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.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

very rough spell

i'm going through what my grandmother used to refer to as a "rough spell." it was used in her day for any time when a family or person was having a hard time due either to financial hardships, ill health, or grief. i've got two out of the three. i am having a hard time financially but that is just something to endure and keep working my backside off to cope with. the worst is the grief.

i don't know if i was ever actually doing "better" in the six months since my husband died but i know i am definitely doing a bit worse. i am having a very difficult time vocalizing my feelings because i look at someone and can't say it. here i am alone and can write it. it's not my voice but my heart that is saying it and there is no one for me to look at and feel any kind of connection to start the tears.

i'm crying all the time again. it's been 6 months. his birthday is Aug. 5th. he would have been 57. Aug. 11th is our wedding anniversary. it is also the anniversary of our first date. together 8 years, married for 7 years. only 8 years with a man to whom i gave my whole heart and soul. i would have given my life for him but i wasn't given the option.

i'm planning my daughter's wedding and i'm trying hard to feel happy, but i cannot right now. maybe on the actual day i will feel something other than this deep intense grief. for the short time that i get to actually be with my daughter making plans, fitting her to her dress and veil, going with her to pick up the fabrics, ribbon, and things she wants, i can fake it. i swallow hard and tell myself she is my little love and very much deserves a mom who is all there and doesn't unload on her. it can wait. she knows though. she knows that i'm hurting and she's been so good. i try to make her laugh which is easy to do. i am a very good liar. always have been.

i lied to my children when they were little about why their dad didn't seem to like mom. i lied to myself that i could take it one more week, one more day, let the kids get a little older. i lied to him to save myself from harsher beratings. and now i'm sort of lying to my children about how i'm feeling inside. maybe if i lie enough even i'll start to believe it but i don't think so. all i have to do is look at his picture, see his smile, the laughter in his eyes, and his broad back in the photos where he's walking ahead of me and i crumble.

crumble is the perfect word.

"i sat evaluating myself. i decided to lie down." i'm not sure where i read that but i was still in junior high school and i remember it was during the summer of love - '68. i think it was the poet Rod McKuen. whomever wrote it, it also fits my mood perfectly.

intense grief has taken over again and all i want to do is lay down and cry. i miss him so.

"oh, come through the darkness and save me
for i am alone."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday, July 28th ~ how it all played out

to Widow in the Middle, Suddenwidow, Ann, and J-in-Wales, i've added the photo of the hydrangea just for you. in the language of flowers, the hydrangea showed the earnestness in communicating something of enormous import, ranging from great joy to everlasting sorrow. you can click on it to make it larger. i hope you enjoy it.

thank you all for writing on my last posting of the 6 month anniversary of my husband's death. it was so strange how it played out. i was anxious on Saturday. Sunday, i stayed so busy watching stupid movies on SyFy Channel all day and worked on someone's Memory Quilt, almost finishing the backing. my daughter called from work several times to check on me which was very nice. the woman who's Memory Quilt i am presently working on also called. i started getting upset as night encroached though and i switched work. i set aside the other woman's quilt and pulled my own onto the table. i haven't worked on it since last May.

but for a few embroidery stitches, my Husband Quilt top is finished. i'll post a photo of it on a later blog.

my husband was pronounced on a Monday morning at 12:03 AM. when i went to bed Sunday night i laid there. i had taken Tylenol PM for my aching back and hand and hoped for sleep and though i was so drowsy, sleep did not come for a long while. i just laid there not sleeping but not crying either. no, for some reason known only to my subconscious, my crying jag didn't hit until last night. i think my son calling me and telling me he had gone to see the film, The Hurt Locker, triggered some memory of my husband's years as a Marine.

i was thinking of him and how much he had been hurt over all those years. i was remembering all the meds he was on for arthritis for his back and shoulders. my husband was in a lot of physical pain for all his active lifestyle of climbing on rocks with me and hiking and swimming in the ocean. he had broken his back twice during different combat missions so the pain could be quite intense for him at times. he'd been blown up and his parachute shot out of the sky the other time.

i laid there last night and i was thinking of everything he'd done for his country and for me and for my children. all the money we struggled to pay for my two for college that their father refused, and all of my debt that he paid off that my first husband left me with. my Marine was uncomplaining. he knew the enormity of what he was taking on but he did it with such love. he told me once, "i know the baggage you come with. i've carried a lot heavier for reasons far less than love. you are my world. i'd carry anything forever for you. besides, you're carrying something more important. you're carrying my heart and soul."

and that's when i started crying. he had the heart of a dreamer and the soul of a poet. i was sobbing and talking to God and telling Him that He had to make sure my husband was happy and to lie to him, LIE to him and tell him i'm doing okay. i had all these instructions for God whom i'm sure was listening to me with tears of His own coursing down His face. He can see i'm so miserable without my husband. i'm sure if there wasn't some reason for my husband having to die, God would have let him stay with me. but the reason eludes me except for maybe bringing rest and peace to a man whose body was so weary, that he needed all those meds to keep the pain at a tolerable level.

thank you to all four of you for reading my last post. i want you to know how much it meant to me to be remembered and to read what you wrote to me.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

letter to my husband

my dear, sweet dearest, my husband,

i miss you. tomorrow it will be six long, weary months since you died so suddenly, so frighteningly sudden, and i don't know what kind of shape i'll be in. i know i'm going to hide from the world. but i don't know how i'll tackle each hour that ticks by. will i be able to sew? will i be able to work on anything? what will i do all day long alone with just my thoughts and memories of you?

