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, July 30, 2010


i have food again. i made a box of Cheerios, two heat and serve bags of white rice, one bag of yellow rice, and 3 eggs last for 8 days. and green tea. lots of green tea.

i think it's been harder lately because i haven't eaten much. but yesterday, he went ahead and sent the funds so i could get food. my daughter had to intervene. she had to beg him. because it isn't the first of the month yet.

i have food again. i was so careful while shopping. i decide meals for each day keeping in mind the two keywords: leftovers and rationing. small portions. two meals a day. when my daughter and i brought the grocery sacks inside the apartment, we both sat for a minute, and i cried. i have food again. she cried, too, from frustration, from the relief that i was going to be able to eat a real meal last night. i ate it too fast and almost got sick. but it stayed down and i am so grateful. i woke up this morning and i had one egg and a piece of toast with jelly on it.

i am grateful yet i often bury my head in my hands and sob. i wish he hadn't died.

i'm having a harder time budgeting $200 a month for food. yes, i've applied for food stamps. for some reason though, my being honest and telling them i have applied and am waiting on the VA holds up the process. maybe next week. maybe next month.

my Dragon never let us go hungry. no matter that we paid for colleges, apartments for the children, cars, insurance, medical, and the debt that my ex ran up, his fines, the trouble he caused with the IRS and an insurance company, everything he did to me and left me with, we got it paid for and still had money for food and a roof. my Dragon is my rock. and without my rock i am alone and tired, and scared, and fighting bureaucracy.

they went ahead and closed the VA office closest to me so i am having to start over and get on a new list somewhere for one-on-one grief counseling as the wife of a veteran. almost 18 months out and i still cannot find anyone to talk to. by the time i find someone to talk to i'll be dead myself and it won't matter.

i read about so many people with support ~ friends, family, options for grief counseling where they get to talk and be heard. i am feeling hostile and i wonder if it's lack of food and/or terror at what else life will dump on me. there was just a note posted on my apartment door. in this day of every office trying to go paperless, they have just stopped online rent payments. they want bank checks now. they tell me this on the 29th. i don't own a car. i sold it to pay off New England bills and to get moved here to be close to my daughter. now i have to call her and tell her that either today or Monday, the 2nd, i have to be driven to the bank to get a check. i'd cry but it will only give me a headache and i've had too many of those lately due to lack of food.

i feel surly at times. i think i may want to give up being online. i can't see the point of this anymore. other than trying to network for commission work, it's been upsetting for me. it has been a reinforcement of what one widow from that old group i tried had said to me. of all the things two of the women felt i needed to hear, this is what hurt the most, or i stupidly let it hurt, but it reverberates in my head still, after all this time because nothing has changed.

"the only reason anyone from the group was keeping up with you was because they were waiting on their quilts. once they get them, they go back to their lives. you have no life. if this were India, you would be an Undesirable. you have no money to spend on anyone and you have no car. i'm not coming over for you to cook me dinner anymore. there are people who bring me better food to my home. i'm tired of always being served eggs at your place."

that really hurt and it still does. i do not have what it takes to be a "good friend" to this woman and i do not want to, and yet, this is the bar to which i feel i am measuring myself, or am being measured. this is not the south of my grandmother's era, or even my mother's. i feel like i need to produce a commercial and post it. "why i can be a good friend even if i don't have a car and cannot buy you things." what i am doing is filling my time here on this earth creating a body of work that will outlast me.

and i am a good mother. and i am a good wife. i love my husband. yes, he's dead. i know this better than anyone. but i still very much feel like i am his wife. and my love has not dimmed in the face of all this misfortune. he is a Marine and Marines aren't wealthy. and there will be money from the government. they just take their time.

