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, December 13, 2010

the Bunny who gave away her heart forever

i took the lights off my Dragon Christmas tree. i could not look at it, how big and lush it is while he is not here. it is too much his tree, his gift to me, so i took the lights off and have my little tiny colorful tree from the dollar store set up. Bunny is a little less anxious with this set for the reason for this posting. because someone asked me to. the Matriarch of Grief nad Joy whom i met at the spiritual retreat has been contemplating something i said during that weekend and wanted me to explain it. so here it is in the inevitable story form; because there some things i can only explain with a story.


The Bunny Who Gave Away Her Heart Forever

Once upon a time there lived a… I know. Many great fairy tales start with “Once upon a time,” but this fairy tale is not a great one. It is not even a good one. It is simply a story about a Bunny who, as it works out, lived once upon a time.

She was born sensitive and creative and, unfortunately for her, with a naïve belief in all the books she hid away from real life to read. Her imagination and soulful way of being led her to the only path she could take. She was an artist and a writer. It was not something that her family understood. Not fitting in with the world is very difficult, as you, dear reader, must know, but to not fit in with your family, that can be a terrible thing. Bunny did not fit in and the price she paid was very high indeed. To survive, she complied, she placated, and she accepted her punishments for not being the Bunny her family thought she should be. But Bunny could only be who she was.

“To thine ownself be true.”

As Bunny saw she did not fit in with her family, she also saw that her heart was getting damaged. It wounded her deeply to see that so she started to keep her heart hidden. She thought to herself, “Well, not every mother and father have to love their children. It is written of in literature all the time. Maybe when I am grown up I will have love.” So Bunny tucked her heart away and waited. This did not mean that she was aloof or withheld her respect for her mother and father and brother. She was respectful and caring and hopeful. Ah, innocence. She tried to earn their love. Oh, how she tried, but nothing Bunny did was exactly right and sometimes if she did something exactly right, rules had changed and it would be exactly wrong. Punishment was swift and severe but Bunny did not let them see her cry. They saw her afraid. They saw her anxious. But never, ever, in Bunny’s long memory, did she remember a time when she let them see her cry.

As Bunny grew up, she adapted to not being loved by staying close to the shadows. Bunny built up a side to herself that was stoic and bending to the will of others. She allowed this side to be the one people got to know and kept her Bunny side hidden. She called the side that everyone met womanNshadows because even that part of her could not stand being in trouble and stayed as close to the shadows as possible. Avoidance, subterfuge, and always knowing where the exit was located was the talent womanNshadows developed. Bunny’s talent was in never being seen.

Bunny was whimsy. womanNshadows was realistic. Bunny kept her heart tucked away deep in the shadows with her, which left womanNshadows without a heart to break. Bunny hid. womanNshadows stayed public to run interference keeping everyone satisfied, or unsatisfied, with her behavior. It meant nothing to womanNshadows. She perfected being the “good girl.” Whether she was successful or not depended upon the mood in the room, but she kept people from looking too deeply at her. She provided the veil that no one looked behind. There was no reason to look past her into the shadows, into the darkness where Bunny trembled, and at times, wept.

Bunny grew up. She grew up alone in her mind and in her feelings. She grew up alone in her thoughts and her choices. She kept her fantasies and dreams to herself and only let them come out through her art. If anyone wanted to know Bunny, if someone wanted to find her past the obstacle that was womanNshadows, then they only needed to gaze at Bunny’s art. Few ever did.

One day Bunny was introduced to a man with dark sandy-colored hair and puppy-dog eyes. He was nice to Bunny and courted her with a cool dignity that Bunny thought was respect. This man with the puppy-dog eyes told Bunny she was pretty and smart and sweet and good-hearted. It made Bunny smile. She believed that maybe, just maybe, here was someone she could give her heart to. Poor young Bunny. She was young and innocent. Bunny had not been courted often and she did not know the signs.

Signs, you ask? Yes, there are signs that someone is not what they appear and only experience, or a close family can offer perspective to a young Bunny. Since Bunny’s family had either died or abandoned her, she was alone in her choices of accepting the man with the puppy-dog eyes as a husband. Bunny had wanted to believe so desperately that she forgot the lessons she had learned from interacting with her family. Bunny was tired of fear. She was tired of horror. She wanted to love and be loved, so she believed in the man with the puppy-dog eyes. Bunny soon learned through experience that the man was not what he had appeared and henceforth he will be referred to as the Dark Man.

