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, August 1, 2009

the rhythm and poetry of grief

i've settled into a very melancholy existence of late. Thursday my daughter and i went to the local mall to a store called Things Remembered to order two beautiful flutes to be engraved for her wedding. we had parked outside a large department store and as we walked back to the car, she wanted to stop to visit the restroom. it was in the men's department. she went in and i stood amongst jeans and shirts, ties and belts and i cried because i'll never have to buy him anything ever again. i don't have to wash his clothes anymore. nothing of his crosses my daily life that i don't deliberately go get to look at, to touch.

i tested the waters last night. i'd read several grief books in the beginning and all of them had said to go back after 4 to 6 months to re-read what you've written down to see your progress. i did and saw only the switch from deep shock to deep grief, but a week after the 6 month milestone, i'm settling in. i think 6 months after the death of a loved one is too soon to see any real progress but everyone has their own time table. everyone is different. every marriage is unique. every relationship has it's own particular rhythm.

this brings me to the second test. all the authors in those books said that the bereaved tend to glorify their deceased loved ones seemingly forgetting their imperfections. i re-read all my writing with that in mind and there is nothing that i've written about him that i glorified. but i don't want anyone who stumbles across my writings to think that i have. i know exactly who and what my husband was. he was perfectly flawed.

beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what i beheld was nothing more than an extraordinary man. every word i've quoted of his, he spoke. every action he performed that i wrote about, he executed. i wish to give you a brief sketch of the man who loved me.

he was only 1/2 inch taller than i was. his muscles were not toned in a gym lifting weights, but rock hard from years spent as a United States Marine. he'd been called a killer in my presence and i would see his eyes go blank trying to dull the impact of that one word. killer. everything he did was sanctioned by the United States government. he is no killer. he was a soul in torment that protected himself with the distance of hollow laughter and few words. he was an enigma to those who thought they knew him but he allowed me inside his heart. he told me everything and cleansed his mind. i took it all and gave him back respect, awe, and love.

his eyes were warm brown with white squint lines from laughter, the sun, and looking down a scope. his hands were large and hard and criss-crossed with scars. his whole body was a timeline of his career, scars everywhere. he had the lasting marks of 3 bullet holes, 4 stab wounds, and long striations left over from Vietnam when he was walking point and fell into a trap and punji sticks pierced his armpits and popped out through his back. GQ would not want him, but i did. i didn't care about his scars. they caused him pain and i rubbed vitamin E oil on each one to help ease the underlying muscle pain.

the meds he took for arthritis upset his stomach so he belched after Mexican Food. it also put on a few extra pounds that he tried so hard to lose. i didn't care. two months before he died, his doctor had told him he was doing fine, the little bit of extra weight wasn't an issue since it was from the meds, and that his heart was fine. that haunts me to his day and always will.

his laugh was deep and loud and the sound embarrassed some but never me. i knew how little he'd honestly laughed so i deliberately set out to make him laugh several times a day, and yes, in public. his humor never bothered me. his public displays of affection - holding my hand, touching my butt, and whispered teasing innuendos in my ear brought me only joy. it was something i'd never had.

he wasn't a knight in shining armor. he could be cranky when in physical pain. he could be obstinate. but he was never cruel and always sat back with a knowing smile on his face when i would stand up for myself. he loved that he had set me free to do that, that i felt safe with him to argue with him. he never betrayed that trust. he chewed tobacco sometimes and i hated that so i when he put some in, i'd wait about 20 minutes then tell him to go spit it out and brush his teeth because i wanted to make out.

in summary, he was a diamond in the rough, my Dragon who loved me, who told me that i had set him free from his belief that he was a monster, and that i was his whole world. he was well read and capable of very intelligent conversations. he was verbal and spiritual and, with me, could be emotional. i wrote poems to him while he was alive and now more so since his death. he loved them all. he loved my writing and encouraged it every day.

we had a beautiful marriage amidst a terrible life of abject poverty because he was helping me clear the debt left behind by my ex plus we paid for so much while my two children went through college. but my Dragon always kept a roof over my head and we had enough to eat. he never let me fall. when i cried, he'd hold me and tell me he was there with me, and that we were going through it together. we had wonderful days of climbing rocks by the ocean and a great many peaceful walks along a long stretch of beach. he gave me shells and sand dollars and driftwood.

he gave me all of himself and more love than i'd ever known. i gave him awe and adoration and truth and all the love i was capable of. i still do. i saw him as he was. that he was everything i'd ever wanted is only truth. he saved me and i saved him. we were meant to be.

i went up to the throne of love
the king stooped down to me
he put a kiss on my lifted face
then they took him away from me.

i have traveled the whole world o'er
and i could have love if i would
but nevermore shall a beggar stand
in the place where the king has stood.


Widow in the Middle said...

You said your Marine was not a "knight in shining armor" but I see him as one, human imperfections and all. The photo of him at the start of the post captures so much of what you have related about him - his inner kindness/warmth as well as his rugged good looks.

I could easily visualize your trip to the mall with your daughter - your feelings of loss while in the men's wear department were very poignant.

You are out at the mall, helping your daughter, making lovely items for her wedding and working on the memory quilts - that it accomplishing a great deal in addition to working through all of the emotions of grief/loss. You aren't just lying in bed and crying the day away but getting up and facing the 24 hours as best you can. That is a huge measure of achievement!

Ann said...

Absolutely beautiful post. You are a lucky woman to have been loved by such a man, and he was a lucky man to have the continued love and respect you still show him.

womanNshadows said...

Widow in the Middle, thanks for writing. he was the first one to say he was no knight. i called him Dragon. that was my nickname for him and he loved it. but he was a knight, a Dragon, so many things. i'm jut taking it a day at a time. sometimes, one minute at a time.

Ann, hello. i am lucky to have had him in my life, and more, to have been loved by him. and i will always honor him. he is so special and deserves it so much. thank you so much for taking the time to leave a note.

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