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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

hitting "the wall"

in any test of someone’s endurance, mostly applied to marathons, there is a saying. hitting “the wall.” it has been seven weeks since the one year anniversary of my Dragon’s death on February 9th and i think that is what has happened to me. i have hit “the wall.”

i feel miserable. there is a tiredness permeating my body that feels like it has settled in deeply and for the long haul. i cry, still, easily. i worry my worries and fret my fears. i am losing interest in a great many things. i cannot turn my back on him. i cannot put my Dragon or his death in any perspective other than right beside me. i fight against thinking about how he died and my role in being unable to save him. it was so quick. there were no conscious good-byes for us.

“good-night. i love you.” only a moment of drowsiness and then his choking death from a fatal heart attack.

i miss him. i am lonely for him. i would give all the world to be with him or have him come back. i have moments through these days when i lean back in my chair, put my arms across my face and sob for him. i am not here if he cannot see me. i am over-wrought and so very sad.

i see each day play out. get up. take the dogs out. eat breakfast. sew. eat lunch. take the dogs out. sew. eat supper. take the dogs out. sew. take the dogs out. go to bed.

my daughter calls first thing in the morning and last thing at night. my son calls 3 or 4 times a week. i don’t have a car but it seems my library branch has had a stay of execution. i will be able to still walk there to check out my peeks into a world that i’ll never visit.

i am tired. i hurt. i am lonely. i want him back. i miss being loved by him. i feel like an ancient crone for whom her arthritis has taken her energy and grief has taken her life. i am looking forward to Camp Widow but even in thinking about that, i am becoming timid. i have to go, but i am, oh, God, i am really going to say it. i am afraid. i know there will be tears there but as many as mine? some people are going to be joyous there, happy at being united, or reunited, with friends. these people will have lives to talk about, and jobs to complain about. they have taken trips and will have done things and achieved victories i had not. i look in the mirror and i do not know who that woman is. segue to what would my Dragon think?

i look careworn and sorrowful. i look like i am grieving. i look like i have hit a "wall."

i have to remember what my Dragon would say. i need to close my eyes and remember him, his actions, his voice. “Love, you are so beautiful to me.” there would be no hesitation. he would move to me and take me in his arms and kiss me, wipe away my tears with his lips. he would let me see in his eyes all the love he felt for me. and i would feel warm. i would feel the heat of his gaze and my aching joints would become loose. my tattered heart would beat stronger. he loves me. i would bloom under his care.if only. but no more. there is an echo here when i call out his name no matter how many quilts i hang on the walls of this apartment to keep the sound from reverberating.

i pray. every morning. every night. i find i talk to God as if He were sitting in the next room, unseen but listening all the same. He knows how bad this is for me. He has to be trying to let me know that i’ll see my Dragon again if only i would stop crying and listen to Him.

but i am the one who is making this hard. it is me sitting outside, unable to go in. i think i cry so hard for my Dragon that i cannot hear anything but my own pain. thus, i have hit "the wall."

several years ago i found out i was losing my hearing. i am hard of hearing but i am not of the deaf world by any stretch of the imagination. i have one of those phones that will amplify incoming calls so no one knows, but of course, now you know. depending upon the surroundings i can hear enough of the words and read lips to follow most every face-to-face conversation. but at first it was difficult to face.

i was sent to ASL classes and the administrator of the school learned i was an artist. he wanted to hire me to do a mural for the wall outside the school. since some of the students were also sight-impaired to fully blind i talked him into letting me build a wall on top of the wall instead. the results of my labor were fully appreciated by both deaf and blind alike and i was happy with what i had done. what i had wanted to say to them without words had been understood. the wall is a visual and tactile experience. it can be looked at and touched. i had wanted it to say, “i understand.” i took a risk with it but i received a lot of hugs from the children who attended the school, and from the grown-ups, like me, who were having to make some adjustments to their lives.

{it is ironic, isn’t it? i built a wall and now, years later, i’ve hit one.}

when i met my Dragon, i had to explain about my little hearing problem. he was very good about it. he told me he had a friend who had been in artillery. he had to yell at him every time they saw each other so learning to talk a bit with his hands for certain situations wouldn't be a problem. and if he forgot certain signs, he knew how to yell. it was a moment that could have been awkward for me, but he made me laugh and relax.

i told him i had built a wall and he wanted to see it. i did not tell him anything about the design as we drove up. i wanted to get his initial reaction, unprepared and therefore unbiased.

he was amazed at the intricacies. he really liked it. he said when we owned our own home, he wanted me to make one for us. the wall was really the first time he’d seen anything big that i had done. he told me he fell more in love with me because of the person i was that came up with it.

i feel like my wall now. i try on faces to see if i can look better, appear better, or make myself feel better, but i do not. i do not feel better and it has been 13 months now. i have hit “the wall.” i do not know how long i will feel this way. i do not like feeling this way but if this is part of my own personal journey then i can only accept it. i can only keep getting up, walking the dogs, sewing, etc. you know the routine. it does not vary in any way except on Mondays when my daughter comes to take me out. maybe it will be over soon.

and if this is the way i am going to feel from now on, i will accept that, too, for two reasons. one, because no one really knows about grief, do they? and two, because to feel this badly for this long, and longer, our love really was a fairy tale come true. the Dragon and the silent woman from the shadows. who would have thought it could happen?


judemiller1 said...

