Monday, June 6, 2016

The Art of Healing

I know you’re probably getting tired of hearing about the process and/or my progress in healing from and surviving (hopefully thriving) the death of my husband, soul mate, & best friend of more than 20 years, back in mid-October 2015. BUT. . .this is my blog – my journal of all the aspects (the good, the bad, & the ugly) of living and traveling full-time in a compact molded fiberglass travel trailer – with a dog & two cats &, now – by myself. Somehow, putting my thoughts into comprehensible sentences helps sort out the jumble of feelings that occur rapidly, erratically, & frequently. I want to continue this lifestyle because I am definitely devoted to finding & following the weather that fits my clothes. I like living simply, without a lot of expense, stress, or effort to maintain my small home & mobile lifestyle. I don’t care about or need a big house, fancy automobile, various toys, or even a big RV. I like having different front yards, meeting new friends & running into past friends, & still being able to change locations easily (learning about other areas of the US). It’s also very convenient to visit friends & family at their homes anywhere, on my schedule & still have my own bed & comforts to go to at night without intruding too much or for too long into their life.

I’ve been asked numerous times over the past 5 years on the road when & where we were going to settle down (most everyone assumes we’d want to get off the road sometime). I knew I was looking for a place to call home, but hadn’t found it quite yet. Although I’ve spent most of my life living along the western side of Missouri (we pronounce the name like it’s spelled with two “A’s”) from Kansas City to Branson, there’s too many things about the state that make me uncomfortable anymore. Much of the land looks a lot like the flat plains of Kansas (beautiful in it’s own way) except around rivers and specifically in the southern part of the state, the hills of the Ozark Mountains which I prefer. But I HATE the humidity, heat, bugs, brush, congestion, ice, tornadoes, & thunderstorms. Missouri is perfect tho in October, so that is when I want to visit friends & family. I definitely don’t want to go east of the Mississippi ever again, & eventually don’t even want east of the Rockies. I have discovered the West & – a surprising feeling of being home. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the weather & desert environments in the West, as in serious lack of humidity or days & days of rain, often. It’s also the various mountains and/or rock cliffs everywhere (always something different in the distance even on table-top flat areas), the temperature & plant changes according to elevation (pick the weather you want within a short distance), the independent, self-reliant, & laidback tolerance of lifestyle, race, & beliefs with a respect for privacy, less building & more open spaces (I LIKE seeing the horizon in the distance), & a very small chance of getting blown away by a tornado. My little trailer doesn’t notice traveling down near-earthquake roads, tolerates hail and freezing temps, & will follow me quickly away from floods & fires. But it’s gona loose bigtime tangling with a tornado. I’m only tied to Missouri on a regular basis as long as my parents are alive.

This first year after Jeff’s death has been full of sink holes. You know, those deep shafts that occur suddenly & suck you into the darkness? I never paid a lot of attention to holidays before this year, other than as a free day to do what I wanted or didn’t want to do without feeling guilty or pressured. We never went anywhere, traveled, nor camped over holidays due to the crazies on the highways & campgrounds. Holidays are different this year by myself, even not going anywhere. I’ve already talked about how badly sudden memories tear me up, so I’ve learned to just stay away from listening to music & other triggers. But holidays really kick me around. No way to avoid them & way too much of “I remember last year at this time.” At least I’ve realized that I don’t seem to mutter to myself “Jeff, I miss you” nearly as often as at first. I’ve found ways to manage my chores (getting water, dumping, etc) which Jeff used to handle, & have found people to ask for help & advice or explaining mechanical stuff to me. I no longer imagine that Jeff is just sitting outside – near me. Now I call, email, or text friends when I want conversation, distraction, or comfort. The tears don’t fall as often. And somehow, I’m more aware that it’s been months since being with Jeff, watching him, talking & eating with him, & going places together. Sometimes the memories are pretty intense tho – like I can smell, feel, & hear him, almost reach out & touch him again. Still, the distance is growing. Habits are such hard things to change. I’ve been working on letting go of Jeff, but it occurred to me that HE has to let go of me too.

I’ve wondered tho if Jeff had known 10 years ago that his drinking was going to kill his liver if he’d have found the strength & motivation to stop drinking. What if our birth certificates came with a date of death. . .but changed throughout our lives as we changed bad or dangerous lifestyles? Would anyone really change in time to alter their date of death? Does anyone really need to know when their life will end? Would it make everyone kinder, gentler, more understanding, more motivated, wiser, or more loving if they knew their expiration date? Or maybe it would make some people take many more risks. I wonder if Jeff somehow knew his life was going to end early & that he purposefully lived it hard, trying to squeeze in everything he wanted to do while he had the chance.

TIME IS: Fast when you’re late. Short when you’re happy. Deadly when you’re sad. Endless when you’re in pain. Long when you’re bored. Most beautiful when you’re in-love. All time is determined by feelings & psychological conditions & never by clocks.

On one hand, I feel guilty for forgetting that Jeff’s gone, for not keeping his memory in my mind, for wanting to move on (whatever that means), & for actually enjoying being alone without the worry & frustration that happens anytime two people live under the same roof. Also, I don’t want to learn to share my little domain again with someone, to know about or share intimate details (emotionally, physically, financially, or historically) with anyone else, or make plans according to someone else’s wishes. Or – to watch them become frail, suffer & die! Yeah, sounds like I’m building walls around me, doesn’t it? Or am I just growing a thicker skin, or simply adjusting? Is that normal? Will it pass? Is it healthy at least for now? Are these feelings just stages – or necessary lessons to learn before moving to the next stage? Who knows? Someone please tell me. I’m just a little sea sick & confused not wanting to forget Jeff but still not remember him too intensely. I’m looking forward to the time the memories just make me smile & feel loved, when I can finally consider my Jeff chapter complete & closed. I think about the previous decades of my life (the people, places, & situations) & know I’m becoming a different person yet again.

