how did i get here?

my husband, my beautiful Dragon, died suddenly at 12:03 AM on 9 February 2009. there was a cold, lovely full moon and 3 feet of snow on the ground. i "slept" for the following 10 months and "woke" to the physical and emotional pain and torments of deep grief. i "woke" to find i had moved the day of his funeral and that i am lost. i am looking for me while i figure out the abstract, unanswerable questions that follow behind any death. my art has evolved. his death changed that as well because i am forever changed and will forever bear the mark of losing the only man i can ever love.
there is alive and there is dead and there is a place in between. i am here wholly in my heart for my children, but i feel empty inside at this time. i miss him. i have not gotten very far in my grief journey. i make no apologies for this.
this is my place, my blog, where i write to tell the universe that i am still here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The F Word - Friendship

I am mourning the death of my husband.  I am deeply depressed and have written that I am so lonely.  It has been suggested that i may have friends who simply do not know what to do for me, that I may need to call them.  That is such a lovely thought, to be able to reach out to someone who knows me or knew me, or even better, knew us.  But I don’t know anyone.  I’ll try to explain but no one yet has understood.  It’s almost inconceivable to some how this can happen.  It was to me.  It still is.  This is not a life.

The life I had before I had met my beloved second husband was one of isolation.  My first husband kept me shut off from the world.  “Who called?”  “Why are you going to church on a Wednesday?  Okay, doing that for them is fine but then come straight back.”  “Who was there?  Anyone you really know?”  “What did you do while I was gone?”  Such harmless questions as these, under certain circumstances, can strike fear in someone’s mind.

We had no friends, or rather I had none.  I did things for people all the time.  I chaired church committees but gabbing was out of the question.  “Hello Everyone.  Thanks for volunteering.  I’d like to start with I am afraid of my husband.  No, no bruises today.  Not yet.  Nothing to prove to you that my words are true.”  He was so well liked during the times he’d put in an appearance.  Everyone liked him!  He has that ability to wear that benign demeanor.

He allowed me to teach preschool, to teach CCD, to help the elderly couple net door by weeding their garden and mowing their lawn.  It was to keep up appearances, and people let their behavior become modified by what they learned.  “Her?  Oh, she keeps close to the house.  They don’t really go out much.  Don’t bother inviting them.”  But when it came time to do some work, “Oh, she can do that for you.  She’s very trustworthy and you don’t even have to check in.  Just ask her and it will get done.   She’s like that story, The Shoemaker and the Elves.  She’s the elf.”

Twenty years of watching what he did and standing in one spot, between him and my children did not leave time for friends.  Telling others with the only thing to show for it was two broken bones in twenty years did not instill anything but the advice that I should go home and fix my marriage.  And stop complaining.  I had to laugh at that.  “You have a nice home, beautiful children, and a husband just seems like the nicest man.  You should be thanking God.” 

I’ve had all the questions thrown up at me by everyone who’s heard the story.  “Why didn’t you run?”  I did.  He found me.  I paid for it.  Running takes planning.  Planning takes time.  I took the time.  It doesn’t leave time for friends.  People who thought they knew you find they are just acquaintances and then they find they don’t want to get mixed up in something like that.  People like stories of tragedies better than tragedies too close to home.  They can’t look at you.  They stop calling.  They distance themselves with superficial talk of “How are the kids?  Did your eldest get her driver’s license yet?  Saw they both made honor roll again. You must be so proud.  Well, bye.  Gotta run.  Steve can be such a bear if I’m late with supper.”  Once when she said that, I asked. I had to.  It had happened to me.  “Are you all right?  Has he hurt you?”  The shock on her face, I’ll never forget it.  It was a suggestion so foreign that it was inconceivable.  “Of course not!  It’s just an expression!  We’ll just order pizza.  I’ve got to go!”  And she did go, in every way possible for a potential friend to leave a suddenly no longer potential friend.

When it was safe to divorce him, I had to face his calculated rage.  No time for shopping or chatting with women who “knew” me.  He took it all and no one knew me.  And then I met a dragon.

 My beloved was a Marine, Force Recon.  He had impish eyes and a Santa Claus smile.  And he knew me without asking.  I met him when I went to pick up my son at his friend’s house.  My son and his friend were out in the yard tossing a lacrosse ball to his friend’s father and my future husband.  They were friends, all friends, four guys in the yard practicing stick handling for lacrosse.  Meeting him had been a random thing, so out of the blue that it was kismet.  He was instantly attracted.  I was instantly wary.  I had learned to look at men and judge them by their eyes and their hands.  My ex-husband looked like a choirboy, acted like a sociopath and had dead eyes.  His hands however were always flexing.  This man had muscles my ex had never acquired, had eyes alive with fire, and his hands gripping that lacrosse stick were huge.  I smiled and was polite.

