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.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Soul Widows Spiritual Retreat ~ Four ~ Friday ~ The Women

i made it through last night. my candle was lit. i was embroidering. my dogs were content beside me. and i fell through the floor at 9:30 PM. i could not keep my eyes open. i took the hoodlums out for the last time and while brushing my teeth i started to cry. see, there is this awful thing called a mirror in the bathroom and i do not look like the woman in the pictures i have of him and me together. i look drawn, exhausted, hollowed out. but today is my daughter's day off and i am going to be with her for a couple of hours today. i am going by Build-A-Bear to stop in and say, "hi, i am back from my weekend retreat." depending on what they say i will wing it from there but i hope seeing my interest will be a good thing.

i am up and i wanted to continue about the weekend. during the breaks in our first session together i saw that we still hung out in the alcove. we ran and got more water, another iced tea, and we ran to the Ladies's Room, but we all hurried back. i think we all recognized the bond forming.
they say that people who go through harrowing times, who live through a trauma, like soldiers and Marines during combat ~ the Band of Brothers ~ are closer than if they had spent years together to form deep friendships. i wonder if that applies to some widows? we were not there for the death of each other's husbands and yet, of all the widows i have met, these women seemed to ~ no, they did feel empathy, compassion, and bore the cross of truly understanding what each other had gone through. sighs. some intakes of breath when a certain story came to light. the "oh" and the small movements of the hands to reach out, the instant furrowing of the eyebrows in fellowship mourning were not coached. they were not platitudes. nothing was done by rote. there was a trueness to it and a realness to it that came from the heart.
i took this photograph above of Elizabeth, the founder and organizer of Soul Widows, because she was still standing in the alcove speaking softly to one of us. the metal sculpture on the wall above her are leaves, but they seemed to me, at this moment, to represent angel wings. for Elizabeth? symbolic of a higher presence with us? i leave it to whomever reads to draw from their own ideas. but it is a photograph that represents the tangible and mystical things that happened this past weekend.

The Women ~ i would like for you to meet them. i can only hope my meager words honor them.

these are my mental images and for all, but for Elizabeth, i will keep their names a mystery; or you could go to a retreat to meet them. the order is from my memory of where we sat in the circle by the fire. when i look at someone i think of images. when i look at images i think of verse, poems, and stories. i have a brain that cross-references. i see threads. it is a quirk i nourish because i believe that my imagination and creativity have saved me else when i was knocked down, i may have stayed down.

Elizabeth ~ as i said, founder and organizer of Soul Widows. she has a powerful heart and a strong and inviolate love for her husband. she has a maelstrom of emotion inside her to nurture and protect her organization. she has reached out for it, to gain acknowledgment for her ideas of helping widows and gotten rejected by other organizations so she is carving her own path. she is as fragile as she is strong. she is a woman and a mother and apologizes to no one for her actions. from one who was taught to apologize for wetting her diaper, i am so very impressed and in awe. the image for me about her is a beating heart emerging from the gilded cage of her pain and yet, i feel she will always sit close to that cage for it is also her weapon against a world that sometimes does not understand.

the Clown of God ~ she is a hysterical woman whose rants are the stuff of stand up. she is religious and deep and thinks in terms of eternity. she is adores her husband and speaks to the qualities she fell in love. that is her shield and also her offering to the world. her lovely husband lived. he was here on this planet and he was hers. i could say so much more but i am not funny. she is laughter with tears. Kahlil Gibran would have loved to have met her.

the goddess Diana ~ this woman is newly widowed, less than 6 months. she came across North America to be with us and for us to be with her. she is young and in such pain, but she is fierce. she is a wall of water coming at you but also she is so very vulnerable. she shared all this with us in words and in what she did not, could not, say. i believe that one day the world will know "Diana" was here, if a large part of it does not already.

the Ceramic Storyteller ~ i know. where did i come up with that one. i used to hand-build them back 100 years ago when i was young and had a kiln. this woman is the mother of 3 beautiful boys and she is heartbroken. shattered. trembling hands. fragile eyes. i see a woman of the Earth inside her. she protects her young boys by keeping them close. like the Pueblo story of the Storyteller, she holds them in her lap and comforts them. she gives them stories of their dad. she is carrying their young grief on her shoulders. with us, she allowed her pain to be laid open. she allowed herself to be comforted and to find a brief rest before going back to the trenches of combining motherhood with widowhood. she is and will always be a powerful force to be reckoned with.

