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.

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.



judemiller1 said...

I would think that getting "laid" could lead to a whole lot of different problems--anyway--you couldn't really relate to anyone in that way--sounds yucky to me or being unfaithful or something. I loved the picture of Bunny and the tomato pin cushion--it made me laugh for some reason. I never thought of unkind remarks as being like pins stuck into me. You have such a wonderful way with words. Personally, I think you are doing just great and I am so glad you had a visitor. Inch by inch.

Dan, in real time. said...

I'm glad to see that you have resurfaced. In your last post you stated that you would be taking time to reflect, and that is always helpful. One of the problems with time away is that it often makes us feel more lonely than before. I know that I too in the past disconnected my comment access, and later realized how difficult it was for me, but also for others. Please remember that at times we want to honor your wishes, and give you the time to reflect as you requested. But let me tell you, I have been looking to my blog list each day hoping to see you reappear.

Part of why I moved to San Diego was to start new somewhere, but it was also because I wanted a place where I feel what I need to without the interuption of friends or coworkers. They were all great, but I put too much energy into being cheerful all the time. The move has given me the opportunity to create a slower paced, and quieter existence. The downside of course is that I am now more lonely than before. I have one good friend in town, but for the most part feel isolated. I know that the only way to change this is to get out there and try to meet new people. This is going to take some time, as I don't really have the energy, or the correct state of mind to do so.

Hang in there.

Love. Dan

womanNshadows said...

Judy, you have always been there, intuitively knowing when to email a kind word. i have used the floss so much and have sketches for the use of the rest of it. i love it so much. thank you for being exactly who you are.

Dan, i had only wanted some time away from the strangers who had never commented or emailed before San Diego but who believed i needed to be disciplined. i had not wanted a communication embargo from the people i consider my friends. i wrote that last post at a time of great personal distress and it is my fault that it was not clearer. you are in my thoughts and i want you to hang in there as well. just breathe. and maybe check your spam for me to see if i got through somehow, or simply lost. i emailed after your Gay Tax post but i had a compt. problem that my son talked me through in repairing.

peace to you both. thank you for being so kind.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Just so you know, I've been checking the site most everyday to see if you had posted anything new. I completely relate to your writings. My husband was a "huge character" in this life and I so often feel like I have become invisible since his death and am so far away from home. All of the family and friends here were his family and friends. Some of those people have made me into some horrible monster for petty reasons and I find keeping to myself is the easiest and least painful choice. I left a baseball game one night this week and sat in my car and cried while I waited on my daughter to finish watching the game with her friends. All because someone innocently told me something that made all those feelings that I don't belong and am still not accepted surface. Take care and I hope things improve for you.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

I don't know why we both always feel hurt when we think we've hurt the other one. We must just have the same triggers, or complimentary ones.

I'm sorry you feel so alone. I'm sorry the grief counselor names I sent you months ago weren't useful. I wish I could do more.

I'm grateful that your kids are so terrific for you, sad you feel you must fake it for them.

(((Cautious hug)))

womanNshadows said...

Anonymous, i am very sorry to hear of your own loss. i understand being far from home. it can be hard to find or build a new place for yourself. feelings can be so raw and we're feeling vulnerable. i let myself cry when i need to so that i can get it out and not have to deal with that moment again. i try to move past it. it is hard without being able to talk to my Dragon, and for you since you want to confide in your husband. but i do talk to him all the time. i hope you can find a way to vent and get all the frustration and hurt you feel out. i will be here if you need someone to listen. thank you for reaching out to me. i appreciate you leaving a comment and i hope things get better for you as well. i wish you peace.

womanNshadows said...

Supa, i tried to communicate this to you in email. let me try again. sometimes i am writing about people that are not you. i wish you would not read yourself into everything i write. just breathe.

the grief counselors posed varied problems for me that are not fodder for public consumption. sometimes there is nothing you can do for someone. my life is on this path for a reason. one day, i will find out why.

as for faking for my children, as their mom i have always protected them. though they are grown and i have leaned on them quite a bit during this time of realizing a life without my Dragon, i am still their mother. they see me cry. they see me get hurt. i am grieving for my soul mate. in this there is a lesson for them. it is okay to be lost for a while. "being lost is very close to being found." i wish you peace.

Boo said...

I can tell you that Debbie, Dan and Boo all noticed that you had fallen off the trail in the jungle, and I am so happy that you are back here. You also clicked "like" on something on Facebook so I knew you were there, sitting quietly, sewing of course.

I love you and I'm glad you're back to posting. My little world felt decidedly wobbly without you in it.

Not even going to comment on the "get laid" comment because I think my swear words might shut down the entire internet.

womanNshadows said...

hi, Boo, it eases my mind to know i would be missed if i were gone. and yes, i'm quilting my own quilt right now. pictures to come as i get further along. i will always be here for you. i deleted the "get laid" email. i think she meant well, but it is not for me. peace and love.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for over a year. I definitely knew when you were gone and looked daily for your return. I also checked other blogs to see if you were ok. I am happy your back and that you are ok. I lost my husband September, 2008 and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. Whenever I see a full moon I think of you and your Dragon and wish you peace.
Sandy in CT.

womanNshadows said...

Sandy, thank you for writing. when my Dragon died, it made me feel so lost. i still feel like i am feeling my way, like a blind person. i am deeply sorry to learn of the death of your husband in September 2008. i will be thinking of the through that month as well as Dan. Sandy in CT. we were "neighbors" as such with my home with Dragon being Rockport, MA. so we'll be neighbors in spirit here.

thelmaz said...

I stopped by to see if you are feeling any better. I am so sorry the conference made you feel so awful. I wish I knew what I could do to help. Just know I'm thinking of you. And by the way, your blog site is amazingly beautiful and inspiring.

womanNshadows said...

thelmaz, i am not sure if i was truly ready for the conference emotionally. his birthday, the 18 month milestone, and our wedding anniversary during and around that weekend pulled me very far down. not being able to step up and be more assertive in a crowd is also a handicap for something like that. there is nothing anyone can do for me except maybe offer prayers, or remember i'm here.

thank you for the compliment. i treat this place as my home away from the apartment, or my studio. i can design the photos of Beach Bunny, control the color, carefully choose the main photo at the top with it's quote, and the content and message i want to convey throughout. it is a little glimpse into the world that is alive inside my head. i am glad you like it. =0}

Debbie G. said...

Just wanted to post and say hello. I just read all your past posts and wanted to say that our stories are similiar. I too had an abusive 1st marriage, so much so that I swore I would never, ever do that again. Little did I know I would meet the love of my life 12 years later. Jim was larger than life also and shared similiar qualities with your Dragon. He was a retired homicide detective, who had an amazing life and he was a force to be reckoned with, but he was also the kindest, most humble man I had ever met. And he adored me and I him and he called my 2 boys his own. We were married on Oct 8, 2005 and he died on Jan 7, 2009 when I was 47. I try to focus on how blessed I was to have his love in my life and that I was able to be there at the end of his life - even if our time together was short. But the ache of missing the essence of who he is and especially his physical presence is just overwhelming at times - which is why I could relate to so many of your posts. I tend to be a lurker, but felt compelled to post today - just wanted you to know you are in my prayers.

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