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.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dragons in the hoop and the Quilt on the Wall



i've been busy and i haven't taken the time to do my own quilt. i've sort of finished the top but not to my liking. i rushed it so i will have to take it all apart and that depresses me so much. it's a major setback. i don't have the fabric i want for it and i used remnants just to get something together, anything together for me. i see the others with their quilts i made and i want mine. i just want my own quilt. so i used push pins and put it up on the wall to look at. before i start taking it apart, i need to plan better and get the fabric i want for it.

in the meantime......

my Dragon carried cotton handkerchiefs. he wasn't against tissues but he just carried a cotton handkerchief in his pocket "in case." i have all of them. so until i have some time without a deadline in it that i can take my quilt apart and redo it, i'm using my down time late at night when my hand hurts too much to do the sewing on a commissioned quilt to embroidery his handkerchiefs. i'm drawing dragons on them and using my best floss. not that i use crappy floss on the commissioned work, i don't. but people have special colors they've selected that have great meaning to them. i'm using the colors that have great meaning to me.

these little handkerchief dragons are my creative homage to a man who was amazed by my sewing. he always loved my designs and i was felt special when he looked at my work. i always wanted him to think i was important. coming from a life where i had no value at all, my self-worth barely registered. i had grown to believe i was nothing. then he found me and saw something inside me that he like. he thought i should be allowed to feel cherished. he always said he wanted me to fly free and he'd be along for the ride. he always believed i had hidden talent. but i am sitting here tonight after a long silent weekend alone wondering if i have now lost my self-worth because i've lost him.

we only see objects when light shines on them. he shined his brilliant smile on me and i was noticed for the first time as a sentient person with her own dreams and feelings. i have always been womanNshadows, a name i acquired along the way well over 38 years ago. it is not an Internet screen name. it is a family name. my name. my life has over and over borne out the truth of that name. receiving it was a crushing blow. it became one of my scars. my Dragon taught me to value it and the strength it took to endure it. he is the most wonderful man i've ever known. he is the smartest, strongest, kindest, most irreverent man i've ever known. i adore him. i'm his wife. i'm his widow, but i still feel intensely more his wife. we're just not able to be in the same, what, plane of consciousness together? the same timeline?

do i believe in signs? i want to. i've only had two. the night after he died a radio that never played before popped on at exactly 12:03 AM, the time on his death certificate, playing Sarah MacLaughlin's "Angel." "in the arms of the angels far away from here....." not the beginning of the song. not the end. right there. those words came from a radio that should not have been plugged in. was it a sign? i hope so. does it go against faith and would it make God mad if i think that? i don't know. and the heart cloud as we crossed the border into this state where i'm living now. is that a sign? the reality is i've only directly asked my daughter and she'll say anything to help me get through the moment.

i've read other grief blogs. i've read that time makes it easier. i've read that we just adapt to the new life without, that the burden is still there, but we learn to carry it. i've read some who have moved on and others who, after a few years, still grieve and are still trying to find their way. grief is like carpet bombing. there is such wide spread devastation from so many different ways death occurred, and so many different attempts to get through it, live with it, get past it. we're all searching and everyone has responses and their ways but no one has the answer. i've read comments be snippy, condescending, and outright hostile to those who blog about their grief. it's even intimidating to write when so many others do. you post and check back to see if anyone noticed you. who left a comment. what did they say. is there comfort there? ridicule? an answer you haven't thought of?

in the end, all we can do is log off and go back to our grief-stricken lives; live however works best for us. for me, i'm juggling trying to make some time for myself. i am slowly getting some designs done for me that will bring me solace.

like Dragons in my embroidery hoop and the quilt on the wall. the art of grief.

7 comments:

judemiller1 said...

Oh my gosh--you have a wonderful talent at drawing--and what a unique idea...to put dragons on your dragon's hankies. I love the thought and the sentiment.Will you carry one of those hankies with you to have a part of your dragon near you all the time?

Widow in the Middle said...