this is my fault really. i had expectations of meeting people and making some friends, of finding a friend, just one. but i now see that i have come into established lives where there is no room for someone like me. this is a big city. if my daughter had lived in Rockport, i could have stayed and walked everywhere. i would have been seen. i could have joined the "library ladies" that met once a week in the basement where all the old, really cool stuff like maritime maps and ships papers were stored. all of them were widow women and gossiped like it was 1955. it was wonderful down there. and they knew me and my Dragon because we love, love, love maps and we were there all the time. they would have hugged me and chatted. we would have sat and brought our sewing and talked and talked about "our men." it was such a lovely and diverse group of women. widows who had lost their husbands to the sea. widows who had lost their husbands through long, drawn out illness, or suddenly, like i had to face.

they would have made a home for me there in the basement with all those old books and maps. and i wouldn't have had to pay them anything.

if i have commission work, i don't need people. and i can create work to build inventory. so i guess i don't need people. ah, here it comes full circle. i don't really need anyone. it would just be kinda nice to see someone sometime. but then they will just tell me how disappointed in me they are, which will disappoint me in the state of the world.

i guess what that woman said to me was true. once i've made the quilt, (with 2 exceptions ~ Deb and Dan), i don't hear from them anymore. especially the people i've made quilts for who live here in this city. they are gone forever even though they came to my apartment and sat and talked about their losses, and i held their hands, and i took on their grief to make their quilts. they did not reciprocate. they did not see my own sorrow. she was right. they did not see me as a possible friend even though i sat with them at that group. i was nothing more than a vendor.

the shop i was going to open on the Neck was going to be called AbandonedSouls. my Dragon and i both came up with it. it came from the idea that i would collect what the ocean threw back on the rocks and make things out of it. driftwood carvings, sculptures, chisel my designs in the stones, etc. all the things i worked with had been abandoned. there were other reasons for the name that are exclusively between my Dragon and me. philosophical pillow talk. we are both deep thinkers. maybe someday i'll have a shop. or not. but the name will be forever mine. at least in my head. maybe someday i'll go to a beach somewhere and find a beautiful old piece of driftwood and i can carve the name in it.

i miss him. i need him back. or i need to stop letting the awful things that i've been told stop getting to me. i feel raw, but i should be feeling better. i have food now. the awful thing is i had thought widows protected each other. for a while i bought into that saying of they "get it."

these are the "life lessons" my daughter told me yesterday that she has observed through my experiences:
just because someone may understand the death of a spouse but that doesn't mean they will be nice to you about your own loss.
it can be like high school.
even if people know how bad it is for you, you can be forgotten.
if you bring nothing to the table but your battered soul, people do not have to be kind to you.

my daughter says i am stronger than i feel inside. she said my Dragon would be proud of me. i asked her if she would stay for supper with me last night. she said she would stay but she did not want to take any of my new food. she watched me eat. then she watched me get nauseous. she quickly went to her place and brought back a few packages of Alka-Seltzer for my stomach. it was upset because it wasn't used to actual food like chicken. she stayed with me until it settled down.

and she cried. she misses her "dad." she misses seeing me smile. she says she clings to her husband every night and tells him how much she loves him because she knows i did that with our Dragon. she knows that having the knowledge of that in my memory is what carries me through some really bad days. my Dragon knew how very much i love him. he died within 10 minutes of me having whispered it in his ear.

i am a shadow without a Dragon to stand beside. i am an abandoned soul. we had been abandoned together. two souls tossed out towards the sea who hung together along the rocks.

it is becoming more and more comfortable to accept that he is not going to come back. i will always miss him deeply. i will always grieve for him. no one can take his place. i have no heart anymore. i gave it to him to keep until we are together again. and he is too much of too many things i ever wanted and needed; he is too much my fantasy. i know i will not ever want to date. i write this knowing people might read this and say, "she's speaking too soon."

fine. whatever.

but you didn't know us. you didn't see us together. you didn't see us kiss.

you didn't see us hold hands.

and you didn't see us look into each other's eyes. and smile.

the first time i loved forever
was when you whispered my name.....

