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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

when i lost him, i lost me.

don’t shake your head at me. please, first, just read what i have to say.

there are some who have nothing lives; lives that are only survived rather than truly lived and enjoyed. as a child i was deathly afraid of my parents. i wasn’t what they wanted and my personality was not confrontational or rebellious. also, i was too afraid. corporeal punishment was not a theory with my mother. she believed in it. i was not a bad child. i simply loved being outdoors searching for rocks, drawing what i saw, wading in the creek, patting the cows on their noses, cloud watching, star gazing. i was a geeky kid who loved riding my horse and found i could escape that way or through books. i wanted to be a child and to grow up in peace. instead i was molded and criticized and threatened and pounded into something i could never be. i was never her dough to be shaped. i was a human being and all that shaping hurt.

my first husband never loved me and i was too naïve to see through the lie until it was too late. marriage can be a trap and one partner can evolve into a POW. that person may have to wait for the right opportunity and become the collateral damage to keep children safe. appearances can be deceiving and some of the prettiest people are wearing mask upon mask upon mask to hide what really lives inside. i tried once and tragically failed to escape. the cost was untold, to this day. i know what it cost but i can never tell. cost untold explained.

and then i was allowed to have my Dragon.

i will never meet anyone like him again. there isn’t anyone like him. he is the last of a breed that the world will probably never need again. even when he was in his prime, there were not that many who did what he did and now, the way the world addresses war, everything is different. he’d tell me his stories and i’d be in awe. i could see in his eyes that sometimes he was in awe of the fate that kept him alive out there to come back.

there will never be anyone like him for me for a myriad of reasons not the least of which is the kind of person i am. if my own parents didn’t like me, my brother abandons me because of my conversion to Catholicism, and being quiet and polite didn’t make my mother-in-law like me any better than my husband, how can i believe there will be someone like my Dragon who will see me and care about me? Dragon is one of a kind and how he fell in love with me is beyond me but i have seen small miracles.

i’m not down on myself exactly. i have simply learned from history that i do not grow enough on people for them to want me as anything more than a supplier of goods, an armchair therapist, and/or a crutch to use for a while and then discard.

my Dragon stayed with me. he believed in me. we were two halves of a whole.

i know what is said to those who are grieving. “You will want to put them on a pedestal, but try to remember that they were not perfect. They had flaws and so did your marriage. If you glorify them, you will never get past their death to move on.”

i get where this is coming from and why it is put out there but what about the tiny few of us, me for instance, who already had their spouse on a pedestal? i already had my Dragon in a sacred place in my heart. our marriage was great. our lives were hard financially but our love was true and good and everything i’d read and heard love could be. our marriage was poetry. after living as i had in fear and pain, to be the Dragon’s wife was akin to believing God had suddenly remembered i was here and wanted me to have a gift. my children were gifts but worked so hard to protect them. in a way, i still do, just no longer in the physical sense. but mental abuse is just as tiring. just as exhausting.

my Dragon was a gift in that it seemed he was solely there for me. he loved me. he had flaws, sure, but i loved his flaws so to me, they were just part of being with him. i knew what he’d been through as a Marine and how it had changed him. i love him for all of it. he is the most incredible person i have ever met and yes; there is that pedestal that i will always make people walk around. i kept it dusted and taken care of while he lived and i will do it now that he is dead. in essence i haven’t changed at all.

people, you have to understand. he loved me and for someone like me you don’t know what an incredible thing that is. he valued my opinion. he thought i was smart. he loved my art. he loved my heart and my mind. he thought i was pretty. can you imagine that? me. he thought i was pretty, beautiful in fact. “My lovely bride.” my own mother didn’t think i was pretty until she had dressed me and tried to put make up on me. i thought i looked like a six- dollar whore and was one of those girls in the restroom at school, though i was rubbing it all off rather than putting it on. from that i got the nickname Fluke. i wasn’t into fashion and makeup and didn’t start reading Vogue and W until i got a job as a fashion illustrator and it didn't coerce me into wearing makeup. i still do not wear it.

my Dragon taught me about sex and making love. i had three children, one of whom had died, and i knew nothing about sex. i’m not going into it other than to laud my Dragon. for him, with him, because of him, i did it right. making love with him was exciting and i was allowed to instigate. he rejoiced when i gave him my trust. he was in a quiet rage at the scars under my clothes but he never scared me with it. he told me those scars were not my fault. he accepted what i looked like because he saw more than my shell. and we did it like, well, like rabbits. i was trying to make up for lost time and he was more than willing and quite happy to…. let's leave it that his appetite for me matched mine for him.

