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, March 12, 2010

the Dragon on the Pedestal

i find i am in a position of needing, no, wanting to defend my Dragon on the pedestal.the above photo is my symbolic one for him on a pedestal. he is pewter here, and his pedestal is an old wooden spool of thread. it is merely a visual.

anyone who writes their own blog knows they will get comments and emails. so many are supportive that they seem to create a slender thread, much like the one that developed between the characters in the film of the same name. for someone like me who does not own a car and has no real contact with the outside world, this virtual contact is a slender thread of sorts that connects me to a world that i sometimes feel has largely forgotten i still live. if someone leaves a comment, or email, then someone knows i am out here, still breathing, still adjusting to a life without my Dragon.

i got an email from a woman who, under the guise of an eager expert, insisted that she knew my life and thoughts better than i. she felt my marriage to my Dragon, and even the Dragon himself, wasn’t as i remembered him. she wanted to tell me that in my grief i was not seeing him clearly. “He was not perfect,” she said, and neither was my marriage so i needed to, let me paste it in here, “tell it like it is, why don’t you?”

i think because i have related that my life is one where i have been beaten down, and now appear weak due to writing of my deep and lasting grief for a man the likes of which i will never find again, there are a few people who believe i am spineless. i am not. i am tired of life. i am exhausted from grief. i am not, however, deluded or insane. for all the creativity I am capable of, for all the dreams and fantasies i have shimmering in my mind, i am an intelligent, introspective, and pragmatic person. my personality leans towards a calm, quiet demeanor. but i know my own mind. like sees like and i think my Dragon saw the smaller, quieter dragon in me. i can become terse.

late last spring, this woman’s email would have made me cry because i was in shock over my Dragon ‘s sudden, tragic death. last fall, i would have recoiled in horror due to the seeming immense cruelty and perverse ego that thinks it knows someone it does not. between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, i would have been wounded as i was reeling from the many firsts that hit through that 2-month period. now, when i opened the email and read her words of infinite wisdom from the planet of It Has Never Happened to Me but I Know Some People and I Know How I Would Handle It, i shook my head at her naïveté. she feels she has magic vision and knows what went on behind closed doors.

allow me this time to pull up my keyboard and open that door.

the quick and ugly is that up until the moment i met my Dragon when i was 44, i was exhausted from being on guard. i had learned that the best way to go around was to sneak around, and the best way to get along was to adopt the bobble head strategy of “Yes, you are right and i am wrong. i’m sorry, so sorry. Please forgive me.” let me assure you it was merely a strategy to survive. i did lose a lot of myself. chipping away at anything means pieces are lost; sometimes a lot of pieces. but you have to remember that i got away. i got away from my mother and i got away from my first marriage. it took time but i left both of them with some a shred of dignity and my hands still pushing up on the heels of their boots. no one touched my mind. no one affected what i believed to be true nor changed the person i was when the Dragon saw me deep inside me. i was still very capable of fighting for the survival of my children and myself.

i still can. i can also speak to what is my own personal truth. so to the woman who believes she knows it all, let me address your concerns. this time i am not typing from my knees in grief. this post comes from standing beside my Dragon that i keep on the pedestal. i am protecting what was and what is. he will stay there because i, and only i, know what went on behind closed doors. i have been behind quite a few in my life and trust me, no one knows better than the person behind the door.

i never said my Dragon or my marriage was perfect. no, i have not gone back over each and every post. i do not have to. i know what i wrote. i have an eidetic memory plus my retention for the written word, especially my own, is excellent. i am grieving. i have not suffered brain damage.

what i said was my Dragon wasn’t perfect but he was perfect for me. our life was hard but our marriage was fantastic. i agree that no one is perfect but i believe there are degrees of acceptance and tolerance of another’s eccentricities that can turn them into mere quirks that quickly make them come to be cherished. this kind of acceptance can be seen as a necessary part of love so it can grow with the people who are involved, and can withstand the pressures and tragedies of everyday life. understanding a man or a woman is, i believe, required to make a relationship not only last, but be all encompassing, spiritually, emotionally, as well as physically.

my imperfect Dragon is on the pedestal. that seemed to put you in a dither. i had written that i had put him on a pedestal during our marriage, while he still lived, and i wrote that he is there now. i want to express clearly that, to me, and only me, he has the right to be on my pedestal.

within my Dragon, no one thing stood out as a glaring character flaw i had a difficult time accepting. i am one person who knows about character flaws. i was whipped, struck, and locked in a small room all before i got to third grade. i was cornered, choked, hit, pinched, grabbed, shaken, and other manner of things all before i met my Dragon. i know a character flaw when i see one.

but for the sake of argument let me try to relate some things i had to adapt to for the honor of being the Dragon’s wife.