Saturday, July 24, 2010

what grief will make one do

i miss my Dragon. i have almost finished the top of my own quilt. i am bringing it to San Diego, just the top, unfinished.

i read the words of widows and widowers online. it is my window to a world that is too busy to see me looking out. i am a little worried that i am not trying anymore. i am envisioning myself sitting at a table at Camp Widow alone, waiting for someone to stop by and look, to talk to me. i see myself sitting there while people team up for lunch, to hug and laugh, and i will not have the social skills to walk over much less speak. the last 17 and a half months have taught me that i am easily discarded.

i have had 3 people string me along for commissions. waiting. waiting. each time they email it is, "i'm mailing it this week." 2 weeks pass, 5 weeks. i cannot harass but i need work. i need to eat, to live. i can get angry but i have no voice. so complicated. things i cannot say. no one to say it privately to.

i miss him. he is my best friend. he would talk to me, listen to me, all day, all night, every day, every night. he noticed me. he cared about me so much. he liked me as well as loved me. and now i am silent for hours and days, weeks and months. my daughter calls every day, but we do not sit and talk for even 20 minutes. she checks in on me and then has her life to tend to. the accumulation of my silence is a weight on my mind.

with him alive, i was never alone, even when he had to leave for a mission i was not alone. he was out there loving me.

i can sometimes feel;
i tell myself;
i believe he knows i will never get over losing him.
he knows we are two who are more than a couple.....
we are one.
i miss our days together. i miss his friendship. i miss walking with him, exploring with him, living with him.
i miss our nights together.

and rising out of the heat of the day, it comes.

i have nothing to say that has not been said before. i have no new photos except for one. the moon. time passes and i grieve. i have nothing new to offer. nothing has changed for me. this is what grief will make one do. i reach out to a world that is aloof. i write to anyone and no one.

that's not true. i write to him.

maybe he knows. surely he knows. i pray he understands the power he had over me, the magic he shared with me, and the love he wove around me. i cannot breathe without him even though i do. i cannot sleep without him though i do rest upon occasion. i cannot live without him even though i am still existing.

Dragon days are coming and i am having a hard time. his birthday, our wedding anniversary, our first date. all in August. the month of my Dragon.

and 18 months ~ a year and a half. i will be alone for it. flying back from San Diego surrounded by strangers. trying not to cry. shit.

surely he is waiting. please, God, just this one thing. let him be waiting for me. i need the comfort of his embrace, his smile, and his eternal love.

i need my magnificent Dragon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

prose poems

a visual image of me is a woman sitting in an open boat with her hands in her lap. grief has etched her face with lines her husband would be unable to recognize her through. she is willing to row, and row she does at times, but mostly she is drifting because her options have rendered her powerless to set a destination.

so she writes. and draws. and sews.

no matter how hard life becomes
no matter how lonely i get
i will not risk
changing any one thing
if it might change what i had with you
your name will forever be on my lips
memories of you are my crutch
i won't improve
my life one bit now
if it would alter my before with you.

the sorrow i feel is a gift
this grief is a blessing for me
it honors the us
the you and i
it is proof of the bond we shared.

i miss you
in the morning
i wake to
ineffable sadness
the new and enduring
i rise
in physical pain
from aging,
that feels harsher
without you.

i miss you
in the afternoon
when the length
of the day
stretches out
as the cruel sun
shines down
on my life
and my future
without you.
i miss you
in the evening
when the stars
shine coldly
on a Dragon-less world.
deepening shadows
cannot shroud the grief
etched on my face
as i endure the close
of another day
without you.

i miss you
in the night
when dreams of you,
or the lack thereof,
wake me to an
empty bed
and i become
with a longing
that can never be healed
without you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

the lingering cloud

i am bumming. this whole week. bumming. i found out the extent of my poverty has been made a little bit more public. it makes me sad, and, do i say it? ashamed. i do not know why i am ashamed because i have no regrets. i love him and the choices we made were made for our children. what happened to us was beyond our control. we were so happy. we felt such peace together.