he loved me. i was important just because i was breathing. i had been born and for the first time, that was a good thing.

he protected me and i’ll never have that again. not in this life.

i read in one book that, “one day, he will become a wonderful memory of a wonderful time in your life.”

he is a memory now and putting a label on him – “good memory” – and being set upon the path of relegating him to my past as a “wonderful time” in my life demeans what he meant to me and what he gave me. my life, my whole situation was out of the ordinary and what he did for me, how much he loved me, can’t be put in a box. what is it about death that makes people want to label it, put it in a box, and put it away on a shelf in the closet so they can “get on with their lives?” why do people expect that as the Golden Rule of Grief? there should be no rules or expectations that are supposed to be applied universally. i am getting on with my life but that includes thinking about, continuing to love, and missing my husband.

and for probably the first time in my entire life, and you’d have to really be privy to some delicate knowledge, i will not apologize for loving him and missing him. in honor of my Dragon and all the kickass things he did, i am not going to apologize for keeping my torch for him lit.

i have failed at so many things in my life, daughter, sister, first wife, friend, and at the widow’s group. each failure hurt deeply but i have the knowledge that i did not fail in loving my Dragon. i love him so very much. i miss him deeply. he talked to me and i got to talk to him. we valued each other. i was seen. no one saw me like that. i have never registered for long on anyone's screen. now that he’s gone, i am gone. i am the same person but without an advocate. i do not have him beside me gazing at me lovingly. i am not noticed in stores. “Excuse me” doesn’t draw a single bit of attention to me. i am back under the control of the “Umbrella Corporation,” as it were. i plead. i receive. i work. i market myself. i wait for commissions.

pass that bit of information around, please.

see that face? see how serious i am? see that anxious expression? i can do so much more than the Memory Quilts. go to the photo gallery. i can do very pretty things.

i need the VA to hurry. i need more work. i need to escape this “Raccoon City-esque” life i’m back in with He Who Shall Not Be Named.

i want my Dragon. oh, God, miss him.

he protected me. i can’t get that back. for years i protected my children. i deflected rage onto myself while trying to find someone who believed in my theory of masks and men who look like choirboys but are not.

one of the widows from the group called me on February 9th. i had not heard from her since before Thanksgiving. i picked up only because she had called from a different number or i would have ignored her call. she has told me i am her last resort, back up buddy. she wanted me to talk to her because all her friends were busy and she was suddenly missing her husband. he’s been gone now for over three years and “you just don’t know what it’s like for them to be gone so long. the third year is worse than all the others.” she wondered why i wasn’t talking enough to her and i told her, “today is the first year anniversary of my husband’s death and i have been crying all day.”

her reply? “That’s nothing. Try three years. I’m really down and ……..”

yes, you have deduced correctly. i hung up on her and added that number under her name to ignore.

“The death of a husband gives the new widow a chance to fulfill her dreams in a new life, free, happy with the memories of her husband but ready for her new life that is being born.”

i started laughing when i read this. who knows what this woman’s marriage was like for her husband’s death to warrant this bit of insight. if it had been my first husband, i have to admit i could have gone along with it but i would never had said it out loud. i cannot disparage someone who would not be able to defend himself. the level and type of grief depends upon the relationship. my relationship with my Dragon was different so my message is different.

i am who i am. i lived and tried to fulfill my dreams, reach for love, and leave a legacy of some kind however small. if i am not who i started out to be, i cannot go back to that girl. i don’t want to. she didn’t know the Dragon. she never knew love.

i have had a nothing life that i have only survived. my legacy is my children and my art.

if anyone looks at the signature on my work, it is not my name. it is explained on my website. if they forget me, then that signature will end up being a mystery. but not to the eternal energy that will outlast us all.

i love my husband. i am not “getting over” his loss quickly. when i have the money, i am going to buy myself a widow’s ring from a website i found. thirty-eight dollars. it’s not much but to me that’s about four or five meals. but i will get it. i want it. for some reason to me it feels like a statement. in my head i hear, “back the f*ck off, you f*ckers. i love my husband and i am grieving for him. he saved me. he loved me. so f*ck off.” yes, i have a breaking point. i can get mad. however, what i'll say is, "yes, i am a widow." that's all they get.

