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.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

falling down

i hesitate to write and yet i owe the apology and explanation. i fell down; inside myself. i am in the midst of a deep physical and emotional crisis. i am facing too much stress right now and i fell down in the dirt. i shattered online, in public, and for that there is no excuse. whatever other crisis i have going on; personal, health wise; pleading for forgiveness when i was being told to re-read and listen was wrong of me and i apologize.

i have physical and emotional pain. this is above and beyond missing him. what was thought to be arthritis in my foot is not and the pain is quite bad. i do not wish to be thought needy or insane, but i cannot detail what happened other than there are other things weighing on my mind and i took everything that was written to heart. i was wrong.

i would like to continue here without fear of humiliation, but i promise to keep my grief writing to myself. i think i will simply put up some photos of all the commission work i have going on with very little actual writing; to just have some kind of touch with the world at large. i have no self-worth, but i do like what i have been asked to make. being able to make things for people does give me a trumped up reason to think there is a purpose for me still.

i looked at the online Grief Healing site but it is public. the things i need to talk to someone about go beyond putting it online. i am having flashbacks due to a current and rising situation with Voldemort. things from my past are making me blind to hope. i am sorry, but yes, his voice is inside my head since he has recently been in touch and i have to pay attention since it has not been nice.

but once again, i have no excuse for falling down like that publicly. it will not happen again.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


i go by many names. did you realize that? womanNshadows. Beach Bunny. abandonedsouls for my photography. somewhere out there in cyberspace i am also known as lucystarshadow; my look out the window from the inside of Woodworth's poem, "She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways."

womanNshadows has been around for decades ~ my first identity. it is the most apropos. abandonedsouls is from my Dragon for all my sculpture, my paintings, my wood carvings. i am using it for the photography because i can't make anymore sculpture or wood carvings since i cannot go outside and find driftwood in the parking lot. my paintings? i have sketches. someday i will be able to afford oils again. but i have my dreams and images that i turn into sketches.

lucy came about in the 5 years before i met my Dragon. i still use her out there in surreal land but, like her namesake in the poem, she isn't right out by the curb flagging anyone and everyone down. and since my Dragon died, she keeps to herself now. my other incarnations are too busy trying to keep my head above water.

when i first met my Dragon, i was not ready to just start going out. i needed to get to know him slowly, build some trust and so he suggested we talk online as well as on the phone. {on the aside, it's funny. i can talk on the phone as long as you want to talk but the only people i "sit on the phone" with are my children and my Dragon.}

i had never done the IM thing. my children did it a little, but even they did not do it a lot. computers were for homework and research. after that, my son did the online gaming thing with headset and his "teams." his first screen name in those military games like HALO and such was i hope you slip on my guts. but then he got really good and his avatar was seldom taken out so the online crowd told him to change it. so my son set me up with the IM chat thing and while he was doing that he asked, "what do you want to be called." i liked our Dragon very much, really a lot, so so much, too much too quick that i was intimidated, but i wanted to be sure of him, of me, of our situation, that what he was feeling was more than lust. i thought of Clytie, the water nymph who fell in love with Apollo. so that is who i became. my
Dragon liked the name. i was Clytiesunflower.

but she is silent now. she is no longer Clytie. she isn't even a sunflower anymore because her sun has set.

it is real life i face and i follow the moon. i wait for it to rise and then i take my pictures. i worry about cloud cover. i panic when the moon is 95% full, 97%, 99%. what if the actual full moon is covered with clouds? so i take my pictures each night. click. click. clickety click click. if i have one of that night, i actually have 27, or so.

i am no longer Clytie who became the sunflower watching the object of her affection drive the sun across the sky. the light is gone. all that's left is the moon. my beautiful, cool, silvery moon.
i was up late last night working. i was watermarking and then uploading photos until, well, later than i wanted or needed to be. but while on Facebook, someone did the instant message chatty thingy at the bottom. it is a pretty little tone that chimes when someone types to you. it is almost like a little smile for the ears.

this woman talked to me. she asked about the dentist, the crown. {btw, i am finished with him. i have the crown. i am never darkening his doorway again.} she asked how i was doing and though i could not hear her voice, the little tone was appealing so i responded with how i was doing. and she kept talking to me. it was so unexpected and so very nice.

she asked about my Dragon and me. she asked about where i had lived with him. she was looking all my new photographs. she gave to me her time last night and asked me pointed questions that allowed me the release of talking about things i have only gotten to talk to my daughter about.

i cried while we typed. she did not know that last night. she does now since she will read this eventually. but it was the kind of tears i never get to shed. i cannot get that low in front of my daughter. and last night, i got to wallow and get some of the terror and longing i felt the night he died out of me. this is some of the stuff that i think people get to get some of it out during their first year of mourning. i did not get to do that. i had no where to go to talk about it so i kept it all inside. very lucy-esque.

it was very nice of this woman to talk to me in depth like that. i have so much pain that is still inside me and though i write about it, i sometimes think it would be nice to be able to speak of some of it to someone. but when i get the chance to actually sit with someone, i get very nervous and i mess it all up. i do not get said what i would like to get off my chest. i try not to take up too much of their time. i worry if i am boring them. i sometimes suffer flashbacks when i try to talk to someone. other times. other horrors.

i have the unfortunate circumstance of being a captive audience. everyone else can come and go as they wish. i am trapped here, or where ever i get to be when a conversation occurs, with no way to entice someone to come to me, and definitely no way to encourage someone to stay with me a little while. i am afraid to bring anything too deep up knowing that all they have to do is get up and leave. it has happened countless times before. i have been corrected by those listening that i overestimate my importance to them. sorry, mom, Voldemort, family, et. al.

listening to someone's story takes patience. it requires the desire to want to help them. it takes time. it may also take encouragement from you to get them to realize that it is okay for them to talk. it takes empathy to see that they may need to talk. it takes intuition to know their circumstance and couple it with the wish to help.

so many things come out from the past when we get older and/or when tragedy befalls us. all the creepy crawly horrors from our past come out to slither and encumber us when we are so stricken, so vulnerable.

being in a place where i know very few, and not having much luck in holding someone close enough for them to see past my nervousness to the person my Dragon saw has kept me lagging behind on this journey. i can see people are milling about out there in this new darkness that has come over us all and they all seem to have really good flashlights. they have friends who have gathered around them, who call frequently, who go sit with them.

i have two worried children and i have the moon. all said and done, with no money and a smidgen of hope, i am not doing too badly. i have all the incarnations of myself to face my existences with. it is like i have a multiple personality, not disorder, but enhancement that i use to keep walking with me. i have my friends to whom i can talk, and from whom i can speak to the world. womanNshadows. Beach Bunny. abandonedsouls. lucystarshadow.

the only one who is silent is Clytiesunflower. she has gone to sleep forever. now it is the other four and all of us pay homage to the moon.

i love you, my Dragon. i always will.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bunny's pictures

Bunny takes pictures. Bunny always has. she is a photo-freak. snap. snap snap. it is a beautiful world. way down there. way out there. way up there. everywhere.