if i could send this letter to you i would first want you to know that i love you still, always will. i think of you every minute. that sounds obsessive but it's not really. i think of you the way i always thought of you, even when we were in the same room together. my life is linked to yours. my heart, my soul, my thoughts were of us as a couple and that way of thinking hasn't stopped simply because your heart did. you were always such a presence. larger than life. people noticed you wherever we went and either gravitated to your smile and gregarious nature or got out of your way if your eyes told them to. you were like my very own guard dog. i loved that feeling of safety. i had never had it, not even as a child. so first, let me say that i love you and i will not stop. no one can step in my field of view and dim even the memory of you. no one will capture my soul as you did.

the second thing i'd want you to read would be a lie. i know. lying is wrong, but this kind of lie is not. it is a lie to protect you. i'd lie and say i'm doing okay. i am in a way but in other ways i am not. i need you. i am back in the abyss with you know who. money. our girl's wedding. just surviving. he's out there in the darkness. i can hear him. he's laughing. i'm alone and so very tired. and i can't stop to rest or dedicate myself to grieving fully and wholly so i can get past it. i have to walk this minefield so my brain is split. grieve. where am i compared to where he is. grieve. wait. he moved. what do i do now? step this way, avoid the hidden mine. grieve. miss you. cry. damn. he did something else. stop and think. work. work. worry. grieve. so the second thing i would tell you is that i'm doing okay. i'm going to keep breathing, keep living after a fashion, and i won't let anyone get behind me. i'll keep my back to the wall like you taught me. thank you for that. thank you for all you taught me. thank you for your strength and belief in me. so, i'm doing okay.

third, i don't know. is there a third thing? i've found a way to earn money for myself. i make quilts now like i did for us. i take in clothing and make Memory Quilts. i think it helps people. i see something indescribable in their faces when they see their finished quilt for the first time. i think maybe it's going to be one of those things that they will cherish and fully get the emotional impact of much later, when i am far out of the picture. when they are alone with their quilts in the night and can touch them and wrap them around themselves.

i'm working on one for me. it's taken me longer than it should because i work on everyone else's first, then all the things i'm making for our girl's wedding, and then if i'm not too tired, i work on mine. after the wedding, i'll be able to really work on mine parallel to the others.

i guess that's all i can think of for a six month milestone like this. six months. i can't imagine it. your birthday is coming up, too, and 5 days after that our wedding anniversary. since you won't be actually reading this letter, i'll just say i don't think i'm going to make it. well, i'll make it because i have to, but i intend to wallow. i'm going to sulk and cry and curl in a ball and hug my Marine Dress Blues teddy bear that i put two of the mini medals you had on. i'll look at your picture and dream of your smile, your laugh, your warmth, and your love. i'm going to miss you so much that i know i'll think my heart will shatter - again. it's already so fragile with the burden of this grief and dealing with the wedding politics.

what is it about weddings that bring out the worst in people? the day belongs to the bride and groom. whatever they want is what should be. her veil. her ring pillow. her aisle runner. she's asked me to make it all and i am. she asked me to draw her wedding cake for the baker and i did, exactly to her dreams. i'm being tactful. i'm being quiet like i always am. but i'm making sure she gets what she wants and that no one gets upset with her. they can get upset with me.

since i'm such an unknown here, i can get away with just doing things silently and not explaining myself. but they did see all the things i'm making and they love my handwork, all the colors. i think people get nervous when someone says "handmade." they prefer machines to do things for them and have forgotten that sometimes handmade can be just as pretty and maybe even more special. you always loved my quilts, and my embroidery on your jeans. you didn't feel emasculated. you were always proud to say, "my wife patched my jeans."

so i guess this is really all i can say. i hate to stop this letter. i really feel like i'm talking to you. as if we're on one of those instant message venues, only i'm doing all the talking. you're not winking at me. ;o) no flirting. nothing. but i know you would if you could.

i know you'd talk to me if you could. i know you'd reassure me if you were able. i know that if you could swing it with God, you'd once again be here beside me. in fact, i wouldn't be on the computer. i'd be sewing a quilt for us. or sitting beside you on the sofa with your arm around my shoulders.

i love you, husband. i always will. i will endure, but i know i will not "get over" the loss of you. you are too much my soul mate. you are too much my heart's desire. your empty space is far too empty.

i love you with all my heart.

good night, for now.

~ your wife

Thursday, July 23, 2009

my daughter and me ~ missing my husband and our cove

our cove. i wish somehow i could have managed to still be there. but i'd be more or less at the end of the world out there.

today my daughter and her fiancee's mother and grandmother picked me up and we went to order the wedding cake. so much talk about everything. i stayed quiet and listened. her fiancee's grandmother wanted to pay for the cake. so nice of her. her contribution is most gratefully appreciated. but both women were telling my daughter what she needed to do, what she should want. they neither one were really listening to her.

i took one of the napkins the lady had given us to taste some choices and i started drawing while listening to what my daughter wanted. i drew the cake she was dreaming of. i silently nudged her the napkin and signed quickly under the table, "this is what i hear you saying. if so, get what you want. it's your wedding. yours."

she smiled and nodded, then took the napkin and placed it on the table and said, "this is what i want. it's understated. it will be less expensive but it's also perfect for me. this is what i want." and that's what was ordered. both of the other women were simply being overly helpful and my daughter needed to just step up a little bit.