i was also told that, still, there are people who choose to judge those who "put their families through divorce." there is a chasm that splits the "divorce isn't the answer" group to the "why do you go back to him if he is abusive? group." in making the decision, i sought help from my priest and a doctor. it was taking into consideration the fears and pleas of my children and my own fear and exhaustion after 20 years of pain that i made the decision. when i am judged as "putting my children through a divorce," i remember what our lives were like and how hard i tried for all those years. i recall a night when my daughter sat with me and begged me to leave him before she left for college. she was worried about me. so those who stand on that side of the fence, judge away. i did what i had to do in accordance with my beliefs and in adherence to the Church. comply, comply, comply. i did it all. what i did not do was make the decision lightly. it was 2 years in the making.

no regrets. i found my Dragon, or was found by him. and i was safe. i was whole. i had warmth and love, so much unconditional love. he always called me his bride. he whispered in my ears how happy he was. he crooned to me about where i was and who i was with when i had flashbacks. i know it is from a movie and sounds cliche but it is true. "he saved me in every way a person can be saved."

and now he is gone and i am as alone as i was before he was in my life. and i miss him. at times the sorrow of his death seems unconquerable.

i need to find my way out of this lingering cloud i am in. but to get out of it i need to keep going through it. if i suppress what i am feeling, ignore it, or shove it aside, it will only come back to me in spades. so i am going with it.

and to that end, here is Wordsworth. it is one of my favorites. and while the new tune is playing, i am working on my own quilt now. finally. i have some time to myself while i wait on another commission. maybe that is why i am hurting so badly. i am asking myself the same questions i ask everyone i have made a quilt for. the difference is, this is my journey, and there is not anyone here to hold my hand like i try to be there for the ones i make the quilts for.

i wish he were here to whisper in my ear.

she dwelt among the untrodden ways
beside the springs of Dove,
maid whom there were none to praise
and very few to love:
a violet by a mosy tone
half hidden from the eye!
---fair as a star, when only one
is shining in the sky.
she lived unknown, and few could know
when Lucy ceased to be;
but she is in her grave, and, oh,
the difference to me!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

she danced with the dogs and then she cried

it’s been 17 months. i can still hear his voice in my mind. i can still smell his scent. his eyes, his laugh, even his walk, his stride ~ it is all still so crystal clear in my mind. nothing has faded. no memory has started to fray. his body language for all of his moods is still right there for me to visualize. i only have to call it up. our daily routines call out to me to perform making a mockery of my life now.

i vividly remember how we would wake each morning. no matter how large the bed, we woke pressed against each other ~ entwined.

during the day we both had our individual pursuits but we were nearly always pursuing our pursuits in the same room.

nights still crush me. i used to love going to bed because i went to bed with him. now it is a task to perform, like laundry, or eating. i turn out the light and i can see his broad shoulders next to me. his arms are open waiting for me to curl against him, to be drawn into his embrace, to be warmed by his love and lulled by the sound of his lovely, lovely heart beating strong.

i know him so well. i know how he thinks, and if he could see me now i know what he would say to himself………

She’s just going through the motions of living. She looks so tired, so hollowed out inside. It’s been 17 months that we’ve been apart and she looks like it has been 17 years.

So this is the face of grief. This is what I would look like if it had been me who was left behind.

She’s exhausted with worry. The dark circles under her eyes only come and go with intensity, but they never go away. She needs sleep but her worries and stress keeps her from getting anything that closely resembles healthy sleep. When I was alive and she was worried I would take her in my arms and make love to her. I would soothe her. I would lull her into a deep sleep with the knowledge that I was there watching over her; with the promise that I would never leave her. She trusted me. Now she trusts no one. She believes she will be hurt, and she has, over and over again. She has no one she can call on to come over like women do. She has no friends. Only our son and daughter are there for her and she’s fighting against being a burden. So she doesn’t tell them how bad it is unless she is falling apart, when it’s almost too much for her to withstand, when it’s real work to ease her anguish.

