Monday, May 30, 2011


My family had planned to take me back to Louisiana for a couple of weeks right after the funeral. I was gonna help my son sail his newly purchased sailboat from Destin, FL to New Orleans, which we all thought would be good for me. But at the very last minute before leaving I declined. The last six months, especially Paul’s last 2 weeks here with me, followed by the frenzied week of funeral arrangements, have taken its toll. Total extreme exhaustion. I just wanted to be still and quiet. Me and Rocky. I asked them all to just go back to their busy lives and “love me alone” for a bit. Thankfully they understood and two days after the funeral everyone was gone.

It’s Saturday, quiet, peaceful. So I rest, cry, nap, pray. Walk around the house in a daze, unaware of why I opened the refrigerator, what am I looking for in there? Oh, yeah, creamer for my coffee. Rocky needs to go outside, we go. Later I wonder why the creamer is on the counter. Oh yeah, for the coffee, but it’s cold now. An hour later I find the mug still in the microwave, cold again. I’m spinning in circles, can’t seem to do anything. When I’m awake I’m flitting around the house, restless, fidgety. Looking for anything to do. Clean something! I open his dresser drawer thinking I could start the inevitable process. Nope. Slam it shut. Can’t do that now, might not ever be able to do that. Is this what grieving is? Guess so.

Feels like a panic attack!! I need focus. Distraction. My brain begins thinking of our RV dreams. Oh, that feels good! I get tunnel vision thoughts about RVing. Heart races but in a good feeling way. I remember that right after the tumor diagnosis I had trashed “all” the RV paper stuff and deleted all RV bookmarks and favorites in both of our computers-----I was so angry then.

But wait…in a few months this lease will be up and I’ll have to move “somewhere”. Why not into an RV? Afterall, I had discussed this with my brother and my kids during “funeral week” knowing at the time that I was probably just ranting out of my mind. But, was I? Could I really do it by myself? Pulse is racing. Adrenalin is pumping me higher. I’m excited! Feel happy. That’s a new feeling. I “escape” back into our dream.

So late Saturday night I Google the old RV forum we used to follow; find it, [], sign in, and post this:

Post subject: Should I give up my dream?
It's been a long time since my last post on this forum, or on any forum. It was on Sept. 17, 2010 entitled "Tomato juice changed my font size?" I just read it again and it felt so good to laugh out loud at all of your humorous responses! You're a terrific group of strangers!

Back then in Sept. 2010 my hubby Paul and I had already spent almost 2 years planning our retirement for a full-time RV lifestyle, collecting info on our dream RV---a 2010 Allegro Bus 43 QGP. Our plans were that as soon as our house sold we would both immediately retire from Continental Airlines and hit the road. Well, on Nov. 15, 2010 (6 months ago) our retirement dreams were shattered when Paul was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, followed one week later (on his 60th birthday) with a massive stroke. Ironically, our home sold 2 days after I brought him home from the first hospitalization. I moved us into a leased house nearer the Houston medical facilities where he went thru chemo, radiation, and numerous complications. Then finally 2 months ago Hospice Care entered our lives. I'm so glad that I was able to keep him at home with me the whole time.

Today is Saturday. I buried my precious Paul only 2 days ago in the Houston National Cemetery with full military honors after serving 31 years. He is now in heaven with his only child, Eric, who was killed in Afghanistan 3 summers ago. It's finally very quiet here tonight; now that the funeral is behind us, and both of our families have gone home to their busy lives.

A sad story, I know. But crazy as it must seem to even perfect strangers, I still want to live "our" dream. Paul never wanted me to give it up, and worried himself sick wondering if he should encourage me or not. Naturally, when we got the diagnosis, I trashed our RV dreams immediately to focus on him.

I know I'm probably still in shock right now. But luckily I do have about 6 months before I will be forced to make some firm decisions. My 3 children with 9 grandkids, along with numerous other family members (his and mine) and lots of friends are scattered from coast to coast. They know me, (I am sort of spunky) and are all telling me to "Go for it!, It was your dream too!" My only brother has offered to install a concrete RV pad with septic, electric, and water on some property that our father left us near my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, so I would always have a sort of home base to go to very near lots of family. So I do have my family's support, but NONE of them know anything about RV'ing!!