after the bakery, my daughter and i were taken to Michael's to get other things for the wedding that i really have no idea what for. they bought nothing. i think today was just an excuse for shopping but it was 5 hours away from my sewing and quilting here. my daughter and i followed in the wake of her fiancee's mom and grandmother. we talked when we were spoken to, otherwise we signed to each other so no one would understand our conversation.

i wasn't doing well today and my daughter, of course, sensed it. she and i are very close, always have been. she learned ASL with me/for me when i started slowly losing my hearing a few years ago. i have horrible tinnitus that goes through my head like a nail sometimes. nothing to do about it. my husband used to do this cool thing with my feet, rubbing them and flexing my ankles to either distract me or help me relax and it always worked. it didn't diminish the tinnitus but it made me feel so much better. i can't do it for myself. it was just something he did for me one day when i couldn't hear him over the din in my ears.

the pressures of this wedding that i'm keeping off her, shielding her from, playing mediator, and shielding her from her dad as much as possible is wearing me out with the depression i feel over this weekend's 6 month milestone of my husband's death quickly being followed by his birthday and our wedding anniversary.

i'm so tired. i feel bad when i'm told that i need to remember how much he loved me. i do remember. i don't want these blogs, my writings of grief to give the impression that i sit here and wallow day after day and think he stopped loving me because he died. i am simply grieving for him. i want something i can't have. i want him and it's not childish behavior or being petulant or sacrilegious to wish he were here with me right now.

i'm tired of the money situation.....the fact that i don't have any. i work my tail off for so little and make it stretch so far. i'm paying for so much of this wedding and making so many things for my daughter simply because i can't afford to buy them. her dad, Lord, her dad just....what do i say? i've had to sit alone on the phone and literally beg. i've had to cut deals and be dictated to, be criticized about my Memory Quilt business, about how little orders i have, should be better at marketing myself, how i'm failing in getting it off the ground faster. every time i have to talk to him about something it's like i've been hobbled and forced to run a gauntlet being beaten by horse crops and coat hangers. don't ask me how i know what that feels like.

but i do it for her. i'd do anything for my children. the job isn't over just because they are grown. they still don't know what to do when they see it coming. they still get afraid. or they get too hurt or angry to strategize properly. it's an acquired skill. i wasn't born knowing how to do this. i learned from a very early age to read calculation and anger and malevolence in people's body language and voices.

i wish my husband were here. all this would go so smoothly. my husband would have figured a way out for him and i to pay for this. he always did come up with the money my children needed. he always answered the phone if "he" called so "he" would know i wasn't vulnerable anymore. my husband would sit beside me when i had to do my thing. then he'd take my hand and we go for a walk down on the beach of our cove.

the wind, the salt air, the gulls, the waves. it soothed me. his hand in mine as we'd walk out across the rocks and look northeast to what i thought of as my island. isla womanNshadows. i'd tell him we just needed to move to the abandoned light keeper's house and live there away from everyone. he'd tell me everything was going to be alright. he'd tell me we were in this together, that no matter what hell life brought us, it brought it to us. us. our lives may be hell but our marriage was a blessing. it was everything i'd ever wanted my life entered into that sacrament to be. i love him so much. he inspired awe in me. and he loved me for exactly who i was. it amazed me that he found anything of value in me. but he did and i now know that one person loved me. i have that on my resume.

my children love me because i am their mom, because they know what i've sacrificed for them, and that i would give up my life for them. they love me because i'm cool to know. but they have their own lives also. i gave them that. self-sufficiency and freedom. they just need me for this one last thing. protection.

it's still my husband and me. it's still us but he's the silent partner now. now it's me that has had to get back up in the line of fire for guard duty. and God forgive me but i am so tired. i miss him more on days when i've had to beg and think so fast on my feet. i sit at home and look at my husband's picture, that smiling face of his and i want him back so much. i'd handle it every day all day long....i'd endure anything if i could just fall into bed with him and fall asleep beside him. if i could just feel his fingers combing my hair as i closed my eyes. have his deep voice in my ear telling me everything is going to be alright.

the tinnitus is pretty bad tonight and i didn't get to go to the cove after dealing with "him." i'm no where near the ocean anymore. i just have to endure this. it's the gift that is my life.

i love you, husband. one minute more. i'm going to hang on one minute more. i learned how to do that when i was a very little girl. i endured childhood. then i endured the first marriage. then i was blessed with you and hanging on one minute more was easier with you beside me. i love you. i'll love you forever. i'm still hanging on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"never look back, never show fear, never slow down, and never assume it's over."

it's the middle of the afternoon. i have been working on the Memory Quilts, but i had to go take a short nap, a snap as it were. i can't sleep still. haven't been able to get an entire night - not 6 straight hours since he died. i'm afraid to take the full dosage of the tylenol PM because i get so dopey taking things like Nyquil and Benedryl. i'm a lightweight in the meds department. i don't like being "under the influence" especially now that i'm alone. i'm so tired.

i miss him.

sunday it will be 6 months.

i miss him. i want him back. stupid thing to say.

i got the Marine Dress Blues teddy bear in the mail. i put his Navy Cross on it and his Purple Heart with the silver star signifying all the other purple hearts. it's the only two medals i can fit on the bear. he's only 12 inches high and the mini medals were the only ones that would fit on him. and then only 2. it isn't close to what he has but it still looks good. it honors him and that's what my daughter and i wanted. my daughter is reserving the first chair front row for him to stand on. i'm not sitting at all through the wedding. i'm the photographer. but my son will have the next chair beside Hubby Bear and will take care of him for me.

