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 11, 2010

why are you still here? / ivy covered brain

i have been working today without pause, music playing to soothe the muse. there are so many things on my mind, so many things i want to make. and there are so many worries pressing on my chest. with all this mulling over of thoughts in my mind, the inevitable question comes to mind. it is the one that was asked of me recently.

"why are you still here?"

why am i still here? what am i good for? my children are grown and my Dragon has died. my little dogs love me and need me, but somehow i think they would get along okay should my face turn up on a milk carton. oh, for gosh sakes, i need to make a list and have Bunny be me so you have visuals.

i can sew. i make quilts for people. i can take any article of clothing, all of them given to me, and put them together to make a quilt to offer comfort. i listen to the stories of grief from others and take them into my mind. i hold it all close so that i can design something as close to perfect as i can. and then i ask the person who died how they want the quilt to look.

okay, you caught me. i put pins in my mouth and you should NOT do that so ignore the pins in Bunny’s mouth and look at her as she eyeballs the quilt she is making for someone. she is so intent on getting it right. i do the same thing. i want every quilt to be exactly what the person who commissioned it needs it to be.

i am a good housekeeper. i keep the apartment very neat and tidy. yes, i even put my hair back to get all the tough places. i vacuum behind and underneath the furniture and, as Bunny demonstrates, i even do windows.

i can do pretty embroidery. i can do counted cross stitch but i can also draw anything for anyone on anything and embroider it for them. i can do whatever anyone wants with a needle and thread. i tie my ears back, i mean my hair, and work so hard to please. that is a good thing.

but i need to admit that while all those things are good points, and might warrant me my quota of oxygen, i do feel that what i was here for, mostly, was for him, my Dragon. he would have been alone when he died if it had not been for me being there with him. i took care of him before he died. i took care of him as he died. and i sat with his silent body after he died. i touched his beard. i smoothed his hair. and i talked to him and told him i was going to take care of him in exactly the way he had asked me to should this tragedy happen to him first.

i am with him still, now that he has gone. i will always be the Dragon’s wife. it is just something i feel very deeply. “never say never,” but how about “i know for pretty sure that this is the way it’s going to be.”

i love him and i miss him, sometimes terribly. sometimes so much so that i cannot breath. i claw at my neck and chest and have to stand up. i drop my needle and start looking for a way out. but there is no way out of not getting to grow old with him. then it hits me as a deep melancholia that crawls around inside me. it is akin to the English Ivy that people allow to grow unchecked. it curls around everything, getting longer, reaching further and further, encroaching into places one might not want it to go. my melancholia is like ivy growing inside me and i have to cut it back. i have to be diligent though, or it will, i fear, take over and cover my brain and then i will end up like a saddened old mountain man alone in his shack, muttering to himself and his dogs.

a woman just called me. M. hey, M. if you’re reading this, it was great talking to you. you interrupted, thankfully, some pretty dark musings. {pssst. i told you i had a photo of your embroidery work here.} we had a lovely conversation and it gave me the opportunity to remember and share with her something i try to keep close to the forefront of my brain that the ivy had covered up today.

my Dragon lived every single day of his life to the fullest extent. he breathed deeply every breath he took. he ate and really enjoyed the sights, tastes, and smells of his food. he watched over me and loved walking with me, seeing what i took pictures of. he loved listening to me and encouraged me to talk. oh, and he loved my laugh. he loved touching me, touching the wet sand to pull out shells and sand dollars. he loved petting the dogs. he loved helping me cull and work with our plants. and when we cuddle together to watch television or read, his fingers would stray into my hair, and he would finger comb it without even realizing it.

i am his wife and i should do no less. how a man like that could love a woman like me is beyond me but i am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth now. however i can with my limited means, i will live every day of the rest of my time here. i will work for, grab at, and beg for chances to live. he always liked that saying, “slide into home with a wealth of really great stories.” so i am going to collect all the stories of my life so that when i slide into “home” in a great cloud of dust and little rocks slinging about, i will have the most wonderful stories to tell him. he will pull me into his lap to hold me while i tell him all the things i did and wrote about and took pictures of. and when i feel his fingers absentmindedly combing my hair, i will finally feel at home. i am back with my Dragon again. it is finally going to be all right.

Bunny and Dragon snuggle up for SyFy Saturday night, the most terrifying night on television, we hope.


Suddenwidow said...

