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, October 31, 2009

the lighthouse dream

I’ve been having a dream, essentially the same one with only small details that vary. It is mystical in the way some old ghost stories are. Not scary, more woven from the longing I feel, possibly fantasies that my own mind shelters me in since I still cry before I go to sleep. I am a woman of faith. I will not proselytize but as a parenthetical reference I need to say that I say prayers plus have a conversation with God and my Dragon because it is solace for me. I tell you this only to expose my frame of mind as I try to find sleep. To distance myself from my dream I’m going to tell it in story form. I call it my “Lighthouse Dream.” The first photo is my shrine to the months that have past. My Dragon died on February’s full moon. I missed March because of tears and grief. I got the others because I am compelled. The second and third photos are of the island.

The Dragon and his womanNshadows had been living on the knife’s edge of poverty. All the money either of them earned was first allocated to her children. The Dragon’s son had been keeping his father at arm’s length ever since his father had married and returned all the money his father sent. It was a very sad but true fact that the boy’s mother had greatly disliked the fact that the Dragon had found someone to love, and someone who loved him. At every turn the young man would relate some statement that his mother had said, some awful perversion of the truth that cannot be unspoken. The Dragon had tried to reason with his son. He’d tried to speak to the complex emotions of a long ago divorce without speaking against the woman who had mothered his son, but there are some things in this world that are impossible to do. There are some minds that choose to remain closed. So the Dragon had grown sadder as the years passed and found family in one not exactly of his own creation.

Fortunately for the Dragon he had been accepted into this little family of three, his womanNshadows and her son and daughter. He felt blessed to be with them and knew only love and tenderness with them. The womanNshadows’s daughter claimed him as her own “true” father while her son called him for “guy” advice, respecting and honoring all that the Dragon had to teach in a way that the Dragon wished his own son had been able to do. In spite of his sadness over what he thought of as the “loss of my son,” he felt truly happy for the first time in his life.

The womanNshadows adored her Dragon. She grieved for him his agony over his son. She listened to him, offered advice if he asked, or kept her silence if she felt he desired only to vent. She kept telling him he had done all he could, and urged him to keep trying, to never give up because one never knew when the young man would escape his mother and learn to think for himself. She worshiped her Dragon and most every day thanked him for his generosity, his love, for just the miracle of him wanting to be with her. She made sure that she expounded on all his virtues to the point where she would see him blush and know that his smile came from his heart. She made sure he felt every word of praise as her truth, her gift to him.

As was said, the Dragon and the womanNshadows were very poor. They took care of her children first then scraped together whatever was left for them to live. He never minded and she always felt safe with him no matter where they ended up. They claimed it was a gypsy life they had chosen for themselves rather than one of poverty that life had forced on them. They danced on the beach. They collected shells, driftwood, and sand dollars like some people determinedly collect Coach purses or clothes and jewelry. Together they lived in a 130-year-old house on a bluff that overlooked a cove. From their bedroom window, the old wooden floors would creak, as they would stand there looking out to sea, across thousands of miles of ocean, directly, as they teased each other, to Northern Spain. That long fetch across the Atlantic brought storms with heavy waves and nothing to block their fury. Immense amounts of water would crash heavily into the granite coastline and the Dragon would watch over his womanNshadows as she ventured out on the rocks to take pictures.

Shortly after they had moved into the old house and started haunting the beach, the womanNshadows fell in love with the solitary island just off the coast. On it was the lighthouse that still flashed every three seconds and had the fog horn that blasted for the fishermen and lobstermen who plied their trade out beyond the Selvages. The lightkeeper’s house was falling down. The island abandoned from the 1970’s after the light went automated. It is a lonely island with nothing but prickly beach roses and small thorny brush growing waist high. Gulls and heron, terns and ravens had claimed it as theirs, but it was the wind that truly owned the island. It was, still is, an austere place where no one is allowed to go. Heavy fines are levied on anyone who tries to visit the island. This is because of the crevices that the ocean and the weather had created. It is a dangerous place for those who are arrogantly careless. It would be perfect for a woman from the shadows and her Dragon who never took anything for granted. The other odd thing about the island was that it seemed to have an invisible caul around it dampening any radio or cell phone signals. The Coasties who still maintained the lighthouse had stories about the place if anyone cared to listen. The womanNshadows and her Dragon listened.