i miss my husband. i've already cried twice today - out of the blue - for no particular reason. nothing happened. i was simply overwhelmed with the loss of him. i miss him so much that it sometimes feels like i won't ever feel joy again.

my daughter's wedding. i'm happy for her. i'm having fun helping her, making everything. i'm literally making everything. i even made the guest book. but that deep feeling of joy, the release of the soul when true joy is felt? i don't have that. i want his hand holding mine. i want to see him walking her down the aisle.

one thing has happened that i can't even write about. i can't risk it. even if i did risk it, i don't know if anyone would understand why we did what we did, or rather gave up what we had to give up. you'd have to know everything and i can't tell anyone everything. but a situation came up and my daughter and i had to surrender to this one thing and it's heartbreaking for her and me. there was no other way out for us. it was the lesser of two evils. like voting for Cthulhu for president.

i wish there was someone i could tell this really bad stuff to. the rest of my life will be a f-word minefield right in front of the gates of Hell. i just have to keep my head down, keep walking, and never look up, and for God's sake, never relax. i'm back on sentry duty.

it's like the new SyFy channel most dangerous night on television ads. "never stop running. never look back. never make a noise. never let them know you're there. never show fear. never slow down. never give up. and never assume it's over."

maybe i'm oversimplifying but if you stand back and look at the whole picture, it really is kinda like that.

now that my wonderful, handsome, safe, loving Marine has died, that is the synopsis of my life until i can find a way out.

it's going to be a long, lonely life without my husband. such a long, hard life without his smile, his voice, his protection, without his love giving me strength.

i miss him for everything he offered me but most of all, i just miss being loved.

Monday, July 20, 2009

3 AM

i've been trying to sleep. i can't. obviously. i miss him. i miss him lying beside me. when i had bouts of insomnia i could sneak and hold his hand, or snuggle up against him and smell his skin, feel his warmth, listen to his breathing, and see the rise and fall of his chest in the soft light of the nightlight. his hand would always squeeze mine to let me know he knew i needed him. sometimes he would sleepily whisper, "you okay?" i'd kiss his shoulder and whisper, "yeah." there would be a soft smile that played out over his lips and he would settle back into his deep sleep. i would be reassured. i would be able to fall asleep.

i love him so much. i still cry everyday. one week shy of 6 months and i cry everyday. i have trouble sleeping.

i have my work, the Memory Quilts. i am busy helping my daughter with her wedding. i've got sewing up the wazoo to do. busy days. tired at the end. i have a new friend. she called tonight and we made plans to go out to dinner tomorrow....well, tonight. i'm looking forward to that.

but i love him so much i ache. my heart cries out his name. sometimes i can't not say his name out loud. my dogs look at me. they know that name. they recognize the longing i am feeling, the unrest.

it's 3 AM and i'm up writing yet wishing i was reaching for his hand, smelling his neck and feeling his smile at the eccentric behavior. i loved his smell. right at the curve of his neck to his shoulder. he could have showered with the most flowery soap and yet still smell like the woods or Old Spice or something. he always smelled so good. i'm wishing i could see his chest rise and fall. feel him turn to me and wrap his arms around me, or if his back was to me and he didn't want to change positions, pull my arm around him and hold my hand in his. i'd lay my head against his back and hear his heart beat.

he had the strongest heartbeat. until it gave out that night 5 months and 3 weeks ago tonight.

my heart is crying out for him tonight. i wouldn't mind being back in our old, old house in Rockport by Whale Cove with a cold wind blowing outside and him on the sofa where he liked to recline while watching television. i'd sit in my chair beside him sewing, and sneaking pictures of him until he told me to put the camera down and come lay with him. there on that sofa, while he watched television, in his arms, my head on his strong chest, there i could sleep.

i am going to go back to bed and close my eyes and lie to myself that that is where i am. then maybe i'll get a little bit of sleep.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gratitude to you and photos of the new stuff

First, I want to say here, publicly, how much I appreciate what Ann, Supa Dupa, and Widow in the Middle wrote to me on my last blog, Writing in the Sand. I was feeling more melancholy than actually horrible, but in writing it, I have to be honest in saying that I sort of stayed off the computer out of trepidation that no one had gotten on, or they wouldn't leave a comment. There seems to be so many grieving, so many sites that can be read. Mine is just another voice out there in the fog of those of us trying to find our way.

I write to get all the pain out. I write to talk about him and what he was and what he did for me, how great he was, and how very much we loved each other. There's no one else for me to really talk to, to monopolize the conversation and have it be all about him so I write.

But I do other things, too. The first photo you saw was the new Memory Quilt I'm still piecing together. It's for a little boy who is now 7 years old. His dad died 2 1/2 years ago. The big gray Henley is the shirt his dad wore the last time they took a photo of him and his dad together, I think the weekend before he died. I think about you guys and your stories when I make the quilts. This time I thought about this little boy's dad and how they would have been together. So I sewed the shirt as a whole. I am leaving the sleeves open and the bottom hem open so that as the little boy grows, he can slip into the shirt, wear it in a way, to see how big he's getting compared to the size his father was.

As soon as it's off the wall and in the frame, I'll be piecing together chillinwithlemonade's final quilt. And I'll have her in my thoughts, her relationship with her husband, and I'll try to make her something that I would want to be handed to me. Always you and your stories do I keep in my heart when I sew the quilts.

The second and third photos are the ring pillow for my daughter's wedding. I know. It's not white satin. She's not like that. She has a beautiful white satin and lace dress but she's also had me take off the white ribbon and bow around the waist and replace it with a purple one, and put an antique dragonfly pin in the middle of the bow.