Bunny got some emails ~~ no, the good kind. some people out there like Bunny's photos and want to buy some. Bunny smiled. Bunny tried to build a website, a free one, because, well, Bunny is quite poor. Bunny started to frown. damn those free websites. text boxes galore but no way to upload photos unless you pay, and pay, and pay. damn, damn, damn. Bunny's eyes were tearing up. her little lips were trembling. Bunny is still a little fragile and it seemed like the photo gods were laughing at her, until her son said,


ah, flickr. Bunny almost swooned with relief. so this posting is Bunny's big announcement.

Bunny has two new flickr accounts; two because even flickr has a ceiling.
flowers and trees
or as Bunny teasingly calls it, "flora fotos."

and then there's the "life by the ocean" photos...

there are links over there on the right to help everyone get there. now, you must promise to visit every so often because Bunny keeps adding photos to both of them. she is a very hard working Bunny. and remember, Christmas is coming. someone is having a birthday. it will be Wednesday again. pictures make great gifts. {Bunny is blushing but hey, marketing is marketing.}

whew! Bunny is tired tonight. {pssst. she stayed up late last night, waiting until the clouds all left her lovely, lonely moon alone so she could take more and more full moon photos.}

so anyway, Bunny is off to bed. she has to be at the dentist early in the morning for her permanent crown. finally. oh my heavens above. finally. and if he messes this up, again, Bunny is taking his picture and posting it for all the world to see. well, the little world that pays attention to Bunny.

and one more picture for the road. Bunny's beloved Dragon. Bunny loves this picture. Dragon was leading Bunny through the deep, dark, primeval forest that surrounds Dogtown. okay, we walked the path, but it was still spooky and twisty and turny and Dragon took the lead because he is brave and strong. Marines are not afraid of anything. we'll maybe Bunny, but that's another post. Bunny took lots of photos that day. Dragon turned around to laugh at her and Bunny took his picture.

poor little Bunny has lots and lots of pictures of her Dragon. i say poor little Bunny because she is always very aware that, now that her Dragon lives beyond the moon in Heaven, there will be no more pictures of her Dragon.

on a lighter note, if you haven't, click on the music. yes, Bunny uploaded "Kodachrome." it's a catchy little tune and fitting for a post on pictures.

Monday, August 23, 2010

23 August 2010 ~ full moon

i can close my eyes and see him. i can see him as he walks towards me, that stride of his that ate up the ground.

i can close my eyes and smell his skin. it smelled a little bit of sweat and salt and cool outside air.

it doesn't take much to call up the memories, especially on the night of a full moon.

i can hear his voice, his laugh that was so big and booming, the one that came out of him spontaneously whenever i did something that was a little off the wall. i can also hear his low tones when he and i would just sit and talk, and talk, in the dark, long after we had turned the lights out.

i can close my eyes and taste his lips, feel his soft beard, and his breath. he favored slow kisses. he said when he met me he had become a connoisseur.

i vividly remember what it feels like to hold hands with him, and i can feel the pressure of his arm when it draped across my shoulders. he and i thrived on physical contact. right now, i am starved for it, for his touch. i had turned into a connoisseur of him.

every night when i go to bed and turn off the light, i roll to my side and i almost believe i will see the outline of his shoulders. i think i will be able to turn into him and rest my hand on his chest, over his heart, like i did every night. almost. i almost believe it. if i close my eyes so i an deny where i live now, i definitely can.

i don't really have to close my eyes for my senses to see, feel, hear, taste, or smell him, but i admit it helps to shut out the sight of this place he never lived in.

hello, Moon.
can you see him?
do you even remember him?
i do.
every time you come back
to turn the fullness of your face
on cold me
in this hollow world
i pretend,
that you can pass along a message to him,
that you can tell him for me,
"i see her. she's looking for you. she loves you."
hello, Moon.
can he see me?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

inside Beach Bunny's head

it’s been 18 months now, plus another week. i still cry a little bit every night during my prayers. even if i sleep i wake up and for the first few minutes, i already feel drained. another day without Dragon. my beautiful, handsome Dragon.

i responded to a comment in the last post. a person complimented my site. she thought it was pretty and “inspiring.” it gave me a little boost in confidence. artists always like it when someone likes what they do. anyway, i responded that here, on this site, i can do whatever i want because i control it all, colors, photos, content, etc. it’s all me. it’s a little glimpse of what it’s like being inside my head and i suddenly remembered an email from my Dragon during one of his little “out of town” trips to save the world; i always called them that. Dragon signal hits the clouds in the night sky and off he’d have to go. actually it was a phone call but it’s part of what goes on inside my head.

he used to be amazed at what i would do or say. do not think i am off on an ego trip. he and my children are the only ones who get amazed at what i do or say. he’d be caught off guard for a moment but then he’d smile and maybe even hug me, kiss the top of my head. “I love living inside your head.”

i got an email through my business website, the site that the link for is over there on the right. this woman loves my photography. that’s the word she used. "Loves." i like that word. my Dragon always loved everything i did. we’d be out somewhere and i’d be taking pictures and he’d say, “What do you see?” i’d laugh a little and say, “you’re looking at it, too.”

“Not the way you do. I can hardly wait to see it again on the computer when you upload your shots. It's inside your head. I love being inside your head.”

i think every devoted couple have a language all their own. they have little things they say that show their attachment, the bond they feel to their spouse. my Dragon's was, "I love living inside your head" and he always called me his "bride." "My lovely bride."

anyway, this woman wants to buy some of my photographs so i have been a little busy setting up a new website for a gallery to display a lot of my photographs. i have to put watermarks across them, which is taking time. the money isn’t huge for my photographs, but it’s something. every little bit helps. i am kinda proud. i used to have prints of my photographs along with my sculptures in a little shop on Bearskin Neck but the lady closed her shop after her husband died out on the ocean in a storm. they never found him. that kind of pain horizons anything i feel, i think, because i can go over to my urn and touch it's coolness. her husband was a lobsterman. and like me now, she went to live near her daughter far away from the ocean. i think she has a different perspective of the ocean than i do. i feel such deep empathy for her. i think that woman from time to time. i wish i knew how to get in touch with her to see how she’s doing. she had faith in my artwork and together, she and i made a little bit of money. i sent an email to one of the Library Ladies so see if she knows how i can find her.

as i leave the fog of shock and devastation of my Dragon’s death, i am remembering more and more details of my former life. bDd. before Dragon's death. memories are swirling around me like the warmth of a fire after coming in from shoveling snow. i like this feeling right now. i liked looking through my photos the last couple of days working to set up my photography website. it has brought me so many memories of being with my Dragon, of being inside his head.

when i got my Cube of Love from my daughter, even though my place is a shrine to my Dragon, i carried it everywhere. i love those photos. they comprise the few of the two of us together. when i walked to the registration desk on Friday of Camp Widow, i saw my Dragon’s Tribute Tile. i wanted it. right then. i wanted to touch it. Saturday night i couldn’t wait a moment longer. i asked Dan if he would go get it for me. he did and he really has no idea how much i thank him for that. a simple act of kindness and yet i was too nervous to do it for myself. i wanted it so badly and he went and got it for me, and i haven’t let it go..... you can see.