A year long photographic study of the island gave her and her Dragon a vivid image of it even though they had never been granted permission to row out. They often dreamed of living there. Talking about saving the house and going solar, the Dragon had been fully vested in his woman’s fantasy of creating their own sanctuary out there, away from people, away from anyone who might try to hurt them. They would live there alone, the two of them, needing only each other. The woman could sail or drive a boat with the best of them and there was literally nothing the Dragon couldn’t do. He’d lived off the land many times during his years, through all his missions as a Marine. He would be able to create a wonderful life for his wife, his love, his womanNshadows out on the island. Then she could literally stand on the safety of their front porch and take all the photographs she wanted. He would have her safe in a world of his creation, of God and the wind and water’s creation. She would be able to be herself, to bloom, and he would keep her warm and well loved and so very safe. It was a dream that they comforted themselves with; just as soon as the kids graduated college, just as soon as all the bills got paid, one last mission out of the country to earn enough extra money to help out their son, her son who had turned to the Dragon’s in need of money for a medical issue, and then they would move heaven and earth to try to obtain the island as their home.

One week before Valentine’s Day, the Dragon’s heart gave out. His great heart seized suddenly in what his “daughter” later called a “covert mission orchestrated by God.” The Dragon who had once roamed the earth as a warrior for his country, and whose body ached down to his bones from all the clashes and wounds he’d survived, could not survive this final attack. He closed his eyes and died.

For his womanNshadows, the whole world went dark and the only light she sees now, the only one she looks at comes from the full moons; like the one that shone so silvery cold on the night her Dragon died. She prays that he never heard her crying for him. She hopes he never knew a moment of fear or pain, or regret.

Now the Dragon’s woman is alone in a world that seems to forget widows can hurt long after their husbands have died. She has dreamed of him. She had not dreamed of him. Have there been signs she’s afraid to cling to? All she has is the island and the metaphor it represents now. She looks for meaning to her life where the absence of the Dragon has drained her from all desire, at times, to continue. She looks for light in this dark sea of grief. She looks for the lighthouse.

The full moon calls to her. And in her dreams, so does her island with the lighthouse. Lately, when she manages to sleep at all, she wakes on the island. She knows it by heart so her dreams take her there. She’s on the island walking, talking to the Dragon. He is there with her, just out of sight, but she can hear him and she can feel him. The stars shine down on her from far away, so far away that if they have died, she doesn’t know it yet. She can still make her wishes. The light from the lighthouse is her permanent nightlight to fight off the dark that tries to tear at her sense of security. The lightkeeper’s house has been saved by the Dragon’s hands and there she lives with her dogs, her camera, and her sewing. She lives there with her Dragon. He is everywhere she looks. His photos are on the walls. His shoes and clothes hang in the closet. His voice is in her ear and his wings, his great and strong arms are wrapped around her.

Every time the wind blows, which on the island is all the time, it is her Dragon moving to be close to her, surrounding her with his presence, and telling every cell in her body that she is not alone. He is there with her. He never left. He is at peace, therefore so is she.

Once she manages to fall asleep, it is hard to wake her because she is far away. Once she is awake, she feels immense sadness that it was all just a dream but she carries the idea of it with her all through the day. She can momentarily close her eyes and see the lighthouse beam so white cutting through the darkest blackouts. She knows what it would feel like to have that solitary existence of a life on the island with her Dragon, just her and him. The constant wind would wipe clean any bad thoughts and push away any bad people that might try to take from what the womanNshadows and the Dragon share out there on their island.

The lighthouse is the draw. Like a moth to a flame it calls to her. When she closes her eyes she tells herself that at first it will be dark, but then there will be that beacon of light reaching out to her, flashing from the island, drawing her home.

The idea can make the days bearable.

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?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

this is me.....

my son gave me this. he saw it and thought of me. my son understands very well what i'm feeling. such a nice young man.