I just need some input from folks who are living the lifestyle. Should I just quit the dream? Should I continue to gather info on, of course, a smaller, cheaper, and easier to handle model by Tiffin? And if so, which model? Can a 59 year old single (although "spunky") woman with a small 3 year old Havanese dog who is now my "grief therapy device" do this?


P.S. A couple of months ago I needed an outlet so I created a blog titled "Abundant Blessings Found In Shattered Dreams". Here's the link (if you're bored):

In no time the next day I got about 30 responses: “Go For It!” Along with lots of good advice. I was pumped!!
So late Sunday night, I posted back, all excited, adrenalin flowing:

I am truly overwhelmed. Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond. Some of you posted excellent points and questions that I do need to consider. Here's a bit more info that may help YOU to guide me.

I've been a flight attendant for the last 20 years (so I love traveling), and prior to that was a firefighter/EMT in Rio Rancho, NM (near Albuquerque) where I drove fire trucks and ambulances for years. So I'm not afraid of a big rig and probably would have arm-wrestled Paul to get my turn at the wheel!! In fact we have rented RV's and I drove almost as much as Paul. Being a 737 pilot and a Navy jet instructor, at first Paul "nonchalantly hovered" close by whenever I was at the wheel. He soon relaxed and was very proud of me. That felt so good coming from him! He was my hero and my biggest fan. The only thing that terrifies me are toll booths. I always gave him the wheel then, and still kept my eyes squeezed shut while he drove thru with such calm confidence. He was always so very cautious and would handle any situation with such capable and amazing focus. And he never ever displayed that well known "pilot-ego". (He used to always tell new acquaintances that he was just a "heavy equipment operator"! He was just that kind of guy.) So I gotta work on "tollbooths" or maybe just totally avoid them with my GPS. "Check lists"--- Haha, Paul laminated them! "Toad"---Now driving a Toyota Sienna van---we knew we'd have to trade it for an appropriate "toad". He had been researching toads---wish he had told me which one he wanted. "Tools"---I was the mechanic! He could fly fighter jets and commercial airplanes but used to joke that he didn't know the difference between a phillips or regular screwdriver! I think he just said that to make me feel good. Before we had met, when I was 40, freshly divorced, and just beginning my career as a flight attendant I bought a small sailboat that I lived on full-time and sailed and maintained it alone for 3 years. So I'm accustomed to "small" living. The Tiffin Breeze is just too small for me as I hope I'll often have friends or family joining me. But I won't let being solo stop me from going anywhere once I'm confident. And I don't want to have to "trade-up" later, too costly and a hassle. We'd been doing a LOT of research and forum-lurking. So...flat tire, stranded, engine CoachNet. [Time for a break from typing and maybe a nap.]

I just re-read this post for proofing and got this real sad feeling about the whole idea.
It wasn't just my dream, it was OUR dream. One minute I get all excited about the prospect and then the next minute I'm hit with the true reality that Paul won't be there with me. And my excitement collapses. He's gone. I shouldn't be thinking about this right now. It's too soon. Maybe my mind is doing this to escape the grief, even momentarily. But then reality pokes my brain and stabs my heart. Slow down, Carleen, take it easy. Don't let this dream become a "mental detour" from the grief and pain. I just find my mind flitting around in circles, like I'm going crazy or something. He's REALLY REALLY gone and NEVER EVER coming back. And I can't run away from that. This is a roller coaster. Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow.


So now it’s Monday afternoon. I’m waiting for tomorrow. And this day is only half over. Wish I could fast-forward about 6 months. So tired. Think I’ll take a nap.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Carleen, I think you just have to brave your way through it. It will take time, I am thinking , only time can get you through this.
    I think it is a lovely idea that "our "dream could become "your" dream.
    In our travels I have met several women who full timed alone, most did seem to concentrate on going from one family members area to another. RVer's are such a great group of people you make friends where ever you park, whether for just one night or a month. If you have any problem you would have more help than you can imagine.