January 29, 2020
It is now nearly a year since David's death and more than 8 months since I tried to use Open Live Writer to post this. There were problems and more problems with it and since I hate using blogger I gave up. But recently I upgraded my ancient and wonderful Dell laptop to Windows10 and so I'm trying again with the help of a wonderful blogger friend John Hinton whom you may know as Heyduke. I had some troubles with duplicate pictures showing up on the post so I gave up again but I need to keep track of where I’ve been and what I’m doing so I’m trying yet again.
Hopefully, this is my first post in the new blog I'm writing because I need something to make me get out and about doing things and taking pictures. I'm feeling devoid of energy and motivation. At times life just doesn't seem real.
This post is very old news, a year old to start with, but it is my first effort at trying life alone.
The story of our nearly 9 years full timing can be found in our blog https://directionofourdreams.blogspot.com. Without David, there can be no Direction of OUR Dreams.
I feel I should start this story of my new life with the closure of my old one.
This is the last picture I took of David, the day before he died. He was watching ACC basketball on my laptop in the hospital. He didn't live to see our hometown team finally win the NCAA Championship.
At the time of David's death, we were camped at Little Manatee River State Park. Our reservation was over on Monday February 4th. On Saturday February 2nd when it appeared that he was not improving, I talked with the park rangers about staying beyond my reservation. I explained to them the serious circumstances, told them I just needed somewhere to park the rig, that I did not need hook ups as I had solar and would park anywhere if I could just be near the hospital. They turned me down flat. No spot in a field, next to work campers, nothing at all where I could stay. In all our time of traveling with his illness, this is the first Florida State Park that has not accommodated us in an emergency. And this was the biggest emergency of all. I will never forgive the staff at Little Manatee River for their callousness. I hope that those of you who camp in Florida State Parks will honor David’s memory by avoiding this park and sharing my story with others. Such callous unfeeling treatment is unconscionable.
I was actually arguing with them on Sunday February 3rd when he died. He was sleeping after dinner and I'd come back to the campground to try again when the nurse called me and said he had died. I wasn't somehow expecting that. His doctors had told us there was nothing more they could do and it was a matter of days or weeks. But we both just didn't believe it. He had always rallied. I will never forget or forgive the unkindness of Little Manatee River State Park. I was not with him when he died because of them. Never in all the years of traveling with this illness have I not been told by other Florida State Parks and parks all over the country that they would find a place for me and not to worry.
David died on Sunday February 3, 2019 at 6:35 in the evening. And so, the very next morning I packed up and moved to Oscar Scherer State Park. I had driven the rig before but I had never hooked Ruby up by myself before. Up until this last week David had always been able to help. I had never backed into a campsite. We knew this day was coming for me but practicing ahead of time just seemed too grim.
But I did it. What choice did I have? When you have to, you do.
I backed into my site at Oscar Scherer State Park without help but with having helped a master for the past 9 years. I was lucky to have two wonderful sets of neighbors on either side of me, Chris Abbott and Heike Daigle on my left and Linda and Mark Cole on my right. They really helped me get through the next two weeks and I can never thank them enough.
Though I have no pictures of Chris and Heike, they took me out to dinner with their friend Mary Ann. Heike brought me flowers of which I do have a picture. Linda and Mark helped me with increasingly impossible to make Reserve America reservations. I had to stay in Florida in order to deal with the legal ramifications of his death.
In addition to spending time with my neighbors, I spent the two weeks hiking in the park, reading and visiting Nokomis beach. Even with my wonderful neighbors, to say I was lonely is an understatement. For 9 years I'd had David as a companion in all our travels. Now there was no one to share what I was seeing and doing with. Everyone seems to be part of a couple and I'm so alone.
Only someone who has been down this road can possibly understand how very unreal it all seems. Any moment, I expect him to come back from a walk or catch up with me on the trail. No matter how long you know death is coming or how prepared you think you are, you are not.
I forced myself to do things and take my camera.
I visited the resident eagles and with my camera was able to get a shot of one of the two chicks with an adult. They have been nesting just off the Green Trail for a number of years.
I went for a hike with the Venice Audubon. I felt less alone in a group.
And in the middle of the month I just put one foot in front of the other and moved to Highland’s Hammock State Park, the next reservation we had made 11 months ago when we had no idea our time was seriously running out.
Even a quick wrap up of the past months, which I have lived in a fog, will take me several posts. I hope you’ll be here with me, to keep me company, and let me know you are out there by even a short comment. I’m writing this in late January and I don’t feel like I’ve come very far in this past year.
As my friend Gaelyn would say, I’m still making tear soup. Thank you Gaelyn, the book means the world to me.