Monday, October 26, 2009

and then there was one

this island is off our cove. it has a name but my Dragon and i named it Isla (insert the Spanish of my name here). we always wanted to try to buy it from the Audobon Society since they never took care of it. the Coast Guard never maintained the lighthouse anymore either. there are unremarkably electronic bouys floating in the water for that now. since my Dragon has died, the island is being given away to anyone who will rebuild, maintain, and commit to live there for at least five years, but they'd love eight. they want daily readings on weather and bird activity. a simple observation of some science data typed into a computer every day. damn it all to Hell. we would have done that in a heartbeat. i am crush and somewhere my Dragon is roaring in frustration.

"man was born to live, to suffer, and to die and what befalls him is a tragic lot, but we must, dear Fox, deny it all along the way." ~ Thomas Wolfe

it sounds like good advice but what it is, is avoidance. i can no more deny that my Dragon has died than i can deny the pain that i am living with because of it. i am alone. i have to deal with the fact that he is gone every minute of every day. and every night.

i was born alone. i did the best to get by as quietly as i could. i was never a noisy person. it was a particular skill of mine to be able to go undetected through a gathering, a room, my life. in certain social situations, i can raise reticence to an art form. but i have always been able to write. i just never say it out loud. writing is a solitary journey of which i am very much at home.

in time, though, i became the mother of two children. the Three Musketeers. i was Athos, the one who carried the hidden sorrow, the melancholy one who took care of the younger two. but then a fourth came to join us, a Dragon; a seasoned veteran to lead us, to guide us, whose boot was the last one left standing in the dirt after we three had entered the safety of the house. it was the Dragon who always closed and locked the door.

the two younger Musketeers grew up and left on quests of their own, to start their own lives. it was me and my Dragon left in our home by the ocean. we were wrapped up in each other. we are each other's best friend, confidant, lover.

the February moon was full. it was four below outside but the Dragon and i were warm in our room. we had finished our pre-bed rituals and the lights were out. there was our kiss, slow, heartfelt. i had a slight headache and the Dragon was tired. i settled my head on his shoulder. my fingers were laced in his hand.

"i love you. good night."
"i love you, too."

i had no idea those would be our final words. seven minutes was all it took to bring my Dragon down.

and then there was one.

how empty my life is now that the Dragon has passed. while living, oh, Lord, you have to believe me, he was larger than life. his stories of his exploits as a warrior were the stuff of legends. he'd shake his head and blush at my awe at his abilities, but his life story is truly incredible. and he always came home to me. now that he isn't here to temper my hero-worship, he has become mythic.

i am separated from him by something i cannot understand. i am depressed. i sew. i try to sleep. it's always fitful and i wake up exhausted. and then i sew. if i didn't have the sewing, i think i would sleep for 22 hours a day.

i think of him. all the time. but i cannot "deny it all along the way." he has died and i have to deal with it, even though i am beside myself, even though i am devastated.

but maybe tonight i will fall asleep a little sooner than i usually do. maybe my Dragon of a man will come visit me. if i dream i can forget. for a little while i am not alone.

forgetting for a while isn't the same thing as denying the truth of what's happened.

{no one has accepted the terms of living on the island. it's too austere. it's too lonely. for me and the Dragon, it's perfect. for me alone, it's too dangerous. with good sense, the terms demand it be two people, no children under the age of 17.}

Saturday, October 24, 2009

i did the temperament thing Boo gave the link to us....

and this is what i am: Idealist

Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the "not visible" or the "not yet" that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.

Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a "soulmate," someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.

{this is true, especially about my soulmate and my children.}

Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of the population. {i always knew i was odd.} But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.

Idealists at Work
Idealists, as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. They are naturally drawn to working with people and are gifted with helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potential both on, and off, the job.