Dragon watches his Bunny start work on a new dragon handkerchief while her
Cube of Love and Dragon Tribute Tile sit close by.

Dragon closely watches his Beach Bunny set up a photo of "Sock" Beach Bunny.
Dragon thinks his Bunny is creative. he can't wait to see what she sees.

"Sock" Beach Bunny with her Cube of Love and Dragon Tribute Tile.

i’ll leave you with this little story of us.

i am a scavenger, or i was when i walked the beaches or climbed the rocks. i would go by myself a couple of times a day while Dragon did his international work ~ computer and phones. i would stack what i wanted to work with in a pile and when he was done, he’d come down to find me and he’d help me haul it all back. well, this one day, i called him and said, “bring the truck.” he laughed.

i had found this great lobster trap that the water hadn’t bashed too badly. it was so heavy. when he got to the beach and saw it, he checked me over. first my boots. nope, they were dry. but my jeans were wet. he huffed and hurried over. yes, i had taken off my boots and socks to wade a little ways into the water to get the trap. my jeans were very wet and i was starting to shiver. and yes, this was after the Great Hypothermia Incident. it was early Spring and the water was still very cold. he didn't get mad but i know he tsk tsk'ed in his head.

lobster traps are heavy and with all the seaweed on this one, it weighed a ton. i had a sack of shells and sand dollars and other stuff, too. he made me sit in the truck with the heater on. he was nice enough to only mutter that i should have waited on him. then he kissed me on the nose and went to throw the trap and all the driftwood and line i had collected in the back of the truck.

i sold the trap after i got it all cleaned up did things to it. i used copper wire and wrapped shells all around it. the door was bent open and my Dragon offered to bend it back for me but instead i made a stuffed blue lobster and put him just inside, claws out, as if he were escaping from the trap. i embroidered a big smile on his face and a “tattoo” that said “mother” inside a heart on the part of him just before the claw. on his tail i embroidered the name i gave him, “Houdini.”

my Dragon laughed when i told him i was surprised it had sold. he said, “Love, it’s just someone else who wants a little bit of what goes on inside your head. But that’s all they can have, because your head is mine and only I get to live there.”

i miss him so much. 18 months feels like 18 years and that's terrible to say. i feel so overwhelmed with sorrow at the thought that i will never hear him say, "This is my lovely bride." i will never hear him say, "I love living inside your head."

but like the photos of Bunny i set up to put with this posting, i believe he hangs out a bit with me. i think he may have gotten inside my head enough to know what i am doing now. i think he wouldn't think i am silly to have pictures of him all over the apartment and yet need to put my Cube of Love and my Dragon Tribute Tile near me when i sew or write, and then take them back into the bedroom every night.

i very much miss him. he is everything to me. but i do have good company in my two little Scotties. they are my constant companions. they watch me sew, write, cook, take a shower, watch Survivorman marathons, and they sleep beside me every night.

Bunny and her Babies.
all i need is for them to cooperate and give me time to set up Dragon on the sofa behind us.
sigh. in a perfect world.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


i have not written because i really haven’t known what to say. i wanted to let the dust settle, too, and give myself some time. or maybe give everyone else time. i did put a photo on Facebook notifying the virtual world that i was going to look inside myself for a bit.

Bunny checks out herself during a moment of self-evaluation.

i have been reading, keeping up with everyone, checking my emails. a couple of people have kept up with me, keeping in touch to make sure i am okay, and that gave me the warm fuzzies. thank you. one gave me a surprise gift of a box of floss. i loved it. it came on a day when i sorely needed to be remembered.

it's like rolling around on money but a lot more colorful.

i haven’t had more than that check in on me. my absence has largely gone unnoticed but then if someone falls by the wayside while walking with a crowd, they can go unnoticed. i read in a book recently that if you are trekking through a jungle and step off the trail for a moment, no one will miss you until they camp for the night, and then they won’t go back to look for you during the night, but wait until the next day. people keep their heads down most of the time and since i did get handed my head a couple of weeks ago i am betting the respite from my thoughts was a breath of fresh air.

i do see how busy people are. i see that some have faced the depression of coming back to their particular reality after having been with people they had a great time with. it is an understandable feeling. i see some have problems with the paperwork that comes after a death. i can commiserate as i have been waiting for, getting close to a year now, on the VA. he wasn’t killed in action and my children are grown so i am relegated to waiting. one widow of a veteran posted to an online bulletin board that the “widows of veteran’s are the new MIA’s. children grown? no rush. he wasn’t KIA? no rush to honor his service. widows of older veteran’s go MIA in the system no matter the medals or their poverty.” i tend to agree with her. i live a life in constant fear, so yes, i hate paperwork and dealing with bureaucracy, too. but i have mentioned it before. in my case it has become rhetoric rather than a battlecry.

one day during this public posting embargo of mine a very kind younger widow offered to take me out to supper. i could not go because of it being a really terrible day. it was a day i did not know if i would survive. no, not Hamlet. think King Lear. the only two things i can mention for not thinking i would make it are my terrible fear for my future and being panic stricken at needing to talk to my Dragon about everything. i was in a very bad way and felt very alone. she came over and brought food. i needed the food and yet my stomach could not take it all in. it was more than i’ve had at one sitting in a while. i ration my food and i ration each portion for each meal so when i have a lot on a plate, i simply cannot eat it all. but we ate and talked. she does not understand the delight some have taken in putting me in my place. she thinks i'm okay. she read between the lines and saw my despair, and for that i am grateful. i haven’t had much of that other than my daughter’s devoted presence. saying “thank you” to this young widow is anemic for the time she gave to me.

i came back from San Diego to more stress than what missing my Dragon brings to me. there is no point in elaborating. it means nothing to anyone but my two children and me and there is nothing anyone can do for me. i do know i need to find a way to alleviate this amount of stress before i have a stroke or a heart attack; neither of which i have the money for and it would be the worst hell on earth to be that kind of burden.

while i have been invisible online i have been sewing and looking for a job. still. i also let my imaginary Virgil take me on an inward journey, sort of like my own version of the Inferno. why have i met so many odd people during these 18 months without my Dragon, people who have no qualms about hurting my feelings? the string of characters has been extraordinary. the young widow who came over for a while thinks she and i need to collaborate on a book. i think my emotions need a new filter. i had only opened myself up for my Dragon anyway so i should go back to the old ways of being polite and unreachable. one woman wrote that i needed to get laid. i loved that one. how do you tell someone you don’t know, but for a few words online, that they need to get laid and that will “fix you right up.”

