i was very introverted as a child, always drawing and reading. my mother found a local artist who sometimes took in students. he didn't like to take them younger than twelve but i was so quiet and respectful, so much wanting to draw and learn to paint with oils that he took me at seven. i stayed with pencils and charcoal for years until he finally gave me my first set of oils. i was ten.
everyone in the class was older than i was until i turned fourteen. then i had peers but i had such seniority that it was like i wasn't part of the class.
i took lessons from this man until his death when i was sixteen.
back to the fire. we had painted a still life that had these wonderful drippy candles. it was clean up time and the boys were acting up. or out. who knows with boys. anyway, one of them spilled turpentine on my bare leg. i was wearing cutoffs. then i was shoved into the table where the still life was set up. candle fell. flame found the turpentine on the back of my calf.
i remember staring at it. i can still close my eyes and see that flame on my leg. it sizzled and popped. i remember being absorbed in staring into that flame, not feeling it at all. yet. i felt distanced from it.
my teacher came running up and lifted me up and then down onto the floor. he had an old shirt to cut off the oxygen from the fire.
cutting to the end of the story, i had second and third degree burns on my calf. i was lying on my stomach in the back seat of the car while my mother drove like a manic to the hospital. i remember it was almost summer in Texas (where i grew up) and i was shivering. i thought that was odd since i had been burned, the flames almost burned onto my retinas, or memory as it seems, but i was so cold. i don't remember much after i got into the ER but i remember it was the first time i ever remembered spending the night at the hospital.
i remember waking up in the night alone in a hospital room. back then parents didn't stay. no one stayed. nurses came and went but no one stayed with you, no matter how young or scared you were. i woke up because i hurt. the pain was terrible. i don't even remember labor hurting as bad as the pain from that burn.
and i stayed cold.
shock. numb. cold. and then the pain.
that's the way i'm feeling now.
the fire is my Dragon's death. the shock is that he really died. the numbness lasted for so long. through the funeral, the move here, trying to find an existence where he wasn't there, my daughter's wedding, the holidays, and the 11th month. my birthday, our birthday, my daughter's and mine, is Saturday. she and her husband have a gift certificate left over from their wedding. they are taking me, and her, out to an Italian restaurant Saturday evening for our birthday. Italian food, wine, my daughter and her husband. and then home alone.
i thought the pain had started but it hadn't. i think it was the discomfort of the numbness wearing off. i'm cold now. and i hurt. i don't want February 9th to come. i definitely don't want Valentine's Day to come.
the 14th can come but the thought of hearts and lace and couples is bothering me. it shouldn't. they have what i had. they should be allowed to have it. i envy them because i don't even have to close my eyes to feel his touch, hear his voice, smell his skin, or remember his love.
everyone should experience a love like i had (have) with my Dragon. but now that he has died, i feel a niggling bit of envy at what i lost. it's not that i want what they have. it's that i had all i could ever want and had to watch it go away.
it's the perfect metaphor ~ at least for me. it's like a fire. it's like being badly burned. you see it start to happen and you can't react fast enough. there's nothing you can do to have stopped it happening because what happened was beyond your control.
first you go numb. then you get cold. very cold. the only thing comparable is experiencing hypothermia. and while you're still freezing cold the pain hits and there is nothing like it. it splits you from your body until all you want to do is leave your body, get away from the pain.
like i want to distance myself from the idea that my Dragon is not going to walk through the door of my apartment, take me in his arms, and take me to bed and make this all a very long, bad dream.