She talks to me a lot. She talks to God all the time. I don’t know if these kinds of conversations are prayers. It's more like she thinks God is the only one who will listen, and care about what she says. I listen, too, but she doesn’t expect an answer from either one of us. Her voice just trails off.

She tries so hard. She works so hard. She sews and sketches. She thinks if she suddenly dies like I did that when they find her, there will be all this work around her and people will suddenly see she had some value. It breaks me to know that she has fallen back in to her old way of thinking. She told me once that I was the only one who saw that she had any value. She said the children love her because she is their mother and she protected them. But that I was the only one who thought there was a reason she was here. I know now she thinks her reason for being is over with. She thought her reason for being was to love me. And it played out that I had to leave her behind, and she is devastated.

When I died she sat utterly alone for 20 hours until our children could get there. No one scurried over to help her, to sit with her, or to feed her. There was no influx of casseroles or soft voices as background so she would know she wasn’t alone. She simply sat and stared out at the ocean. She watched the sun rise and climb the sky. She saw the shadows of late afternoon reach across the snow. And she saw night drag its blanket of stars and the full moon back to watch down on her while she waited for our children. She had only moved to walk the dogs. She had not fed herself nor even gone to lay down to ease her stiff spine. She was alone until our devastated children came, and she is alone still.

She is retreating into her shell again. I see it more and more every day. The children are worried about her and what they don’t know is she acts the most alive in their presence. They don’t see her there alone hour after day after week after month.

But she does try, just not overly so anymore. Every once in a while, blue moon or so, one or two from that group drop an email, or send up a flair. 'How is she doing?' 'Thinking of you.' And she is always so quick to respond to them, but then nothing. It’s like their obligation is done and if anything bad happens to her they can safely say, 'Well, when we checked, she was fine.' They go back to their busy lives with their friends and family while she sits alone sewing, day after night after day after night.

She's saving for a car so she can go to Church and maybe make friends there. I would love to see that happen for her. It's in the works. All she needs is the VA and more commissions.

She’s trying. Today she danced with the dogs. A song came on that she liked. Its melody was catchy and the lyrics were fun. She tried to create a moment of whimsy. She picked up Scootie and danced with him. She cuddled him and twirled around. Then she set him down on the sofa and picked up Carmen. Crazy Carmen put her paws on my wife’s shoulders and licked her ear. She laughed. I heard her laugh for the first time in a long, long while. She sang and spun around and her eyes settled on the folded flag in its case on the mantle. Her mind flashed back to a time when we danced.

I used to love to dance with her. When I met her, she hadn't danced since high school. I’d sing and pull her in my arms and we’d dance ~ in the kitchen, in the living room, the bedroom, and always on the beach. I even caused a scene by dancing with her at the end of Bearskin Neck on our anniversary in front of a whole bunch of tourists. She wasn’t expecting the dip and she squealed. People clapped and smiled. We love each other so much. It was our last anniversary together.

Our second anniversary apart is coming up and I know that’s what she was thinking of. She was dancing with the dogs and then she cried. She had to sit down. Missing me caused her such pain that even after 17 months of enduring a life without me, she isn’t there yet. And I know I wouldn’t be either.

She’s still breathing for me and for our children. She’s sewing to try and leave a legacy, something of herself behind when she goes, or comes to me, depending upon how you choose to look at it.

My wife looks broken in half, but it takes a strong person to continue to live with a broken life and a missing heart. She wrote about it once and it is very true. I have her heart. She did, indeed, give it to me. And she was right; I do need it because I'm not as strong as she is. I cannot live without her. She is so utterly alone, and with the knowledge that there is no one out there who will come sit with her. But she is so strong. She has no options to live any differently. I am so proud of her. She is making such beautiful things to leave behind her. Her daughter and son are also very proud of her and a little in awe. They are of an age now where they can appreciate her art.