My daughter is my wild gypsy girl, a true bohemian in how she perceives things visually. She loves earth colors, dragonflies, fairies, and butterflies. Her friend's 4 year-old daughter is the flower girl and she'll be handing out clothespin butterflies that have the happy couple's names and wedding date on the clothespin. We are getting together next week to sit and make them together. And while her flower girl is handing out butterflies, she'll be wearing tulle gypsy moth wings.

The last photo is the burlap aisle runner I'm embroidering. It will have flowers all over it. 8 feet of flowers. lol. 8 long feet of flowers, bees, dragonflies, their names, their wedding date, and more flowers. One type of flower is the daisy, for my husband, who sang that song I wrote about a few weeks ago, "A Daisy a Day."

In his honor the first chair, front row, will have standing in it a Teddy Bear wearing his Marine Corps dress blues with my husband's medals pinned to him. he has so many so we're picking the top four. My husband had a long career serving his country and my son and daughter and I are so proud of him. We wish he were here to walk her down the aisle but her brother will do that and the Teddy Bear in his dress blues with medals will have a place of honor. I'll post a picture of him from the wedding photos after her wedding in September.

I just want to say thank you for writing comments to me, for thinking of me, and most of all, for remembering me. I think of all of you I've gotten to 'know' and read. You all mean something to me, a very bittersweet and good something to me.

Peace to us all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing in the Sand

I received a compliment the other day from someone I didn't know. She said something nice about my being nice to deal with and it hit me with such shock that I realized something about myself. I'm very depressed. I also have so few people in my life that I expect to be forgotten unless someone wants something from me.

I hit a very low point one day about two weeks ago. This is actually funny because I'm still at that same very low point only now I'm so used to it that it feels like home, but when I slid into it, it was frighteningly uncomfortable. I broke down and called someone higher up on the deceased spouse food chain. I know I am important to her because it only took her three days to return my call. Her life is very, very busy with a lot of family around, in-laws, her own parents, her children that are younger than mine, and a lot of friends so when she returned my call those few days later it was another compliment in a way, that she would call to see what I needed.

I told her I was very down, very lonely without someone to talk to about my husband and how vitally important he was to me. She commiserated and told me that it would get better and then looked up the phone number of a Presbyterian Church that is within walking distance of me so I might could find a group to join. "You need to find people to be around. Maybe this church has a book group, or a craft group." She knows I'm Catholic and would dearly love to find a bus route to go to Mass somewhere or join a group there but three buses, a 1/4 mile, and needing an hour each way of time is depressing to me and to her this seemed like the lessor of two evils. I thanked her profusely and told her I would check into it. And sadly I did. And more sadly, after I explained my situation, the secretary of that church passed me to the assistant pastor or associate pastor, and when I explained my situation to them that person gave the the phone number of the bereavement group at the Catholic church that I had called 5 months ago to join the widow's group I am currently in.

I thanked this person, hung up the phone, and put my head down on my desk and cried.

I write for an online article database site, trying to earn money for all these words and thoughts I have inside me. I recently got my PIN for my account. A small check ($100) should be issued between November to January. I haven't quit. I still write. That $100 might come at a time when I am completely out of food. I can't afford to give up.

I write this blog here and I read others' sites. So many followers. So many quick and heartfelt comments are left. I've seen one man who has over 500 followers and can leave a quick message about his grief and receive over 70 comments within 5 hours. I saw one widower who has taken his grief to a level of oracle. He is the go-to guy for grief. He has a uploaded web videos of interviews with himself and set up a memorial fund in his wife's name for the benefit of his young daughter. His most recent video interview spoke to his being able to now pay for her college, his up-coming marriage to his editor for the book he hasn't finished writing about his grief and how it affected his life for the better, how he took it and made something wonderful out of it, how if it wasn't for his wife dying, he would never have had these opportunities open up for him. I finally had to stop reading his words and listening to his interviews with himself. I feel to much like a failure with my own grief.

What have I done with my grief? It has been 5 months, 2 weeks, and 5 days 159 days of living without the attention, the love, the notice of my husband. What have I done? I sat helplessly while the man of God at the church that hosted his funeral, out of which he had been head scoutmaster of his son's troop, stepped up to the podium and spoke into the microphone, "His son does not feel comfortable coming to his father funeral because his father's wife would not give him some of his father's ashes before the service." My daughter got her chance to speak at that microphone and said, "My mother received the phone call to pick up my stepfather last night at 6 PM. She wanted him brought to the church whole. She is grieving, devastated. She did not want to drive an hour over to the parking lot of a grocery store, open the bag, and pour some of him out into whatever container his son and mother brought with them. My mother felt his death should be treated with respect. She brought him whole to this house of God, (then casting a disparaging glance at the preacher), she continued, "thought I am now having my doubts."

My husband's son and ex-wife knew the timing of the cremation. They had the phone number of the funeral home. They hung up on me and my son when we tried to explain this timing time and time again. We gave up.

Second thing I've done with my grief. Get up every day. I pretty much do. I have to. I have to earn money. I've stumbled onto the Memory Quilts and it has been a blessing. I can't say anything different about it. I sew 14 - 16 hours a day. I bend over the table or the quilt frame, the boxes of clothes and I think hard, so hard about this one thing: "if these were my husband's clothes, my father's clothes, my son's clothes, my daughter's clothes, how would I want this to look? Are the buttons on this shirt critical to keep together? What tangible thing can I add to this quilt to make it touchable? Zippers to toy with, buttons to unbutton and find a shirt underneath, a waistband with belt loops to leave together and sew on so that a photo can be laminated and hole-punched for a way to tie it or clip it to the belt loop and stick in the pocket."