if you are reading, i only want my Dragon.

when i read that one i realized i was internalizing all the criticism coming my way as i had done with my mother and my first husband. it’s my fault. something is wrong with me. there is nothing wrong with me beyond the flaws all of us carry. my children like me as a person as well as their mother. they think i am very nice and decent. (they actually expound quite a bit but they are my children. we have a great history together so there's the loyalty thing.) and of course, my Dragon loves me. and that can be enough. i can live the rest of this life on that love alone. i do not need validation from anyone else. i never had it before. i’m just weak right now, still, because my Dragon died. it has knocked me off my feet and people mistook me for a doormat.

no one is near enough to come visit even if they wanted to. i will never have the wherewithal to ever go anywhere so San Diego was my one shot. i finally don’t feel like i blew it. i may not have a lot of photos of people hugging me, but i did get to have a couple of quality conversations over on the sidelines of everything. i don’t think i am the failure i was lead to believe.

and if it appears i have been abandoned, it is only because everyone is busy, and hurting, and dealing with things in their own lives, and reaching out for their own support to help them through. everyone is sad and handling it as best as they can. for the people who say it is solely up to me to reach out, i have. i had a nun tell me she found all my emails when she was deleting her “spam.” that’s where mine could have gone. i had a day of computer problems. maybe they went to spam, or maybe they went out into the wild dark of cyberspace and are bumping up against top-secret files or songs being downloaded. i hope my lost emails close their eyes if they run into any really bad porn.

no one really knows me. you can’t get to know anyone from the words they try to crowd in at a conference. you cannot really know someone from the words they chose to post online, and yet, i do write as honestly as i dare. i hold my secrets but what is here is from my own mind. whether i’m damned by some or supported by a few, i write for me. i have written this whole time. i just did not hit “publish.”

Bunny laughs at the button that says, “publish.”

i write because it is my voice. it is the only way i can be heard in a noisy world that forgets i am still living. and even though i feel that way, i still write. so many have been angry with me that i do not know if anyone still reads until i push someone’s button with my honestly. c’est la vie. i have had so many hurtful jabs that i feel like my tomato pincushion.

Bunny takes a moment to commiserate with her pincushion.

i will still write even if i no longer have a public who reads. i’d rather that than write what people what to hear and no longer be sentient.

after this time of introspection i know that i am damaged. but i was damaged long before i met my Dragon. he was damaged, too, and in each other we saw the love and means to heal each other. so what am i worth now that he is gone? it depends upon whom you ask. i am worth my hands that sew and can make almost anything. i am worth my empathy to anyone who needs me. i am a sensitive soul. i feel your pain.

yet what i write over and over may sound like “wolf.” over and over, the same things. “i miss him.” “i love him.” “he’s all i will ever want.” “i am lonely for him.” “i wish i could sit with someone and tell his story to them, see their eyes see me.”


but sometimes the wolf is real. the first time you hear that cry from the distance, someone should go see. but they also should go again and again, every time they hear it. someone should go check on that person because there are real wolves out there. sometimes it really is as bad as someone says it is. sometimes the wolf is on the balcony of your apartment, staring at you through the glass of the sliders, and his teeth are large and very sharp.

not every person thrown to the wolves becomes a hero. sometimes we emerge so scarred that we are unrecognizable. we can emerge blind and deaf, unable to do anything more than reach out with our hands to feel around, to see if someone came to check on us. it is the ultimate act of cruelty to slap their hands away. some, like me, can do no more than eek out a meager existence with as much dignity as our battered spirits let us. no matter how good the filter, words still wound. but i need to write so i will keep checking my filter. i’ll keep cleaning it. maybe I’ll open the sliders and smack it on the head of the wolf; blind him with all the filth.

would you believe me if i told you that my Dragon was THE one, the ONLY piece to my puzzle? what if i said i will survive this but i know i will not make it all the way to grieving? what if i told you i will mourn him for the rest of my life? will you argue with me? will you tell me to go get laid?

i am working hard and looking for more work. i smile and laugh for my children. i can be happy over the gift of a box of floss. i can engage in a healthy conversation with someone who cares to stop by. but i am in mourning. still.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

11 August 2010 ~ wedding anniversary

my eyes pour out their sorrow
while my mind smiles
and embraces our memories.
if i keep my eyes closed forever
i'll be able to hold you close
through the darkest days.
i cry out to the night,
and to the morning,
"i need you,
i love you,
come back to me."
but my words fall back
on me like the heaviest snow
on the most brutal winter day
and i fall back onto the bed with
eyes half closed and arms stretched out
to accept the staggering pain of the loss of you.
this day keeps coming back to my mind. there was a brutal wind and gold sunshine before the coming storm. i kept taking my gloves off to use the camera. and i got cold.
i keep hearing your voice, remembering all the words of love and concern from that day
here on the eve of our wedding anniversary.

"oh, baby, don't lay down. oh, my love, stand up."
"no, honey, you're not too warm, you're actually very cold."
"i'll get you home. i'll get you warm."
"don't cry, baby. it's not your fault."
"stay awake for me. look at me, baby. that's it. keep looking at me."
"i'm sorry but the water needs to be warm. oh, love, i know it hurts."
"no, your fingers look fine. they do. i promise."
"these are my sweats. they're heavier, much thicker and warm."
'lean on me. let me put these socks on for you. i just got them out of the dryer."
"here, drink this. yeah, i know. i put whiskey in it, but it'll help warm you up."
"you're looking better. how's my Beach Bunny? you feelin' alright?"
and the one that haunts me so tonight as it did last night

"i don't know what i'd do if i lost you. you're my very soul."

happy anniversary, Dragon, my love, my very soul.
i miss you & i love you.
you are the voice inside my head that keeps me together.
even knowing i'd be sitting here tonight as i am,
deeply in love with you,
deeply in mourning,
i'd do it all over again.
i'd say, "i do."

