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.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

sucked down

my digital camera died last night. it is the one that my Dragon bought me before we moved to Rockport. it is the one that took all the photos of my harrowing road trip away from the ocean to move here. it is the one that has kept vigil over the moon. and now it has died and i am sad.

i know it is an object, but it was a link to bDd (before Dragon died). it is as familiar in my hands as a needle and thread, and floss. as familiar as a paintbrush or a pencil, or a woodcutter's tool. i have lost my friend and i am devastated. i have put it on my mantle which has become a shrine of sorts. i even have empty pill bottles with his name on them. my daughter brought over her camera to me this morning on her way to work. bless her.

i have finished the last bag E. wanted. it has passed the Bunny Weight Test. i also put pretty ribbon on it and embroidered the "life is crap" stamp to make it visually appealing.
i hope she likes her bags.

it is after September 1st. after 27 years in New England, i know that Summer is packing up fast to move south. Fall can come early up there and i miss it. this will be my second without seeing those changes. it was pretty here last year, but, i don't know. my heart longs for the coast and all the vines around the driftwood. i long to smell salt air and that snap of cold that makes your skin tingle. the talk of frost on the pumpkins will begin in a few weeks, maybe sooner depending on nature this year. i miss it so much that i feel hollowed out by what has happened and how it came to pass.
memories assail me lately. at moments i feel overwhelmed with them. i feel like i could get sucked under if it do not fight it off and yet the call of these memories is a candle flame to my moth. not all the memories are good ones and i guess it is the residue of having been recently lectured and questioned as to why am i still here. please don't ask me to explain. i wrote it only to quantify the level of self-worthlessness i am made to feel and have to fight against.

one summer when my children were 11 and 9, my father-in-law asked where we were going on our family vacation. my ex told his dad that we did not take vacations as they were a waste of money. his dad scoffed and prodded me, thinking ours was a marriage where i had any say. he was the patriarch and it was only respectful that i answer him. i told him i had always wanted to go to "Cape Cod." i really had always wanted to find a little shack of a vacation beach house to rent north of Orleans so that the children and i could walk along the beach, the eastern arm of the Cape where Henry Beston had spent a year alone. i knew the storms from the Atlantic threw all kinds of wonderful treasures along it. my father-in-law had been and we started conversing about how austere and beautiful it was out there. talking to him was always easy. we were of like mind. but when i turned and saw his face, i knew there would be hell to pay.

we had to go now. instead of letting me make the plans, he did it angrily. he got us a room at a Holiday Inn in Hyannis and every morning he got us up for breakfast, took us to the beach, and then took us back to the room with take out. he stayed on the phone a lot, or brooded. he was pissed at spending the money.

there was this one day of terror where he took my son out too far in the water. there was a storm less than 50 miles offshore and waves were high. flags were flying for dangerous surf and you were allowed to wade up to just above your knees, wherever your knees fell, but no further. he said he hadn't spent money to just wade in the ocean, so he took my son out to make him body surf. the tide was coming in and the waves were building. i told my daughter to sit with our towels and went to pace the edge of the water. i couldn't let him see me be anxious because that meant i was making my son into a mama's boy. i could not defy him but i kept watch.

when i saw them go under i went in after my son. i got to him and treaded water with my knee bent so he could sit on it and catch his breath. i talked to him, told him how to swim back in letting the waves carry him, and then get to his feet at the last minute when the sand was almost scrapping his knees. don't fight it but try to keep his head above the surface. where we were, the water was deep enough that my toes could not touch bottom. my son was strong. i told him to go and that i was right behind and beside him where i could see him. if he faltered, he would be pulled in my direction and i could again give him a rest while i treaded water. i was a strong swimmer. his dad? already on the beach toweling off. he had seen me go in.

i kept my eyes on my son. i saw him catch a crest that i missed and get a pretty good ride actually to shallow water where he got to his feet and ran onto the beach. his sister had his towel waiting. i was still further out and i got sucked down into the draw. i was turned and rolled and slammed hitting my head on the bottom. i saw stars. i swallowed water and it felt so warm inside. i choked and coughed and more water got in since i was still rolling underwater. i fought it rolling to my side and then pushed myself up to try to stand. i was in water just under my armpits. i coughed up the water i had swallowed. my stomach recoiling from the salt and my fear. both my children were standing at the water's edge calling to me. i glanced behind me as another wave was coming in and i caught it. i was drained. i needed the ride. my arms and legs were cold and tired and felt like noodles. as i got closer to the beach i felt a strong hand catch me just above the elbow. the young man who was life guarding that stretch of beach helped me out. my daughter had gone to get him after her brother made it to the beach. the lifeguard saw that i was okay then promptly walked over and wrote a ticket to you know who. yeah, they can do that.