I listen intently to each story the person bringing me the clothes tells me. I take on their grief in a way so that the quilt stays personal, unique to them and their connection with the deceased. I read their half-smiles, the hollowness in their eyes, and I can hear a little of what they can't speak to. I sometimes sit for minute after I've completed a seam and wait to see if the deceased is around me watching, waiting, to see if there is approval from the one person that this would matter to most. What would he want his son to have? His wife to draw around her shoulders and possible sniff and imagine, and remember? For me, thoughts of the deceased are the most important element of the quilts.

I write this, as I do all my blogs/articles, whatever they are really, and I feel like I am writing in the sand. It will disappear before anyone has a chance to understand the import my words have for me. Or they will see it, casually pass by as we all do on our walks on a beach, and they will see my words in the sand here and it will mean nothing beyond, "ah, nice thought."

My words will disappear from view as they pass on down the page. I'll write something else and there they go, the previous ones slide off into oblivion. New posts become 'older posts.' A different article has a different title. Someone will disagree with me and how I'm doing things, offer up advice. Some will say "I can't understand these feelings of yours but I hope you get better soon. Do something with your life. Get out more."

I'll sigh. I'll log off. My words don't mean anything really to anyone. They will have no affect. I'm not C. S. Lewis with his grief. I have no standing in the literary world. I have written 4 books now and have not taken the time to solicit for a literary agent. I sew. I need the money desperately. In fact, I'm eating lunch as I type this so that my break is fruitful and not really a break at all.

I'm writing in the sand like my husband did for me that day. The photo is above up there. He drew a heart and put our initials in it. He put his arm around me and show me his ephemeral graffiti and said, "I put it above the high water mark. It should stay for a few days, long enough for a few seagulls to see it and know how much I love you."

I woke him up the next day just after sunrise. There was a storm supposed to be coming in and the high tide was coming within that hour. We dressed warmly and went hurrying down to our cove to see if his writing in the sand was still there. It was. We sat on the rocks and watched the rollers come in. Heavy surf. It kept inching closer to his heart in the sand. I got worried about it. I turned to him and said, "Let's put some rocks around it to try and save it." He changed his position, sat behind me with his legs around me and his chin on my shoulder. He spoke in my ear with me tight in his embrace. "Let's stay here and watch the sea take it. So many gulls have already seen it. They mate for life, you know. Most of them do. Like you and me. Gulls have better memories than us humans. They are the ones who will find value in having seen that and in seeing us sit here and knowing that though the ocean washes it away it doesn't make it any less real or true."

He hugged me tightly and said, "I'll always love you, even if the only place I can write it down is in the sand. But the memory of it is here in your heart."

And it is. I'll always remember the moment when that one wave reach up high enough to take it all away. I admit I did gasp. He kissed me then. He turned my face to his and kissed me.

And now he's gone and my heart is so sad. I'm writing in the sand for anyone to see. I don't know if my words impact anyone. People aren't seagulls and there are no gulls to see me now. But I keep writing in the sand and I hope and pray that my Beloved Dragon can see my words before they roll off the bottom of the screen.

Yes, I'm that lonely. Yes, I'm that heartbroken today. Yes, I'm going back to the sewing. I'll write in the sand another day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I will cry forever until.... ~ poem for the Dragon

The long days stretch out before me,

Each world-weary hour is spent alone

Worry and fear, sorrow and longing

Have pulled up chairs at my table,

And linked hands in silent prayer.

Each step I take, each task I perform

Each shuddering breath that comes, each stitch I sew

Are involuntary and done so that I

Continue to endure this life that’s left,

This empty existence that mocks my previous one.

But I continue to get bogged down, slowed,

Forced to my knees in endless pain

Mourning for, grieving for, crying out to

The Dragon who unwillingly died,

For my love who lost his struggle to take another breath.

I live a half-life with a blank public expression

And a sorrowful private one, tears, always tears,

That never stop even when my face is dry.

My cries for my Dragon are loud in my anguished mind

And echo in my shattered heart.

Empty arms drop to my sides from the burden of grief,

From the awareness that there is no Dragon to embrace.

No scaly, scarred dragon with a voice of fire

moves close to my body, next to me, encircles me,

No kindred soul can I feel or sense. I am alone.

No more meeting of true minds and truer hearts

No more tangible love though our love did not die,

Nor ended with the death of the Dragon.

Our love was outside us as well as within

And it endures and has been transformed.

I will never be the same, see the same, or feel the same.

All that I loved, all that I held dear, lived inside of you.

All that is left is a woman who has withdrawn to shadows

Enacting a life that she has scraped together to last.

All that is inside her are the tears she will cry forever, until

Until the woman in shadows and the Dragon are reunited.

Then the stars in the night will twinkle brighter.

The moon will be full as it was the night he died

But this time, it will shine on the couple who loved through time

And found each other again past sorrow, through tears, and beyond death.