Square Peg ~ Camp Widow 2010 ~ the rest of it

i am back. i am sorry for the pause. it became an afternoon and night of memories that swirled through my mind and i got swept up and lost. 18 months without him. i love him deeply and living without him is the hardest thing i have ever done.

i have written this out and read it and re-read it. i feel the fire being lit under my feet yet i am compelled to write it and post it. the things i overheard and the things that were said to me should be enough to allow me my own opinion on my own little thingy here. i hate the word blog. it sounds like flog and i do not want to flog or belabor any point. i simply want my perspective to be heard. *sigh* burned at the stake. i’ll try to tread carefully.


since i didn’t really get started it’s really part one, A. i know my tone of my writing has changed to a quieter one. it’s the aftermath of a night of restless snatches of dozing, then waking to sob. Bunny can still be funny, but it comes and goes. right now, i don't remember how.

picking up where i left off, i took Paris with me, but i didn’t find it there and i felt like a failure. to be honest, i broke down at Sunday brunch. this was from missing my Dragon and feeling like i got it all wrong. i misunderstood the meaning of Camp Widow. i brought my hopes of connecting with a great many people, but what i found was an intricate culture i realize i know nothing about, and the rules change from person to person, situation to situation. no matter how vehemently those who navigate these waters deny there are rules, believe me when i tell you, there were personalities there who carved their rules on my hand so i would have the crib sheet handy, so to speak.

1. i had hoped all the myriads of people who presented their lectures and ran the camp with see those of us who were fragile. i had hoped they remembered those days of coming out of the fog of loss only to now face the struggle of realizing we have to continue without them. i know my Dragon’s body is dead. i worked on him until the paramedics got there and relieved me to try, but his life force, my God, the man was legendary in his world, and in mine. for all these months i would fall into a daydream state and think, “he's so strong and survived so much out there in the world. surely he'll come back.” they don’t come back. i know my face bore the signs of all this suffering. i wanted people to reach out to me, but i failed to understand. i was supposed to do that work.

having said that, i think a lot of people did not seem as observably raw as i felt. i have done so much of my grieving alone so i guess i am behind the curve. i saw so much laughter, boisterousness. i saw a community with such pervasive awareness of the goings on within it that i felt like a foreign traveler in a place i was supposed to have been for 18 months. there were so many who were current on all the various bloggers and books that the staff, ambassadors, and speakers had written. so many walked up already knowing the faces of their favorite people. join the fun. it’s tears. it’s laughter. it’s Camp Widow.

but what about me? i'm reserved, not because i'm grieving, but by, i guess now having been to Camp Widow, by birth defect. it has never been as crippling as it was there though. i was told that the only word i said the whole first month of first grade was “here” and that was in deference to roll call. i am a more thoughtful person.

this is where the English language gets me in trouble. i said that i am more thoughtful. that sentence is meant to convey the 3rd definition of the word thoughtful: occupied with or given to thought; contemplative; meditative; reflective. i was not implying that no one was thoughtful. i was trying to convey that i do not have the confidence to strut over to a group of unknown people, introduce myself, and join the fun. i accept the blame for this. there is no requirement that they reach out to me simply because they have set up a weekend for widows.

i wanted to have fun, but i also wanted to meet people and talk to them. i wanted to listen to them and in turn be heard. i carefully selected the workshops but my first one fell so short. i sat there thinking, “they gave me a whole table. even though it will be a little early, i’ll go sit there and then i can really talk to people.” i also wanted to honor the gift of being given that spot. i need the commission work. i didn’t go to the other lectures and from the people who trickled in cutting their lectures i think it was the better choice for me.

i had wonderful conversations with women; one of who, with her mother, gave me the most valuable moment i have had since my Dragon died. they held my Full Moon and Dragons embroidered handkerchief and then asked, “who was your Dragon? tell us a little about him.” i got to tell two people about him. they now know a little bit about why i cry. i am a widow so a man obviously existed once but to talk about him, tell them a couple of stories and not see they glance at their watch, to have them encourage me to speak, to have here mother rub my arm and look at me with such understanding of the pain i am still swimming in, gave me hope that later in the day, i would connect with others. i got to help so many that way when i talked about making the quilts for them, but beyond that, that was the only time someone looked at me as an individual beyond being just a head count. i did have some crazy conversations that made me realize, no one has a clue. they just do and say anything to save themselves.

2. the keynote address used a rock climbing metaphor to inspire us to get out of our grief. we’ve fallen down into a canyon and we need to get out. there are people on the wall, others who have gone before us. there is no right way or wrong way to get to the top. we each have our own path. sometimes we have to go down to go up. it’s a struggle. seeing others on the wall is our blessing and our hope. we can do this. and when you get to the top, reach over and help someone up.

it was longer and more eloquent, but that’s basically it in a nutshell. it’s a really good speech. but i have this tendency to analyze what i’ve heard or read to see what, if anything, applies to me. i kept thinking about the sentence, “those who made it to the top reach over to help someone up.” it seemed off. the person they are helping is almost to the top as well. it’s physiology. no one’s arms are long enough to reach over from the position of having “made it out” to help those who could really use a hand, or a pat on the back, or a tissue. and that’s what hit me hard this weekend in San Diego and i saw play out over and over again in my small area that i existed in. i wasn’t everywhere at once so my view was limited, but what i experienced, no one reached for me. everyone seemed so much more alive, so much further along, and so ready to have a great time that i felt like a failure. unless you brought a friend with you, or are gregarious by nature, you are sidelined.

as i had said, i went to the first workshop i signed up for. it was about writing. the woman who ran it was a widow who now taught this new way to write. this is what i wrote to the prompt “the thing about it is…..”

the thing about it is i do not know why i am here. i am not ready to embrace being a widow when i still feel like a wife. i do not feel empowered. i feel okay laying here on the canyon floor. the world has stabilized a bit from the earthquake his death brought about. lying here, the ground is actually quite soft. dark green moss cushions me and smells lush and woodsy from all the rain that comes as my tears slide down my face even when i don’t realize i’m crying. i can see the sun. i can feel its warmth way down here and i bask in it at times. i can see the clouds float by. i can see the others climbing up on the wall and that’s good for them. i am happy for them. i just don’t feel the urge or have the strength to climb out yet like i’ve been told is supposed to happen. i’m content to lay here on my back looking at Heaven, to where my Dragon has flown. and who’s to say up is my way out.

i have a feeling that if i showed the woman what i wrote, she would have said something to the affect that this is my truth and that’s fine for you but you’ll get it soon and then she would turn away from me. the one question i did answer for her when she spoke to me as i was leaving Sunday didn’t make her happy. she asked if i had gotten some work. i said that if the ones who said they would did indeed contact me, i had work waiting for me. her bright smile said success. but then she asked if i had had lots and lots of fun. i said that i had had a nice long talk with a person that had made me feel okay about myself. her smiled faded and she looked at me blankly. then she turned away. very busy woman. i felt it wasn’t the answer she had wanted so she dismissed me. i went to join my friend to go to the airport. it wasn’t the last little uncomfortable feeling before leaving the hotel that day.

