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.

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.


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