Friday, July 10, 2009

dark secrets and the man from the sun

someone once loved me, for as long as he could, he loved me. you'd have to know me to comprehend the magnitude of that statement. i've never been loved before. yes, my children love me but i took care of them, i protected them, i guided them and then let them go to live their lives. yes, i had parents but they didn't love me, not like you think parents should or can. i wasn't what they wanted. to my father, i was a female, not a son. to my mother, i wasn't a cheerleader-flirt-most popular blonde in school type of girl. i was a philosopher, someone who studied life and all the minute details that make it what it is, both good and bad. i walked looking either straight down for beautiful rocks, or straight up at clouds, rainbows, birds. my imagination lent itself to wondering what tribe of fairies lived in flowers growing out of the moss rather than what purse went with what outfit. i was a disappointment and she told me so quite often. all the way to her deathbed. "you're not what i wished for; not exactly."

i'm not what anyone would wish for. my first husband saw in me a gentle soul who kept CPA perfect ledgers, a clean house, "did art" for extra money, was a great mother, and an asset in the intelligence department. i wasn't good enough at cooking, driving, sweeping a broom (don't ask), or anything else a wife does. He didn't like me in that way. Humiliation. Absolute Humiliation. you can't possibly know unless you've stood and been angrily lectured to not touch someone because you're not good at it. there it is out on the table. it's only one of my terrible secrets but been one of the darkest, one of the ones that hurt the most. and now it's out of me after all these years of silence. i spent decades knowing i wasn't good enough, of being unworthy of being taught. i had years of criticism and my own self-hatred being laid at my feet one brick at a time. i had taken each brick and built a circular tower wall around me that keeps everyone out so they won't be disgusted, but it also keeps me inside, safe from anymore harsh revelations.

and then i met my Marine. and i was good enough to be seen with, talk to, hold hands with, to touch, and most of all, to love. i was loved for who i was. i was loved for my mind, my heart, my spirit. what i said had value. what i thought was important. what i felt was even more important. he loved me and i wasn't alone in the world. he found a way in and brought me out into the sunlight. it's a metaphor but it's also the truth. his smile, his eyes - the way he looked at me. it was like he was a man who came from the sun and brought it's light to me. he loved me. i hope he still does. he was always this broad-shouldered silhouette back lit by the sun, bringing it to me, making it shine on me, and warming me. because of him people saw that i existed.

and then it ended, abruptly. i look in the mirror and see who i am now since his death. i remember who i was before. i also know who i could have been before, from when i was a little girl who had her own dreams and the confidence to think they would come true. i didn't take the wrong road or make a wrong turn. i did nothing wrong except be wrong. i wasn't good enough compared to the daughter someone wanted, the mother someone came from. i wasn't prepared for how life was going to turn out and for how hard it was going to be from the start.

i have a fantastic sense of humor that only my children know about, and my Marine. he got it out of me. he saw me for what i could have been, was meant to be. there’s always one in any room, the one who smiles but says little. i am the one you see across the room at a party who is nothing if not polite, but pays no respect. i'm the quiet one with eyes that take it all in, that hide unspoken opinions. my Marine loved my opinions. i could make him laugh until his sides hurt. no one who knew me from before ever knew i had it in me. i can be caustic. i can be lethal with tongue and pen. especially pen. the sharpest, most permanent weapon.

my husband was the only one who wanted to hear my voice. he said he liked the timbre of it. he said i sounded like Suzanne Pleshette and looked like Candace Bergen. i would laugh and clean his glasses. but i would laugh.

there is this scene in the film Titanic in which the wonderful actress, Gloria Stewart who plays the elderly Rose, says, "he save me, in every way a person can save someone." my Marine did that for me. he saved me. and now he's gone. he died just when i was out of the brick tower, just when i thought that, though life had been so bad for the first 40 years, it had saved the best for last for me. well, it only gave me a taste.

i don't talk a lot now. only when my daughter calls, or my son. i wonder if my voice will completely disappear from lack of use. i wonder if what's left of me will start to fade away, like a ghost when someone gets too close. i wonder if there will be any sign that i had ever been here since i've left no real mark on the world. i have my children and they are leaving their mark so in a way i can stand off to the side on that one. but as for being remembered for something? only he would have remembered me. my passing would only have affected him. i think back to his funeral and see all the people who came. then i superimpose my funeral and see only him and my two children sitting there. i kid you not. there is no one that i mean enough to, friend to grieve or foe to dance, for anyone to come. no one knows who i am. no one knows me at all.

no one knows me at all. i'm womanNshadows. i'm sitting just outside the tower wall, by the door, looking for his silhouette against the sun but finding only darkness. how can i endure a lifetime of darkness after having had that one shining moment in the sun, after finally knowing what it feels like to be loved?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Five Full Moons

he died on the night of the full moon in February. i just came back inside from taking this photo of July's full moon, making it the fifth full moon since he died.

i count full moons.

every full moon i see sheds light on the passing of time. another month has gone by. i took February's full moon with him standing beside me. now i take the photos alone.

five full moons.

i see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon, and God bless ........ my husband.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Where We Watched the Fireworks

This is our cove, called Whale Cove. Was our cove. We'd sit on these rocks looking out over the island and the fireworks would be launched out of the harbor, beyond the point on the left side of the photo where the houses are.

I shot this photo just as we got settled to have a picnic, watch the sun set, and then wait for the fireworks.

It was a beautiful day, just the two of us. My children couldn't fly up for the day but they called and we talked for a long while. Then my husband and I went to the cove, climbed out on the rocks, and settled in for the show.

I'm glad I didn't know it was our last Fourth of July celebration together. We lived for that day and it is a day that I am holding onto today.

I am still very melancholy, wishing, wishing I was there with him right now.

Peace to all of us who hurt.