i still love him and i believe he still loves me. death does not end a relationship but transforms it into something on another level. i’m living in two worlds. i’m alive here and working, making quilts, asking for more. but i am looking at the sky, at the sun and stars and at the moon. he’s up there. he’s waiting for me.

i am not who i was meant to be because he died. i am a reflection of what i could have been. he saw me and i was part of the world. now i am a ghost because i am not seen as a person. i am talked down to or not spoken to at all. my few friends are virtual. my life is in a small apartment. i live mostly in my head with fantasies of an island, of my Dragon, and of the moon.

16 July 1969 ~ NASA
North Pole moon ~ unknown

when i lost him, i lost me. i’m like a kite whose string has been let go. my Dragon died and the string was dropped. i’m on my own journey and i don’t know what i’ll see but i know i’ll never be seen again like i was by him.

he saw me. he was mine. i lived a whole lifetime of love in just eight years. i am his widow. i’ll never be the same.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bunny and her moon

Bunny has been keeping track of the moon. it's waxing again. she is an avid stalker. when her earth turns to a position that puts the moon out of sight from her balcony, she silently slides outside to continue her vigil.
she stares at the moon, taking photos until she is comfortable that she has a good selection from which to glean the right one. the one that speaks to her. that one moment when the moon and Bunny, and her tortured camera, were one. sympatico.

Bunny loves the moon. it's her tether to the next life. she hopes that when she dies, she will fly through the sky to the moon. she wants to stop and rest there. see, Bunny is tired.
first to die was her mother. then her grandmother. her beloved grandfather. her son, her "little love." her father. then her stepmother. an assortment of feelings of grief registered through her mind and her heart. her soul was damaged by the deaths of her grandparents and her son. but then came the death of her Dragon. and her soul was ripped down the middle. it was akin to someone sharpening a knife and wanting to show off it's razor-like abilities. this someone takes a piece of paper and slices it in two with the knife. Dragon's death was like that for Bunny.

her heart cried out but nobody heard. it splintered into a million pieces and slipped out through the two pieces of Bunny's soul. she gave up her heart and soul on that night to her Dragon so that he would have those pieces of her to keep until they could be together again.

so now she wants the moon. she wants a vacation. she doesn't want anything or anyone to hurt her anymore. she wants a break. so when she dies, Bunny is politely asking God to let her Dragon come get her and take her to the moon. she and he will sit there and stare back at the earth, the big blue marble. and though she will think it's very, very pretty with all it's oceans of blue and it's swirling, twirling clouds of white, Bunny will never want to go back. because nothing can compare to being on the moon with her Dragon, resting for a spell, until she isn't so tired anymore. then she'll let her Dragon take her to the gates of Heaven so she can sink to her knees for permission to enter.

Bunny isn't a complete doormat. she believes she has an inside connection. her Dragon. her husband. her love. the one who has her heart and soul in his safe keeping.

Friday, February 19, 2010


He knew my father. My Dragon. He knew my father and the first time he saw me I was sixteen years old riding flat out across the pasture on my horse.

He was back home in Texas from Vietnam and back at university. My father was a rancher, an agricultural auctioneer with a great bid chant, and he had a noon agricultural segment at the local television station. I grew up on 135 acres of prime black soil in central Texas on the flood plane of the Brazos River. My Dragon came back from war and attended Texas A&M where my father was an alumni, attending after his own war, WWII. My father liked to give back to the ag boys by giving them weekend jobs like hauling cattle, unloading and stacking hay in the barn, helping with vaccinations, and working auctions with him running cattle through for the buyers. My Dragon was one of those boys. I never paid attention to them. My father was strict and I was afraid of him so I didn’t hang around like some daughters would if their dad had college guys around. I would finish my chores, saddle up and ride off to get away from his criticism.

Thirty years later when my Dragon and I realized we were from the same area, he told me of the man he’d done work for. He said he’d seen this man’s daughter, and that my hair reminded him of that girl. He’d seen her riding bareback with only a halter on the horse out across the pasture at a dead gallop for a barbed wire fence. He said he held his breath. Then he watched as the horse leaped over the fence. He gasped out loud because he said my father looked up and saw me do it. All my father said was, “I hate it when she does that. That kid’s got a wild side to her and it’s going to be the death of me.” Then they went back to work.