Had an interesting experience last week with a friend request on Facebook from a guy I’ve never met or heard of. I accepted (I was bored), & he texted me right away. We chatted back & forth several times, & although I mentioned being a recent widow & not interested in a new romance, he was really insistent that “love” was the only purpose in life (or something like that). Gave me the creeps that he didn’t seem to have a clue about the grieving process, as in healing takes times. He suddenly didn’t reply, so I UNfriended him. Stranger is that evening, I got a notice that someone in CA tried to log into my Facebook account. It hadn’t been me since that morning, so I quickly changed my password. A definite TROLL & I won’t be accepting anymore friend requests from people I don’t know. 

I do get bored easily tho without something to look forward to. I like adventure. I remember years past, together happily with Jeff parked in a fantastic landscape. . .still feeling bored & just waiting for something new. I’ve thought about looking for a hobby but nothing’s grabbed my interest (too much investment, weight, accumulation of finished projects, & often makes my hands hurt). For now, reading ebooks seems to be my favorite activity. And I’ve thought about ALL the traveling Jeff & I have done, but surprisingly just don’t have the same sense of wonder about all those places Jeff wanted to go to. Yeah, I need to come up with something exciting, to look forward to, to do by myself. Any suggestions?

I’m not necessarily worrying about my vague future, but returning to MO this summer has me concerned about how I’ll react to revisiting familiar faces & places without Jeff (those are triggers). I need to be there for various reasons though & will just have to suck it up. I like to think that I don’t actually worry. Instead, I consider the worst case scenario, make a solid, logical, wise plan, & file it away in my memory bank to use later if necessary, content I won’t have to make any decisions when emotionally stressed. I don’t like surprises – even good ones! I like to think about things & be emotionally prepared.

So for now, life is slow, comfortable, secure, & predictable. I won’t leave here until sometime between July 5th & the 10th. I don’t want to have to hurry back to MO (unless I want to) & am hoping to meet up with a solo Casita gal before heading east. I enjoy my time alone listening to TV while I read email, blogs, Facebook, & ebooks, taking walks with Kira, trying to be motivated keeping up with chores, eating, & exercising (it’s really nice putting off things if I want), & helping with office tasks for the wolf sanctuary (my work routine has been needed). The weather has gotten way too warm suddenly for my comfort (& most of everyone in the western states), so after returning from my early Sunday run to Walmart in Gallup (only the 4th time in 4 months away from the Sanctuary & the reason for very few photos anymore), I actually fired up the AC. My outside sensor on the bumper in the shade read a high of 91°. And I made the round trip finally without any tears falling (not listening to any music helped). And there have been a number of campers in the campground to yit-yat with while walking Kira. I may be an introvert but still need some socializing. Oh, I renewed my license for the truck & trailer last month & received two new license plates from SD. I’d never replaced a license plate before, but it was amazingly simple so I’m legal again for the next year. One more Jeffery chore learned.

OMG, Kira is learning how to howl with the wolves. How weird! FYI – wolves don’t bark unless they’re part domestic dog. Full wolves ONLY have amber-yellow eyes; if they’re any other color, they’re part or all dog. We have a lot of wolf-dog mixes here that were initially ID’d as wolf & were going to be killed. ALL the rescues here come from the exotic animal trade & were not captured in the wild. Wolves are not domesticated and never pets!


  1. Sounds to me like you are transitioning through the normal sequence of healing. Bit by bit, day by day.

  2. I loved your 'Time Is...' Moving forward, and to keep moving is what we widows have to keep doing. Stay safe!

  3. I love hearing your voice in your writing, even though you are often still miserable, and feeling uncomfortable about still being miserable. There's nothing anyone can do about grief and sadness other than to go on through it. I'm so sorry that enough time has not yet passed. But it's clear to me that what you had with Jeff was the real deal. Not many can say that. I don't think you should ever let go of that part. I miss you, my friend, and I look forward to hanging out with you this coming winter. ❤️

  4. Thank you for sharing. I love reading your thoughts, your being. Have a safe trip to MO. I wonder if Kira will keep howling!

  5. You can keep on writing about your adjusting as long as you want! Grief isn't something you 'get over', it's something you adjust to and build a new life with. I know for us the adjustment will never end. We have a national memorial service for firefighters to go to this fall which will bring it all back. Sounds like you're doing great to me. The wolf sanctuary sound fascinating.

  6. Love your plan of going where weather fits your clothes! What a great way to deal with limited space! Wish you could find a grief recovery group. It can help so much knowing that what your are experiencing is the norm. There are probably some online forums that could help. Sometimes just reading what others have experienced can help. Don't even have to post if you don't want to. I admire the strength you have found for going forward with your lifestyle. I live in the northeast corner of Oklahoma so totally understand getting away from heat, humidity and bugs! We head to Mesa for the winter to get out of the cold.

  7. Wolves DO bark. In the book, "Nahanni Trails," the author and her husband recount many events where wolves came to their remote cabin in the Yukon, and she does recount barking. These wolves were as remote as it gets and had no chance of being hybrids. It's a great book and one you might get (out of print, but available on Amazon) - she, too was very close to her husband and they spent a year in the Yukon homesteading in the 1960s. Best wishes in your healing.

  8. Glenda, I've said it before and I'll say it again. You're doing just fine, gal! Thanks for sharing. Keep on keepin' on!


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