his voice was loud. it would reverberate around any room. it could be heard over the roar of an angry ocean. i had to adapt to that voice. i have never liked loud voices. they can give me flashbacks to times when i was physically helpless and someone was in my face. when my Dragon was angry his voice was a very powerful instrument. if he was upset with me, though, he deliberately kept it soft. he knew what i had endured. i had told him before we married. he and i both thought it only fair to open our baggage along the way as our love for each other grew. that is another reason for, or defining evidence of why we love each other so very much. we were adults. we had both experienced a lot. we knew what we wanted for ourselves and for each other. if he needed to explain his side of something, he kept his voice softer. he related his being upset without sounding loud and intimidating. he didn’t want to add to that particular script in my head.

he was fearless while i was more timid. he would walk out on rocks that i had no business trying even with my graceless crawl. but he would look back at me with his adventurer’s smile and offer his hand. i would be afraid of falling but i wanted to go with him. i learned to trust him and reach out to put my hand in his. i am glad i conquered my fear for i got to see and do things i would have missed. and so would he because he would not have left me there.

he ate things i thought were gross. he had been all over the world and eaten bugs and slimy things that are considered delicacies, but to me seemed to need a shot of Raid. i never learned to eat that stuff. i just watched.

he wasn’t tall, dark, and handsome. he was my height, powerfully built, and staggeringly handsome. it’s a personal preference. no one needs to agree with me. i didn’t base my continued dating or marrying him on his looks. i went with my instinct. i went with what he said. i brought my children into our growing relationship based on knowing his character. i asked questions and i watched his answers as much as i listened to them. i love the physical man but i also love the man he is/was inside.

he...i am struggling with anything so horrendous that it was tedious and frustrating to have to live with him, to make me think, 'he is soo imperfect.'

he is/was a good man. he was sweet and kind to me. he knew my whole story and kissed all the hurts away. he was helping me build myself back up stone by stone. in turn, he gave me his dreams and his thoughts. we shared everything. we talked books and movies, foreign policy and religion, crime and punishment, God, Mohammad, and Buddha.

he never got angry at me, only angry at what had been done to me and the lasting effects. i would scare him if i stayed at the beach alone too long. he was afraid that with my new sense of security and faith in his abilities, i would get into trouble. then i would see The Face. intent upon finding me. am i all right? am i being crazy trying to lug some honking big piece of driftwood up to the house by myself? i had quite a large commission for my driftwood sculptures and i would go hunting after storms. he knew i got lost in my work plus i always got dreamy while at the beach. i love The Face. that's it up there at the top, the main blog photo right now, intent upon finding me. such intensity. when he saw me, he’d smile, and the sun would come out no matter how dark the day.

he had flashbacks but that’s not a character flaw. the dark recesses of his mind replayed things from his life as a Marine and i would wake to help him quiet down. i would love him back to me. i was grateful he wasn’t alone, that i was with him to be able to do this for him.

he was stinky when he was sweaty but his neck always smelled and tasted good even when he was stinky. i don’t mind dirt and sweat. i was usually dirty and sweaty right along with him.

i love his mustache and beard and he kept them year round just for me. he did like to keep his hair short and i learned to cut it for him. i like him with longer hair but we compromised every June. facial hair stayed. hair was buzzed boot camp short.

he let me play with him, touch him, caress his mustache and beard. i got to touch his muscles and his scars. some were rigged. some were smooth. he didn’t tell me how he got them all. i always wanted to know but some were too difficult for him to talk about. now that he has died i wish with all my heart that i got to enough of his stories, to enough of anguish to have brought him peace.

he could be a silent man but then i knew how to be silent with him. he was in awe of the majesty of where we lived as much as i was. he knew to look down and up whenever we were out walking. he carried the sack of shells and stones we always picked up.

it seems i cannot find a great many negative things to say. c’est la vie to the woman who seems to know it all.

he took over the enormous debt my ex left me with. he complained about my being screwed but he never called me stupid or reckless for not fighting for my financial rights. he knew i was fearful about the threats, or promises as they were referred to, for my children. he also didn’t go vigilante and make my ex disappear off the face of the earth. the paperwork would have been monumental.

my Dragon is/was my best friend. he was my confident. he knew more about me than my doctor. he was my mirror when “you stupid, fat bitch” echoed out of the past into the forefront of my mind. he had wonderful, ridiculous terms of endearment for me but the one he called me by most was, “love.”

his singing voice was deep and haunting but only when he sang our song to me. he loved to sing in this terrible voice he affected just to make me laugh.

he is the love of my life after a life of not ever being loved. i never felt safer or more valued. through introspection, i know i had to have more irritating habits and annoying quirks than he ever did. when he finally found me i was so tied up in knots that i was a very closed off and tense woman living in the shadows. he was taking the time and gentle care to untie the knots and set me free.

he was setting me free to fly with him wherever life was going to take us. that was one of his wonderful gifts to me, our gift to each other. being there for each other when our memories tried to wound us was another defining aspect of our marriage. we knew what the other had been through. we cared deeply about each other's spirit, each other's soul. we love each other.

so i put him on a pedestal. not many of us get to have someone in our lives for whom a pedestal is warranted. a Dragon found me. he is/was the most awesome sight to see. he had the powers of healing abandoned souls. he healed my soul. he gave my children someone to look up to and adore. so i put him on a pedestal. it is my pedestal. i built it for him. it will stand as long as i am alive. he deserves something much more grand, but a pedestal is all i own.

and after i am gone, he will still stand very tall over a world and a society who will never know all he did for it. but as long as i am here, i will write about a Dragon who saved a woman from the shadows. that i can talk about.