I had another chance to meet my Dragon but we missed each other again. He was a senior in college, still doing things for the Marines, but basically a full-time student. I was a freshman at the college in my hometown 2 hours north. My parents didn’t allow me to go away to college since I was barely 17. I had optioned to test out of my senior year of high school to skip all the drama and get on to college. A girl I’d made friends with had a boyfriend in the Corps at A&M and we went to all the football games. We’d stay in a motel room together that her boyfriend would get for us. He’d hook me up with blind dates and we’d all double to the games, and go to the parties. We always had a great time. The boys in the Corps were always very respectful and fun. I loved going.

My friend’s boyfriend would tell stories of his Battalion CO. He said everyone looked up to the guy as a kind of larger than life version of what they all wanted to be. He said the guy was a veteran of Vietnam with 3 tours under his belt, was fair, a bit of a wild man, and very much a mystery. He carried a full load of classes, but would disappear for a couple of weeks here and there. Once, he said, this guy came back battered and recovering from a gunshot wound, but he was 100% there for all the drills and the more physical training the Corps guys did. I wanted to meet him but I was only 17 and my friend’s boyfriend thought the guy was too old and much too experienced for me. He said the guy had a nickname from his days in Vietnam with a Force Recon fire team. His nickname was Dragon.

And yes, thirty years later my Dragon and I talked about it, and we both agreed that I had been too naïve for him and he was not in the right place in his head for me. After he graduated from A&M, he left the country for several years involved in stuff that “if I told you I’d have to…..,” yeah, that stuff.

I had left college to live and care for my mother full time at the hospital in Dallas while she was dying. Long story of how that came about. After she died, my father told me he wouldn’t support me anymore now that she was gone. I got a job as a fashion illustrator for a department store, and then moved over to an ad agency as a designer.

During this time, he came back to base his home out of Dallas. You have to come home sometime every once in a while and for Dragon, it was Dallas, in a condo, two blocks from my apartment. Yeah, I know. We went to the same grocery store, the same bookstore, and had a lot of friends in common. After my mother died my father paid for the first six months rent for me until my job allowed me to take over my own care and feeding. I was in a little apartment where I had met a lot of people to hang with at the pool. It was the seventies. What can I say? The pool was our version of the coffee shop, Central Perk, in the show “Friends.” Guess who had friends at the apartment complex? Guess who, when he was in town, would be invited to come sit at the pool?

We didn’t meet then and I don’t know if the heavily muscled guy I saw sitting across the pool with some of my guy friends was him or not. But there was this one time when there was this guy with a military haircut, who had muscles that you don’t get in a gym, was sitting across from me and I was dying to meet him. He didn’t swim but only waded because his shoulder was bandaged. I asked one of the guys to introduce me and he said, “No way. He’s way out of your league.” When I persisted my friend said, “No. He’s not your typical guy. That’s not a paper cut. He’s like a soldier or something and isn’t around all the time. You’re too innocent. You’d break each other’s hearts. “

See, that guy was my Dragon. I didn’t understand back then, but I do now. It wasn’t the right time. My Dragon and I talked about it. He said his mind was dealing with what he did. They kept sending him out. He kept coming back. He said to me all those thirty years later that he wondered if he kept surprising them by coming back every time. He said I was exactly what he was wanting but felt then that he couldn’t have. He said he would have broken my heart because he wouldn’t have felt worthy, and by leaving me, it would have broken his.

We did meet one of these times. I wasn’t making enough to get by so I took a second job as a janitor at the city hospital in downtown Dallas. I worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights from 11 PM until 7 AM in and around the Knife and Gun Club. That’s what they called the ER on weekend nights. Oh, God the stories I could tell.

We had this one guy come in with an 8 ball from a pool table stuck in his mouth. He’d done it on a dare but the pain overrode the alcohol and his jaw muscles locked up. His buddy brought him to Parkland, the hospital, because the bar manager had made 8 Ball Man leave his car keys in lieu of getting his 8 ball back. Hysterical. But then there were the bar fights, the train wrecks, the bus accidents, and all the other tragedies that come in. I cleaned, emptied trash, and mopped from the ER to the morgue. I saw lives saved and lives end. I heard people crying and saw people go into shock. I was 21 and my mom had been dead for a year.

