A friend called me yesterday to talk about plans for New Years Eve. She had previously mentioned the idea of renting a house at the beach and getting a few people together for a fun night in. While I had been quite keen to join them when we first spoke about it, I found myself feeling more and more reluctant as the conversation went on.
For a start, the house will have three bedrooms, all of which she had allocated to the three couples. When I asked about my sleeping arrangements she suggested I bring along a blow up mattress and crash on the lounge-room floor.
Now, I'm not a princess. Sleeping on the floor doesn't bother me and I've done it plenty of times before. But this time I found myself feeling really upset at the idea. As soon as we hung up the phone I burst in to tears and it hit me that I would be facing my second 'new year' alone and without Dan.
I wasn't hurt by my friend or her plans, but I realised I was upset about the idea of not having a bedroom because it would mean that I wouldn't have access to a private 'safe place' if the grief roller-coaster took a steep dip during the event.
I reached a crisis point in my grief late last week. It was as if all the agony and devastation that lingers right under my skin suddenly became the surface of my skin and I felt like a wild animal that howls its' pain to the night skies.
It didn't help that I'd been ill for almost a week, a vicious flu that tore up my body in every way possible. Those moments of physical illness, of course, only exacerbate our alone-ness. It came with a headache and vomiting and fever, chills, sweats...the whole shebang. Chuck was so good at taking care of me whenever I'd get ill. Which wasn't often, thank goodness, but I could count on him always. And this time I was alone (in that I was without him). Fortunately our son is nearby and he immediately came to lend assistance and support to me.
As of today, my husband has been dead for 500 days. That just sounds so utterly ridiculous to me. 500 days. It might as well be an eternity. During those first few weeks, each day felt like a marathon. It was the greatest challenge to make it through every. single. day.
I'd lay in bed at night with a heart heavy and a broken spirit, exhausted from feeling every second of time that had passed without him here. The days were long and sad. And now there's been 500 of them.
Here, in my 17th month of missing him, the days are definitely easier. There is still great pain and sadness at his loss but - I guess like an athlete who's body becomes conditioned to their sport - I move through them easier.Read more
This particular blog is one I don't plan on editing or changing in any way. It's completely raw writing from the darkness of this night that I'm in.
I came in off the road not quite a week ago, right before Thanksgiving. My PinkMagic trailer is parked outside my son's house here in Arizona. He recently moved in with his girlfriend, soon to be his wife, so I'm here at the house by myself. Which is alright because I seem to feel alone whether I'm with my kids or literally on my own.
The dark night of the soul; I'm very much there. Not because the holidays make it worse, which people seem to think. Chuck and I long ago stopped celebrating holidays so they don't hold meaning for me. No, this is the soul sick missing-ness that has enveloped me every day since he died. Perhaps being still now is why I feel like I'm drowning.
It's turned out, for me, to be all about the hair.
I didn't intend it to play out like this; it just has.
Shortly after Chuck died, I cut my hair off to the scalp. Short, short, short. First scissors then a razor. It was done in a violent manner, in a way that I hoped would allow me to release some of the devastating pain of his forever gone-ness. It didn't matter to me what it looked like. I had no interest in my appearance in any case and somewhere inside of me was the thought that maybe by the time it grew out long again, the grief would be less.
In the 19 months since I was left behind, my hair has grown out a bit. I trimmed it at one point, not even an inch, and by now I'd guess it's probably below my ears. I say probably because the proper length doesn't show since I had it dredded into what I call Lovelocs. My hair is longer than it looks but it's a mess and I kind of look like Medusa unless I wear a scarf to hold it back. Which I do for now and will until the dreds grow into what they're supposed to look like. Again...and still...I don't really care what it looks like because there is an intent behind it.
Two years ago, on November 17th, my husband and I were getting married. It was a chilly autumn day, and the rain paused long enough for us to gather at the registry office in New Mills for our simple, beautiful ceremony. Later, we brought close friends and family to our local pub, The Beehive, for a reception and delicious dinner.
No one from America was with me at my wedding, and Stan knew I would be missing their presence, so he put together a slideshow with pictures of them and played it on a screen at the party we held later in the evening. It was a sweet and thoughtful gesture, his attempt to bring my old world into our new, shared life.
Yesterday was one of those days in this after life that was both incredible and heartbreaking all at once. Earlier this year, I started going to the gym and took up Crossfit to try and get into shape. I hadn't done anything for over a year since he died and was really out of shape. Not to mention I've never really been athletic my entire adult life.
So yesterday was big because I went to my first Crossfit competition. And it was cold. And rainy. And I had a cold. And I somehow still didn't back down and I did all three of my workouts to compete. I was on a high all day... The very fact that I was even there was amazing. The fact that just a year ago I'd never have imagined I'd be doing something like this was so fulfilling.
I didn't win anything, I did probably somewhere around mediocre compared to all the other women. But that didn't matter. I showed up. And I worked harder than I ever have. And I beat my own practice times by a lot. And I did it with a layer of grief underneath it all.
My usually quiet, peaceful and tidy sanctuary of a home has been turned in to a messy playground for two boisterous little boys this weekend... and I'ver never been happier to have my orderly life turned up-side-down.
You see, Dan's sister is visiting from interstate with her husband and two young boys, aged two and four, and it's just been lovely to have his family so close.
All of Dan's family and most of his friends are based in Sydney, where he grew up and lived until moving to Brisbane for work, a year or so before we met. Being more than 1000 kilometres away it would be easy to feel quite isolated in my mourning of him.
I don't know what makes one day, one moment, more impossible than another. Grief is just that way. For me, it isn't a matter of grief suddenly showing itself; it's more a matter of at any one moment I'm better able to keep it under my skin as opposed to right on top. It isn't less or more than; it's just under or on top of.
Today, Veterans Day, I couldn't keep it under my skin and nerves were crawling all over the place. Nausea, anxiety, the works. It didn't show, I don't think, but it was so very there.
I was always so proud of Chuck's time in service. The first time I saw him in his dress blues, I almost swooned right on the street. But I loved him best in his BDU's (camouflage). With his moustache...oh, he was a sight for this girl's eyes...
So, yeah, today. And grief. Every day, and grief.
I wish to scream and howl my rage and horror to the skies until my vocal chords are rendered numb with exhaustion. Numb not only from exhaustion but because there are no more words to describe what my life is like without him next to me and the agony of the rest of my life missing him.Read more
Mostly, I stay in the here and now. Who can bear to even imagine 24 hours from now? So I focus my eyes right in front of me, the next step, the next mile.
18 months and a couple weeks since Chuck's death and I still look down at my feet to see where they are and I stay there. Mostly.
I'm in Key West right now, with my daughter, as I continue my Odyssey of Love for him. Memories of him are everywhere and each one stabs into me with pain, a reminder that he's gone. So, yeah, as I sat on a beautiful beach today staring out at the aqua waters, you might think I'd be appreciating the sun and sand-and you would be so wrong. I stared out at the bright blue waters into the endless horizons of the Gulf and saw only the vast emptiness that echoes in my heart and my mind, untethered, took off into my future and the anxiety began pulsing through my blood with each pump of my still working heart and I wondered how the fuck do I do the rest of my life without him?Read more