I miss her. I love her. I worry about her. But she is my wife, and I know she uses her powers of memory and her deep love of me to bring forth images of our life together. She’ll survive.


that’s what he would say, or something very close. he has said it to me before in one way or another. as i have written, our life was financially very hard due to bills and putting the children through college. but our marriage is everything I had ever dreamed of.

it is my belief that i will never feel any intense joy again but i have felt the stirrings of happiness. i was happy when my son and daughter and i were all together for the July 4th holiday. i am back to the monotony of every day life and almost robotic motions of getting through it. but i try at whimsy. at times.

i will go to Camp Widow and put my best foot forward. i am praying for commission work that can build up and carry me through. and then i’ll come back and settle in to work again.

i will always actively miss him. if that’s not “transitioning and empowering myself through the healing power of embracing my widowhood” then so be it. i will join the minority of those who cannot do anything more with grief than endure it and try to get by. i sew for others and that to me is a good thing. i do make pretty things. i will sit in my cave and create things. i will write because, like a burp, it is better out than in. who knows, maybe i will find some wisdom in all this solitude. it worked for the Oracle of Delphi. Jesus went out into the wilderness alone. Thoreau did okay as did Beston. being alone is not scary at all. with the exception of my intense love and life with my Dragon, i have been alone my whole life. for me, it is the awareness that i have been seen by possible friends, but then passed over. that has hurt deeply.

i hope God sees me. i hope He knows how hard it is and is proud of me making the Memory Quilts, or trying to. i hope St. Jude (you know, lost causes), makes a pass over Camp Widow and there will be interest that grows and grows, because it does not have to be quilts for the dead. babies are born every day and couples get married all the time. children grow up and go off to college and need a quilt made from things from home to help them through their homesickness. i can make quilts for anyone for any reason.

i will try for a moment of whimsy again someday. i will dance with my dogs again, but i know i may cry. missing my Dragon is an art form in and of itself. many artists suffer for their art. i can do no less.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

separation anxiety

hello, my Love, can you hear me? where you are? do you know i’m still down here, longing for you, missing you? or are you protected from the travails of this life? am i writing only to myself, to be heard by myself only, which means this is a pointless endeavor? but if in writing this, if it comforts me and gets it all off my mind, it is not time wasted. maybe it is time spent getting through this latest mood. writing is what i have to say things i cannot say outright to my children. and it is not like i can call up a friend and say, “i need to talk about this. i need you to come visit me, maybe have lunch.” i am not connected to anyone here. not like that.

so here i am, writing to you knowing that when i check back, there will be no answer.

i’m still here. i still miss you as much as the night you died and i wish i could talk to you face-to-face. i need you. i am in pain. i am not sure if i am supposed to be “better” by now or not. i am not even sure what “better” is supposed to feel like. i can honestly say i am further along than i was based on the fact that i no longer cry multiple times a day and there are days i do not cry at all, but i am pensive everyday. i am melancholy, which i guess can be looked at as the lighter side of sadness. that is a kind of improvement from where i was in those first months.

i am lonely for you. i pine for you. i miss you terribly. i do not need to fill my calendar with a plefora of people. i really only want you. i admit i am weak sometimes and would not mind having a friend i could call. i would like to talk about you and tell someone stories about you without fear of being interrupted or the awareness that, like in the grief group i went to for a while, that people are simply biding their time, half listening, until they or someone else jumps in to take over, and then i am forgotten. the kids tell me i do not stand up for myself anymore. our daughter is especially angry with some of the things that have happened to me and i know you would be mad as hell. but what i feel is that i could get mad and tell people how their actions and inaction has affected me, but they quite simply will not care. i was a only blip on their screen and that is okay with me. i really only want to be with you.

i wish you had not had to go. i really need you to go through this life with me. i am tired. i feel so weak sometimes that i am not sure if i can do this yet there is no other choice. the kids are grown so it is not like i have to wake up and say, “i am here for them. i have to get them through school, or through college.” we did that. the realization that life is going to be this quiet for the rest of my life is a terrible thought especially considering how far i am from the ocean. day in and day out i will be without your laughter, your voice, and your touching me. it is a vacuum. i am living in a vacuum. i have been condemned to sensory depravation, the loss of your physical presence.