Once night there was a bar fight and the cops brought in several people. People were driving themselves over. Cops needed stitches. People needed surgeries. I was mopping and emptying trash like there was no tomorrow and for a couple of them, there wasn’t. It was a wild night and I was tired. My hair was in its usual ponytail. I had covers on my shoes because of all the blood. And there was this guy. I overheard one of the cops say he was a deputy that had been called to help with the riot. His face was had bruises and contusions and his knuckles were bleeding. His arms were big, hard with muscles. He had on a short sleeve, black t-shirt that was torn and covered with blood. It was dripping all over my floor from the knife that was sticking out of his rib under his left arm.

I thought he was handsome. I thought he looked familiar. I was peeking at him when one of the nurses handed me a pack of gauze and said, “Give it to the bleeder and tell him he’s next.” They were that busy.

I walked over and handed him the gauze and told him he was next. I know I was staring. He looked up at me and I really got to see him. I looked him in the eyes. I felt woozy. I am sitting here typing this consumed with memories and I feel woozy again. I cannot tell in words what that eye contact did to me. I was breathless.

One of the nurses saw me peeking at him again and again. She said, “Sweetie, he’s sitting in the ER with a knife in his rib. He’s not exactly what one would bring home to meet Mom.”

I told her my mother was dead. She didn’t bat an eye. “Then I’ll be your mother and tell you, no. Cop or not, he’s seen more of the world than you ever will. Grow up and then look him up.”


Twenty-three years later I was introduced to a man who became interested in me. I told him I didn’t want a knight in shining armor. I told him I wanted a dragon. That’s when he smiled and asked me out to lunch, “Just as friends. You come from Texas. I do, too. At least we’ll have that in common.”

We had been going out for a month and were sitting in a theater waiting for a movie to start. He leaned into me and asked me if I’d ever worked at Parkland in Dallas. He said I looked like a girl he remembered. I turned in my seat with my mouth open. I asked him, “Knife in the ribs?”

“Yeah.” His eyes were the same. We stared at each other. As the lights dimmed he grabbed my hand. He whispered, “I thought you were cute. I tried to get your phone number but there was a nurse that was a battle ax.”

That started our comparing notes.

I think it was destiny. I think we were meant to be together. I just wish we’d gotten started so much earlier. There were times when we’d talk about our lives and how we ended up together and he’d say, “I wish I’d walked around that pool and claimed you then. Or at the hospital. I should have gone back and found you. We could have had a lifetime. I could have watched you be pregnant with our babies. I would have loved that.”

I would have, too.

Oh, God I miss him. I feel like I’m falling inside myself, like a black hole. I can’t believe it’s been a year. It hurts so bad. I don't know why it's so bad tonight. I just want him back. I feel so hollow without him. He means everything to me. Everything.

Now he's a Dragon in Heaven. I saw this cloud and got off only one photo. My battery died. I was crying. I dashed inside and replaced them but when I got back outside, it was all over the place and the dragon wasn't there anymore. Just like my life. He's not here anymore.

I just hope that cloud was a sign. I need it to be a sign. I want him so much. We were meant to be together. Our whole lives kept leading us together. Providence. Why did they take him away?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

musings after one year

i walked a mile with pleasure

she chatted all the way

but left me none the wiser

for all she had to say.

i walked a mile with sorrow

and ne'er a word said she

but oh, the things i learned from her

when sorrow walked with me.

my first year without him is over. the anniversary of his funeral on Valentine’s Day is over. i have no big excuse at the moment for feeling this badly other than he’s gone. he’s not coming back. i’ll never touch him, hear his voice, or be in his arms again.

if you’ve read my writing before you know i love the ocean.

i would give anything to be back walking the beach with him, climbing the rocks, and taking my photographs. i miss it with a heartache that won’t be healed. i have never found the serenity i experienced living by the ocean. it didn’t matter how wild the weather was, the ocean calmed my spirit. i felt free there. i can breathe there. wading. swimming. walking beside it. holding his hand and listening to the world, and his voice.

my Dragon’s and my last day together was spent by the ocean. we walked the beach and talked about nothing. we laughed. we shivered in the cold. a few hours later he was gone. i had no idea for a whole year what to do. i was confused and lost and desolate.

but a year has passed and from just barely into this side of it……. i am still confused and lost and desolate. when i sew i can stay focused on this life, mine, the one i still have. but when i stop sewing, or if i pause, i think about what it would be like if my Dragon was still alive and i know the truth. i would also be alive.