I hope you find some good SyFy to watch tonight. I can't watch scary stuff any more. I also wonder why I'm still here without him. We were such a team that I really do feel like half a person. I guess my obvious answer is to raise my boys to adulthood. But I do wonder: then what? I hope we both get the answers we're looking for, when God is ready to share with us :)

Lonesome Dove said...

Was great talking to you today! And I have to say, you do have a fabulous laugh. I wish everyone who visits you here has the chance to hear it. And, yes, I noticed the embroidery in your pictures. They are coming along very nicely!

Isn't it interesting how a conversation can trigger certain memories? Especially ones that might have been obscured by the weight of.....ivy? :)

I think the quote you mentioned goes something like this:

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy shit, what a ride!"

Think of the wonderful stories you will have to tell your dragon.

Dan, in real time. said...

I really liked reading this. I like that you took so much time to acknowledge all the gifts, and talents, that you possess. It is a small glimpse into what your Dragon fell in love with. I also like how you speak of how he strokes your hair, and how you will continue to do for him. There is so much intimacy revealed in your writing.

It is lovely.

Boo said...

Oh S, I loved this post. It is so tender, and widows/widowers will truly understand what you are saying about "what am I doing here" ... it is the fundamental question that we ask ourselves over and over. I understand on a rational level that his life was his, and mine is mine, ergo ... he died when he did and I will die when I do ... but on every other level, I still ask that same question.

You are the Dragon's wife and I know in my heart that you will always be so ... and I am so proud of you ... to read those words that you are going to strive to live as he did (well perhaps not quite, i.e. you won't be flying into foreign lands under the cloak of a dark night) but you are going to breathe each breath ... work hard (you always did that!), find the small simple pleasures, and experience it, live it ... so that you can tell him your stories.

Believe me, whether Cliff has watched me do all that I've done, doing or will do ... I am going to make him listen to the whole thing when I'm sitting in his lap recounting it all for him. (I see it as a fit punishment for going first and leaving me here ;-)

I love the ivy analogy, esp as it is spreading around my decking and patio ... must sort! And yes, we have to keep it in check, whilst ensuring that we mourn them enough, let the emotions out by crying an ocean of tears ... it's a fine balance, a unique balance that you and I and everyone else is learning ... a fine balance, and the hardest work we have ever done.

I love you
Boo xxx

p.s. loved the bunny pix, the one of cleaning windows brought a big grin to my face this morning

womanNshadows said...

Deb, in my mind you have so much value above and beyond being a wonderful mom. you are a teacher and your purpose is quite clear. students need you and your gift of getting across things beyond the subject you teach. you are showing them all grace during sorrow.

M, your call was a Godsend at that moment. i had a heavy heart and you lightened it. as for laughing, it is something i seldom get to do here by myself. thank you for calling. and one day you and i need to sail to the Bitter End Y. C. and have a drink, dance in the sand under the moonlight, and sing out loud to the stars.

Dan, you are ever present in my thoughts these days. i hope you received my email for your mother-in-law. as for the intimacy revealed here, if i cannot be honest here, if i do not get some of thee thoughts out, i will wither. writing is the vent in the pie.

Boo, Bunny is fun to play with and i need fun at times. i wrote once that i actually do all the work and she gets all the credit but she is easier on the eyes than i am plus i do not know how to use the timer on my daughter's camera. i know Cliff is waiting for you just as my Dragon is waiting for me. and i can fully imagine you giving Cliff what for for going first. for me, i am going to go to my Dragon and touch him all over, his face, his shoulders, his arms, his hands. then we'll go find the beach in Heaven and lay down together in the sand and watch the clouds go by. well, after all the kissing.

peace to you all.

megan said...

I love the new header photo.
And Why am I here? Every minute of every silly day, I ask that, sometimes shouting and sometimes muttering. I know our dog relies on me, and sometimes I think I didn't die that day in the water so that at least one of us could continue to give him the good life we promised. Don't know if there will ever be a reason other than that, and trying to find a way to live with that -

Thinking of you. I always think of that "treetop Flyer" song when I think of your husband. xo

womanNshadows said...

Megan, your reference to "treetop flyer" hits so close very close to home. one of my Dragon's favorites from the "old days." oh, Lord, you have no idea. i love Stephen Stills. i found a great youtube of it for my FB page. now to find it for my playlist. thank you so much.

peace and love.

judemiller1 said...

I love the song playing in the background--and I love your post today. I am so glad you had a phone call today and I want to thank you for your concern while I was in the hospital. Everyday when Fred came to visit, I asked, "Did you get an e-mail from womanNshadows?" Now that I am home I got to read them all--thank you for your kindness to him.

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