 He called me that night.  And we talked.  We talked for weeks.  My daughter talked to him on the phone, too, when she picked up while I was occupied.  She liked him.  More talking.  Encouraged by my children, I met him for lunch.  And I liked him.  And then I needed him.  The first time I called him, I needed him.  He had never been to my house.  My ex had had a fit and broken my doorknob.  I was trying to replace it and could not get it out of the door.  It was so busted in the door I could not get it out.  I called him and he came.  He had stopped to buy a new doorknob, an expensive one with a wonderful deadbolt.  He, he repaired my door.  When he handed me my new keys, he looked me in the eyes and said, “I’ll always be here.  Call me anytime, no matter what.  I’ll take care of it.”  Then he said the thing that broke me.  “I know what he’s done.  I believe the rumors.  I will always be here for you.”

And he was.  Right up until the day he died.  We knew people but we moved around a lot.  He had retired from active duty just before he had met me.  Even with all his combat pay, not much had been accrued.  I was in worse shape with my ex having dumped all the bills on me and taking every account there was.  Financial crisis. Credit crunch.  International trade deals taking forever.  We were living on a string, moving around to cheaper and cheaper housing.  No one would understand unless they knew all the details.  Suffice to say we were living like gypsies.  But we were together.  Together we’d gotten my son and daughter through college.  That’s where the bulk of our money went.  Sacrifices for them were never hard.  They adored him and though they were upset with how we were forced to live, they honored us by never condemning us.  They knew our story.  They honored us by never doing anything to jeopardize their futures.  No drugs.  No drinking.  Both worked so hard in school and graduated with honors, my daughter in two and a half years, and my son, salutatorian, in three.   She’s a commercial/family portrait/animal photographer and my son, at 21, started teaching at the college he’d attended.

In all our moving around, my husband and I met people who knew us as acquaintances.  No one knew us.  But we had each other.  We lived every day of our lives together enjoying the beauty around us.  Our entertainment was free.  Walking.  Hiking.  The ocean.  Shells.  Talking.  Dancing on the beach.  He gave me what I’d never had; security even though we were poor, laughter when it was hard to do, strength when mine would falter, and a love I’d never known I could feel or receive.

I’m here in North Carolina now and I don’t know anyone.  I have a sheet of phone numbers and only two faces to match two names.  One has urged me to call.  She had told me it is all right to call.  I probably should but she has two small children and her life is chaotic with trying to sell her house.  I’ll talk to her about my feelings on this when I see her again.  I’ll watch her eyes closely this time, hopefully without tears in mine, and I’ll see if the offer is coming from her heart.   I cannot go where I am not truly wanted and I do not have the strength right now to face the rejection that could come from her if I misinterpreted her offer.

Now that my husband has died, my best and only friend has died.  My lover has died.  My husband.  “I’ll always be here for you.”  He told me that when we first met.  He’d tell me that when I’d get scared about money.  I wish I could feel him near me now, but I don’t.  I hear some of the women in the group say that.  “I feel him near me.”  I try to think of it as; he is in Heaven and is doing a recon for when I get to come.  And then he’ll show me everything he’s found.  I wonder what the seashells in Heaven look like?

“I’ll always be here for you.”  The words of a true friend.


Split-Second Single Father said...

My heart breaks for you.

I would definitely encourage you to talk to the woman you've met. And if it doesn't work out with her, maybe someone in your widows group. But also, don't rule out talking to your children. I know you don't want to burden them (as I've worried about burdening my own mother), but at this point your needs have to come first.

On a surface level I understand how you feel. I have lived here almost seven years and have only one set of "close" friends I would talk to about this. But they are always busy when I call and we get together less often each year... But I still have a few close friends from home, so I cannot say I understand completely.

I am touched by how much this song meant to you, so I hope you don't mind that I took the liberty to find a youtube video of the original singer on Johnny Carson. To post the link on your blog, just click the "link" button at the top of the post screen when you are composing the post and then cut and paste the URL from the video (it works best if you have two internet sessions open). The link is below.

And it is a beautiful song.

(if the link doesn't work here, cut and paste it into the web browser at the top of your internet screen and it will open that way).

womanNshadows said...

i can't thank you enough for your kindness. i've save the link to my desktop.

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