Suzann said...

So beautiful, so moving, so right, so holding you close and sending golden light to you - my sister in sorrow. Thank you for this amazing post - never to be forgotten.

judemiller1 said...

Beautiful words and so true. No one will understand how one person can come into our lives and save us from what was a ravaged life. Your Dragon belongs on that pedestal--I have read what you came from and if anyone ever deserved a pedestal--it is Dragon. He saved your life. He was and is a hero.

Suddenwidow said...

Beautiful tribute to your love. I don't understand how people who don't know us can comment about things they know nothing about. What we choose to write about is strictly our perogative and no one knows a relationship except for the people who are/were in it. If someone doesn't like it, then don't read.

I hope you have a peaceful weekend. I had a root canal today and now I'm off to hopefully finish my basement project. I'll find time this weekend to touch base with you via email. Take care.

Dan, in real time. said...

I read this earlier today while at work. I then got very busy and wasn't able to leave a comment. I was really taken by your willingness to take someone's misunderstanding of your relationship, and create a teaching point.

First of all, we do open ourselves up to such criticsm by blogging about our daily musings. The problem is of course that people think they are getting a complete picture of who we are. As we have learned, nothing is easy, and nothing is that simple. Yet, you have explained here so well, that with the complications, and disappointments, of life, we can choose to approach our relationships with a new sense of perfection.

The way you loved Dragon was perfection. When Michael got sick it brought out many of our differences, and I knew we needed to move through them quickly so that our time that we had left could be experienced fully with love. I see that even though Dragon's death was not anticipated, you too wanted to know that every minute of your relationship was spent loving what you had with each other. You describe this so well. I hope many people read your post and learn how to find the perfect balance in their relationships as well.

He deserves the pedestal, and you deserve the right to love and honor him however you choose.

I think it is

Widow in the Middle said...

I have read your blog from the beginning and have never felt even remotely that you were recalling your love or marriage in some kind of deluded fantasy of perfection. If anything, your words have sung of sincerity and deep honesty.

I heard "Now that he is gone, don't put him on a pedestal" numerous times after my husband's death. I never thought much of it. In my mind I was aware that we'd had an ordinary marriage with its shares of ups and downs but I was proud that we'd hung in there, through thick and thin until the end.

Dragon is waving is hand disgustedly and saying, "Pish, posh" to this woman - "Forget about it" he says, and he adds, "My love, I am so proud of you for not crumbling to this woman's words."

I love the picture you vividly describe of your Dragon holding out his hand to you on the rocks. It is a beautiful image of your marriage, the commitment you shared and the deep love, respect and trust between you. My husband would have left me on the rocks! That doesn't make him a bad guy or mean that we had a poor marriage. It just shows that all relationships and marriages are different.

It was lovely to read more intimate descriptions of your Dragon - his amazing strength and character. To me, that is the point here. We can all learn positive lessons from the good that people do in their lives. I think that is what happens when people read your posts. They inspire us to be better people in our relationships. And to have the courage to honor our deceased loved ones with the respect and devotion they deserve, in ways that are unique, personal and meaningful to us. No one should have to be shushed from doing that or criticized.

Bill in NH said...

Hello wNs, My Friend,

I'm trying to catch up with your writings since my long absence. I was very moved when you reached out to me and expressed concern. It was very comforting, and made me feel "cared for"... thanks again for that.

It sounds like that poor mis-guided woman is drastically mistaken in attempting to deconstruct that which cannot be deconstructed, by anyone but you.

It makes me wonder, when people criticize us, they seem to be telling us much more about themselves than anything relevant they're perceiving about us. Such people often have empty, unfulfilled lives, and have nothing better to do than find fault with others like you, who have dared to live, and now dare to testify of your living for all of us to grow from.

I appreciate that you shared this point so thoroughly, and eloquently, as it serves as a great lesson to all of us who post in here--that not everyone is qualified to understand what they're reading, and how we must remember (as you pointed out) that sometimes we will hear critique that might sound hurtful.

It also serves as a reminder to keep ourselves in check, especially MYself, as there were a couple of times when I felt I over-stepped boundaries and went too-far with my comment(s). In my case, my intention was always to soothe, comfort and validate, but I later have felt ashamed that my supportive effort may have gone too far, or was too much, or just "too something".... so I now try to think before I "speak" (write).

In my life when a person chooses to share something, I feel it is an honored privilege. Especially when they tell me I am the only one they feel comfortable sharing with. These times have enriched my soul, and ultimately have strengthened my character.

The things you have shared with us here are very special. Thank you for trusting in us, and choosing to share with us. Your eloquence is very valuable to me and will always be guarded and respected. Thank you! Bill in NH

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