3.A. square peg and the popular group. i felt like i was back in high school. the room i sat in at my table of quilts also had a local bookstore representative with lots and lots of wonderful books plus the list of books on grief from all the authors present at the conference. lovely lady. she had quite the interesting perspective on grief books. a young woman came rushing in after some lecture wanting a book about getting her own grief story published. the bookseller asked, “oh, you’ve written your manuscript?” the young woman said, “no, but now that the insurance money has started coming in, i’m quitting work to write my story. everybody’s doing it here. i’ve talked to lots of women who are writing and getting published.” the bookseller smiled and said, “i guess that’s true. writing is a good way to help yourself through bad times. the grief market is saturated with books right now. i can only recommend that you get your title and start from there. it’s the hook. you have a hook, you have a book. all these books are essentially the same. they are about one person’s journey through their own grief. i’ve read them all. to sell them, i need to know content and they are fundamentally the same. Don’t get me wrong. They are all good books and the personal details are different, but they are really saying the same thing. it’s the title that guides you to your specific point. you have a hook, you have a book. title is everything.” the young woman thanked her profusely for this insight. it was an interesting perspective.

our eyes met across the room and she asked me, “you have a book, too?” i told her i was finishing my 4th manuscript and none of the books were about grief. all the manuscripts were simply sitting on a portable memory strip. they are all psychological horror and drama. for there to be 4 i obviously started them years ago when my husband was still alive. she smiled and gave me her personal email. she wanted to read a few pages of them. we had a lovely long conversation about books on topics other than grief and about each other’s live. lovely, lovely woman.

3.B. in the room were also six or seven authors with tables displaying their books, their good works, what they have created from their grief. but for one who was more casual, they were all made up for public appearances, which was a good thing since a television camera came in. i sat at a table covered with quilts and embroidered dragon handkerchiefs, sock animals, and a pillowcase wearing a giant star shirt that i thought was whimsical and heavily embroidered jeans. i don’t do public appearances. i feel privileged to appear at Wal-Mart once every two weeks and have money to spend on food. so i sat and they sat, sort of. they texted. they posted. they were bent over their little phones ~ very busy. i didn’t want to interrupt. they got up and walked out. i could hear them talking. “my editor says this.” “my editor says that.” they came back in and i looked up and smiled and nodded. none of them came up to me.

i sat there for over 7 hours and smiled and nodded like a little bobble head. they heard me talk to the men and women who came up to me. they heard me say, “his birthday was thursday.” “it’s my first time to go anywhere since he died.” “i work at home and do not have a support group.” when the people who talked to me left, i’d glance around. i’d smile a small smile at them. my eyes flicked up for eye contact, but then i'd look down when no one spoke to me. i’m shy. it’s hard for me. you’re famous, and busy. reach out. please, reach out to me. i tried

Schopenhauer but these people didn't pick it up.

nothing. not one word. oh, wait, one widowed author did walk over with her husband to ask if what i did was truly considered art. i didn’t engage her for two reasons. one, if i had i might have been tossed out. she has clout in this new widowed culture. she told me so. i can’t afford to alienate anyone with my differing opinion, but yes, what i do is considered art by some. secondly, i didn’t have to try because she ignored me anyway. she was busy. she had one of those phones and was incessantly texting/tweeting/twittering/emailing.

maybe it’s the new wall. my generation used political unrest and music to build a wall to keep out the people we knew wouldn’t understand us. maybe this time around it’s the unfathomable wall of being unable to hold a conversation without typing into a networked phone. how do you stand up for yourself to someone who has dismissed you as she stares into the little screen on her phone? she got a tweet or text or email or google alert {i know the lingo} that she was “in” somewhere and someone was going to “mention” her on television, anyway, off she went, husband in tow; which brings me to…..

4. some of the widows brought their husbands. the leader of the organization had her fiancée working it. he seemed like a lovely man. as i was being formally introduced, someone took him away. i never got to tell him my name. very busy people.

let me say that no one is happier than me that these men and women have found another love. i am happy for anyone who meets someone who brings them such joy and such peace that it can only be celebrated by another marriage. having said that, for those of us who are raw and vulnerable, who came to the conference to find relief, it is hard to see widows and their husbands, the new ones. for those of us still shattered who came to find solace at a widow’s conference, i am not sure if this was an oversight, or if it was purposely set up to prove to us that life goes on and goes on very well. i got an earful from one woman who i am sure speaks for herself, but, i don’t know. her tag said ambassador or board member or speaker. anyway, she was important to the conference.

she came over to me to look at my things on my table. then she asked how long had my husband been dead. she did it like this, “dead how long?” it was like answering survey questions, but i was glad someone with a fancy ribbon had come to talk to me. i thought maybe someone had sent her to check in to see if i was okay. no. she was just killing time. she asked if i was dating. when i told her i cannot conceive of it she vehemently launched into me that i had it all wrong. dating was part of the healing process. i had to date. i would find love and “only in finding love again will you honor your marriage to your husband who died. i’m not saying you have to get married. live with him. do whatever you want to do, but get out there. it’s the only way to honor what you had. it says to the world, you’re capable of love because you had it once. it means you’re over it.”

i wish i was kidding. i’m not. she said those words to me.

i didn’t say anything. i merely looked at my hands. i knew we would never reach an accord and she seemed more than willing to tell me how to correct all my mistakes so i said nothing. i don't believe i gave ground. i simply chose the obstacle of silence.

i had wanted to tell her about Widower Howe, the gentle man i had written about last fall but i didn’t want her calling him a wimp or telling me he had gotten it wrong. i think that if you don’t want to date, it does not lessen the marriage you had. you don’t have to be a remarried widow to prove you loved your dead husband. you can show how wonderful your marriage was by not dating or getting married again. there were no stone tablets of laws and rules at the Camp Widow registration desk so i’m thinking it’s okay for me to love my husband as i do even though he’s dead.

3.C. i know, sorry. the “stars” of the event. i didn’t get it. i have read lots of books on grief. i have not read any of theirs. i didn’t know about them. they didn’t come up in the card catalog at the library. the first book i went to was C.S. Lewis. you know the one. beyond his, they all were saying the same thing, so i stopped wearing out my library card on them and went back to the Jack Reacher novels, anything by Frederick Forsyth, and everything else. the stars didn’t have to reach out to anyone. it was never long before they were approached. they signed autographs. they had their photo taken. the women that needed this were so excited to see these stars of sorrow. i know. that doesn’t sound nice but, you know, it wasn’t meant to sound bad. these authors have joined what i overheard one woman refer to as the New Cult of Grief. when she saw i had overheard i smiled at her and she smiled. she rolled her eyes and bought a wonderfully hysterical little book called Porn for Women. look it up. i hate to give away an ending.

everyone had an opportunity to go meet the stars because on Saturday night they lined up for the chance for us little people to meet them. there was a crush. so many getting more photos and i just couldn’t do it. i just wasn't interested and there were so many women lined up. i was hurting. it was a party atmosphere and the some of the songs were sad. i could not hear anyone. reading lips is not easy when you cannot hear one word to put what you thought you saw in context. the bobble head was back. i nodded a sort of yes and kept my seat. i really tried joining in but my feet hurt and the empty place where my heart was hurt.

