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, September 20, 2010

dog in a cage

none of this is proofread. i wrote it Saturday and left it. i do have food right now. it's just been a long, long life joyfully interrupted by that brief period of extreme happiness with my Dragon.

oh, and the Burger King Fairy stops by during the dark times.

{my daughter is my daughter all the days of her life.}


yeah, it’s me again. i know i come to You entirely too much but You’re the only one i can really talk to. You’re the only one who knows me, who knows everything about me. You know what i’m thinking so i can do the shorthand-speak, or if i'm crying too hard to talk, i can say, “well, You know,” and i’ll know You really do know.

i feel like a dog in a cage. i saw that show about dogs, You know the one. they filmed a vet clinic that had a death row and they talked about the laws and how long the dogs are kept before their individual trips to that room at the end of the hall. all the dogs were pressed against their bars with eyes that i swear were glazed with awareness and fear. they were staring at the cameraman, at the narrator, at however many it took to film that show and it was so apparent. all those dogs only wanted a chance. not a second chance or a third, just a chance. they want what all of us want, a loving home and enough to eat, or just simply to be set free. it was heartbreaking because no one was there for them. they were just filming a show. no one was coming for those dogs. they were all silently asking in the only way open to them for help, for attention, to be understood and loved, or just to be freed and no one was paying attention. the people talked above their heads instead of looking at their body language ~ their ears, their tails, and especially their eyes.

i feel like that. i feel like a dog in a cage waiting. i feel like i beg with my worn out eyes, my words that seem to come out in a language no one understands, and/or with my stupid voice for attention and for understanding. i carefully walk the plank twice a month begging and subservient in my emails for my stipend. i am waiting quietly and politely for the VA to process my claim. in the meantime, i hurt. i’m terrified. i live in desperation each minute of every day. when will they send me a letter? when will i be allowed to breathe? am i ever going to be free of this incessant fear so i can just grieve for my husband? i feel like i’m stagnating at this point because i’m in this cage waiting and i can’t think about anything except how safe i felt with my Dragon.

how many times have i talked to You while leaning my head against the glass sliders looking out on concrete world of cars, watching people come and go living lives where at least they are free to come and go. i’m a hostage here while i wait on money, and then wait on a ride. i’m waiting on an unknown future that i have no more control over than i had control over my Dragon dying so suddenly. i know what i'd do if had money. i know where i would try to live. God, we both know i know how to be alone. i go for days without actually seeing anyone. if i felt safe, i think i could grieve in a more normal way, but fear keeps me in line. not being in charge of my own life holds me back from feeling safe. how can i go through the grieving process when my stomach eats itself from the stress of not knowing what the stipend-giver and the VA have planned for me?

i get so very hungry sometimes. You know. You’ve seen me. i never say, “i’m starved.” i’ve never starved, but i have been hungry. i get teary when i try to get excited over a plate of Saltines with apple butter on top, a bowl of oatmeal, and some Jell-O. three days, four days of it, it gets old and its really not enough calories. i pretend i’m on “Survivorman” and that this is a windfall, or better, “Man, Woman, Wild” where she’s with her husband and it’s all being filmed. i like that one because she seems to really feel blessed to have him with her, in life, not on the show. well, yes on the show, too, but what i mean is they really seem to love each other. You know what i mean. of course You do. You’re God.

“here’s the daring widow down to her last sleeve of Saltines and a quarter jar of jelly. good girl! she’s learned that out here, far away from help, she must ration her food in order to make it last. and she’s learned one of the cardinal rules of survival. keep your spirits up. she’s putting the crackers on a plate instead of standing at the kitchen counter and eating them while crying. and setting up the stuffed bunny and taking photographs gives her just the break she needs to help her hang onto hope that things will improve.”

sometimes the cupboards are so bare yet i still have to wait on him to make the transfers of funds. i wait and i wait. my neck aches and my joints hurt and i know its lack of food that exacerbates that pain. i’m tired and hungry and suddenly i’m overwhelmed with missing my Dragon.

he died, God. i mean, You know, You were there, too. but my Dragon got to die and i didn’t. he got to go to a place where he doesn’t hurt anymore. he probably doesn’t even remember me. isn’t that how it works? he’s gone on to something better? it would destroy me to learn that he knows how bad it gets for me sometimes. please, i beg You. don’t let him know.