Conscience looms large for you; in almost any situation, you feel compelled to measure yourself, other people, and the conditions of the environment against your personal morality. You have a tendency to perceive questions of meaning in even trivial matters and to worry about far-flung consequences of your actions. In your ideal job, you are free to pursue depth rather than breadth and quality rather than quantity. You feel rewarded when your projects and daily tasks allow you to immerse yourself in your process as deeply as you "need to" in order to satisfy your inner standards of quality. You are uncomfortable with the notion of authority per se and may avoid leading, as well as being led, either consciously or unconsciously. As you experience them, adhering to fixed roles and rules amounts to an abdication of your responsibility to exercise your conscience.

most all of this is true. i've always been a dreamer. the Dragon liked that about me. and i'm glad because my only me because we ~ for a while, and a while is better than never.

i'm going back to my sewing now. i've muddled this up enough. =o}

Thursday, October 22, 2009


i've always dreamed big. the reality is that i'm a cautious person, learned behavior rather than my nature. but the Dragon had taught me that with him i could go anywhere. he would keep me safe. he would let me be who i was meant to be and do whatever i wanted. what i wanted was to go to two places. Tintagel Castle and the Isle of Skye.

i've always liked ancient places. there's an enduring spirit that is almost sentient and can give reserved people like me strength by simply breathing the air.

i found the photos above on a google search. the first is Tintagel and the second is the Old Man of Storr on Skye Island. the Dragon shared my love and fascination and had promised we'd go. i've been so down lately, for the last 8 + months, just since his death, so i thought i'd post something pretty. a dream of mine. something i am crossing my fingers and hoping someday i get to do. it's not a realistic dream in my current situation but we have to have dreams. it's what kept my Dragon going during his long years as a Marine and he was having, in the venacular of the Corps, a "bad day." to keep himself going, he said he imagined beautiful, lonely places where he could breathe and quiet himself.

Tintagel and the Isle of Skye represent two of these places. Austere beauty that will seep into my soul and, in a ephemeral way, bring me closer to my Dragon. i'll take my own photos and pretend he is behind me, beside me, and then i'll imagine that when he isn't looking, i'll take his picture. i'll pretend so hard that i will see him. he'll really be there. i mean, it's Tintagel Castle, the birthplace of King Arthur. what better place to believe you can see a Dragon?

Monday, October 19, 2009

in response to the responses

to everyone, i am overwhelmed with all your kind words of support. it humbled me.

to respond to some questions about the ex: i have no recourse through court to speed him up as this has been in place for so long now. he does pay and i am not late with my bills but he pays to his own schedule. he plays loose with the timing and it is my ill fortune to have not planned my meals better in or checked the bottle of Aleve in and around getting minutes for my cell phone and an iron to press the cuttings for the quilts. the thumb splint is a new thing i need that will become available to me when i finish the quilt on the table. as for social services, i do not qualify. i get these funds from him and i am working on making a go of my art. there are women worse off than i and funds for this are very limited as it is. it's a tough financial world out there for everyone. the woman squeezed my hand and said that it was unethical and immoral but not illegal. i am sort of stuck. if it gets too bad, i will break down and ask my son for help as i was forced to do immediately after my daughter's wedding. but this is a last resort. i write here to get the poison out. i write to cleanse my heavy heart. it is a way to call out from this little hole to let the world know i am here. we all want to be seen in some way, i think; to have our existence acknowledged. this is my way. my life is very small and i like that. i just wish i had a little bit more money to squeak by. but don't we all.

i have been living below the poverty line for quite some time so this tired road is all too familiar. the Dragon took me and my children on knowing the debt my divorce had left me in. we took care of my children first and they are now trying to help me as best they can. emotionally they are both very much there. they are adults you all would be proud to know. my anguish is more acute and my fear much greater since the death of my Dragon. before i had his arms to turn to. before i had his strength to draw from. and i had his words whispered in my ear. he always said, "i won't let anything happen to you. i will always be here for you." after a fashion that has become my new mantra. if anything truly bad happens to me, he will be waiting there for me. if i am given the task of continuing on in this life for a while longer, he is still with me. his voice is in my head. the knowledge of his love is in my heart. and his smile is everywhere i look as i have photographs of him up all over my little apartment. (it looks like a Dragon museum.) i talk to him all the time. i tell myself every morning and every night that he is waiting for me, that he is with me as i ask God to be with me. you know, that "Footsteps on the Beach" prose. "why one set of footprints?" "that was when i carried you."

maybe God is carrying me, or at least has me slung over his shoulder and that's why the ride is still a little bit bumpy. and the Dragon, when i close my eyes i can almost feel his arms around me. i swear i can hear his voice in my ear. and my heart tells me that he still loves me.

