Wednesday, April 2, 2014

One Year. Two Roads.

I'm living two lives.  This daily life in current time and last year at this same time as my husband was hospitalized and then went into hospice and I gathered family from around the country and friends came to spend time with him and say goodbye and desperation and a sense of "but there isn't enough time!" was each and every breath.

I have my experience and you all have yours and we all really end up in the same place.  Grief.  The land of pain and sadness and missing-ness and unbearable-ness and I can't do this and yet I'm doing it and I don't want to live any more but I'm not dying so I have to create a life for myself and how do I live without him and I miss his touch and his kiss and his voice and every damn, fucking thing about him and I'd give anything to have him back for 5 minutes even if it means that he'd be in pain again but I'd take even better care of him and love him so much that the pain wouldn't even matter.

And yet, it would matter.  Of course I'm relieved he's no longer in pain.  His pain is ended.  Mine is alive and well in this past year as I've lived without him.

Time.  How can we possibly define it in our human brain?  I've lived this year without him and yet I've relived it with him, leading us both to April 21, in southern California, when he took his last breath.

I drove from southern California, where we'd leased a condo for 3 months as a break from our Happily Homeless travels, two weeks after his death, to Arizona, to visit with our kids for a month.  Then drove to New Mexico for a family wedding, Indiana to pay my respects to his mom, NJ to prepare for his memorial service, New England to visit two more of our kids, south to Key West, beginning my Odyssey of Love for him, then along the Gulf Coast of Florida and along the southern seaboard and back to Arizona, where I am now.  Each mile traveled, he traveled with me as I drove the same roads he and I adventured upon.

In mid-June, I'm going back out on the road on this Odyssey of Love.  My daughter goes with me for 6 months and I know it will be tough.  Chuck and I loved the backroads of the West and he will be very much with me again.

But it will be different and I will strive to remain open to however that translates.  The road this time, both metaphorically and emotionally, won't lead me to the day, one year later, of his death. The road this time will be me, really and in a way I can't avoid, leading me out to a true life without him.  The very thought causes shards of glass to shriek through me.

He knew I could do this.  He grieved that I would have to, but he knew I could do it and would do it, no matter what.  If nothing else, I want to honor his belief in me.  He always saw more of who I was than even I did.

Since Chuck's death, in this year without him, I call myself an FWG.  Fucking Warrior Goddess.  It means to me that I've survived the unimaginable, that no matter what, I suit up and show up and let the day unfold.  I've crossed the country 2 times on my own, I've made major decisions that will impact my future and I've done in all on instinct.  I'm letting my heart and my gut lead me because, seriously, I can't trust my brain function.

Where this is leading me, I've no idea.  That pain and grief is a part of it-oh, yeah.

Here's the only plan I have;  To create such a life for myself that, wherever he is, Chuck will be standing and cheering wildly and madly with pride and love and when the day comes that I find him again, as I hope I will, he will high five me and wrap his arms around me and kiss me and tell me how much he loves me and always loved me and, really, it isn't such a big deal because I only did exactly what he knew I'd do.

*I carry your heart.  I carry it in my heart*



30 comments:

  1. I believe a message can get across without using the. F word . Is this W.V. ??
    God Bless

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    1. Sometimes it can, absolutely. My life, and survival of this grief, is so fierce, that sometimes that's the only adjective that will convey it. Or adverb. However it needs to be used~

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    2. Dear Anonymous,
      Everyone else replying to this post attached a name, if not at the top, then at the end. I agree with others who suggest that you skip this blog, or all these blogs, rather than try to make them into something they are not. This is not TV or school. This is real life written by real widows/widowers.
      Carol

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  2. I loved this post Alison! I'm taking my first year honoring Brennan through art. He was my biggest fan and cheerleader. He wanted me to pursue painting full time. It's been a struggle without him. Each success I have I look over my shoulder wishing he was here to share it with. I have no idea what the heck I'll do when when this year is over or where I'll end up...but I'll figure that out later. I am inspired by your strength and spirit. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. One of my favorite quotes is "There is no language for grief. Therefore we must engage the 5 senses".

      One moment at a time, however we can get through it, Tracy. May you be blessed with love to surround you~

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  3. I love your FWG naming because waking and rising from bed each day, facing what comes, the title suits.

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    1. I'm going to paint those 3 letters on the side of my pink-trimmed T@b trailer for when I go back out on the road~

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  4. I echo the sentiments of support on the FWG comment. The F-word fits so much of my life since my husband died beside me of a heart attack in the middle of the night. None of us needs to justify our emotions and comments; whatever works, works, in my opinion. We're all walking the hellish road of grief and compassion is needed from each of us for each other.

