Raise your hand if you’ve been asked why you still talk about your dead person.
Raise your other hand if you’ve been judged as hanging on.
Stand up if you’ve been asked how long will this grief continue?
Now stand on the nearest chair and balance really well. This chair is your soapbox. You don’t have to respond to any of these people, of course. You don’t have to get on a soapbox. Me, I get a kick out of shocking people out of their complacency and those type of statements/questions are nothing but fun red flags to me, and I’m the bull running towards them.
So, here’s my soapbox. When Chuck was #notdead he was quite accustomed to what I called my R&R’s…my rants and raves.
I still talk about our hospice time and I always will, thank you very much. That time was an incredibly sacred time to me, to us as a family. My husband was fucking dying. It’s as much a part of my history with him as our previous 24 years. I talk about those 3 weeks in time, and post pictures showing it, because our culture has this weird ass relationship with death and dying and it’s freaking unhealthy. Maybe…just maybe…someone will see our pictures, how open we were about it, and realize that it’s possible to take a time of feeling utterly and irretrievably powerless and find some power. It’s about more than advocating for the dying person; it’s about seizing the anticipatory grief and making Love bigger. How do you do this? You move the bed to face the window so he can look out to the mountains in the distance, and watch the hummingbirds flit to and fro in the flowering shrubs in the garden outside his window. You massage his feet with essential oils. You hang postcards from your travels on the walls as ice breakers for staff. You keep snacks at hand; staff will check in with you, believe me. You’ll become people to them, rather than patients. If I keep talking about our hospice time, maybe people will figure out that in the midst of devastation, you can create an oasis of Love. And when your person dies, you can bathe and dress them and anoint them with oils and then go to the crematorium and open the box that holds his body and cover him with flowers and then press the switch to open the door of the crematorium as a last act of Love and service. You don’t have to do this, but you can, and that’s the point. At a time of overwhelming powerlessness, find your power.
I write about the Love story Chuck and I shared so that people who have never had a Love story…people who may not believe it can actually happen…see that yes, it can. Maybe they’ll see through the lens I create to see what a healthy marriage/relationship can look like, if you pay attention. Maybe it will help them look at their own relationship, if they’re in one, and decide to pay more attention than they have, because yes, every relationship does end in death, one way or the other. Maybe it will help that person reading about our Love story soften his/her heart to their people. Also, and most importantly for me, it keeps Chuck close to me when I write about him or talk about him. Don’t expect me to stop. EVER.
I write and talk about my Odyssey of Love, in part, because I promised Chuck that for the remainder of my life, everyone I meet would know his name and what kind of man he was, not only to me but as a man walking on this earth. I write and talk about my travels in my pink car, towing my pink rig, because I want people to know that, as Christina Rasmussen of Second Firsts says you can do the impossible because you have been through the unbearable. Maybe, as people see me out on the road, pushing my comfort zones on the daily, their hearts will open to the realization that Christina is right. We can do this life scared and messy. We can pack it all up and take it with us and figure it out on the way. We don’t even need a destination. We just need to suit up and show up and that can look like anything we want it to look like. Shit, early on, I counted swinging my feet to the floor every morning as a win. The rest of the day was icing on the cake and sometimes I got there and sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes it’s making the decision to stay under the covers. Or writing a book. Or making a documentary. And everything in between.
So that’s my soapbox, folks. Because I pretty much always picture myself in fantasy scenes in my mind, I plant myself on this soapbox at Speaker’s Corner at Victoria’s Park in London, with a captivated crowd cheering me on. Or not. Because the great thing about any of this, in my mind, is that I truly don’t give a fuck what others think of my writing and talking about Chuck, our hospice time, our Love story, or my Odyssey of Love. In my mind I idly wave them away in dismissal, with total disinterest in their reaction, as I carry on. Mostly I figure they’re waiting breathlessly for my stories, hanging on every word. I may or may not be accurate in this belief, but I think it in the same way that I assume that people honking at my rig as they pass me on the highway are honking out of admiration and not because I’m driving too slowly.
These things I wrote about here…they are my why. Every word I write helps to fill in the deep chasm between you were here. And then you weren’t.
My why, my mission…Chuck’s legacy to me, the legacy I’ve created for myself, and continue to create…
My Odyssey of Love~