i will endure. i am humbled and enriched by all the comments to that previous posting and to the emails i got. sometimes strangers can be the angels we need to help us get up off our knees. it's the knowledge that some do care enough to reach out in the dark to try and find someone who has fallen along the road. a hero is defined as someone who can hang on one second longer. i'll never be a hero like the Dragon is, but i can hang on for one second. and another second. no long range plans. just second by second. it will add up.

thank you all. i am blessed at the realization that you are all out there. i have no other words to say other than i am humbled. tonight i am going to thank Him for the gift compassion and empathy from strangers. thank you all for your thoughts and concerns. i will get by. i did before i ever knew the Dragon. i did so and better because of the Dragon. and now, i will do what i can to get by in memory of him. as i wrote before. i am his wife and i want him to be proud of me.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

is this living or merely existing?

i'm not sure if i'm actually living or merely existing now. i feel like i'm drifting in a ven diagram of three overlapping circles. one circle is fear ~ financial and health. another circle is loneliness and hesitation to call anyone to simply talk, to let someone know i'm out here. the third circle is one of shock and numbness from the toll life has taken so far. fifty-one and i'm alone, without money, and hope is slim. all these circles overlap each other in that slice that is grief. it is the largest by far and the heaviest to sit in. i try to move out of this diagram but there is no map. it's a labyrinth of twists and sudden walls. i can't see over it and i can't find a way under it. i'm walking and walking but i get clubbed in the knees almost every day.

i am short of money, again. i am rationing food, again. my ex has decided i need to learn a lesson so he won't make another payment of the money he owes me until the first of the month. i've done it before. i can do it again, but i'm so tired. i'm tired of living. it's so hard. without the strength of my Dragon, i feel myself sliding down to my knees all the time.

it's ironic how much i want and how little i think i deserve. i want a small home, a townhouse maybe with a small enclosed courtyard for my two little dogs to play in. i want a small car so i can drive myself to the store. i want my quilts to sell, my sock animals to sell, my photographs to sell. i want my novels to be accepted for publication. i want to provide for myself so i don't have to make 5 days of food stretch for 14 days, or until he decides he will lower himself to make a payment.

i'm scared all the time. it goes up into a state of panic every other day or so, but i wrestle it down. i draw on my memories of my Dragon's stories of what he went through as a Marine. i draw on his strength from what i know he endured and transform it into my own strength.

there's no other option but to keep going for as long as life lets me. it's been taking these big bear swipes at me for what seems like forever. i want something good to happen financially, just once. i wished it could have happened while my Dragon lived. he deserved so much more than he got. he deserved a long, quiet, peaceful retirement. if you are a person of faith, it can be argued that he got it. that he's in Heaven right now with no physical pain and a soul at peace from the horrors of this life. i just wish he could have gotten some peaceful time with me here in this life. it's such a beautiful world. mountains. ocean. clouds. sunsets. the smell of bar-be-que. the sight of your daughter trying on her wedding dress. the sound of your son on the phone laughing.

i miss him. he's so handsome. his smile is so contagious. he laughs with all that he is. i could go on but it wouldn't matter to anyone but me. let me just say that to stand next to him was a powerful feeling for me. i cherish him so much. i just wish he were still here with me. i sit in this little apartment and wish for all the world that he were here for me to talk to.

going through each day in fear, loneliness, hesitation to let anyone who knows me how bad it really is, all the shocked numbness that he's dead, and all this heavy, oppressive grief is not really a life. i get up and i breathe, sort of. i dedicate myself to work all day, long hours to try and get it all done so i can have some more money to try to get a foothold, only to have to be realistic and know i'll never catch a break. he was my break. being in his arms was my one break from the tragedy that is my life. he protected me. he carried me at times. he made me laugh. he loved me and there was nothing that felt greater. having his full attention on me made me feel whole. i felt alive.