I Want To Go Home

It's the Fourth of July here in the U.S.A. It hasn't been my favorite holiday but it can be a good one. family, food, friends, fireworks. As with any holiday it is what you make of it, or can make of it.

I'm alone. The one friend I've made here has small children, her in-laws, her own parents, and, as she was born here, lived here all her life, she has innumerable friends to be with as well. Her husband has been gone a little over two and a half years. But I'm glad for her. I can only imagine feeling of raising two children alone.

My son is up in New England visiting his father and that family. My daughter is off at her own celebration with her fiancee and friends. I don't think it was anyone's plan that I spend the first big family type holiday alone. It just happened. When they realized it, both my children felt pangs of guilt. So I did what mom's are supposed to do. I put on a brave front, then dissolved to tears as the day dawned and I knew my children, my only family left, won't be around. I won't have anyone to talk to, to even expect a drop-by later on. I won't have anyone to distract me from the fact that my husband is never going to be with me again.

I've been having a terrible time lately. The pain I feel is the exact same pain as when I stepped into the room where they had prepared him for me to sit with after he was pronounced dead. I feel numb, but I'm crying. I feel so lonely for him. I also feel lonely for someone to sit with me and talk to me.

When I got up a made a concerted effort to stay very busy. I watered my plants and moved them to catch the morning sun. It's a small balcony but I'm so glad to have it. I'm on the second floor so I feel a little bit safer. The balcony is all mine.

I vacuumed the carpet, washed the kitchen floor, set out the chicken I'll cook for my supper. Interspersed is the walking of my two Scotties, Carmen Sophia and Scootie Wootums. They are my buddies in everything I do. They stand like sentinels on the balcony when I take out the trash and go check the mail. They sit on the bathroom floor when I take a shower. They bark furiously at any leaf or bunny that happens to get close. They rush to my side when I cry and snuggle beside me. And they sleep beside me, where he used to sleep. They make sure that I'm not alone in the bed.

Tonight there will be fireworks. Maybe I'll hear them. Maybe I won't. I don't know because I'm not home. Home is by the ocean with him. Home is in his arms. The last time I was home was 152 days ago. It seems like such a huge number but it isn't even 22 weeks. It's not yet five and a half months.

I guess all this pain and loneliness comes from wanting to go home. I want to be sitting beside the ocean, on the point on our cove, and see the fireworks at a distance. Sit on the flat rocks with the breeze coming off the water, sit in front of him so that his legs are around me, and his arms are around me.

I want to go home.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

terrible, awful, horrible, really bad day

i woke up feeling out of sync. at first i wasn't sure where i was. i didn't hear the ocean. no gulls were annoyingly loud. and i was very much aware that i was alone.

he's dead. it hit me like what i would think a sock of quarters in the chest would feel like. the pain was sharp and then the ache settled in.

i got up and instantly started crying. walked the dogs, ate a bowl of cereal, then started in to work. i quilted for a while, then took a break and moved to piecing another quilt, took another break and embroidered for a while on my daughter's stuff for her wedding. back to the quilting. and through it all i would suddenly be overwhelmed with deep sobs.

and now it's night and that feeling is still here. he's dead and he's not coming back. it's not the alone thing. i can do that. it's the being without him that's whittling away at my will. i'm not strong. i never was strong like the in your face, confrontational strong. i work the mind.

i grew up with a mother who wasn't thrilled i was her daughter. long story. my ex wasn't someone i could confront. i had to play chess. i had to manipulate based on the mood he was in. so i'm strong when i have someone to work with. counter his moves. save my children. get myself set up as the target and then work with that.

but all i'm facing is grief. i'm alone with it day in and day out. my beautiful girl, my wonderful daughter. i did call her today crying, telling her i didn't save him. i worked on him but i couldn't save him. i was so afraid i'd done it wrong. there was a pulse when the EMT's loaded him in the back of their bus but hospital had him all of 10 minutes before they gave up. he was gone.

bless her heart. she told me that i'd done all i could, that the professionals had done all they could but it was not meant to be. she told me that our Marine wouldn't want to know that i was beating myself up this way. and she's write. he'd always wanted me to fly.

i was so beaten down by my life from before. all he'd wanted was for me to smile, laugh, talk out loud. i could go a whole day with minimal conversation. i learned not to be a chatty woman in front of men. but he loved me, worked with me, teased me, charmed me. he made it okay to come out of my shell and be myself. the more i relaxed, the more he smiled. he loved me so much. and i love him.

he used to say to me that every day we woke up, i was freer than the day before. he knew i had it in me to fly. he would walk with me on the beach, we'd climb rocks, walk Dogtown in Gloucester, or the Dog Bar out in the harbor. i'd take photographs, so many photos. he'd be in a lot of them, and he'd smile. he knew how handsome i thought he was. he loved it that i would sneak photos of him. that i would attempt to be sneaky meant i had confidence in myself. he would get cocky and say it was because of him. and it was. it was all because of his love and approval.

he wanted so much for me to fly.

i'm not strong anymore. and i don't feel like flying. i don't think i can. he's gone and he was the only one i would have flown for. he would have showed me how. he would have been up there with me.

i had to tell someone about this day. just had to put it out there. i had a really bad day. i miss him as much today as i did that moment when i was escorted into the room in the ER where they had laid him for me to go see. the pain is that intense. the heartbreak is that severe.

i miss him so much. God, i miss him so much. please take care of him. let him be alright. please let him know how much i adore him, how present he is in my heart. but don't let him know how destroyed i am that he's with you and not with me. and don't take it personally. it's just that he meant everything to me. everything.