The Dark Man continued his charade of kindness and politeness until their wedding day. As the young Bunny walked down the aisle with her heart in her hands, fully extended towards her soon-to-be husband, she noticed that he did not accept her heart right away. “Maybe it is the ceremony and all the people around,” Bunny thought. “He will accept my heart when we are alone.”

After the wedding and the reception, only when Bunny was alone with the Dark Man, did she get her first inkling of what she had done by marrying this man. Their marriage was {this part must be censored. Bunny/womanNshadows apologizes but some things cannot be spoken of in polite company.} Bunny’s proffered heart was knocked from her hand onto the floor where it got cracked and chipped. After it was over, Bunny was left alone. In pain, she crawled across the floor and gathered her heart close. She saw the damage that had been done to it, more than ever before. She did not know what she had done wrong, for that was how Bunny thought of it. She had done something wrong, much like she always thought of it with her family. She simply had to figure out how to please her new husband. That was all. She simply needed to learn how to make him happy and help him see that Bunny was a “good girl.”

But as time passed Bunny stopped trying to please him and simply tried hard not to make him angry. The Dark Man was cruel to Bunny and kept her financially and physically trapped. Their marriage was not a sacrament as Bunny had always dreamed her marriage would be. She kept her head down and slipped deep into the shadows. Her stand-up girl, womanNshadows, took her place and as for Bunny’s heart? Once again she locked it away deep inside herself.

The years passed, oh, yes, they did. Two decades that Bunny was trapped. She had had two babies that she had kept physically safe, but as for the things that the Dark Man said to them, the things they overheard, and were exposed to, well, heartbreakingly, there was nothing womanNshadows could do but try to figure out an explanation for them, protect them, divert the Dark Man’s rage, and finally confrontationally place herself between him and her babies. And all Bunny could do was watch helplessly from the sanctity of her darkness, out of harm’s way.

The sad thing is this. Bunny was not really out of harm’s way. She was not really safe and she knew it. You cannot witness yourself being damaged and not feel it all the way to your soul. But sometimes the thin veil of lies we cover ourselves with are enough to keep us from going mad.

As with all stories, there is a time of conflict. Bunny’s story was no different. It seemed that all through the almost 20 years of Bunny’s faux marriage the plot was rising to the pivotal conflict that would be the catalyst for the climax of the story. The one event that lit the fuse to the divorce of Bunny from the Dark Man occurred over the course of 2 days. It was ugly. In desperation, Bunny saw that she, herself, womanNshadows, could not endure this any longer. A very broken Bunny initiated the divorce.

Bunny and her babies were forced out into the cold, uncertain world like all the demons of Hell were after them, but it was really only one. Whatever the world intended to throw at them, at her, Bunny felt they might be better off, for the world is a cold and cruel place, but it would never pretend to be anything else.

Terrified, Bunny kept her arms around her babies and her eyes on the Dark Man. This meant that Bunny had to walk backwards into her uncertain future. It meant she never saw him coming ~ the Dragon ~ the love of her life.

Now it might seem that a Dragon is an unusual mate for a Bunny, but it is actually perfect, and poetic. There is a saying. “Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.” And indeed it was.

A Dragon and a Bunny. No two were more opposite. He was fierce and brave. She was cautious and afraid. He was strong in spirit. She was exhausted. He had much experience in affairs of the heart. Bunny’s heart had always been locked away and she did not know if she still had the key. He was so very handsome. Bunny was faded. But there was one thing they did have in common. Both the Dragon and Bunny had pain in their eyes. He saw it in hers. She saw it in his. Bunny’s was pretty self-explanatory. But Dragon’s pain ran deep for he was a Marine, Force Recon, and he could not really speak about his pain. All he could say to Bunny was, “I’ve done things.” But that’s all he had to say, for Bunny knew. She was intuitive, and she had empathy and compassion.

Bunny looked into his eyes and saw across the field to the castle he had built around himself. Behind the castle walls she saw the stoic and valiant warrior who stood at attention. He was ready to defend. He was ready to protect. And he was tired, too, just like Bunny. He wanted to love and be loved, just like Bunny. They were meant to be.

They grew close very quickly. Bunny first offered her eyes to her Dragon. She let him see who she was and smiled as she looked through his defenses as if they were glass. Then she offered him her ears to listen to him. She listened to the stories he would tell and to the stories he could not and she comforted him. She offered him her arms to hold him in the night when flashbacks and nightmares assaulted his dreams. She gave him her life and her love.

And the Dragon gave all he had and was to his Bunny. He gave her his eyes to see the Bunny she really was. He gave her his ears to listen to the terrible things she needed to tell someone, just once. He gave her his arms to hold her close, in comfort and protection. He gave her his strength when a certain sound, when a feeling of terror would creep up her spine, whenever she had her own flashbacks. He gave her his life and his love.