Unless you can muse in a crowd all day

On the absent face that fixed you

Unless you can love as the angels may

With the breadth of Heaven betwixt you

Unless you can dream that his faith is fast

Through behoving and unbehoving

Unless you can die when the dream is past

Oh never call it loving.

~ E. Browning.

my mind is a muddle, or maybe it’s a symphony, i try to look on the bright side. my mind is a maelstrom of thoughts, songs, pieces from literature, poems. i think of things and they all make me think of him, remind me of our time together, glittering moments in the sun or under the moon and stars.

Tennyson wrote of the walls of Camelot, “They were never built and therefore built forever.” magic is like that. some love stories are magic.

i know about time. i know how long a minute is. waiting for the Paramedics to come, doing CPR, talking to him, trying to convince God to let him stay with me. then waiting for the doctor at the ER, alone in a cold waiting room, minute after minute. there were ten of them that culminated with an empty life, a shattered heart, and a broken spirit.

i know how long an hour is. i was agonizingly alone for 20 of them waiting for my children to fly to me, to get to me. hour after hour sitting silently alone. i just sat in a chair holding his coat. i would get up to walk the dogs but then i would return to that chair in front of the picture window. i stared at the ocean the rest of that dark night, and all that day, and into the evening until my children came to me. of all the days following his death that are lost in a haze, i remember those 20 hours of solitude. no sound except the ocean and the gulls.

and i watched the sun come up.

there it is. the first sunrise over a Dragon-less Rockport, over a Dragon-less world. the pain in my chest was a terrible thing to feel. i still feel it at times. he’s gone and he’s never coming back.

i know how long a year is. it is endless days and nights without him. i can't smell him, hear him, touch him, talk to him, cry in his arms, languish in his arms, be in his arms, his strong arms that kept me safe and warm, and loved. now that i know, facing the coming years without him is bringing me to my knees. i’m trying to focus on work so here is some news.

i won the Camp Widow photo contest. i sent in two so i’m not sure which one won. my quilts and i will be part of the expo at Camp Widow. there will be an article about me in the newsletter Hope Matters. i have a new website up. the link is on the right side over there under his photo. i’m trying hard to drum up more commissions, also by letting people know i can do more than just the Memory Quilts. please go to my new website and see if there is anything i can do for you, or someone you know. pass it along.

sewing, quilting, creating things is my tether to this life. but i wish my life was beside the ocean again.

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,

And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

~ Masefield

but i’d trade being beside the ocean for him. i’d live in a desert to be with him again. i’d live here in this apartment and give up ever seeing the ocean again just to be in his arms.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day ~ Dragon's Funeral One Year Ago

i got the quilt in the frame tonight. i'm working hard i think to bury what day tomorrow is. Valentine's Day.
it had always been a day we spent together honoring our love and our marriage. we did it right. cheap and intimate at home. being me, i made him books. i wrote stories with illustrations inside. i spent a lot of time on them. i loved doing it for him and he always loved getting them.

he told me that he'd never had anyone love him as i do. and i do. i love him. that his funeral was planned on Feb. 14th, what that day meant, never occurred to me. maybe it was fate. for my last Valentine book that i made for him, i'd researched the origin of the day, of the Saint. i read Dan's blog earlier tonight and he mentioned St. Valentine. for my first Valentine's Day alone, i mean the one that isn't his funeral since i was never technically alone, i think i want to relate what i gave to my Dragon two years ago, our last Valentine's Day together.
"Valentine's Day has it's origins in blood, violence, persecution, and sacrifice, all the things that make love so infinite and worthwhile. Valentine's Day has evolved into something that is a mere shadow of the power it once held. except for us. you and me."

i use several pages to explain all about why i love him, admire him, and am in awe of him. i give him the words to make him smile, blush, and shake his head at my adoration. he is so funny when he thinks my writing enters hyperbole.

at the end of this book i wrote and made for him, i tell him why Valentine's Day is so special.

"you, my love, are a warrior and you above all should not be in the dark about Valentine's Day. the priest Valentius secretly married soldiers because he felt Claudius's edict that no soldier should marry was wrong. if anyone should have a blessed eternal, sacred love, it should be a soldier. thrown in prison and awaiting execution, he had hope enough to fall in love with his jailer's daughter and he sent her love letters signed 'from your Valentine.' he was executed on February 14, 270 AD.