i got a younger woman, she got a grant from a foundation to help her, really nice young woman, to go for a walk outside. we had a nice talk and saw the fireworks. those few minutes were nice. but i stayed away from the stars and simply watched. i wasn’t comfortable joining people i didn’t know talking about a book i hadn’t read. they talked a lot about their editors and television appearances and web appearances. the ones i actually got to see are now married or have new relationships. what i didn’t ask, wanted to but didn't, was, when they are out, not at a widow’s convention, but just out at the grocery store and someone asks, “are you married?” what do they say? “i’m a remarried widow. my book is titled…..” i am trying to understand the concept of a widow who is married. i am not old, at least i don’t think i am, but i am trying to learn a new dialect and new culture and i am getting lost. if you marry again, weren’t you widowed, but now you’re married? you have to check married if you file joint income tax.

a man four rows behind me in the first lecture asked the woman in front of him to explain it, and she couldn’t. the man was close to my age but the woman was young so i do not think it’s a generational thing. i feel i must apologize for being confused. i was corrected on this when a woman said, “yes, i am married but i am actively a widow. i’ll always be a widow. it’s who i am and i am embracing it. i tell people i am a widow when asked my status even when my husband is standing there.” it just threw me. i don’t think they are all like that but i did see quite a few.

i do have to say that one of the stars did introduce themselves to me as i was outside the hotel waiting on the shuttle to the airport. this person was saying good-bye to my friend and so, well, i was standing there. “hi, my name is -----------.” yes. you saw me sitting next to your table for 7 hours on Saturday. and i sat in your line of sight Saturday night. “i’m (insert my first name here.)” that’s all i said.

what could i say? it was too late to reach out. the shuttle pulled up and i had to leave. i looked at my feet and left. this person finally acknowledged me because i was standing right there with someone they had talked to and hung out with. was it an awkward introduction forced by association? did this person feel pressured to speak because it finally would have been too obvious that they ignored me? i was told this person was so very nice. i guess it’s my fault for not bellying up and forcing myself into introducing myself. i guess that’s what they are used to and maybe i seemed strange. see what i mean about failing?

isn’t it weird when you feel ashamed when you aren’t sure what you did wrong?

5. i am not going to steal his thunder in case he ever blogs about it, and i hope he does, but Dan Cano had the most wonderful ideas he presented for a session. i love his ideas. they would have helped me and the other heartbroken people i saw, the ones who aren’t yet ready to party but wanted so much to be a part of this convention. sadly, Dan’s ideas they were rejected for this year. there has to be a light in the dark and for me, Dan was it at Camp Widow. i broke down and his words and gentleness reaching out to me comforted me and gave me the ability to calm myself. he did it by seeing me. he did it by knowing how i felt. he heard my breaths shuddering as deep sob. and he heard me say, “i miss him so much.” Dan reached out and that’s more than i can say about all the stars and important people who shine in the nightmare world of sorrow.

6. the Saturday night ball. A. the music was very loud. my tinnitus was excruciating. B. i felt the line up of the bloggers for publicity or fan photos was odd. C. after the music started, quite a few widows left to go back to their rooms. i leaned over to one woman at my table and i asked if she and her friend wanted to go outside for a walk with me. she smiled but turned me down. “we’re just going back to our room to talk. this isn’t for us. i’m sorry. it’s just, we came together and we don’t know you.” when a shy person builds up the courage to try once, and gets shot down, they do not try again for a long time.

and D. i really wish i could tell this story. it’s a doozy. but i cannot risk it. suffice to say it was so rude it is not to be believed. i was shocked into silence when this person said this to me and i left the ballroom immediately after. and as it is now, with all i’ve written, i will most likely be burned at the stake. i know. no more all caps. i’m spent, but i got it all out. almost all. enough that when i post this my heart will race and my palms will sweat. i’ll probably cry but, “to think own self be true.”

my Dragon would be proud i am being so honest. he’d want me to finish point D. but i think it’s best to leave it at: there are some outrageous people out there.

on the long plane flights home i had time to think. i did come to a realization that i am not wrong. i know myself. i know my limitations and i know what i am willing to risk. no one knows my whole story though poor Deb got a tip of the iceberg for which i again apologize. but when you meet someone you feel you can trust, and you’ve been as isolated as i’ve been, you want someone to understand a little of what makes you like you are. ah, well. Deb promised to never repeat what she heard.

i did get something else beyond my wonderful time with Dan, Boo, and Deb. i got it on my own. i know that i am a rule breaker. i’m not militant. i listen very obediently to those who get in my face, but i quietly defy them by going my own way anyway. maybe i will be the Amelia Earhart of grief. i will fly alone on my own path. i won’t be writing any books. releasing my demons here is enough for me. i will fly alone in search of a dragon, my Dragon. for however long it takes, i will wait for him, search for him, listen for him.

i think i will honor our love and marriage by allowing myself to feel like i’m married to him even if it rocks the widowed world. i’ll be like Widower Howe. both feet in this world but my heart has gone on ahead.

i’m glad i went even if the stars and the powers-that-be see me as a failure to write off. i’m glad i’m home. i love my three friends. i don’t think i’ll return to another Camp Widow. i’m not a party girl. i like what i had with the women who stopped at my table to talk to me. i like what i had with my friends on Sunday morning. i don’t think i’m wrong. i’m just different. i love the ocean. i love taking photos. i love sewing for people. i love my Dragon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Square Pegs ~ Camp Widow 2010

or Bunny tells it her way.

Bunny was there

but Bunny was square

She wasn’t the life of the big party.

Bunny was shy

but she’s always been shy

and she didn’t feel all that hearty.

see Bunny’s still sad

yes, very, very sad

she misses her Dragon so much.

she had hoped Camp Widow

would be her big chance

for kindred spirits’ minds to touch.

but there were lectures

talking faces galore

so she kept her little mouth shut.

the stars were out

the paparazzi in tow

Shy Bunny got lost in the glut.

now Bunny’s not one

to impose on those

she doesn’t really know at all.

so Bunny hung back

and only talked to those

who saw Bunny with her quilts by the wall.

Bunny took quilts

Bunny took sock friends

she took all the things that she sews.

and there were those

who smiled and chose

to talk to Bunny and that made her glow.

it was worth the trip

it was worth the time

it was worth swallowing all her fears.

to go and be seen

yes, people saw Bunny!

and she’ll be warm from that memory for years.

"Sock" Beach Bunny with her Tribute Tile from Camp Widow that she cried over when she first saw it, and a sea urchin that her friend, Boo, bought her when they walked by the water.
and with her trusty pad of paper and pencil.
well, hell. Bunny may as well use a chisel on stone.
all the tweets and uploads that were going on around her,
and Bunny uses a pencil and spiral to jot her thoughts down.
give Bunny a second as she bolsters herself to face the inevitable teasing to come.

what can I say about Camp Widow and not be BURNED AT THE STAKE? {can't you just hear that judge raising his voice from Ghostbusters II?} i know what i can say. *ahem* *cough* *delaying tactics* “it was the best of times. it was the worst of times.”


