I'm writing you tonight from my hotel room in Seattle – en route to a four-night stay in Alaska. I hadn't really given any thought to what I was going to write today for this post, as I've spent the better part of the day running around like crazy. It could have been about the usual stuff of Valentine's Day... like how bitchy I've been all week leading up to today. Or how I went into Walgreens yesterday for some picture hanging wire and was assaulted by the pink and red décor that vomited all over the store interior. Or about how sad I was when I woke up this morning or how hard I've tried to stay off of Facebook all day.Read more
Grief illiteracy has been on my mind quite a bit in the last couple weeks. Even if you don't know that term, you'll know what I mean when I tell you about my face-to-face with it. And you'll nod your head and say to yourself (or to the room in general)....oh, yes....
I keep a personal blog in addition to writing for Widows Voice, and I have for years. It began as a way to chronicle my and my husband's travels. After his death it became, and remains, about the most difficult of travels; alone and without the man I love next to me.
As I write this, I'm sitting in a plane, flying from Los Angeles to New York. I'm back in the USA for Camp Widow East next weekend and decided to make a holiday off it, fulfilling a life-long dream of visiting the Big Apple.
I'm almost in Tampa for Camp Widow, arriving early from Arizona. This has been a long road trip for me, and taxing in a different way from my previous travels, emotionally. Perhaps it's the knowing that this really will be for me, as so many have assured me, a life-changing weekend. This grief is exhausting and I want it to shift for me but at the same time, being honest, I suppose deep in there somewhere is fear also. Fear that it will be so life-changing for me that I won't recognize myself afterwards. Not that I recognize myself now. All I know is that I'm not the woman I was with Chuck. Everything else is up for grabs.Read more
There is no getting around the silence. It's tangible and fraught with emotions. We can dress it up however we wish, but the silence that consumes every corner after our beloveds die is, almost, as palpable as their presence once was.
I'm on the road again, headed to Camp Widow in Tampa, driving PinkMagic. My intention is to stay primarily at military family camps for overnights along the way. I feel more secure on base, and I feel closer to Chuck. Today was my first day of travel, with a late start from Phoenix after running into difficulty with the lights on my trailer. I didn't get far; I'm at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson. Quite frankly, everything is so emotional, and Chuck and I had always wanted to come here, so I decided to call an early day.
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.
My daughter and I are nearing the end of our 6 month road adventure. It will be the end of this particular segment of my Odyssey of Love. But it doesn't end in Arizona when I drop her off. I'm going to take a one month break off the road, visit with my son and grand-daughter, meet my son's girlfriend and her daughter (I'm really looking forward to that), and then continue on.
Rae (my daughter) and I were discussing the end of our travels together. She and her husband are very much anticipating their reunion and I'm happy that they'll be together again. Their life as a couple can begin again.
There is a part of me, I told her, that used to believe (or want to believe), that at the end of my travels, Chuck would be waiting for me. Even knowing it couldn't be so, that tiny place in my heart hoped, I guess, that he might be. Or couldn't believe that hewouldn't be. After all, we've been apart for almost 19 months now. It's time for us to be together again....right?
Except, of course, that he won't be waiting for me. He's dead. He's gone. And I can't conceive of settling down into a home without him. He was my home. For the last 4 years of our marriage we didn't even have a sticks and bricks house; we lived on the road, staying at military billeting as we adventured the country. At the end of May, I'll have been on the road for 6 years. 2 of those years will have been on my own as I drove this Odyssey of Love for him.Read more
Maggie kept the beat in our relationship when it came to social engagements. She injected me into a lively social world that held me captive to weekends packed with activities, most of which were not optional. Now, without her overwhelming influence, I find myself woefully disengaged with what I think most people would consider normal life.
We had no children so I don’t benefit from the continued social pressure that comes with little ones. The lack of children also often filters me from events in which I’d otherwise be included. Well-meaning friends intentionally don’t invite me to birthday parties and other kid-thick events “to protect my sanity,” so they say.
Except for the brave and determined, friends who only knew Chris as half of Maggie and Chris have had difficultly making the transition. Most fell aside quickly after Maggie’s Angel Day. My guess is that they were battle-weary from the 850-day fight. However, for me that was just the climactic end of one major battle in the still on-going war.
So here I am with my solitary habits but now with fewer friends. Fewer friends mean fewer easy opportunities to be social. Gravity has temporarily dragged me into a lonely world.
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.
I've had a really tough few weeks. In some ways, it has almost felt like I'm right back at the start - crying from the moment I wake up without him in my bed until I pass out each night from exhaustion.
Thankfully, it has lifted again in recent days but in the depth of this latest low I realised I was withdrawing from the people in my life in a way I hadn't done before. I just felt so disconnected, like no one could relate.
When Dan died last July, the shock and pain resonated out from me in waves through our family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and acquaintances. People openly grieved, their lives halted while they came to terms with this unimaginable loss - this wonderful man taken from our world in such a tragic way. In the weeks and months that followed, there was unquestionable support and understanding, people were so gentle with me, everyone 'got it'.Read more