when he finally transfers the money, i have to wait for a ride, or walk over and get only what i can carry back which i just can’t do anymore. my foot hurts and i’m afraid i’ll get over there and can’t get back. and when i get food, i’m like a jittery, crazy person trying to fix me something to eat. i talk to the dogs. i hear myself saying crap like, “mommy’s going to have real food tonight! we get to have a real meal!” and then, in my jittery anticipation of getting to really eat, i do something stupid like put the mini meatloaves in the frig instead of the oven and 30 minutes later wonder why i can’t smell them cooking, and then i have to go find them and stick them in the oven. and wait longer. and i cry.

i know i’ve been trained with a harsh hand. like a whipped dog, i do what i’m told. i’ve been crushed into this person that i don’t feel like i was meant to be. i died inside a long time ago, but i still feel part of me inside. i dream these wonderful, beautiful dreams of things i can never have. i dream i have a home with a bit of a yard to take care of. i dream i have a garden with flowers and vegetables and herbs. i can see myself sponge painting walls to make them look older than they are. i’d have old wood floors with dhurrie rugs and comfortable old furniture. and i dream i have my things back. everything i had to leave in New England is back. all my clothes are in the closet. i have all my furniture back. i don’t have to spell out to you what i’ve lost. i just dream of having a place that i can take care of and where i can create a small life for myself. it will be my home and i’ll get to a point where i won’t hate myself anymore because i won’t have to beg for food and lights and a roof over my head. and then i can work through my grief over the fact that not all Dragons live forever. at least not with me.

i work hard. i sew non-stop. i wake to take my dogs out and then i get to work. when i get to eat a lunch or something, i stop sewing, but i sit at the computer and work on the photos so that maybe someone will buy one, or some. i set aside what i’m working on between 11 PM and 1 AM to go to bed. i get into bed and my body starts to spasm. i lie there and twitch and jerk with the pains that grab at me. my back aches. my hands throb and my fingers click and pop. my foot feels like knives are stabbing it. it feels like raptors are ripping it apart and it all scares me. is it just the stress? i know my foot is screwed but is there something else wrong, too? and what if there is? would I call 911? no. i don’t have the money. it would piss off the kennel keeper, too. i’m a dog on death row. no one fights for those dogs. few try to save them. they are beyond redemption. but are they beyond absolution?

God, please forgive me but i feel despondent. i thought all the presentations were behind me. remember those every Saturday morning? remember how blank his eyes would get? i did everything he told me to do but he always found fault. my priest told me i needed to leave him. he told me it would be all right. it was hell. he was bullshit about losing his money. not me. not the marriage. not the children. his money. i gave up 20 years of my rights to anything earned so he wouldn’t do the things he said he would. i was scared and no one was helping me. he closed it all down and took the money that day, before the children even got home from school. i told him at 9 AM after the kids went to school and my card was declined at the grocery store at 2:30 PM. what i did get to have, i did not get. i have to wait for it. i’d learned the lesson that there are some who are blessed with safer lives than i’ve been allowed to live. whatever You’re teaching me now that my Dragon has died, humbleness, humility, disgrace, shame, humiliation, let me take the test. i think i can pass. can i have a chance at something different for the end here?

i’m hurting and scared. i’m frightened and tired. God, i miss him. You gave me my Dragon and then he died. why would You bother to do that? why would You show me what it’s like to be loved? because of the way things played out that only You and me and Dragon know about, You know, yeah, because of all that, our life together was so financially hard. we lived on nothing, giving it all to my children to save them, to protect them. but we had love. for a little while, someone loved me. You did allow me to have that brief time where i saw someone looking at me with love in his eyes. i have never been loved like that. i have never been encouraged like that or allowed to be myself without worrying about the repercussions. i was in such awe of him. to love someone like me he had to be flawed. but he wasn’t. he was perfect. i love him so much. You blessed me with my Dragon for those few years out of my life and i am on my knees in gratitude. how do i thank You for letting me taste what it is like to be liked, appreciated, and loved?