the Disciple of Grace ~ i met this woman shortly after i arrived where i am now. through it all she periodically kept checking in on me. she told me she had been worried about me. and i was touched. few worry about me. it was comforting to know that, should i disappear, i would be missed. she has witnessed to her faith when she was angry with God, but she is sure enough of His love to know it is okay to be mad at your "Dad." her eyes are clear. she does not own that hallway of doors that can open and close when someone wants to manipulate you. her heart is on her sleeve and her hand is out to you. i have not met anyone in a long time who has such grace.

the Fiery Fairy ~ this woman is our grief counselor. she is small in stature but that is all. her spirit is an all consuming light that she carries and shines on all. her eyes are a most unusual and beautiful color and are not afraid to show the balance of anguish and joy that she has worked hard for. i think if you could see her soul it would be a shimmering iridescent orb ~ no beginning, no end, floating gently on a breeze to where it needs to go, a brilliant light of fluid color. she is powerful and righteous and fairy-like with her feathers and jewelry and hairstyle. she has been called angel but i know angels cannot really interfere and this woman, she cares so she interferes. i wish for someone like her in everyone's life.

who is left? me. who am i really? am i Dragon's Beach Bunny? am i womanNshadows? am i my own name? i do not know because so few accepted any part of me much less the whole of me. i designed and built a stained glass window once. i used glass that was left over from other windows. i hate to throw anything out unless there is absolutely no use for it. i am that window.

i am the Lost Stained Glass Window. it is a metaphor for what my life has been. i was born unworthy so, as a child, i had to create myself, not from the example of my mother but from the women of literature i respected and wanted to emulate. i made myself from glass because i was always getting my heart broken. i made myself from glass as a meter for me to find friendship and love. you can see right through me. either you see me and believe i make the world a little more beautiful with what i create or you simply see through me and past me and i make no impression at all. and that is all right. i had my time with my Dragon. he found me. he saw me. what he saw he loved. he loved me for exactly me, scars, private horrors, all of it. now that he has died, i am lost. i am shattered like glass that falls can shatter. all the colors that are me are lying on the ground and the shadow that i am is stooped there in the gutter trying to find all the pieces.

what happened to the real window i made? my ex-husband took it from me. that is why i called it Lost. his taking that window hurt me badly. i had never made such a window before. over 300 pieces of colored transparent glass in a design i will never envision again. he took it before i had time to take a photo of it because it never occurred to me he would do that to me. he could not have hurt me worse if he had killed me.

there we are. the tribe, and then the session was over for the day. i rose and turned around facing out from the alcove. i looked up and saw the heart quilt. probably over 300 pieces of fabric went into this quilt the owner of the inn, Marilyn, had made. she could have hung it anywhere. she hung it there. it was if this giant heart of color had our backs. it was looking down on us from the highest point of the house and there is symbolism even in that. i did the only thing i could do. i took this photograph.

we closed with our candles lit for our husbands. count the heads. 7. 5 women, 1 Dragon's Beach Bunny, and our Fiery Fairy. we are a tribe of widows now who feel each other's pain. the commune we created that lives in our hearts still thrives but that is our private space that we all hope grows as those who seek find us.
after a wild, crazy supper out at a Mexican restaurant that will never be the same after us, we got back to the inn and had our sitting-on-the-bed-talking-until-late girl time. as each one of us dropped off and away to go to our rooms to sleep, we carried with us the awareness that our sister was next door, or just down the hall.
and so Bunny settled in for the night.


Chillin' with Lemonade said...

oh! I have been described as beautifully as you just did! Amazing. I wake up each morning hoping for anotehr post and check it at lunch to see if you have updated.

Bunny is so cute in her bunny slippers.

Boo said...

S - I am so happy that you had this experience. I wouldn't be surprised if you all stay in touch forever, bonded x

Anonymous said...

it's so nice to see your renewed strength and spirit .. i am so happy and grateful that you found a comfort and peace by going .. C.

diane strazzer said...

Thank you for your beautiful blog. I am honored to have met you. You honor yourself by coming to this great retreat to breathe, to open, to heal. May it continue.

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