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, January 30, 2010

the clouds parted ~ my moon

the clouds parted for a while.....
in and out i saw him......
as if he was trying to find me as much as i was trying to find him.....
i cried when i saw that i was going to get my full moon photographs for this month.....
"i see the moon and the moon sees me.
the moon sees the somebody that i'd like to see.
God bless the moon and God bless me.
God bless the somebody i'd like to see."
~ nursery rhyme

God bless my Dragon who lives on the moon.
i've been a good girl please give me a boon.
i weep and i pine, for my Dragon i sigh.
please show me a glimpse of him up in the sky.

i think i see his love drawn on the moon's face.
i wish i was back in his loving embrace.
i see the moon. does the moon see me?
i sigh at the moon until death sets me free.
~ my rhyme




the last snowstorm ~ the first sleet storm

this is the last snowstorm my Dragon and i walked in. the day before he died we took the dogs and walked along the seawall as the storm silently cranked up. it was fun. i love walking with him. he always stopped to check on me. he was so good to me. i always thanked him and he was always amazed that i would. i told him that i never took him for granted and wanted him to know how much i appreciated everything he did. i wanted him to feel loved.

i had a flask in my pocket for her. she'd gotten hypothermia once pretty bad. almost hospital bad, but i got to her in time. her fingers tips were never the same though. her fingertips can get cold when it's 50 degrees outside. i always looked back for her. she'd get distracted by the whole world around her, like every day was a new day and she couldn't get enough of being outside. she'd never been taken care of. my looking out for her, keeping crackers and a flask of hot chocolate for her, i just wanted her to feel loved.

i took so many pictures on this day never knowing he'd be gone within 32 hours. he always stopped to look back at me. when i caught up, he'd ask, "did you take another picture of me? don't you have enough?" he'd smile and wink. i loved taking his picture. i think he's ruggedly handsome.

she took so many pictures of me and i finally got used to it. i don't think she ever knew how much i liked that she took my picture. a woman doesn't take that many pictures if she doesn't love you, think you're okay looking. i see her looking at all of them now. i'm glad she has them.

fast forward to not quite a year and it's the first, not snow, but a highly commendable little sleet storm. i took Bunny out on the balcony but she got cold so i brought her inside. she sat and looked out at the sleet. so did the dogs. they whined. and of all the things that could have reminded me of him today, Scootie went and got his boot out again. every so often he just goes into the closet to get my Dragon's boot. i just let him. who am i to hinder someone's grief. dogs grieve. elephants do, too. i read that if an elephant comes upon the bones of a dead elephant, they bury them under tree branches. and they weep. so Scootie can go into the closet anytime he needs to and get the Dragon's boot.

silly little dog. i'm glad she has them. but Scootie. i think he misses me. she always called him a sensitive little soul, and he is. he watches her as much as i do. he senses when she's low. both of them do. the white stuff out there exacerbated her anguish today. she missed the Wolf Moon. it was sleeting so the heavy clouds covered it up. i watched her. every 30 to 45 minutes until after 3 am she'd get up to run check to see if the clouds had thinned, or parted, for her. they didn't. when she gave up, she cried. it broke my heart. i laid beside her until she fell asleep. my poor Bunny. a little over a week and she's going to be in Hell, and there's nothing i can do to stop it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

it is what it is

"i sat evaluating myself.
i decided to lie down." ~ Rod McKuen (i think. it's been a while since i read it.)

i've been sewing like crazy on a quilt for Suddenwidow. one for her eldest is finished. one for her youngest is in the works. i break after 9 PM now so i can sew for myself. i've been working on a gift for my two fairy godmothers to take with me to Camp Widow in August to thank them for getting me there. that's what Bunny is working on in the blog photo. i have no fear that they will be able to figure it out from that photo. =0)

sewing/quilting as a profession is not like being an art director at an advertising which i've done. it's not like working the stock room at a department store or being a sales associate, both of which i've done. it's not like being a SPED teacher of EH boys, which i've also done. all those involve constant interaction with people.

