The month of May looms large in my heart and soul, as I remember back to that May day in 2009 when Chuck and I began our Happily Homeless travels, after selling our house and belongings, and our last 4 years together as we adventured around the country…remembering that April night in 2013 when our adventures ended as he took his last breath and I placed his cremains and his flag on the shotgun seat next to me, and...wow... remembering this month, in 2013, as I began my Odyssey of Love for him, creating, at the same time, a community of Love and support for myself around the country.
It inspired me to make a list of what was, what became, what is, sacred and holy to me.
Indulge me, if you will, and, maybe, be inspired to make your own list.
Memories of dancing with him over the years...in the kitchen, in our backyard, at social occasions...dancing as a way of being further connected. His arm around my waist, my hand in his. Holy.
The twinkle in his green eyes as his gaze caught mine across a crowded room. Followed by a slow wink. It was as powerful to me as his touch. Holy.
The confidence he always showed in me that brought me to an awareness of my own strength, my own determination, my own gutsiness. It has stood me in good stead as I weave my way into this damned new life without him. Holy.
That moment as we lay in bed together, when he put his hand on my stomach, which I, of course, immediately removed because I didn’t like my stomach and he asked why I did that and I told him and his response was to place his hand ever so gently back on my stomach and tell me how he loved each and every part of me. That memory strengthens my resolve to make my body strong again, even in grief. Holy.
The conversation we had on the phone one evening, as he drove back to Jersey, where I was, from Oregon, where he'd been, and he told me how beautiful I was and I was silent for a moment on the phone and he asked why and I told him you’ve never called me that before. You’ve called me pretty and cute and other lovely words but never that and he said well, then I haven’t done right by you and from now on I’m going to call you beautiful so that you know it every day. And he did. Right up until the end, that was his nickname for me; Beautiful. Holy.
The hiking and our awe as we stood together at places I only ever thought I’d ever see in a book, sitting a foot across from one another for 4 years as we drove and drove and drove, never giving a thought to the miles but only to the time. I’m time-wealthy, he said to me and others. And he was. And we were. Holy.
That last trip down the stairs as I took him to the ER that I’d only found because I quickly googled it on my computer, frantic because he was clearly in horrible pain and trying to hide it from me but we were in a new area and we hadn’t had a chance to explore anything so my shaking fingers typed ER into the search engine and then I walked in front of him down those stairs because I was afraid he’d fall and even if I couldn’t stop him at least I could cushion him, and I belted him into the passenger seat, where he hadn’t sat for 4 years, and I took him to the ER. Holy.
Sitting with him, telling him that I thought it was time to call hospice but if he wanted to fight then I’d go to bat for him and I'd kick ass and take names but I didn’t think we had time. Him looking at me and then taking my hand and saying yes, let’s call hospice. It’s time. Holy.
Bathing and dressing him after his body went completely white as soon as he took his last breath. Anointing him with oils. Wrapping him in colorful blankets because I didn’t want him in a plain body bag. Meeting the mortuary people outside his room so that I could tell them who this man was and why I knew that they would take good care of him and then helping them lift his body on the gurney. Holy.
Opening the box that concealed his body from my eyes and covering him with layers of colorful flowers before closing it and pressing the button to admit his body into the crematory. Holy.
Buying my trailer and painting it in the same pink shade of my car because I promised him I would do that so that he could find me out on the road and his smile when he said he’d be looking for me. Holy.
Buying my trailer because I couldn't bear to travel the same way he and I had and painting it pink because I knew, even in the midst of devastation, that grief is isolating and if I painted it pink it would bring people to me and I couldn't disappear, even though I wanted to in the worst way. Holy.
The huge numbers of people who have come to me on my travels, who have hugged me and given me messages from Chuck, even though they don’t know him or me or about my Odyssey of Love. Holy.
All of this that has been my Odyssey of Love...pink and more pink that has become my armor, not to shield me from anything but to strengthen me, and the determination to live out the love that my beloved Chuck D left behind for me until I become...I become nothin’ but the Love that was our credo in hospice and that IS my credo now and the only thing that I believe in at all because it was my experience with him for 24 years and somehow, somehow, that has expanded to be the love that is in every person I meet and it has grown and it continues to grow and it will be that way until my end. Until my end when I may or may not see him again but if all we were together in life was love then what else and how else can we be when I die and I don’t know where to find him but he knows where to find me and we will be love again, right? because we were and we are and it will always be that light, that light, that shone between us and through us and somehow still, it shines in me, shines even more brightly in me than ever because here on this earth, here on this earth, I must be the light for both of us. Holy.
Holy and sacred and, quite simply...LOVE.
Love that was alive and breathing and still connects the two of us in a way that I don't understand except to know that it was a love so strong and so passionate that it must still be, has to be, a living, breathing, entity.
Not just ours any longer. His love for me, through me, and, now, mine to the world for him and because of him.