1. it was located in a beautiful place. it was by the ocean. my room was on the 18th floor and i sat out there a lot. fresh air with a tinge of salt in it. wind. gulls. fog. oh, my Lord, it was all there. *big drum roll here; timpani drums and cue words* the Pacific!

have i ever told you that my Dragon trained over the Pacific? and by over i mean he did his first HAHO / free-fall at terminal velocity for night insertion qualification -- thingy (he laughed when i didn't know how to finish something he had told me that i wanted to make it sound so big and impressive so "thingy" was how i finished it -- somewhere out over the Pacific? he had to hit the deck of a ship at sea that was running dark. he did it the first attempt. how flippin' cool is that? Dragon silently swooping in from twelve o’clock.


went to one workshop. the first one. it wasn’t what i expected so afterwards, i went to sit at a table reserved for me for the rest of the day. i knew i wouldn’t be missed. they didn’t take roll.

{INTERRUPTION: note how laidback Bunny is being. she’s using contractions. Oxford rules be damned. Bunny had a very, very, (okay, Dan, i remember i was gasping to breathe so one more) very tearful epiphany and she is, no she’s ~ she’s going to try to remember it’s okay to use contractions. breathe, girl. just breathe.}

2. sitting at the table with quilts, handkerchiefs, sock animals, a pillowcase i’d made as a surprise gift, purses out of jeans, and a little photo album as portfolio that my daughter made up for me, people trickled in and out. there was the chance for that much welcome one-on-one sharing that i really needed and had hoped would have been the rule. most came in actually during lectures they snuck out of saying, “it wasn’t exactly what i had thought it would be.”

if the women that swore they wanted quilts do what they say they will do, i will have 5 quilts to make. my fingers are crossed. i'd cross my toes but then my shoes won't fit.

also, in choosing to sit in the room with the other vendors, i got to talk to these women who trickled in and hear their stories. how this man died. how that family got to say good-bye. what this man meant to his family and all the shirts he had that she still has and doesn’t know what to do with. this woman liked all the randomly placed embroidery. that one cried when i showed her how i can make a shirt be sewn into a quilt and a person still be able to slip it on, to feel it against their skin and then, with the arms through their beloved’s sleeves, bring the quilt around them and hug themselves, to hold themselves, to keep all the fragile pieces of themselves together. i listened and offered peace. i heard the timbre of their voice and offered my hands and my ideas for them.

when they walked away with one of my brochures talking with their friend or simply looking at the photos and reading it, i felt like i had helped. i told myself, when they go home and look at all the clothes they’ve been saving and commission me for a quilt, i can give them something that gives them a bit of peace.

i know. it's right out of the 60's but i mean it differently. peace of mind. peace of heart. the peace of being still inside yourself and just breathing. reliving a memory and it not tear you apart. inner peace.

for example, i made a pillowcase as a surprise for someone there. i typically do not, i mean don't, i don't get to see the faces of the people i send the finished quilts to. this time i got to see. i brought the pillowcase to this person and when this person saw it and realized it was my gift…..the eyes say it all, and the embrace. some things are too powerful for words. that look. i got to see it. that moment when they hold a quilt, or in this case, let a pillowcase i’ve made from the rest of the clothes touch their face and know they can rest their head on it, breathe it in from now on, i feel a little bit more like the real person my Dragon saw.

3. Boo, Dan, and Deb were there. oh, my, the feeling of finally meeting people you trust. little note, the word trust. it will come up again. only those who have been taught the hard opposite of that word can truly appreciate its value.

{INTERJECTION: note there is only one photo of Bunny here and it was not taken at Camp Widow. Bunny has almost 200 photos from Camp Widow and she is still color correcting the images. sadly, aside from being born reserved, Bunny was born a perfectionist. color correction is critical to her. Bunny loves color. she was gifted with her first color wheel in an art class in second grade and never let it go. besides, most of Bunny’s pictures are of the water and the architecture, a random seagull that flew overhead that completely fascinated Bunny and took her mind away from reality for a second, and the following: Boo. Dan. Boo & Dan. Deb. Deb & Boo. Deb & Dan. and the always popular Deb, Dan, and Boo. none of the previous names are in any order of ranking so do not try to read between the lines. Bunny wrote it by sound and beat. she likes the way it rolled off her tongue, the one in her head that she listens to when she writes. it’s the one that told her, "now this will sound good when they do the Broadway play of your life." see that? see that there? Bunny can be funny. now back to your regularly scheduled reading of Bunny telling it her way and trying not to be BURNED AT THE STAKE!!!!! you can hear that judge's voice ~ that actor from Ghostbusters II, can't you?}


okay, it was not the worst of times. Dickens and his gift for hyperbole. men can be such babies. but it fits, in its own way. i had gone there with expectations and my expectations were not realized. t

hey say if you don’t take Paris with you, you won’t find it there. i went to Camp Widow with the expectation of being with people who would be able to look at my face and see how i was doing. they had all be through it. they knew the signs. they knew how hard things could be. they understood the Almighty Calendar of the Passing of Time. birthdays, anniversaries, wedding anniversaries. it’s been 18 months today. a year and a half. a year and six months. however you say it, it's been too long without him.

i thought they would see it in my face, in the quietness of my body, and i thought they would remember those times that they had survived. i thought they would accept my little smile and nod. i thought they would stick around to talk to me. i thought they would care. i told the strangers i met there. his birthday was the day before the flight. the 18 month anniversary of his death was yesterday/today since he died 3 minutes after twelve.

timing matters. ask an emergency room doctor trying to save a patient on Christmas Day. i wonder, if you get them drunk enough to loosen their secrets, if any of them would admit to cheating on the time by a few minutes for the the death certificate so that the family doesn't remember Christmas Night as the night they lost their dad/mom/son/daughter.............

this anniversary, these Dragon days reminds me of when i fell victim to a medium case of hypothermia one winter day, and my Dragon's panic in trying to get me warm. he had his cell in his pocket ready to call 911, the car keys in his pocket to wrap me up and run for an ER if the shower didn’t work take, if the whiskey-laced hot tea didn’t perk me up, if the hot stew took too long bringing color back to my ashen face. he finally got me back and we laid together ~ entwined ~ on the sofa…………

and he whispered in her ear, “i don’t know what i’d do if i lost you. you’re my very soul.”

Bunny needs to take a short break right now. she’ll finish this later on and post it separately. she’s a little overcome with melancholia and memories. and if she is going to be true to herself and not be BURNED AT THE STAKE!!! {don't tell me i can't entertain myself}, she wants to be clear-headed when she finishes this part.