A dear friend and Air Force widow sister said to me last weekend, in response to my endless questions to her about this grief (she’s 6 years out), and time frames and, oh, you know, everything...she said this to me, and I’ve reflected on it in the days since.
It isn’t that it goes away.
We just get stronger, and we carry it differently.
Such simple words but they make sense to me, at a time when, really, so little makes sense in my world.
I closed out my counseling and trauma therapy today, and I’m spending this week preparing my return to the road, continuing my Odyssey of Love. Sunday will see me on the road East in my rig, PinkMagic. The trauma feels more outside my body than inside my chest as a meat slicer, as it was when I began therapy. I can see it and sense it but it isn’t slicing me to shreds. The trauma protocols that my therapist led me through have done that and I appreciate the time and energy that she gave me as she companioned me through this.
But, I’ve realized, of course, that the missing-ness is just as much there. How can it not be? I’ve realized, too, that when the word acceptance is thrown about in grief, that, for me, it isn’t so much about accepting that Chuck is dead (which is fairly evident every day, right?) but accepting, each day, that I must live without him. Oh, the impossibility of that...
Chuck died April 21, 2013, almost 3 years ago now. God, that’s incomprehensible to me. How is it that I’m still alive? That the stress of grief hasn’t killed me is one of the great mysteries of life to me. I freely confess that I don’t know what hope looks like. I can’t grasp the concept of forever. As in, he’s gone forever. I don’t know what it means when people tell me I need to choose happiness, or joy, or set my mind to any other emotion. As my counselor said there isn’t an on/off switch for this...
What I can understand, at least to some degree, as my sister widow said, is that I will get stronger (and by stronger I mean physically stronger), and that will help me carry it...the memories, Chuck’s absence from my life, the missing-ness. I must make myself physically stronger, and it is in in my power to do so.
I’m returning to the road, and I’m doing it in a mighty explosion of pink, with wings on my rig flying me down the road, clothed in pink armor, with a determination to live loudly, strongly and emphatically, leaving no doubt along the way that I have been here and here and here, sharing hugs along the way with those I meet on the road.
I don’t know what a future looks like, anymore than I know what hope looks like, but what I do know is that I will continue to do what Chuck always said to do; suit up and show up and let the day unfold. Doing so is what will make me stronger so that I can carry this.
Because, of course, as I carry the grief, I carry, right along with it, the remembrance of a love that was bigger than life itself. And there is, in that love, all the magic of the Universe.
Love and grief and magic, the unbearability of it, the strength of it...all of these things, and the open road...carrying it all, as I become...