Valentius died for love while loving someone. he was a warrior as well, albeit on a different battlefield. we celebrate this day as we do every day. for you and me, for all of us, a priest risked his life for the warriors of his parish and they risked all seeking him out for the sacrament of marriage, for love. love is never a waste. you and i share a love that is a sacrament, that is a bond for all eternity.

never wonder how or why i love you. never wonder why i am here for you. no one deserves love more than you and no one can possibly love you more than me. no one will quietly hold you in the night, stroke your hair, your arm, or speak in low, soothing tones to you like i do and always will. i'll face down your demons and banish them all from your mind.

i am the person your soul talks to in the night. i will always be there....
because i love you."
my Dragon is my life and i was his. we had talked once about what to do if one of us died. we had also talked about how we thought it would feel, how we’d “be” when the other had died. he and i both spoke of it as if we were the same coin and one side had been obliterated. damaged. we spoke of it as if we were Gibran’s “lute quivering with the same music.” yes, we were two individuals but our lives, our dreams had evolved to become one instrument, Gibran's lute. i know if a string breaks on an instrument, the musician simply replaces the string but in a marriage such as ours, the string cannot be replaced. they don't make them to fit the instrument that is us, the Dragon and his woman from the Dragon is a Marine, Force Recon. he fought hard for his country and his will to survive was very strong. there were a myriad of reasons he earned his nickname. his inner strength to live and get his men back home was one of them. "Dragon" was an honorable name to be given. his stories are wild and simply incredible to me. he told me once, though, that nothing he did or endured during his years was as bad as the mere thought of having to live without me.

"if you died, i would continue. that's all. i would just continue like a wolf that had lost it's mate. i would lose the sun and the moon and the ocean. i would lose my joy of watching you live. i would just continue and wait to be able to join you."

i feel the same. i have no idea if this Valentine's Day culmination of my first year without him has me so deep in melancholia that i am wallowing, but i will ride this ride to the end. i will feel fully what my heart and my mind give me to experience. i will fully live this grief until it evolves. then i will experience that.

as Jimmy Bufftet sings, "some of it's magic and some of it's tragic but i've had a good life all the way."

i had a good life starting when i met my Dragon. i had a wonderful life with him. and i will have a life as his widow albeit a sadder, lonelier one. i will hold my memories of him and keep his stories safe in my heart. maybe next year i will be able to hold a special celebration for him.

my warrior. my Dragon. my beloved husband. "my immortal beloved." you are worth all this pain. i love you. i always will.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bunny is not a Phoenix

my daughter and i went out together, just the two of us, for supper last night. Olive Garden. it was nice. just the two of us. i wore my pendant as i always do when i leave the apartment. the waiter saw it and thought it was pretty. he then asked if anyone was joining us and my daughter said, "my husband is at night school." i touched my pendant and said, "my husband isn't here tonight."

we went out together because she works all weekend and knows how bad Tuesday was, and how bad Sunday will be. she’s upset that she cannot take off to be with me but that’s life. she works so hard and i put on a good face for her. “Sy Fy weekend horror movies, honey. sewing, quilting. i’ll be fine.”

but Sunday will be the last day of my personal week of this Powerful Omniscient One Year Milestone. i’m thinking of hosting it every year. i’ve learned things i knew and things i didn’t know. i’ve learned that i do not match anyone else’s journey.

i read and have been told that the anticipation of these milestones is sometimes far worse than getting through that day. my own year milestone for him, over him, whatever, has lived up to my imagination’s hype. instead of being worried over something that played out less than expected my mind was preparing me for what it knew my soul would feel.

it was rough. the echoes of that day, that week, the funeral on Valentine’s Day are in my head and try as i might, i cannot push them out. they are unconquerable right now so i’ve let them take over. maybe it’s supposed to be this way for me. maybe it's the healthiest way for me. i am such a sensitive person. i focused on sewing as i cried. i kept the television on with one ridiculous show after another, while i cried as i worked, but i was alone for the period of time when i most needed someone with me. some lives do not allow for what we need even if we try to make arrangements, but oh, what i would have given to have someone come sit with me. stay with me. hear me talk about him. he is such a lovely man.

i needed someone with me to talk to, to be with me, to talk about him to. i love him so very much. oh, God, it’s like a fire licking away at me. i burn with it. i love him and he’s not coming back. he’s gone and i break at the concept. how can i do this without him for another day much less another year?

i miss his touch. he was always touching me; my hand, the small of my back, my hair, my skin. he loved touching me and i loved being touched by him. my mother wasn’t affectionate. my first husband hated touching me. i think he’s a closet amoeba. if he could have reproduced alone, he would have. but my Dragon loved touching me and taught me that my body wasn’t abhorrent. he taught me how to make love and be loved.

snippets of songs run through my head whether the song pertains to my loss or not.

