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.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

my birthday thoughts

if you are reading my words and are among us who mourn your spouse/fiancee, there is nothing i can tell you that you do not already know.
if you are here reading and have never known such a tragedy, there is nothing i can tell you either for there is no way to prepare.

my birthday is Saturday, the 16th, the first since my Dragon's death. i feel a wave of depression coming on that i do not know how i will handle, but probably i will not say anything. i mean what's the point. most of you reading here understand. so i will do something different, something to argue with the cold that lives inside me. i want you to meet my Dragon.

i know. you've read about him, BUT, you haven't been introduced to him. you only know him as my hero. let me introduce you to the man.

he hated having his picture taken. he was wanted in several countries for patriotic actions against said country and having his picture taken went against the grain. he never got a tattoo for the same reason though he let me paint a dragon on him once. that was a fun night.
he was my height which made kissing him and dancing with him in the sand perfect. he had big shoulders and thick muscles. his back even had muscles. his legs were tree trunks but speaking as an artist, he was perfectly proportioned.

i could wear his shoes but he could not wear mine.

he loved black coffee but being a Marine that kind of goes without saying. Rule #23. Never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live.

his favorite color was brown until i showed him the color of the ocean before a fast moving squall when the sun was still out. "turbulent sea foam turquoise-y green." (i reserve all rights and privileges to the use of that color name though i don't think Crayola will ever be upset or make a crayola long enough to stamp it on the sleeve.)

i was the only one who could tell him to do something and forget to say please and thank you but i never forgot and he appreciated that. he never "told" me to do anything. he asked sweetly and we did it together.

he wasn't afraid of anything and i had to be careful not to dare him to do anything i didn't want to see him do. he'd do anything.

he never thought it was odd that my relaxation reading was theoretical physics.

he could figure a way out of anything and contrary to popular myths about dragons and Marines, his first thoughts didn't involve violence. but he knew how to do that if it meant saving his men, his country, or his family.

he wasn't afraid of the dark or heights. for training once, they had him do a HALO dive after midnight landing on the deck of a darkened ship in the middle of the ocean. i asked him if he was scared and he said no. he said he'd been more scared of me saying no to his marriage proposal than anything else he'd ever done.

he knew a lot about survival. he hated that guy Bear Grylls but respected Les Stroud, as long as his show didn't look faked.

he'd been in every country in the world except for eleven. i'd point out a country on the map and ask, "what did you do here?" once he said, "i walked through that one to get to this one." i smiled and teased, "did anyone see you?" he smiled and said, "no, because that would have been bad." he meant it. you always knew when he was serious, even if he was smiling.

he loved the Marine Corps. he loved his country. Semper Fi.
he was the leader of his fire team. they got little ceramic skunks because they were always stuck with the "stinky" jobs.

he told me that he and his mom never admitted to each other that he'd been in Vietnam for even one tour much less three. she referred to it as that "time you were off with the Marines." her letters were addressed to California so he let her pretend he lived on base there.

he'd eat anything, cooked or raw. if it crawled, walked, swam, or flew, he had a recipe for it. he'd eat a lot of things raw, too. he said that when he was away from home, he usually wasn't in the tourist part of the country so he would find something to eat and keep it down. protein was protein. but he didn't mind that i was a picky eater. he called it an "endearing quirk." and he'd eat the sides i didn't like.

he didn't kill spiders or mice, etc. he'd catch them and set them free outside, and yes, he sometimes could catch a fly in the air. he never killed those either.

he loved old houses, history, the ocean, and John Wayne movies. so did i.

he loved going to bed early and not going directly to sleep. so did i.

when he found out that i collected rocks and shells and sand dollars, he started collecting them, too. he picked up every rock he ever found.

the day of his funeral, after it, when it was time for my daughter and i to drive away from my ocean forever, i took all my rocks and shells and sand dollars to our beach. it was Valentine's Day. it was my gift back to our beach since i don't think i will ever see it again. i set all my collected treasures free.

i kept his shells and sand dollars and rocks though. i put his bigger sand dollars in my grandfather's cufflink box. i covered some of his rocks to "protect" his fingerprints which i fully believe with all my heart are still on his rocks.

he finally grew to accept that i adored the ground he walked on. i never thought he was a monster. his ex-wife learned what he did and screamed at him. she called him a murderer. that's why she divorced him. he was a terrible, evil person as far as she was concerned. he'd been divorced for 12 years when we met. i thought he was a patriot. i thought his eyes looked closed off. i wanted to make his eyes smile so i made it my sole purpose in life to let him know that his ex-wife was just a person, one person, and that she was wrong.

i told him i loved him every day, several times a day because i thought he was just so cool. he always blushed.
when he got a call, picked up his go bag to leave, i never cried. i kissed him and told him to be careful. he said he was proud of me for not crying in front of him but he knew i was scared for him and cried while he was gone. when he would come home, it would take me two weeks to stop smiling. i held his hand all the time. i would sit in his lap, on the floor at his feet asking his questions, letting him talk it out, or i would sit scrunched up against his side. he loved that i would do that.

