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.....


Dan, in real time. said...

S. Of course, I don't have easy solutions for you. I do know that you will have a temporary break from this isolation when you arrive at Camp Widow. I also realize that it comes at a time with many significant anniversaries. Use our combined care and empathy, and let it cloak you with warmth.

I got up very early this morning, and have been sitting here quietly in my bedroom. As I expected, I had a difficult night of grief. You know how the wave builds up, and all you can do is let it take you. I feel better this morning, more peaceful. At this moment I feel grateful for the sun, as it feels warm and soothing.

Your words about feeling more comfortable accepting that he is not coming back, is something I am feeling as well. It allows for less pain at times, yet it also makes me feel more lonely at the same time.

I with you peace today, and look forward to seeing you in one week.


Suddenwidow said...

I am so sorry that you have been the victim of such mean spirited and rude people. There is absolutely no excuse for such behaviour and I am horrified that one human being could be so nasty to another. I wish I could erase all the memories of nastiness from your mind so you could have more peace. And I wish the damn VA would hurry up!!!! It's absolutely ridiculous that you've had to wait this long.

I hope that when people at Camp Widow see the beautiful quilt you made for me, you get many commissions. And I would love to visit your store one day, on a quiet beach, surrounded by peace.

See you in a week!

Anonymous said...

Dear WomanNshadows,

I know you don't think you can trust me after I put my foot in my mouth. Please forgive me. I understand now that we can only be friends. I see how much you love him. It's in your writing, in everything you put up; poems, photographs, it's there. I knew what you meant to him. I know he would never have recovered if you had gone first. And now I see the reverse is true. You two are as mated as any two people I've ever met. And I'm ashamed for what I said to you, for what it did to you. You feel like you've lost a friend. But you haven't. I'm here for you and I see the boundaries clearly marked.

I am envious of the love the two of you shared. He was at peace with you. He loved you very much, still does. I can now see the truth of that saying "love never dies." You and your Dragon are proof. Despite the pain you feel, you are blessed.

I'm here to be your friend.


womanNshadows said...

Dan, i never expect easy solutions. for some things, there are not any. and that's okay. it's just that the things that don't have solutions were easier to accept knowing i could turn to my Dragon and fall into his arms. or i could take him into mine. i am sorry for your difficult night but then i guess if you really hurt, you can, at the same time, rejoice that you had something so great that it does hurt this much. i wish you peace and i do look forward to hearing your voice in a week.

Suddenwidow, ah, the world would not be as interesting if there were not these awful people in it. i am down and old hurts are rising up because i am in a weakened state. the VA will do what it will. i have no control. i am so looking forward to finding you at the airport on Friday afternoon. and my son just called to tell me he sent me money specifically for a haircut. so my clothes won't be fancy but i will be groomed. =0} and a storefront on a beach.....i still have my dreams. no one can take those away.

Brick, you are forgiven. i do wish you would not flog yourself to publicly. i love him. that's all i have. it's all i am. thank you for understanding that and not walking away. i will answer the phone when you call. and yes, i am blessed to have been Dragon's wife.

peace to all of you. thank you for talking to me here. i have been very lonely.

bev said...

I read this post last night and have been thinking about it this morning. The more I learn of your situation, the more I feel you are in the wrong place. I hope that, once things are settled with the VA (and I did some checking online and see that it does often take a couple of years - which, quite frankly, is absolutely reprehensible in a country that seems to find it so easy to send soldiers into war zones, but then finds itself unable to take care of the consequences.. but let's not go there...) -- anyhow, yes, when things are settled with the VA, I am assuming -- and hope -- that they give you a retroactive lump sum payment of what they owe. At that time, I hope you will give very serious thought to relocating to a town where you will be among the kind of people who will be more supportive. That you will relocate to the kind of town where the shop you dreamed of could actually exist and thrive. I hope you will not stay in a place that does nothing for you. When my husband died, I realized that was the kind of place I was in. If I stayed, over time, I would be destroyed. I looked for a place where there were like-minded souls. A place where living was more than a painful existence. There are such places, but we have to be willing to run (not walk) to them. When you have the financial means, I hope you will not waste one precious second or cent on staying in a place of mere existence any longer. Go to a place where you can live and have a real life again - albeit, one without your Dragon - but I cannot believe he would want to see you wasting away in an apartment in some ugly city away from the coast. Peace.

judemiller1 said...

Please don't go off-line--because-selfishly, I need your posts. Steady On, Dear Friend.

womanNshadows said...

Bev, cross my heart. i will not waste one precious second or cent staying here. thank you for being out there.

Judy, i cannot stop writing. it is as much a part of who i am as my sewing, painting, drawing, stained glass........all the voiceless ways i let the world know i am/i was here.

peace to you both.

bev said...

You have no idea how glad I am to hear you say that! Hope things get moving for you very soon. (-:

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Love you. Giant hug. I will be so happy to see your work in person, too -- beautiful things -- like you.

I hope it's darkest just before the dawn.

But seriously? I want to hit that woman who said that. HARD.

Split-Second Single Father said...

Wanted to comment while I was actually at the computer (when will blogger/blogspot catch up and enable comments on all mobile sites?!?) You have, as always, been on my heart lately and I hated reading what that woman said to you. I have found that even though widowhood changes us all to one degree or another, people who lacked character before being widowed will likely lack it afterward as well. I'm just sorry they keep taking it out on you.

I also wanted to thank you for sharing your prose poetry a while back. I found these lines to be particularly beautiful, and they have stuck with me since I read them:

i won't improve
my life one bit now
if it would alter my before with you.

Enjoy Camp Widow, especially your time with the ocean.

蕭劉明倫松恬 said...

No pains, no gains..................................................................

Jill said...

I would be your friend if I were there or you were here. I, too, have a rather friendless existence, for different reasons, different circumstances.

Please, take care!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried contacting your senator about the VA? There is no reason the wife of a Veteran that gave so much to our country should be without food or proper care. I went to the doctor for a check up, the first since my husband's sudden death last summer. She offered to set up grief counseling for me and said there were county programs and other programs that would pay for counseling if I didn't have insurance for that. Maybe there is something available where you live?

Post a Comment