sewing/quilting as a profession is closer to plowing a field or bailing hay, both of which i did on my father's farm during my childhood and teenage years. it's closer to working flowers and plants at a nursery which i have done. you're alone a lot of the time in a very solitary pursuit except driving a tractor and planting, growing, and culling flowers and plants is all done outside, or in the greenhouse. but the common thread is you're alone with your thoughts.

i know how to be alone. i'm not afraid of it, but having come from an intensely close bond, one in which, once he retired from his job, we were never apart, my solitude has been difficult to accept. i'd go down to the cove alone sometimes. he'd run to the grocery store, but beyond an hour here or there, we were never, ever apart.

i wonder if not having my own home, having my things in storage, not having a car, and being anxious about food and making sure i don't make my ex angry, might be making it hard for me to move forward at the pace i would have normally.

i haven't been able to tell my story. except here and here is not at all like talking to a person sitting with you. it's not like sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea and chatting with someone with whom you feel safe. so i talk to my daughter.

she told me she thinks my situation with money, or without it, and lack of mobility has prevented me from finding friends. we're working to resolve the car thing. maybe the VA, when i get approved for something, will be enough for a little car for me. maybe i'll get a book published and i can get some breathing space. maybe ..... ah, forget it. i'm just working on trying to figure something out on a wing and a prayer.

my daughter believes that once i get mobile, i can start going to church regularly again and maybe volunteer again like i did before. maybe, maybe. if wishes were horses then beggars could ride. but if we give up on our wishes and hopes and dreams, then we live for nothing. she and i feel that one day, someday, something good will happen to me again. but i told her that we had the Dragon and that's more than we had ever hoped for. we both got teary. he is a constant wish/hope/dream/memory for the both of us. girls and their Dragons. when a bad boy reforms, oh, Lord, there's nothing quite like him. if he is all i get, i have been blessed.

it's been mentioned that i'm sounding stronger. i'm not any stronger, i'm just settling in. the years i have left without him stretch out achingly long. because of how i was raised and then what happened during my first marriage, i have no sense of entitlement that my Dragon and i will be allowed to see each other again. i will not risk challenging God for something that may not be my place to ask for. there is not enough of me left to think that the deepness and profoundness of our love for each other will carry any weight in the afterlife. having said that, i love my Dragon far too much to stop humbly praying for him and i to be together.

working as i do, writing the letters for my allowance for bills, food, etc, have not given me any revelation that i'll be okay. i am simply settling into what life has dictated to me. i carefully fight for little i have left of myself. my Dragon so wanted to see me come back from what life had done to me. i work. i research for help, Medicaid, VA, grief counseling. i make calls. i try. i am swimming upstream and, though i'm not loosing any ground, i'm not making much headway. but i don't think i'm failing at how i am grieving as it has been suggested, it just is what it is.

wishes? i have several.
hopes? i have a few of those.
dreams? i have two. i'd like a small little townhouse with a walled courtyard to release my little dogs into to play. i could paint the walls and get my things back from my ex. it can become mine in a way that an apartment never will.

and two, i'd like to be granted the blessing of being reunited with my Dragon when it is time for me to leave here.

it's good to have dreams. only in our dreams can we be truly safe, love conquer all, and Dragons live forever.

the moon is almost full again. i'm not going to ever apologize for my relationship with the moon. grief be damned. the moon and i will always look at each other.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

woke up crying....

it wasn't from a bad dream. it wasn't because a dream of him was interrupted. i simply woke up and before i could stretch and get out of bed, it hit me. he's dead. i've always hated that word. two hard consonant sounds. in sign language it's very simple. the hands are very soft. that's why i like sign language better than speech because all the emotions are in the face and hands to get the across what you want to express. i wish i'd thought to find an interpreter to sign my Dragon's funeral. not that i'm deaf, but hard of hearing means it's hard to hear every word and if there had been an interpreter, there would have been an anchor there to cling to.

my ear hurts this morning and my tinnitus has come calling.
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE......!!!!!!

if he were here, he'd make me hot tea and turn the music on low to help me focus on something pretty. he'd make sure he was facing me to talk to me so i could see his lips. damnit. he'd just be here.