how many people get to be themselves without worry of being slapped or screamed at or verbally stripped of all dignity in front of friends, in front of their children? how many people are encouraged to speak their minds, or can buy the large box of crayons at the grocery store, or get to ask to stop at the farm stand for a peck of newly picked apples and not get in terrible trouble? my Dragon gave me all that. he was shocked when i’d ask permission for the smallest things. he cried that one time, when i told him what had happened to me, but he didn’t turn away from me. he held me while i cried, too. he kissed me and told me he would never leave me. he said he would never let anything bad happen to me ever again. he said he wanted to allowed me the time to heal so that i could learn to fly. he wanted me to be free and he knew, he just knew that i had so much life inside me to give. he said he would always fly beside me and make sure that i didn’t fall. he loved me in spite of what had been done to me. he was gently giving me the gift of myself. i was slowly coming to believe in the power of his love for me when he died. i had gotten within sight of believing it would all be all right only to watch it fade away while i watched the light fade from his eyes.

now i am back to being the dog in the cage. i wait for handouts. i wait for tiny bits of freedom, like going for groceries or to the library. i am waiting for the VA to give me something and i worry what that something will amount to. will it be enough to open the cage door? will anyone see me try to escape death row? how many dogs were euthanized today anyway? and why do we come up with words to disguise what we do to each other and to other beings? we kill dogs because their existence has become inconvenient. i am now inconvenient for some people. i am a burden. “why are you still here?” he wanted to know why i am still alive. “useless.” “you look a hundred years old.” “you’re sad for him but you never were sad about the divorce.” “why are you still here?”

i read that you never really know what a death will make you do. you try to reach past what’s possible, struggle to fit the pieces together even though they are far to broken to bother with anymore. i am sitting in my cage trying to fit the few pieces of my life that are left together again. my Dragon would want me to try. so i’m trying to hang on, but i don’t know how long i have. since my Dragon died so suddenly, i wore his boxers and one of this t-shirts to bed. since the widow who lived downstairs died alone in her apartment and was not found until the next morning, i wear shorts and his t-shirt to bed.

“now i lay me down to sleep. i pray the Lord my soul to keep. if i should die before i wake, i pray the Lord my soul to take.

don’t let me die in the bath alone, unable to reach my little cell phone. please don’t let me die undressed. let me get my pants on, and pull a shirt across my breast.”

my current weariness at the futility of my life makes me wonder how much longer i can go on like this before i drop in my tracks. i’m shattered. i’m trying to put me back together again but the pieces i have left are damaged from my life before my Dragon. there are so many pieces that are just gone. i’m no longer a complete person. and now that my beloved Dragon has died, well, i’m not flying anymore. i never even had time to get off the ground. and if so much of me is lost out there, how will i ever be allowed to go Home? i don’t look like who i was supposed to be, do i? or will You know me no matter what?

i’m so scared all the time. the stress is killing me. i know that. my life is being shortened with each panic attack. each time i check emails for him saying that he’s transferred the funds so i can pay bills and i get to eat, and it’s not there yet, i sob in fear. i feel my life’s clock ticking down. how will i be found? will i be given Last Rites? if they forget, does it matter to You? my intention was there.

God, where do You plan on me going? Heaven? Purgatory? Hell? the thought of being thrown down there where all hope lives and dies over and over frightens me more than being hungry. will i be allowed to see my Dragon? can i, please? i would work for You. i can do a lot of things. i know how to take care of horses and cows. i can work a field and put up and keep up a barbed wire fence. i can drive a tractor for hours under a baking sun. i can grow flowers. i can paint and sew. i can carve wood and throw pottery, make stained glass windows, and draw. i can clean and i know the Dewey Decimal System like the back of my hand, like each scar on my body, like every pain that vibrates through my body. i would work so very hard for the privilege of being allowed to be with my Dragon in Heaven.

please, God. i need a break. i see myself like a dog in a cage on death row. i had love and i can hold the memory of it close so i’m not asking for anything like that. i can’t go through explaining the scars again anyway. i’m too old and it would be too hard to talk about all that. and You know and i know that only a Dragon of man can love a woman like me.

so what am i asking for? i’m asking for forgiveness for all my sins. i want my Dragon to be forgiven so that he’s in Heaven. i want him to have peace and joy and light. i want to try and find a way to get my things back out of storage. i want my clothes. i want to sit in his favorite chair. i want to get rid of stuff, organize the rest of it for my children, and to just touch it again, see it all again before You let me die.

i’m asking for the cage door to be unlocked. please, please let the VA come through for me with enough that i can run. i think if i can wave just enough cash at the fear, i can start to work on the grief of losing the only man i will ever love, the only person who loved me, the only person who could keep me safe. maybe if, like a dog in a cage, i could get a reprieve, i could reconcile myself to the fact that i got to be loved for 8 years and that’s all. i’m not greedy. out of an entire lifetime, eight is plenty. eight out of well, you know how old i am and how old i’ll be when i die so You can do the math, but it’s enough. he loved me so much and that is such a rare thing, for someone to be able to love me, that i humbly accept only 8 years.

please, God. i just need the cage door left open. please, make a little commotion that distracts anyone from looking at me. just give me the chance to run.

in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,


Saturday night @ 11 PM

Sunday morning at 4 AM

i took Sunday off from other work ~ Sunday night at 9:30 PM

it still isn't finished but at least it's square.