i'm telling this story to help with the metaphor for what i mean when i say i feel like i am being sucked down. i have memories like this day at the beach that suddenly appear like a flashback. but then i have the memories of when i got cut off taking pictures and my Dragon waded in frigid water to get me, laughing, making jokes about "calling in the Marines." there was (is) so much love between us. i have been having nightmares that started the day before the lecture and also dreams that my Dragon never died. i cannot control them. they just come. i try to control what i do after they arrive and cover me, and roll me over and over.

i am trying to get to my feet.
after i got the borders pinned, i did have to fall on it and smell it. it has been almost 19 months since my Dragon wore any of these clothes, yet i know i can smell him. tonight after i stop doing some embroidery i have been commissioned to do, i will walk over and hand sew some of the border down. i will have my quilt. i need it so badly; much like a small child needs to hide under the covers believing in their power to keep the bad things away.

i wish whoever reads, peace.


bev said...

I'm sorry to hear that your camera has konked out. Do you think it could be repaired? Was it the main camera you are using, or do you have another?
Your quilt is looking quite lovely. It's good that you are getting close to finishing a quilt for yourself. I used to do a lot of commissioned art at one time and never seemed to have time to make anything nice for myself. It will be so nice when you have finished the quilt and can snuggle down beneath it.

Suddenwidow said...

Sorry about your camera. I know how special it was to you. Austin and I bought our first digital camera together and we loved that camera. It was waterproof and could take underwater pictures, which we used a lot when we took the boys to Cuba for our 10th anniversary. Austin was very much into photography and he thought digital was an interesting way to take pictures. This past winter, when the boys and I ran away to Hawaii to escape our first Christmas without Austin, I took the camera when the three of us went snorkeling. I got some great shots and then the camera just quit working. When I got it back to shore it appears that it started letting water in. Not sure why, but the camera was wrecked. I felt sick and I burst into tears. For days it hung over me like a grey cloud. Our camera was no longer and it felt like one more thread to my life with Austin was severed. Then a month later I accidentally washed my cell phone, which held the last few text messages Austin sent me, full of love and humour. Again, it devastated me. They're just mechanical objects, but they can be so tied up in our love story. I'm sorry you're having to experience it. And I hope you are able to get a new camera soon.

Chillin' with Lemonade said...

I will love the totes. I already do! I can't wait to bring them to work and show my "like is crap" motto off!

womanNshadows said...

Bev, it was my main camera and the emotional attachment is huge. i am using my daughter's for the time being. as for a new one, i'm saving.

Suddenwidow, i remember you telling me about your camera dying. i am finding it so hard to lose the little ties to the past i had with him. just more of the same thing. grief.

Chillin', girl, they are ready whenever you are. just let me know.

peace to all.

Boo said...

Oh S, so unfair :-( As you know my camera and camcorder were stolen in two separate burglaries. That hurt.

I know the hurt you carry because of it dying ... but I also know that you will cherish it, dead or not, just as we still cherish our soulmates ... I hope you get enough commission work to buy a new one.

I am so so sad for you about this. As Deb said it's another tenuous link or thread to life before your Dragon died, and any additional links breaking are so so painful.

All I can say to you is that the images are in your head not the camera, whatever its state. You know ... the head that your Dragon wanted to get in ... your eyes saw the images. You saw them, not the camera. So they are safe in your mind, through your eyes, as your Dragon said.

Huge hugs, xxx

Lisa said...

I’ve tried all sorts of coughing syrups, believe me, but none of them helps. Even though Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa does not eliminates the cough I like to stick to this chinese syrup I’ve been taking since I was a kid: Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. My grandfather is chinese, so I guess my mom got the advice from him. I was really surprised when I found that chinese market selling it here in Belgium. It does have a refreshing, soothing, sweetening effect…as long as it lasts…then back to coughing mode.

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