the day my ex-husband met my Dragon, he had dropped my son off from taking him out to supper. my ex was upset about something and called me out to the driveway. to make his point he grabbed my hand and bent it back in a way that physiology and nature did not intend it to go. it was just what he did and i never showed emotion or he'd get too excited. if i waited him out, he would stop and let go. but my Dragon didn't think i needed to wait like that. my Dragon came out and said in a voice that was low and soft and devoid of emotion, "release her." when my ex did, my Dragon slapped my ex with an open hand. the crack was very loud. louder than they ever show on television when someone does that. my ex fell on top of the hood of his car. my Dragon leaned over him and said, "if you ever touch her or her children again, i will come into your home and wake you up. mine will be the last face you see. i know how to do it. it's what they trained me for and i have to tell you that for you, my moral compass would bend way back, as far back as you had her hand. that means that for you, i would enjoy it."

my ex has never touched me or either of my children. i still ask though since my son has elected himself as the ambassador to keep the peace. he still goes to see his father but only, as he says, "you keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

i never saw my Dragon threaten anyone before that or after that. it was a side he didn't let me see. he was upset that i saw it that time, but i told him, "i know you only use your powers for good." he hugged me. it was a turning point for us. he believed i was in his life to release him of his demons. he said, "because you love me, i'll find absolution." i cried behind his back because it hurt me so much that he felt that way about himself.

he thought it was funny that i don't care for diamonds. but he wanted me to have one so he found the ring you see below. the diamond is very tiny. it's called a "pinpoint of light." it made him think of a star in the sky. it's my engagement ring. the other band is my wedding ring. it has "love always" engraved in it. i've taken the set off twice since he gave them to me. the first time was when i sat beside his body in the hospital after they told me he was dead. i took the ring off and turned the heart that he had facing out towards him, back towards me. my heart is his. it is not for anyone to feel is open to them in any way but a quiet friendship.

the second time i took my rings off was for this photo. so you could see how well he knew me and accepted my jewelry quirks. i put my rings back on before i uploaded the photo.
he taught me all i know about love.

he isn't here for my birthday. he died. i believe the world is a darker, colder, and less safe place because of that. i'm sure there is someone out there who has taken his place in the seedy, not tourist parts of the world, where things need to be done, but i think my Dragon was the best and most honorable. but that's me.

i miss him. terribly. and now with my birthday coming i feel a darkness rising up, threatening to make me hurt hard again. so i wanted to introduce you to the man i know. now i don't have to think too hard. i can come back here and read on Saturday when i need a fortress against the pain.

thank you for sticking with me. btw, i love him.


Boo said...

I think that it was brave of you to write this post, and hope that it was cathartic for you to announce to the world just what your man is made of. My father told me that "men are a dying breed". He was right. Your dragon is one of the few left. And I agree, the world is a less safe place without him here. I feel strong right now, so I am holding you in my heart, where you shall be completely safe. I know how hard the first birthday is to get through - but if I could, you shall. Feel and surround yourself with his love all day.

I love you

judemiller1 said...

I know tears were running down your face as you wrote this. Tears are in my eyes as I read it. No wonder you felt so safe with him. An extraordinary man.

Dan, in real time. said...

I'll be honest, in that I don't always understand how some men choose the paths that they do, and at the same time, I also don't take for granted the naive sense of security that men like your Dragon has afforded us. He clearly was a noble man, worthy of your love and devotion.

Your description reminds me of how the right woman can really soften the edges of a man's toughened up heart. (this from the gay guy) You were clearly the right woman for him. He was clearly the right man for you. We have definitely heard loud and clear, all that he provided for you. It sounds like he would say the same of you.

Suddenwidow said...

Thank you for sharing your Dragon with us. You were blessed to have found each other. Losing the person who is the perfect compliment to you is so heart wrenching and impossibly difficult to live through. I know. But we're doing it. We've made it this far. And we will keep moving forward, taking them with us.

I will be thinking of you on Saturday, like I do everyday. And while I know how hard the day will be, and I know how deep the sadness can be, I know you will make it through. You are an amazing, talented and wonderful woman. Your Dragon saw that in you and all of us here who love you see that too.

I hope you are able to be with your grief on Saturday. I found great sadness yet comfort in digging out all my old cards from Austin, having a glass of scotch and allowing my tears to pour out as I talked to him. And today, I am relieved, yet at the same time sad with disbelief, that I made it through the first birthday without him. One more first. Only a few to go...

Ok, enough rambling. Just know that I understand and am here, thinking of and praying for you.

Sending you hugs,

P.S. Theoretical physics for relaxation reading? You are too smart for me!!!!! I hope I can keep up with you in San Diego :)

womanNshadows said...

thank you all. i am so down right now. i sew and find myself suddenly crying. i miss him and i feel like i'm trying to body surf a tsunami. but it's about 11:30 PM and i've set aside my sewing for the night. i found a new book that i'm starting tonight written by a mathematical physicist. it's his presentation of a universal end-time theory. i know you are all on the edge of your seats. i'll keep you posted. =0}

and Debbie, with right hand raised i so solemnly swear that i am not that smart. i just have a diverse literary appetite. there had to be a balance somewhere. i had to have an appetite for something since i don't care for vegetables, especially cooked squash. yuck.

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