the kids were both here for the July 4th holiday – all weekend i had them both. it was so wonderful and yet all three of us missed you. we talked about you and looked at pictures. we tried to work on my scrapbook album thing but there were so many other things we wanted to do together and a very narrow window of time. i wish i could get my scrapbook finished. c’est la vie for me.

our son told me that he sees how different i am. his living in Florida means he does not see me like his sister does so he will notice this. he was a bit shocked and more than a little worried. he told me i am quieter than before. he said i am quiet like i am when i have to be around their father. careful quiet. i had to tell him that i would never be the same.

i told him that the greatest man i will ever know died. i told him that he influenced me and did more for me than all the people i have ever known put together. and now he is dead. i explained that maybe i am taking longer because i have grieved alone, without benefit of a friend to come sit with me, and without the benefit of being in a familiar place. from the moment he died nothing has been my choice or my decision. he died in February and i really did not wake up until late in November. and i was here.

august is coming and i am already blind again with grief. your birthday, the one and a half year anniversary of your death all occur during that Camp Widow thing i am going to. our wedding anniversary will happen the day after i get back. all this will hit when i am surrounded by people who are vested in so many other people and things. and the kids are right. i do not know how to speak for myself. i will be in the middle of a crowd and i will not tell them i am being crushed inside by this sorrow.

i am afraid to go. i know if you were here listening to me tell you this in person, you would come sit down and pull me in your lap. i miss that part of our relationship. we always had these wonderful, very tactile conversations. i always felt comforted, always felt valuable. now, our daughter hugs me. our son hugs me. it is not the same. i miss your eyes looking at me when i talked. i miss using so many words out loud. i have tried to talk to others but i can hear the clock ticking on the time i think they want to hear my voice. i think i am my own worst enemy.

i have aged so much. i have gained some weight from not being able to walk like we used to. to go from climbing on the rocks, from walking six to eight miles a day to walking the dogs within sight of my apartment door so i can run with them back inside when loose dogs attack is depressing. i miss you so much because you did not seem afraid of anything. you were not even afraid of the dark.

i was born a mouse. i learned to be a shadow during my childhood so i could try to go unnoticed as much as possible. i married and became the head Musketeer. i adapted myself to stealth and subterfuge so i could protect the kids. then i was allowed a moment of grace. i was allowed to be your wife, a real person, loved and valued. i got to taste a life lived in the light until that light was extinguished. now i want to live somewhere else because i am someone else. i would not mind being separate physically because i feel separate mentally.

you died. i hate euphemisms. you are not lost to me. you did not pass on. you died and i worked on you and tried to save you and i failed. i FAILED. i failed you. i could not bring you back. i sat beside you after you died and the world fell away.

and so i am different now. i am quieter. i look at myself and i see an old woman who does not belong anywhere because the only place she belonged was with you.

except maybe ……

i want to go home to the ocean. i am so tired of all this concrete. i get despondent seeing only a small swath of sky that peeks through two buildings. the only water nearby stinks because it is littered with trash from people who do not give a damn.

i want a small house with a small yard. i am not asking for luxury. well, i am because a little place by the ocean is a luxury. sorry. i would carve shutters for my house. i would die-cut out lobsters and starfish. each shutter would have a different design. i would fence the yard and call it Scotland Yard. the puppies would have room to play and i could have a garden again.

i would paint, and sew, take photographs, collect driftwood and shells and things for my sculptures. i would carve wood and build stained glass windows. and i would do what i am doing now. i would fantasize about you. i would draw on memories and go back for a while to living in the past when the present without you is too painful. and if anyone tells me that i am grieving all wrong, i can honestly say, as i do now, where were you when you knew i needed you? what do you care what happens to me?

then i would have a door that i could close. i would turn away from them and look out my windows at the eternity of the ocean. and i would dream of us.

i always dream of us.