i answered my own question. is this living or merely existing? he's gone. the one person who cared every minute of every day what i thought, what i felt; who sought me out and wanted my love, he died. so i'm not really alive. i'm existing right now, and for as long as this fear lasts, of dealing with the ex and his payback for the divorce by using his weapon of financial oppression, i can't grieve fully. i can't live. it's so hard and so lonely without him. my mantra isn't working anymore. i'll have to make up another one.

money. i need some. i'm supposed to get a thumb splint. i'll get food before i'll get that. new glasses. you have to shake your head and laugh sometimes, but it's a bitter laugh, hollow if it's audible. i'm out of Aleve. even cutting them in half i didn't make them last. damn. things i can only write about. could never say out loud.

i haven't been able to stay at the widow's meetings the last two times. if i speak, i don't think i'd be allowed to say it all. and if i got cut off, i'd be so embarrassed. i'd hang my head and weep. they'd think it was for him, but it would be for me.

no, i'm not living anymore. i died, i think, when he died. i saw my future without him and knew what it would be like. not pessimism. it was survival skills kicking in. i was being realistic. and it's played out exactly like i thought.

i miss him. i need him. there's so little left for me to work with. i'm tired and in physical pain. if i could just get some food and some Aleve in me. and that stupid splint. i tried it on. God, such relief.

well, pity party needs to end. i need to get back to work. it's only 10 PM. i can get in at least two more hours before i completely play out.

if you got this far, thanks for reading. i'll be okay. okay is better than not okay. i'm the Dragon's wife, after all. he never gave up. neither will i. i want him to smile at me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Halloween and beyond

it's happening again. every night i go to sleep and the world doesn't end. the next day comes, time marches on, and i have to get up and live. my daughter got married. Halloween is coming and after that...... i can't cope with after that.

i had to go get more embroidery floss and i always feel a small level of thrill at the thought of looking at all the colors. i'd love to have one of each. can't but it's a dream. walked through the doors and, though i anticipated the early arrival of snowmen and Santa, trees and ornaments, i didn't anticipate the sudden inability to breathe.

it's going to come whether i can cope with it or not so i better put on my big girl pants and start practicing. i'll start with Halloween.

he loved Halloween. said it was the one day he didn't have to put on a mask. funny man. he was always a pirate. he said it was his true nature. he'd do the "arrrrr" sound deep in his throat and it was never hokey. the man could pull it off.

we'd go to the farm stands. they are all over New England. out of the larger cities, you can't throw a stone for hitting a small orchard that has a farm stand. i love them. i'm going to miss them. the photo is of the one we could walk to. yeah, an orchard close to the ocean. the man's land has been in his family since America belonged to the King of England. it sits close to Dogtown and isn't large by New England standards but is delightful to see considering all the terminal moraines and granite outcroppings that litter the coastline north of Boston gratis of the last ice age. the owner has enough dirt to maintain apple trees and a host of other vegetables. also bees for honey and, as a sideline his daughter brought in, a small shop that sells to the tourist crowds with things brought in plus art from the locals. she took in and sold my driftwood sculptures there. i was just getting a foothold in the community with my art - my sculptures, my stained glass, and my textiles.

we were going to have a good, quiet life by the ocean. we would go out after storms to find the driftwood and treasures the ocean had thrown back. i would create art from the things abandoned by even Mother Nature.

but he died. the only dragons i have are the ones i'm embroidering. he's around, i guess. but i hope more and more that he doesn't see me like this. i pray he's happy in Heaven and doesn't know how lonely and sad i am; that he doesn't see me ache for him like i do. i'm trying so hard to "get better" as it's been put, but i am slower i guess than others. i'm taking my time to "get better."

us finding each other was a miracle. i thanked God everyday for him. i told him every day how handsome i think he is, how much i love him. he knew. he knows. it's me that doesn't know. so much of my family has died. i'm so very alone. my two children are so great at making sure i'm alright. i just can't talk to them about some things because they are my children however adult they are.

i miss him. i got my full moon photos printed. all 9 of them. the one from the night he died and the other 8 that have occurred since he died. the man at the photo store said, "very nice moon photos. i can see your passion for the full moon." i didn't tell him it marks the passing of another month since my husband died. this "passion" seems too eccentric to put my face and name to it.

i saw the weather this morning. there's a hard freeze warning out tonight for Rockport. wind off the ocean will be chilling.

frost on the pumpkins. oh, Lord, how i miss my Dragon.

