This Woman Is Fulfilling Her Husband’s Last Wish to Prove ‘Love Is Stronger Than the Grief’
When Alison Miller’s husband of 24 years died from cancer last April, Miller had two options. She could retire to some apartment’s dark corner, wake up every day to an empty side of the bed and shut herself off from her friends and family. Or, she could drive all over the country and fulfill her husband’s final wish.
Chuck Dearing’s cancer had returned just four weeks earlier, while he and Miller were exploring the U.S. together, staying in military bases along the way (Dearing was an Air Force retiree). Even at his weakest, he focused on his wife’s happiness — he told her to go back to their favorite places and scatter his ashes, to drive right into the grief instead of being swallowed by it.
“Don’t wear black. Mourn for me in pink,” he said. “So I can find you out there. I’ll be looking for you.”
In the next seven months, Miller bought a teardrop-shaped trailer, painted its trim pink and had “Happily Homeless” written across it. In December, she set out in a pink car, towing the trailer across the country and documenting the journey in a blog.
A year after her husband’s death, Miller is in Arizona visiting her kids when she calls The Mighty to talk about what she’s doing. She’s driven from Connecticut down the East Coast to Key West, Fla., then moved along the Gulf Coast and through Texas. Her pink vehicles have made sure she’s never alone — they attract people at each place she visits. Miller tells her story to anyone who will listen.
“If I do nothing else in this small, little world, I’m going to change the language about grief,” Miller told The Mighty. “Too often it’s labeled as depression.”
Miller doesn’t want grief to be taboo. She wants people to talk, to say, “I’m sad. I need company,” to face that sadness head on, to be proactive. She’s still devastated by her husband’s quick death. She keeps driving, anyway.
“I’m not dying. I haven’t died. So I have to live,” Miller told The Mighty. “And if I have to live, I’m going to make damn sure I live as loudly and as lovingly as possible.”
In June, Miller will be back on the road, this time with her daughter, to continue the journey. She now dons a tattoo that reads, “Nothing but love,” in a spot on the back of her neck where her husband used to kiss her each day. That love, she says, propels her to get up every morning. She does it for herself, she does it for her kids and she does it for the people she meets on the road, many of whom tell her about their own grief.
“I want people to know that love stories do exist,” Miller said. “And when people die, the love is stronger than the grief.”