or may not be offensive to people.
Words are funny, aren't they? My mom used to say that people are the ones who give power to words and I believe the same goes for those who hear the words. They receive it according to how they define the word.
When people ask me what FWG means, I generally ask them if they want the PG version or the real one. I'm not intentionally setting out to upset people, so I do that. How great am I?
FWG means Fucking Warrior Goddess. When I say that word I say it fiercely and I mean it fiercely. Not angrily. Not as a swear word. But fiercely. You hear it however you hear it.
I watched a documentary last night about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn. Pretty heavy watching, you might think, and you'd be right for so many reasons.
My husband and I shared a love for American history and traveled to so many National Parks over the 4 years we traveled as Happily Homeless. Little Bighorn in Montana was a powerful place for us both and we carried away intense memories from our time there.
My ears perked up when the documentary discussed the wives at Ft Lincoln waiting for news of their husbands, not knowing that the battle had ended and all the soldiers had died. Elizabeth Custer, George's wife, wrote a letter in which she spoke about the "unendurable yearning" of each of the wives for their husbands.
I'm near the end of the first month in the second year since my husband Chuck died. The nights and the days blend one into the other. When people ask me how I'm doing, I ask them in return if they want to hear the polite answer or the real answer. That's pretty polite of me to ask that of them, isn't it?
I've run out of words to describe how much I miss my husband and how little investment I have in this new life I'm necessarily creating without him.
I'm down to my last month here in Phoenix, staying with our oldest son. On June 21 my daughter and I will hitch up my PinkMagic rig and head north and then west on our Nothin' But Love cross-country tour.
We could head directly west and then north along the California coastline. We could, but we won't. Quite simply, I can't. If we head due West, she and I would be driving the very roads that my husband and I drove a little over a year ago, headed to our 3 month rental in southern California, where he died. And as much as I've pushed myself in this last year since his death, I just can't do that trip. Maybe someday. Not now. My heart is too broken. With our more northerly route I'll still be traveling the roads he and I did, but those roads will carry a different meaning for me.
My next 6 months on the road will be, in many ways, my final farewell to my husband, as I scatter his cremains in our favorite places. There is bound to be pain-how can there not be as I stand where he and I last stood together? But I know that there will be beauty also. The beauty that comes from knowing how deeply I was loved in this life, and the beauty that comes from knowing that I will always have that love in me and with me.
Tomorrow my daughter Rachael-Grace and I leave on our 6 month Nothin' But Love tour. It will be quite an experience for both of us, filled with every emotion of the alphabet as we honor and remember my husband/her dad, meet people along the way and hear their stories, offer workshops to women around the country and, well, who knows what else.
Someone used the word vacation to describe what we're doing. As in, my daughter and I are going on a 6 month vacation. There have been other people (not many, thank goodness) who, upon my arrival here in Phoenix, asked me if I'd enjoyed my travels from the East coast.
Chuck's first anniversary just passed. We had a remembrance for him and danced for the love he left behind for all of us. But I also needed, somehow, to mark this past year in a very personal way that was about me and who I am now and who I'm becoming. Who I want to be for the rest of my life. Thinking about it became a spiritual mediation for me and I wanted to translate that into something tangible.
I'm devastated to be without Chuck. He was my world, my universe, my heart, and I'm broken into pieces without him. But that isn't a bad thing. Broken pieces allow the light to shine forth and that's what I wanted to see into reality after this first year.