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.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

on their way back home

i finished another quilt plus some little animals (loveys) made from socks. they are spending their first night back at home since i got the baskets to make them.

i felt a lot of empathy making this one. making the little animals was extra. when i got the basket and saw the socks, i knew i had to. it took me longer but i can now say that the quilt and they socks transformed into animals are safely back where they belong.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

23 and 56

a man my Dragon served with in the Marines had several photos of him during the handful of years they knew each other after Vietnam. my Dragon had been back from his third and final tour of duty and was a senior in college when this picture was taken. he was 23 years old.
the other one is when he was 56 years old. i see the man i know in the face of the younger man i didn't get to meet.

it's been very painful to see these pictures but i'd rather be holding them and crying than not have them.

8 months tonight. i have a pain on or in my chest that is crushing me. i can't focus on anything, not music, not a television show. nothing holds my attention. i've stabbed myself with the needle so many times as full on dark approached that i had to stop working. i've worked from 7 AM until 8 PM on this quilt. i will have it finished for the meeting Thursday night to give it to the widow who has been waiting for it.

once it's done, i'm taking 5 minutes for myself to hold my own quilt that i haven't worked on since July. i just want to touch it. i want to bring his jeans to my face and see if i can still smell the salt air on them. close my eyes and try to bring forth what it felt like to be in his arms.

i'm tired and my hands hurt. my ears are ringing and i can't breathe for the crying. i wish i'd been allowed to have him for just a bit longer. he has such a beautiful soul. he made me feel important. cherished. loved. at least one person knew where i was every minute of the day. if i went for a walk alone, someone was waiting for me. i was anticipated and expected. someone would get lonely for my company.

i love him. i miss him. i talk to him all the time. i'm so lonely without him. my heart is broken.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fall on the Neck

it's now Fall on the Neck where we used to live. pumpkins and black pansies, hay and mums will be everywhere. the Neck was my favorite place to walk. it's a collection of old fishermen shacks that have been restored into shops and apartments over the shops. it sticks out into the harbor as a wind break. they started dragging stones and sand and dirt from the quarry to build it starting back in the 1700's. now it's a major tourist attraction.

i love the Neck because these old buildings have a life of their own and the people who live out there embrace the changing of the seasons.

Winter is dangerously cold with that frigid wind that comes either out of the Northwest from Canada - Alberta Clippers, or off the North Atlantic in the form of a N'oreaster. Heavy snows that blow and swirl and hide the world. It's so beautiful because it's so private. Everyone is home by the wood stove and, as with the Dragon and myself, it's a time to snuggle and speak in low sweet tones to each other.
Spring is a time to brave the still biting air and brush snow off the crocuses. A sudden snow squall may drop four or five inches but it's nothing to get upset about because it's Spring and we have heavy sweaters that have bright colors.

Summer is a hurry up and relax time. Tourists everywhere. Work hard and fast to catch their dollars for they all go home after Labor Day weekend. The weather turns and summer closes down. It's like a blanket gets pulled over the sun and, though it shines just as bright, it's not quite as warm.

Fall. It hits early and hard. Like it did last year when my Dragon was still alive. Like it's doing this year, according to my little desktop weather report.

I'm not doing well. I got checked and I lost a bit more of my hearing and I'm getting scared. I've lost more of my ability to find sound. I can hear it sort of but I can't place what direction it's coming from. the Dragon was learning sign so he could help me in those situations where i get confused. he was there to speak to me in my ear. he ran interference for me. i was in a safe place no matter where i was because i was with him.

but my ear aches a bit and will off and on now upon occasion. the tinnitus is always there now but the decibels rise and fall. did i mention that i'm scared? i get apprehensive if i go out. i got an amplifier for the phone and it helps with loudness but not clarity.

i wish he were here. i wish i could go sit with him and hug him and hear him say, "it's going to be okay, love." i want to laugh as he shows off that he's already learned all the "dirty" signs.

it's October and it doesn't feel like October here. but it does on the Neck. it's just the Dragon and i are no longer there anymore.