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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

dark water

my ex raced catamarans and then monohulls. that's how we met. i crewed for people and was fearless in the butt bucket. i'd hang out on the wire and call out what i saw; the play of the wind on the water, watching for sudden gusts as the heat of the day would build and bring about possible precursors to thunderstorms. the wind could get iffy very quickly on the lakes throughout Texas and Oklahoma where i am originally from. i was, if i may say one thing positive about myself, a very good tactician. i would crawl out on the bow of the cat and straddle it to balance my weight with the skipper. on the monohulls, i was foredeck and could alternately hoist or pack a spinnaker in record time. i could climb the mast without benefit of a halyard. but my main use was reading the wind.

when my Dragon and i moved to Rockport, it was a true blessing watching the wind throughout all the seasons. there could be a heavy storm far out to sea and the wind from it would slam into us without any rain or snow. just wind gusts that would rattle your teeth in your head. i loved it. i would stand as far out as i dared letting myself be buffeted by force 8, force 9 gales, as strong as i could stand, literally stand erect to take pictures. my Dragon always had my back.

dark water. when the wind is heavy and low the water turns dark. you can see it coming at you. there can be a very clear demarcation line streaking at you across the surface of the water. i see one coming now but i don't have the Dragon at my back.

the holidays are coming. Halloween is Saturday. Thanksgiving. Christmas, and then New Year's Eve. i get heart palpitations when i think about it. Halloween, i'm working on what i call the silly quilt. the woman who ordered it changed it and wants it 8' x 9'. enormous. so i'm settling in for the long haul on Saturday. i want it done before Thanksgiving so i have the money. not being materialistic, just being pragmatic. i'll be in front of the quilting frame in front of the television for SyFy Saturday. Thanksgiving i'll have my son and his girl and my daughter and her new husband plus his father. i won't be alone but i will be because my Dragon's absence will be deeply felt. i cry every time i think about Thanksgiving, and then the time when everyone leaves and i will once again be so very much alone. i'm not touching Christmas here right now. i cannot.

dark water. the holidays. then it will be my birthday. and then the one year mark. by then the wind from the storm of grief will be screaming in my ears. i don't know if i'll be able to hear anyone. he's gone and i won't be able to see him again, not like he was. and i love his face. i love his muscles. i love his hands. i love his beard. i love his eyes, his laugh, his warmth. i can't sleep from wanting him so. i get so cold at night. during the day. first thing in the morning. i stay so cold all the time.

there was one time that i had been hired to do a photo shoot of a very old cemetery just over the town line in Gloucester. there is a part of it that is half forgotten with graves over 300 years old sitting on the hillside overlooking the ocean, just this side of Lanes Cove. it was right after Thanksgiving and there was only about 2 feet of snow on the ground but the wind had carved and drifted areas of snow over 4 - 5 feet around the graves. it was beautiful. and cold. the wind chill that day was minus 18 but i kept pulling my mitten top back to use my fingers to manipulate the camera. suddenly i was stricken with an exhaustion that was crippling. i was so tired. and cold. i wanted to be warm and it seemed like such a good idea, random, but simply the right thing to do; lay down and rest in the snow. such perfect white insulation from the wind blowing from the approaching n'oreaster headed our way that night.

he didn't see me. suddenly i was gone. i never heard him calling my name. i just remember suddenly being half carried through the crunchy snow to the car. i remember saying i wanted to take a nap. i remember him talking to me but i don't know what he was saying. he did seem upset. then i laid down to sleep in the car and my head was in his lap. the heater was on and he kept trying to put my fingers next to the blowing heat while he drove. i didn't want to because it hurt. my next memory is of being stripped down and put in the shower, both of us. i thought how nice and i laid my head on his chest and wondered why my wet, cold clothes were off and his were still on. and then the pain hit and woke me up. he was rubbing my hands, my fingers and the pain sliced through my brain like a thousand knives. i cried and his voice came through so soothing.

a fuzzy towel. one of his old Marine sweatshirts and sweatpants. his heavy climbing socks. hot tea with Scotch in it. then he was back with me on the sofa, his clothes changed, a fire in the wood stove borking, crackling, so toasty warm. he moved me to lay himself down on the sofa, then pulled me back to settle in his lap. his legs wrapped around mine and he pulled one of my quilts over us. ironically it is the one where i hand appliqued old clipper ships to it and embroidered "a calm sea never made a skillful sailor." i fell asleep in his arms, tipsy, warm, safe, with his voice crooning to me that i was "alright," he'd "take care of me," he'd "never walk off again, or let me walk off like that again." i fell asleep and had the best sleep of my life with the storm breaking all around that old, old house. it creaked and shuddered as the wind rushed up from the ocean and across the headlands to pound on the glass with all its fury and ice. but i was safe with my Dragon.

i'm cold again and i haven't been able to get warm. not since that night when it was 4 below and my Dragon stopped breathing. i want him back. i want to crawl into his lap and get warm again. i'm cold and i can see dark water headed my way. i don't know what to do. cry? humor? i can only manage dark humor. it will match the dark water that's coming.

do you think maybe Sylvia Plath was only just cold?


judemiller1 said...