The handkerchiefs are a beautiful tribute to your Dragon. I am so glad you are finding/making time for yourself. I hope you do not get too down on yourself for having to redo the quilt - I know you want it to be very special and sometimes we have to redo projects so they come out just so. Your Dragon would want you to be pleased and not have to settle for a quilt not up to your standards. In a way this will be the most important quilt you make because it is a memory of your Dragon - for him and for you - so it should be as perfect as humanly possible. And don't forget that we are our own worst critics and probably harder on ourselves than others would be. I thought that the remnants you used already look nice but I understand about your need to pick more special fabric.

About the signs - what a totally amazing story about the radio turning on and playing that song at the time it did. Did the radio stop playing right away? Has it ever played again? Many widow(er)s tell of meaningful songs that played on the radio at certain times. I have been told that it is easier for our loved ones to give us signs soon after their passing and more difficult as time goes on. Apparently it can take a lot of energy for them to bring us those signs (it is not that easy). I was given numerous signs (electrical and a photo that propelled itself off the wall) in the beginning but after the first month they stopped. Sometimes I try to ask for a sign and get a response in a dream or thought that pops into my mind. I believe that God approves of whatever gives us comfort and solace. We probably miss a lot of other signs because we're too busy, preoccupied or worried about what others think.

Suddenwidow said...

Hello my friend,

I completely believe the signs from your Dragon were him. What a gift for you! And I love the gifts of the handkerchiefs you are embroidering for both of you. You are an amazing, talented woman!

I think many of us feel the loss of our self worth when our beloved soul mate dies. When we have been part of a true partnership which has nurtured us, illuminated our previously dark lives and given us unconditional love, life without that partner feels bleak. Even with children who love us and need us, life feels bleak. Our children are meant to grow apart from us, to discover their own identities and eventually live their own lives. My children are years away from that reality and I do have other people around me, yet I still feel my love's absence so profoundly. I feel like part of me has been ripped away and I'm left less than half of who I was when he was here, left feeling completely alone and unworthy of anything good. No one else on this planet sees me in the same way that he did and I'm convinced no one ever will again. His unconditional love and illumination will never again be felt by me and that leaves my soul feeling so empty.

So despite our different realities, we have similar emotions and feelings. Thinking of you today and every day.

womanNshadows said...

judemiller1, there are 25 handkerchiefs in all and i have thumbnail ideas for each one that i'll draw to fit the square. i'm not sure what i'll do once they are all done. it's a project that will take a long time, but one that settles my heart and mind as i work on it.

Widow in the Middle, my quilt, ah, i'm both captivated and heartsick by it. i started it 3 weeks after i moved here, one month after he died, so it represents a frenzied attempt to have that connection to clothes i will never wash again. it also represents the nights i never slept, but stayed up working on it. but it is not exactly what i had in mind. i want it better, more perfect, so it stays on the wall as a reminder, for now, of the saving grace it provided during those first weeks of intense pain, physical grief. i'll figure it out one way or the other.

hi Friend Suddenwidow, thank you for stopping by. you stated it more eloquently than i, the soul feeling so empty. we're out here in our worlds lost in this anguish. somehow, someway, we have to navigate the rest of our lives without our mates. i'm thinking of you as well. take care of yourself. and i love your new profile photo. so beautiful. i'm misty.

Widow in the Middle said...

I just wanted to add that another piece of this adding to the challenge is that when we lose our husbands, we also are forced to create/establish new identities. We must rely on ourselves for strength and nurturing to some degree (even more if we are not surrounded by close family/friends). This is such a daunting task when we are mourning. Here we are, without our better half whom we have relied on and flung out into the world needing to scramble as we reinvent ourselves and come up with new ways of coping and facing life.

Beckypdj said...

So sorry for your loss.
I understand the part about losing your identity. I still have my husband, but our only child moved to Heaven Jan. 12 2008. I miss being his mom. A memory quilt is definitely something I want to do (or I should say, "have done").

It helps to write about our feelings, so keep at it.

womanNshadows said...

Beckypdj, i am so terribly sorry for the loss of your only child. my first baby, a son, died at only 19 weeks. it is a death that is so different to go through than a spouse but the weight of the anguish it brings is just as hard. my son did not live long but his profound presence lingers still, after 27 years. i wish you peace as you create your own Memory Quilt out of your son's clothes.

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