Well, it’s that time of year again. I’m here in Texas, with Sarah and Shelby, to celebrate you. This is what, year...five for me? That seems crazy. We went to your grave today, and it’s I guess looking good as ever. The little heart shaped rocks, the trinkets...the helicopters; they’re all still there. Your mom had some pretty nice flowers set up too. Lilies, I think. I dunno. I’m pretty sure you don’t care all that much, considering that it’s been 7 years, and your loved ones are still making it a point to come by and “tidy up”.
Anyway, you should have seen it tonight. Your parents are totally loving having Shelby around. Playing ping-pong with her, your mother showing Shelby around her business, rendering Peanut both in awe of all of the scientific equipment, and speechless, your dad and I telling “dad jokes” to her, and even letting her drive the farm vehicles around. It’s almost like Shelby is their granddaughter.Read more
The past month or two has been tough. This time of year usually is. It’s the time of year that led up to when Drew died. These months were some of the happiest in our relationship. He had just gotten his first job as a pilot and was finally living his dreams. We were beginning to look towards our future together, towards a wedding and a new chapter of togetherness. We were at the height of everything and going exciting places… when the crash changed all of that in an instant.
It’s already a hard enough time of year. In the background of living day to day life, I get flashes of memories of the last time we went out to dinner together, or the last time we went for a hike or the last birthday we celebrated together. Flashes of all the happiness and laughter that were ended so abruptly in a crash.
On top of all of that, our anniversary is just a week before the day he died. Forever those two events slam into me almost simultaneously… a one-two punch. And of course it has been on my mind for weeks now leading up to this week. But this time, something else happened on our anniversary a few days ago.
This time, the thing that I never ever wanted to happen, happened. For the entire day of our anniversary…
For the entire day, I was completely unaware of what day it even was. And the whole thing went by without my even realizing it was that special day. It is the horror of all horrors as a widow... to forget an important day. And let me tell you, when it first hit me, I was completely horrified.Read more
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.
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.
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~
This blog will be short because I had a lasik procedure this week and my eyes get tired quickly.Read more
Lately I’ve been feeling some sort of an emptiness. After Drew died, for a lot of years, I was doing a lot of creative work around my grief. I was finding visual ways to express this inner world and sharing it with others. There was something about that work that felt so purposeful. It felt like I was doing something important for myself, and indirectly for others a bit too. Mainly, I felt like I was expressing who I was and what I cared about in a really bold way, and it felt right. It felt like I was being myself more fully than I ever had before. Talking about the realities of grief and loss and pain and also courage and creativity and resiliency.
Fast forward now seven years, and I’m finding myself not the person I had hoped I’d be… “by now”. This emptiness almost feels like it comes out of the absence of the really deep pain I was in during those early years. Life has kept on going, and I have kept on living it in many bold and beautiful ways. My life now though is far less governed by my grief and my pain. As the years go on, the pain softens, and somehow I have struggled to know what to do with myself without the agony of fresh grief. I’ve struggled to have a voice without that central idea of pain and lossRead more
Shelby has now, quite literally, walked in her mother's shoes. It's odd to me that, at the age of 12, she actually fits in them, but then again, she isn't stricken with the growth-impeding disease the Megan had.
After buying her new hiking shoes and boots for years, we decided to have her try on Megan's last pair. They fit her almost perfectly. Like that first time Shelby came down the stairs wearing her mom's t-shirt, I was taken aback, and Shelby thought nothing of it.
Credit goes to Megan for that trait. She was very realistic and unemotional about her own death. She accepted it and moved on to better things. It was rare for her to be scared or have deep thoughts about it, unlike me, who constantly dreaded it. Shelby, like her mother, never worries over Megan's death. I have yet to see her show any sadness, since the funeral mass. It's honestly the best Megan could have hoped for.Read more
It’s an interesting thing how people around you say they understand and they will be there for you. However when you have a tough day and they respond by saying:
“I thought you said you were ok and moving on.”
“I was ok that day but there are no rules to what’s going on in my heart and my head.”
In all honesty I don’t know how to say what it feels like when you let someone in a little and they back away instead of standing by you. The best I can do is share the lyrics to P!NK’s song “Attic”Read more
Sarah and I are planning our wedding, taking place next year. Vaguely, it is going to be somewhat informal, in the sense that the traditional rehearsal, church, event hall, catering, DJ, etc are either going to not be a part of it, or otherwise substituted in a more unique way.
I’ve helped plan a wedding before. 14 years ago, Megan and I were “locked in” so to speak, by May. Our wedding was in August, and everything was booked, arranged, planned, and scripted. Invitations were not only sent out, but most RSVPs had been received. We had spent 6 months already getting everything in order. (Because of her health situation, all of it was somewhat “accelerated” from the traditional year of planning).
The point is, I’ve personally done this before. Most widows have. I have the benefit of a happy memory of doing half the work of planning a wedding, followed by a happy memory of nine years after the fact.Read more
Since becoming an involentary widow almost 8 years ago, I have changed in many positive ways.
I am more empathetic.
I am more sympathetic.
I am less judgemental of people's lives and situations and circumstances.
I listen better.
I stop to talk with people more.
I find more meaning and beauty in very tiny things.
I exist in the moment more.
I love profoundly and deeply.Read more
This isn't going to be an upbeat blog.
No apologies for that, but fair warning.
I don't have it in me today.Read more