Anonymous said...

This is really sad but it's too much information. This is just a blog. You need to keep some of this to yourself. You can put up more pictures of your toy rabbit. You do take really nice pictures. Just don't get too deep. Everyone has their own problems to worry about.

Lonesome Dove said...

I love the caged dog reference. I feel that way often myself. And if someone calls or comes over, it is almost as if they have opened my cage and allowed me to burst out with great excitement.

Lovely prayer; honest, raw, pleading and asking for forgiveness. You once again have painted a picture with your words.

To Mr/Ms Anonymous, as I am of the southern persuasion, I was always taught that if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.

judemiller1 said...

How I despise that "other man" who holds money over your head and makes you beg like a dog for a morsel! I hate the VA for taking so long--how do they expect you to live? I hate all of it and I wish, oh, how I wish for peace for you and ... "Dear God, I'd like peace for WomanNShadows right now, if you don't mind!"
Anonymous, you don't get it...but that's okay...the rest of us here do.

megan said...

oh good lord. Some of us happen to love S. and will always hear what she has to say. If you don't want to know her, please click somewhere else.

womanNshadows said...

i wrote the letter to God in a burst of anxiety and exhaustion, and to get some things off my chest, not unlike Lt. Dmitry Kolesnikov did from the downed Kurst. sometimes we just want to be heard.

anonymous, since you like pictures, treat this as a picture book. you do not have to read. another idea is to use the links n the right to my photography site. there are no words there.

Lonesome Dove, see what i mean about you calling yesterday, and the timing? it was so great talking to you. and thank you for your kind words.

Judy, i'm so glad you're healing from your surgery. it's strange that i don't hate him. i feel nothing for him. but he does make me very anxious, in a bad way. well, maybe one day.

megan, thank you. =0}

peace to you all.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: this is a blog .. a space given to people that want to write about anything and everything .. you have the choice to read or not read .. I think everything she writes is beautiful in every sense of the meaning .. if you don't like it .. don't read it .. move on

Split-Second Single Father said...

I had to actually fire up the computer so I could comment on this one. My heart goes out to you, as always. You write with such honesty and vulnerability. I wish that things were different right now. Grief is hard enough by itself, but right now it seems grief is the surface onto which everything else has been heaped. I know I am not alone in saying that I wish there were some way I could help. I'm doubling my prayers for you after reading this, at least.

I was also appalled to read the first comment on here. I still don't understand why people feel the need to kick others when they (we) are down. Hang in there.

womanNshadows said...

Anonymous (the second one), thank you. i write what i feel. i write to find relief and release. i was going to delete the first comment but others had already written and i thought maybe he/she would learn something should they come back.

SSSF, thanks for firing up the computer. if things weren't as they are, i feel i could honor my Dragon better, deal with my grief over losing him better. the VA will move only as fast as it will. no one can rush the government. it's just right now, i am tired of the wait. again, thank you for stopping by and keeping my in your prayers.

peace to all.

thelmaz said...

I worry about you a lot. I'm wondering if there are any resources to help you with food, etc. in your area. Besdies the terrible grief, I worry about your physical health. I hope the VA comes through for you soon.

womanNshadows said...

hi, thelmaz, i applied for food stamps and medicaid but they want to see what the VA does. then i can reapply. i do worry about me, too, but i am doing all i can right now. a widow did email with a link to a hospice that offers free individual grief counseling and my husband does not have to have gone through there for died from an illness. they take anyone who needs to talk. i have called and given my information. i am waiting on a call from a counselor to set up an appointment. my fingers are crossed for it all. thank you for stopping by. peace.

thelmaz said...

I hope these resources will come through for you.

And this is totally off the topic but how do you put the music on your blog? I love it.

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