OhMIGOSH--that wall is wonderful!!! Such a huge undertaking--I can't imagine doing anything like that--I can't even make a quilt! And you do all of that and more. If you hit THAT wall, you could feel your way out and off. Maybe the wall you hit is smooth and you just sort of slide down it into a puddle on the ground?

I have Tinnitus, which effects my hearing and--the noise from it disturbs me at times. I understand that problem.

August will be a good thing for you. Don't get scared and chicken out--I think you will find many friends---understanding friends--there.

Thinking of you as I look at the full moon--Judy

Suddenwidow said...

I love the wall you created!!! It's amazing, but I'm not surprised because you are amazing. San Diego is going to be great. I'm nervous too, meeting all of you guys for the first time and wanting to make a good impression. But I just know in my heart that it's going to be a wonderful weekend, surrounded by people who are all leading their individual lives yet are all tied together by the fact that we understand what it's like to lose the love of our lives. Don't be scared, just jump into the water with me. I promise it will be warm and refreshing, or we'll just go and drink wine until it feels that way :) (No, I'm not an alcoholic, just looking forward to a glass of wine at the ocean)

Split-Second Single Father said...

It all makes sense now. You have been on my mind so much more than normal the past few days, and now I know why. I am so sorry that your grief is still so raw. You're right, no one really knows about grief and why it affects us each so differently. I hope that you can find moments of peace in the coming days.

twinmom said...

Your wall is magnificent! And what a wonderful gift you gave to that school, particularly those who can not see. I lack your vision, that artist's eye. I am in awe once again.

Your post reminds me of that scene in "Sleeping in Seattle," when in talking about his grief over his wife Tom Hanks says that all he can do is keep breathing, to get up each day and keep breathing. Wrap yourself in those memories, of him telling you of your beauty, kissing your lips, loving you so. In these dreams, perhaps you can find enough air to get through another day. HUGS to you my dear.

Dan, in real time. said...

The wall is beautiful. I wish I could stand before it and touch each of the faces. I think I would take in the many emotions and experiences the faces convey. You are a wonderful artist.

I too am hard of hearing. I'm supposed to wear a hearing aide, but haven't worn it since Michael died. There is nothing I want to hear.

I had needed the hearing aide for a long time, and when Michael and the kids finally said to me that I was missing so much that they were saying, I decided it was time to do something about it. The day after I ordered it Michael and I were painting his aunt's living room. Michael was very soft spoken. At one point his aunt said to him, "Mike, does Dan ever say he can't hear you? Because you mumble so much. Speak up!" I laughed so hard, and told him that he was going to have to pay for part of the hearing aide now that I find that the problem is not just my hearing.

You know, I hate when friends or family ask what I've been up to, or what's new. I look at them strangely, and say "nothing." I feel like I have nothing to report. I'm sad, I'm angry, I'm half way giving up on life. Even this week on this vacation. I'm going through the motions for my kids. But the truth is, I am miserable. I would rather be at home in my own bed, in my own room. At least there I feel a sense of Michael. Out here in a new place gives me no connection to him, and it is very difficult.

Please don't worry about how to be at Camp Widow. Laugh, cry, be numb. Whatever you feel is okay. It is difficult for me to know where I will be at that point. Right now I am miserable. My day to day life feels like a routine as well. I do what is needed in the day, then return to my reality. Missing Michael, and feeling sad. It has not changed at all.

You are in good company.

love. Dan

Widow in the Middle said...

Each and every post you write is a rare and beautiful gift. Somehow there is always a deeper connection - today with your feelings of hitting the wall and then seeing the wall you created at the school - what a fantastic work of art! I am also thinking of the post where you talk of the heart carved on the cliff by the ocean. Another amazing post and story.

I would like to attend Camp Widow but am not sure it will be financially possible. I am certain, however, with with your going that you will be embraced and loved by many. There is nothing to be ashamed about or worried for being who you are at the time. As Dan noted, he is feeling miserable today. All of us accept each other here in the blogosphere for who we are and how we are feeling. But I suspect that even if you are still deeply grieving (as I'm sure others will be too), that you will have wonderful times there, be an inspiration to many and make even more connections.

womanNshadows said...

thank you all for the things you said but most of all for taking the time to type them. i miss him. i want him. one morning at a time. one afternoon at a time. one night at a time.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady,

I haven't heard back and now I know why. You're upset. Please don't be upset alone. Email me when you need to talk. I'm out here ready to listen. I never thought much about God. I always figured he'd given up on me. I like what you said about talking to him like he's in another room. I'll have to think about that. Your husband loves you as much as you love him. He's with you. I know he is. He'd never leave you. Not really. And that wall is incredible. He talked about building you a studio and then putting in a lazyboy chair for him to sit and watch you work. A Marine's wife shouldn't cry alone so you email me when you want to talk about him. I know if the world had been different, he'd do it for me.

Semper Fi

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Oh love. I want you to make another wall, faces, maybe in paper mache like that Celluclay (have you used that before? It's cheap and lightweight), and then sell them to us at Camp Widow. You'll break down the wall into pieces for all your friends and supporters.
Don't worry about how you'll "be" at Camp. I'm so looking forward to giving you a big hug! And I owe you a letter, too.



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