I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a Love story…my Love story….a Love story that lasted for 24 earthly years.
My Love story taught me how to trust, it taught me how to love passionately while keeping my own identity, it taught me how to open myself to another person, how to ignite my passion, and how to knock down old walls that no longer served me.
This is the heart of my story.
I met a man named Chuck Dearing and we joined our lives, which included his daughter and my daughter and 2 sons. A blended family. So it’s a Love story, too, about a man who loved being a dad and took my 3 kids into his heart when he opened his heart to me, and became their parent, willingly and hopefully.
The heart of my story is that Chuck D and I loved to dance together and our kids remember us slow dancing in the living room and the kitchen and outside under the moon and the stars. They remember that their mom and dad not only spoke of their Love for each other, but showed that Love to each other daily. What better memories to leave with your kids?
Ours was a Love story that included weeks at a time of separation while Chuck went on temporary duty assignments for the Air Force and I didn’t know where in the world he was or when he’d be back so I’d watch the news to see where the most recent hotspot was. It was about that one year when my mom and younger brother died within 6 months of each other and Chuck was unemployed but he found the money for me to travel to be with them as they were ill, and in their final days.
It was a Love story that showed me that Love has no bounds, which I learned about when I wanted to start a non-profit offering support to bereaved daughters and Chuck told me to leave my job and make my dream happen and he’d take care of earning money for us. Our Love story was this man who pushed me and supported me into making my dreams come true.
This Love story took us to places I never dreamed of being, when we sold our home and most of our belongings and went out on the road together and became Happily Homeless. It took us into new adventures, more intimacy as we sat 1 foot across from one another for our last 4 years, and a deeper bond between us as we let the wind sigh through our hair from our sunroof, and our eyes, when not focused on each other, absorbed the beauty of the country around us.
Our Love story took us through Chuck’s first bout of cancer that included one 10- hour surgery and 5 cosmetic surgeries with me as his loving but none too competent nurse as I changed the bandages on the hamburger meat left of his thigh and arm and wept for his stoicism and bravery and unending optimism.
And, in the end, the Love in our Love story took us through Chuck’s final cancer…a hospital, a diagnosis, and hospice. It helped him, and me, and our kids, through those final, and too quick, 3 weeks of his life, where we laughed with him, had quiet moments of reflection, cried, and said goodbye as our hearts shattered into gleaming bits of glass lighting up the air around us.
The Love that Chuck left behind for me gave me the determination to uncover the box that held his body and cover him in 10 bouquets of colorful flowers. That Love gave me the courage to press my finger to the switch that opened the doors of the crematorium, admitting his body to the flames.
Chuck D’s left behind Love helped me stumble down the stairs of our rented condo in southern California, holding the sacred box that held his cremains…
And that left behind Love pushed me out onto the open road in my pink car, towing my pink-trimmed trailer…
Where I turned our living Love story into my Odyssey of Love