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    1. And sometimes that's the only word that fits. Oftentimes its the only adjective that works~

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  5. Alison, your words "I have my experience and you all have yours and we all really end up in the same place. Grief. The land of pain and sadness and missing-ness and unbearable-ness.." really hit home with me. It's been 4 years since my husbands sudden death, - no warning what so ever that his life was going to end... Some who care for me have expressed I should feel "grateful that he wasn't sick and suffering," Last night I was told, Watching someone get sick and then die is worse, than a sudden death. Really????? You are so right, no matter the way it ends, we all end up in the same place....A GREIF JOURNEY.

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    1. Becky,
      So often people measure one grief to another, and there is no measuring. Yes, I'm grateful I had the time, so to speak, to be with my husband, to say goodbye, but I also had to watch him suffer. So I might say well, how lucky your husband was to die suddenly. None of it matters. It isn't a matter of measuring. They died in and are no longer in our lives. And yes, we have grief. The great equalizer...

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  6. This is a beautiful, powerful, electric post and I think your brain is indeed trust-worthy. Your courage and ferociousness=love comes through. Thank you for sharing this. Huge hugs and wishes for peace to you!

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    1. I guess FWG can also stand for Ferocious Warrior Goddess, can't it?

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  7. Beautifully written. You sound like a true FWG!

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    1. Most of us are, whether we know it or not.

      And thank you for the encouragement. It will take me one step further today~

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  8. I LOVED this post oh my gosh. I felt like I was reading something I wrote about the way my fiancé believed in me. He knew me better than I did. He knew i could do things I had NO idea i could do… things I am now doing to my astonishment, like working hard to be an independent artist after years in the rat race. He fueled that, both in his life and in his death.

    I especially loved the last part you wrote, about living your life so that wherever he is, he is cheering and full of excitement. Yes! I focus on that idea so strongly as a way to remind me to embrace this precious life. I'm with you… i can't wait for the day he gives me that big high-five and reminds me how he knew is was what I was gonna do. =) Thank you for this post!

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    1. Soul-sister, Sarah. We're soul-sisters~

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  9. Great post. And sometimes, the only way to say something is with a passionate curse word. My post in here this past week was an angry one (i write on Fridays), and there were a few F-bombs in there, because that is what I was feeling, so that is what Im going to write. And thats what I love about Soaring Spirits - they dont censor us. They encourage us to write EXACTLY what it is we are feeling and going through - in whatever way we choose to express it.

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    1. Kelley,
      When you're living fiercely, fierce language is all that can be used, isn't it? I'll always be respectful and give consideration if I'm around my elders insofar as watching my language (I don't use swear words in front of my dad, for instance), but when I write, I'm raw and honest. Period.

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  10. firstly, I completely agree that sometimes there is just a need to use the f word...
    your first paragraph really struck a cord with me. My husband also ended up in hospice for the last 6 weeks of his life. He was only 40 (I'm 39) and with two young boys aged 2 and 4 the entire staff at the hospice was so deeply moved and upset by our whole situation as we were by far the youngest people there...It doesn't matter where you are in your life, to see your loved one suffer and fade away as they do in a hospice is so gut wrenching...I too for a long time (and sometimes still think that) wanted my husband to come back even for such a moment despite all his suffering just so I could hold his hand once more, stroke his face, give him a kiss....but he also suffered so much. When he was moved to the hospice we were only given a few days, a week at the most (he had stomach cancer and was unable to eat or absorb any nutrients so was only on saline drip as his only intake). He held on for 6 weeks just so he could celebrate our son's fourth birthday. Five days after, he died.

    I also want to say how much these articles help me. I read them every day and I share a lot of them with my friends who fortunately are not going through this but it helps them to try and understand how complex this whole grief thing is (I don't like the word progress when it comes to grief, sounds like it's going from a to b in a positive linear direction....not exactly how I'm feeling it).
    But I am also "envious" (if there is such a thing) of so many of you writers as you are one year, two years or multiple years down the line from when you lost your partner. I am only 4 months down and struggle every day...
    This sentence is like words out of my mouth, my husband always knew me so well, and believed in me more than I ever did - I look forward to the day when I can "live up" to what my husband thought I could do.
    "He knew I could do this. He grieved that I would have to, but he knew I could do it and would do it, no matter what. If nothing else, I want to honor his belief in me. He always saw more of who I was than even I did."