Remarkable. What a beautiful remembering--I can see the two of you on the couch, Dragon at your back to give you warmth from his body. Beautiful.

Suddenwidow said...

Firstly, ha, ha with the dark Sylvia Plath humour. But no more of that, and stay away from your oven!!!! As soon as I read the title I knew exactly what you would be describing. I didn't know you were a sailor too! I remember Austin teaching me how to read the wind on the water and I can feel the dark water coming too. I got out Halloween decorations for the kids last night and I just sobbed after they went to bed, thinking of years gone by.

I know how empty and lonely it is when your strong, lifesaving man doesn't have your back. I wish I could make it better. Wrap yourself in his quilt (even if it isn't finished), have a cup of tea with a hit of scotch and warm up with your memories of your amazing love.

Did you get my email? I hope you choose yes!!

I'm right here as we both face the foreboding dark water ahead. We WILL get through. Our hair will be windblown and we'll be cold and wet but we WILL make it through to lighter water and winds. Just stay away from ovens :)

Love to you,

Boo said...

what a powerful post ... I loved the way you met ... and thanks for sharing the story about him looking after you in the snow and afterwards - it was beautiful. I read it earlier and couldn't add a comment till now ... just felt too much emotion about it all ... your Dragon is so similar to my Cliff in the way that he just fundamentally looked after you and protected you.

We would have followed them to hell, or the end of the earth wouldn't we, with no fear ... but we are not allowed to follow them where they have gone until it is our time.

Love and hugs xxx

Widow in the Middle said...

Sometimes I find your posts so moving I do not have the words within me to adequately respond. This is one of those posts - haunting, a work of art. I apologize that I do not fully understand the boating terms at the start but your story of the Dragon finding you in the snow amid the tombstones is a true treasure. You often write about your Dragon "saving" you, loving you for yourself, helping to restore your life and belief in yourself. All the images of the dark water representing what lies ahead are so poignant.

I, too, as I am sure many of us are, worry so much about the future. Not being able to afford Christmas for the boys, pinching pennies the next month while I am in school, etc. Do you think it may be better if we tried not to imagine the dark waters ahead of us as much? Just food for thought...I'm not sure what the alternative would be since I'm not at a place where I can substitute fears of storms for a rainbow or anything. I'll give this idea some more contemplation.

Anyway, whatever waters you are facing, know that I hope to continue to hear about your journey and will respect and support wherever you are - even on the deck of a boat tossing in turbulent waves.

womanNshadows said...

hi, judemiller, thank you. he is such a powerful force in my life. when i sew, if there's nothing on to watch, i'll play music and my mind drifts to remember all our times together.

Deb, i won't use the oven, but i do warm my feet sometimes with the hair dryer. i like the visual. weather-beaten, arriving on the far shore, our husbands standing there ready to take the line and tie the boat off. we're there.

Boo, he told me the story the next day. i woke up in bed upstairs with no idea how i got there. i just know i was warm. he was finger combing my hair, asking me what i wanted for breakfast. he brought it to me in bed. from the nor'easter the night before there was another four feet of snow. and yes, i would have followed him to Hell, held his hand and walked right beside him with all the love anyone could ever have for someone living in my heart and shining in my eyes.

Split-Second Single Father said...

Your posts are always so poetic and your analogies illustrate your points beautifully. I have seen dark water in our ocean, but I have seen dolphins and sunny days too. The holidays will be hard - no question about that. But somehow you'll soon find yourself on the other side wondering how you've survived them. In a way it's like all the other firsts, only infinitely more lonely. But you are a survivor and you will make it through. And we will all be here for you as you do so.

womanNshadows said...

Widow in the Middle, dark water is a metaphor for the sadness i know i am feeling as the first Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. with them being the first and such family oriented occasions, i think it would be best for me not to deny the "dark water." i want to get past it and for me personally, i have to face it head on. i cannot deny it's coming. i cannot deny i won't feel this sadness. so, just for me personally, i will address it as it comes. i remember an Oliver Wendell Holmes quote: "If I had a formula for by-passing trouble, I would not pass it around. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better e on speaking terms with it."

SSSF, thank you for the compliment. i know eventually there will be dolphins and sunny days. i'll get there. it's just that this is the first Thanksgiving and Christmas was always so special to him and me. he loves Christmas and for the first time in my life, with him, Christmas was not painful. i could enjoy it since he protected me with all the demands from my ex. the Dragon will be very painfully missed.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Holiday season just plain sucks.
From your story, I hear what a skilful sailor you are and what a good partner you make. The water ahead may be dark, but both of these talents will be used well.
Know that this world needs you.
We'll hold you through the holidays and the hard days after.
You are loved.



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