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, December 30, 2009

the Dragon speaks

"I read her words in my mind. I hear her thoughts in my heart. Every tear she sheds I am there for and I wish I could tell her that I am. She doesn’t know where I am or how I am because it isn’t her time to know. I am her Dragon and I was called to go ahead. I died and she lived. And even though I know peace here, relief from all the physical pain my body suffered because of my years in service to my country, I would take all the pain back to be with her again.

But all I can do is watch her and wait.

Apart. Such a small word for the impact it has on those who mourn. I never lost my wife and yet I mourn. She lives. It was I who left her; who went through the agony of dying. Her voice came through to me. I could hear her panic. My heart tore in two but there was nothing I could do. I was being taken from this life for reasons I understand now but certainly did not then. And I know she does not understand. But one day she will. And I will be waiting for her.

All I can do is watch over her and wait with her.

I also heard her voice after I died. I could hear it in my thoughts. Her voice was hollow, soft, in shock. She told me she’d never love anyone else. She said she’d stay my wife. She still wears the rings I gave her. She’ll never take them off. I know her. She makes up her mind and folks, that’s it. She’s quiet but a more determined, bull-headed person you’ll be hard to find. I love her for it though. I hear her talking to the puppies. I hear her on the phone or when someone drops by. Her voice is still hollow. It doesn’t have the life in it that I know is there.

And all I can do is just sit with her and look at her.

I know, of the two of us, it was best that I died first. I told her once that it had to be me because I was always point man. And besides, I could not be left alone back there. I could not do it without her. She was the one who gave me life again, love. She hero-worships me and I don’t know why but I was always so grateful for it. I was always so grateful for her. I told her I was a heathen but truth is I did start talking to God after I met her. I thanked Him for her. She heard me, I think. She was so sick one time and I was terrified. I told God to give her back to me. I told Him I couldn’t live without her. I don’t have that kind of strength. She’d smiled at me and called me “silly.” She told me I was the strongest man in the world. I am a Marine and I know I can do anything. I also know that I could not live without her. And now I have to watch her live without me.

And all I can do is watch her suffer.

She still doesn’t really know how deep my love for her is. She is everything to me, my breath, my life, my heart, my soul, and my conscious. I told her all the time. I wrote her notes and said all of that and more. She heard my stories of what I did. She knew what I was capable of and yet, all I saw in her eyes was a love so deep that I jumped. I jumped off that cliff and fell into her arms. And I never left. Even though I have died, I have never left her arms. I just wish she could feel my arms around her.

But all I can do is stay with her and not talk to her like I used to.

We did talk though, when I was alive. She used to be afraid to say what was on her mind. But I got it out of her. I’m the Dragon. One of my many specialties was communications. I got people to talk. And I got her to open up to me. I used trust and love and tenderness. She was starved for it. I don’t think she’d ever really been touched in a kind way or hugged, even as a child. So I made up for it. I touched her all the time. I got her to smile, to get used to laughing. I got her used to being held. God, I loved it, seeing her relax. I’d been seeing her for four months before she relaxed enough to let her head lie on my shoulder and fall asleep while we watched a movie at her house. Her daughter was sitting in a chair watching with us and she saw her mother sleeping. Her remark would have brought me to my knees if I’d been standing.

“Mom must trust you. She’s fallen asleep. She never fell asleep first when dad was here.”

I am not the type of man to get tears in my eyes but to feel the tenseness gone from her body, to feel her steady even breathing, and know that she trusted me inside her house with herself and her children, to fall asleep like that, I will never forget that moment.

Yet now all I can do is wait for her to get through with this pain she’s feeling so she can remember it with joy and not this intense sorrow.

We love each other. Oh, God, the bond we have. It was immediate for me. I had to work on her a bit. But when she fell in love with me, she was all in. Hero-worship. It was the most amazing feeling to be looked at by her. I could see how shy she was with me, always was. She thought I was handsome. I thought she was crazy. She would sneak pictures of me with that camera of hers. I never could figure it out but I didn’t try too hard. Seeing the joy in her face, the adoration she feels for me light her eyes was enough for me to put up with all the pictures. And now that I’m dead, she stares at them. She talks to me looking at them while I'm standing right behind her. They are all over that little apartment she’s living in. God help me, I wish we were there together. And we are, in a way. I can’t leave her all alone. I have to keep watch. Nothing can keep me away from her….

as you can see. Here I am. Watching over her.

She cries in her sleep. It breaks my heart. She finally gets to sleep and then I see tears. I’ve heard her call my name and I reach for her but she doesn’t feel my touch.

All I can do is watch over her.

I told her all the time how beautiful I think she was but she had a hard time accepting it. She had been so beaten down for decades. Her self-esteem is so low, and now that I’m not exactly there to tell her these things, she doubts herself. I did not get the chance to finish healing her. That is my greatest regret.

So I watch over her. I watch her write. I watch her sew. I watch her cry. I don’t get to see her laugh much, or smile.

One day, I don’t know when, the vicious sharpness of this pain will subside. She’ll find that place between living and existing that people who mourn forever find. It’s a place of sweet memories, a half dream. She’ll be of your world, living and enjoying life again, but there will always be a part of her no one can reach. That’s the part that will always be with me. I know it. She knows it, too. Deep down under the ache she knows she’ll get there. We have this bond, you see.

Then she’ll know I’m watching over her. She’ll sense me close. She’ll know that even death could not keep me from growing old with her.

Excuse me now. She’s set her sewing aside. She’s going to try to sleep some. I need to be there with her, you understand, in case she cries in her sleep."

i've gone through a bunch of letters, both hand-written and email, just to read his words to me again. this is what i imagine he'd be doing and saying. i knew him really well. no, that's wrong. i know him really well. he hasn't changed inside where it counts. i can predict what he'd say and do in pretty much any situation. see, we have this bond.


Boo said...

Wonderful. Truly wonderful ... and I believe you got it right ... word for word. No, I KNOW you did, because I know that I have an inner voice now, and that voice is Cliff's - I listen to his voice rather than follow my own thoughts, because I trust his voice above my own.

Please read this letter when despair visits you, or fear, or the darkest of days, or the nights when the moonlight is at its fullest.



judemiller1 said...

Your writing leaves me breathless.

twinmom said...

To be loved like that is what most of us only dream of...such a beautiful piece of writing. It is comforting to me - reading so often of your intense pain and helpless to help you - to know that you KNOW his passion for you is just as intense as is yours for him. A true gentleman, to be so strong yet so tender and giving of himself to you.

Dan, in real time. said...

Well, San Francisco was covered in fog as I looked for the full moon. But, trusting that it was there, I looked up toward the sky and thought of you. I wish you well, and hope this new year brings further healing.

There is so much that is hard to understand, such as losing those we love. I can only trust, that like the message from your Dragon, they watch over us.

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