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    1. Similar story - feels like there is no one else in the world with this situation. My husband battled cancer for 4+ years - ended up at hospice, gone at age 46. Fought for every breath just to have one more day with our kids. Now, I face life as an 'only parent' of three teenage daughters and everyday is a challenge. No partner to bounce things off of and see if I am still on the right track. It was 2 years in February and it is still a struggle everyday.....sorry. I even question whether or not we did hospice 'right'.....if there is a right way....????

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    2. I've never second-guessed our hospice decision but I question a decision I made to not speak to him about a major decision he apparently made, though I only have his daughter's word on that. He had an advanced directive, we'd spoken many times over the years about what would happen for both of us. I was his medical advocate. He and I had a conversation one night in hospice when he told me that he depended upon me to be the one to tell him he had to stay ahead of the pain because he was of the personality to fight through it, to his detriment. The very next day I found out from his daughter that he'd asked her to be his medical advocate. That created such a struggle in me; I didn't feel like I could easily approach him to discuss it. He was in such pain, he was near the end, and his daughter had made clear (in her actions) that if a decision was made by he and I together and she didn't like it, she would argue with him about it. I didn't want him agitated or to have to referee anything between us, so I stepped back and let her step up. It sickened me at the time but I was determined he not have to deal with more "stuff". I questioned myself constantly during his hospice time and I second guess that now. Is there ever a truly right way of doing anything? We do the best we can in an absolutely impossible situation~

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  11. You are becoming one of my new favorite writers on this blog. I appreciate the raw truth. With three kids around me all the time, sometimes I just want to shout to the rooftops "I am a FWG! Are you f-ing proud of me honey?" But I get no answer and I have to scream it inside my head so I don't scare my kids. Thanks to those of you who write from your heart and thanks to sslf for not censoring. I suppose if it offends, a reader could just skip reading that blogger. Thanks for writing raw truth.

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    1. Carolyn,
      Scream it here to me and I'll high five you. I hereby recognize you as an official FWG~

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  12. FWG - you rock! "...I can't do this and yet I'm doing it and I don't want to live any more but I'm not dying so I have to create a life for myself and how do I live without him and I miss his touch and his kiss and his voice and every damn, fucking thing about him..." Yeah, that about captures it. I can relate to everything you wrote here and I look forward to reading more of your postings. Enjoy your roadtrip, but don't be too surprised if he IS with you during the trip. My husband lives in my head now, and wherever I go, he is with me constantly. It's an effort for me to not appear too crazy, because, in a very odd way, he feels closer to me now than when he was alive. I don't mention this to anybody, btw - they're already scared enough of me as it is.

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    1. I don't feel him with me, and I don't hear him in my head and that horrifies me in so many ways. All that I know how to hold onto is the love he and I shared so passionately, and I'm letting that be my guiding light in this new life.

      Thank you for your words, Anon-and I believe that craziness is vastly under-rated. I'm going to have a large, pink, FWG made to affix to the front of my T@b trailer. When I do, I'll post a picture of it~

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  13. If the TV news used the" F" word, teachers in school, etc. Surely would lower our standard. The news is able to deliver without it, so can this site.

    God Bless

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    1. I remember my mom saying that words only have the power we give them and I believe that to be true. The F word can be used as an angry word, filled with threat and filth and I don't care for it when it's used that way. And it might be only parsing it, but when I use it, it is only to convey the ferocity of what I'm writing or saying and that's the power I give it. If I could find another word that works as well, I'd use that. Suggestions are welcomed always~

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  14. Alison,
    Thank you for sharing this. I also curse a lot, I'd say more than I used to, but honestly, as my husband was a Former Marine...he taught me to drop the F-bomb in new and exciting ways. His favorite expresion, when someone was giving him a hard time, or just being an ass was "Fuck them and feed them fish heads" not sure exactly what it means, but I still say it. He knew I'd have a rough time without him, so he left me a list of stuff he wanted me to do. I'm working on it. Sometimes I just want to scream at him for expecting me to be able to do anything without him, and other times I think he'd be proud of me for not going completely nutters. It's nearly 3 years now, and I still miss him every day, but now only cry about 2-3 times a week. I guess this is progress. I just fucking miss him. Even the shit he used to do that made me want to choke him.
    Keep fighting, if anyone has a right to anger,, it's gotta be us.
    Kate

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  15. Kate,
    Chuck was retired AF and never swore much at home or around me. But I used to tell him I'd love to be a fly on the wall at work so that I could see him in his interactions. He used to tell me about how he had to have a "coming to Jesus" meeting" with one-stripers and full colonels and how they went down. And his language would be blue then. Sometimes he'd use his drill Sgt's voice with our kids and they'd go nuts falling on the floor laughing. God, I miss those days with him.

    Live fiercely, Kate~

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