“give me a kiss before you leave and my imagination will feed my hungry heart. leave me one thing before we part, a kiss to build a dream on.” ~ Satchmo

“10,000 miles, my own true love, 10,000 miles or more. the rocks may melt an th seas may burn if i should not return.” ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter

“i’d rather be dreaming than living, living’s just too hard to do. it’s chances not choices, noises not voices, a day’s just a thing to get through, living’s just too hard to do.” ~ Loudon Wainwright

the night after my Dragon died, my children were with me. we were together sleeping in the same room. there was a radio in the next room, unplugged. never worked. we all woke to music. Sara McLachlan’s “Angel.” the exact part that was playing was the chorus.

“in the arms of the angels, fly away from here, from this dark cold hotel room and the endlessness that you fear. you are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie, you’re in the arms of the angel. may you find some comfort there.”

that’s the part that was playing when my son got it to stop. and by that i mean he set the radio in the middle of that room away from the wall because it still wasn’t plugged in. but it was the room where he died. it was the room of the door crashing open and the paramedics and police coming in to fail us both. we had all three heard it and we all wanted so much to believe it was a sign that he was "in the arms of the angels." i can’t listen to that song without sobbing.

i love him and i wish i could talk to him. i just want to see him once more. i want to see his eyes smile at me in love. i want to hold his hand and walk along the beach.

i want what that song says, ‘love will come and set me free.” ~ Brett Dennen

so as you can see i’m having a very rough time. for me, there has been no glimpss of sunlight. there has been no release from this since that moment his heart seized.

“cast me gently into morning for the night has been unkind. take me to a place so holy that i can wash this from my mind, the memory of choosing not to fight.” ~ Sarah McLachlan.

we drove away from the ocean after the funeral, after i put all the rocks and shells and sand dollars i’d collected back on the beach, right at twilight, at the water’s edge. i have all the ones he collected. only his. because I want only him.

we made it to New York before crashing at a motel. i have no idea what the desk clerk thought as i walked in carrying a black box of ashes and a folded American flag and a broken arrow. i don’t give a flying f*ck. it would have been dishonorable to leave the flag and the broken arrow and i was not leaving my Dragon alone in the truck. oh, God, the thought brings me to my knees. him alone in the dark. but he's not afraid of the dark and i love it because i can see Heaven better.

the next day when we saw the sign for the state line of where i am supposed to live now my daughter pointed out a cloud. the photo is below.

i had been crying thinking he would not know where i was when she pointed it out and said simply, “he knows, mom. he’s watching over you.” she went into this monolog about how he’s the Dragon and covert was his middle name and black was his favorite color. she said he knew where i was every moment he was alive and that it was a little scary how good he was at it. so of course he knows now that he’s really become a dragon and is flying about in Heaven.

so if you’re watching and listening, my love, i miss you. i love you. i want you. it will always be this way.

~~ the year has been hard. the anniversary has been awful. i’m his Beach Bunny, not some beautiful golden phoenix. i am not rising from the ashes, his ashes, “a new person with a new life filled with wonderful memories of his shining love to carry with me on my new adventure.” (someone actually wrote that and got it published.)

i’m not like anyone else. i’m like me. my life has been different than some. i had no loving childhood, no happy first 44 years of my life. my happy life didn’t start until i was 44 and my Dragon found me slinking from shadow to shadow trying to stay out of sight. i'm so very tired of living but living is all i'm left with. just living day to day. i’m doing what he and i talked about. Bunny will stay his bunny keeping his ashes close until i die. then our ashes can be blended and given to the ocean we both loved so very much.

as for Valentine’s Day? let it come. let it do it's worst. i’ve already drowned. i’ll look at the majesty of the rollers coming in from the bottom of the ocean.