Bunny and her Dragon. Dragon and his Bunny. Their marriage was a true sacrament. They joined their lives and their souls, and yes, they offered each other their hearts. Like all perfect marriages, Bunny and Dragon kept their hearts in the center of the circle that their sacrament formed. Together, facing each other, hands always joined, fingers always laced together, Bunny and her Dragon protected their marriage and their hearts. Neither worried that anything would happen to part them. They had both faced terrible things and survived. Now that they were together, they felt blessed. Finally, after over 40 decades on this cold, aloof world, they had both found someone to give their hearts to. Sometimes life saves the best until last. Bunny and Dragon looked forward to their future together.

Just as fairy tales start with “Once upon a time,” they also come to an end. They always seem to end with “and they lived happily ever after.” Those fairly tales really haven’t ended though, have they? We were merely taken away from the story. The truth is there is no happily ever after because the story has to end and the sad part of this truth is that only one story ends while the other is forced to continue on alone, at least for a time.

Bunny’s beloved Dragon died one night, suddenly, tragically, almost violently, while she cuddled with him with her hand over his great heart. It seized and Bunny tried, but failed, to save him. She had no magic. Only her Dragon was magic. All Bunny had was her love for him and love has no power over death. Love’s only power is the strength of its endurance and loyalty. In horror, Bunny watched as the light left her Dragon’s eyes. She called to him, cried to him, then bowed her head and told him softly how much she loved him and always would. It was her way of saying she understood that, though he did not want to, she knew he had to go.

After his beautiful, handsome form was prepared for her to sit beside, a shocked and mournful Bunny went in to quietly say good-bye to her beloved. His silence was terrifyingly loud. His great chest was still. His body was empty of his majestic soul, yet Bunny hoped he was still near, somehow, someway, to hear her. Through their short time together, she had always given him little gifts, a flower, a seashell. Now she wanted to give him one last gift.

She held his hands in hers and, as best as she could with his body lying down so still, she formed their circle. As always, inside their circle were their two hearts. His heart no longer carried any life therefore its colors were fading, but hers was vibrant and full of her life and her love for her Dragon. It beat fast with shock and grief inside the last circle she would be allowed to make with him. Bunny closed her eyes and reached inside the circle and took her beating heart, and put it in her Dragon’s hand. Then she closed his fingers around it and leaned down to whisper against his lips, “Keep it. It’s yours. It always has been.”

The room started to feel empty. The color of the harsh florescent light shining over her and her beloved Dragon seemed to cool. He was gone. Terrified, Bunny opened her Dragon’s hand to look and see. With an odd relief, she saw that it was gone. Her heart was gone. Torrents of tears started to finally fall. Her Dragon had taken her gift with him. He had taken her heart with him on his journey. Bunny prayed it would keep him safe and allow her to find him when it was her time to go.

Bunny reached in to take her Dragon’s still heart from the circle that would never be formed again on this earth and put it where her heart used to be. She would keep his dead heart just as he was keeping her live one, a special trade, one that only true love can understand.

Now Bunny lives without her heart. She is lonely and desolate. When she stops to listen to her life now, she hears nothing but the sound of her own grief. But dear reader, you must not worry for Bunny’s heart is not lost; it is simply gone to another place. She does take comfort in the fact that her Dragon has her heart with him. She hopes he won’t be lonely while he waits for her though she is in deep sorrow without him. She cannot go to where he lives now. She has not been called. Bunny believes that when she does hear her name from the other side, she will go with his heart in her hand and find him standing there with her heart in his. Then they will embrace and form their circle again and this time it will be for all time. Their hearts will be transformed and placed back in the circle of their love and the sacrament of their marriage, for you see, there is something I have not told you, dear reader. When Bunny and Dragon got married they had “until death do us part” removed from their ceremony. They had promised each other “forever.”

Ego dilecto meo et dilectus meus mihi.”

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

peace to all who read. peace and light to all who grieve.


thelmaz said...

I don't know what to say except I understand so much better now. Your story (and Bunny's) touched my heart.

Boo said...

no words will come to me after reading this. I know that you and I have shared something of our past and our demons ... but to see it all written down in one story - in one post - changes it somehow. I wish people were not so cruel. I wish that this world was not ugly because they are no longer in it.

Light and love
Boo x

judemiller1 said...

No words, other then "beautiful"

Suddenwidow said...

Thank you for sharing your fairytale. It's heartbreaking and sweet.

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