my belief in Heaven has been rattled. i was so sure throughout the bad times in my life that someday i would die and hopefully would be judged meek and honorable enough to go to Heaven. am i though? i've lied during my life to protect my children, and yes, me, from "he who shall not be named." does that count? i hid money from him, too. is that theft? i just wanted us to get through it. i wanted my children to grow up and me to get away. i didn't want to live that afraid anymore, or filled with that much self-hatred because i wasn't pretty, or quick enough.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted."

those are the ones i think about. i feel poor in spirit. really feel poor in spirit today. i miss him so much that my heart actually hurts. right now, as i type this, i am crying so much that the words get blurry. i have to blink, blink to clear my vision.

i've always leaned towards meek, unless my children were threatened, but that's what i'm here for. to protect them. but i am at heart a very meek person who avoids confrontation. i like taking long walks to pick up rocks and shells. i like taking photographs. i like to feel the wind kick up and smell the ozone before a storm. i like a quiet life with a lot of time spent outdoors. it sounds like a personals ad and the only one i want answering has died and left me here alone. he is so perfect for me. he is so great. he is so wonderful. i like him so much as well as love and adore him. why did he have to go? please, someone tell me why he was taken away. i'm on my knees asking why this morning because i need him so much.

i saw him fighting to breathe. oh, my stars, i cannot get that image out of my mind this morning. it hurts so much to think he was in shock, and fear, and in pain. i know, it didn't last long, but no one should be afraid like that. no one should be in pain. but i'm being naive again. and selfish. pretty much everyone who takes the time to read what i write has had their spouse die and have similar memories that haunt them. i'm sorry.

the second week after he died and i was here and still unpacking, my daughter took a photo of my Dragon and had a pillowcase made for me. i hand wash it. i don't let my dogs get near it. i hold it every night. i sleep on it every night. i guess i've become odd. it's my security pillow.

i hugged it this morning and sobbed into his face. he died. he's gone from me. i can't touch him or kiss him or talk to him. i can't hear his voice or smell his skin. i can't stroke his beard or hear his laugh.

if i woke up in the night from a bad dream or was cold, all i had to do was put one finger on his side, or his arm. just one little fingertip and he'd move his big body towards me. he'd straighten his arm up and then underneath me to draw me close. i'd mold myself to him and he'd whisper to my face, "there. that's better." he'd kiss me and it would either "start something" or we'd fall back asleep.

i miss him and the only people who understand the power and the impact of those three words will be the people who read this. and now that i've exposed this pain in my heart to the world, it's time for the meek, the poor in spirit, and those who mourn to go eat something so we don't fall down and then get back to sewing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday night ~ i miss my Dragon

i am back from "the visit." nothing to say about it except i am back. my thoughts are chaotic but it's fine. it's all going to be fine.

i walked into the apartment and took Scootie Wootums and Carmen Sophia out for a bit. the moon is 77% full. the 31st will be a full moon. i talked to him up there but all i heard was another voice that grates and grates. but i'm fine. it's all going to be fine. i'm just tired tonight.

i went back inside and took an Advil. i sat down for a minute and then got up to set up Bunny and Dragon to symbolize what i'd really like to have happening tonight. right now. i wish he were here. i really do. i just want him to hold me but i know that this embrace will never happen again. still, i have to admit that i stared at the photo until i started crying. finally.
"things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what have been carefully hidden."

he's like that, you know, the one who met us for dinner tonight. what is there can be hidden deep if he wants it to be. but i know it's there and knowing what's out there in the darkness helps me to prepare to meet it head on. after a skirmish though, i am always tired, drained. but it's over and nothing heinous happened. SSDD.

i miss my Dragon.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

the phone call

there was a blog here about a sensitive subject but i chose to take it down. i'm a girl and girl's have the right to get nervous and change their minds. suffice to say.....

all i want to do is run away sometimes.
my Dragon never ran and i am the Dragon's wife.

i wish i felt like i could write anything i want but it's the Internet. everyone can see. i like having my "friends" here talk to me which means it's public. so, i removed what i wrote. *sigh* that's why the comments below seem off weird.

Friday, January 22, 2010

trying times

i’ve had some very trying days lately that i haven’t been able to think of how to write about. some of these days i wanted nothing more than to go to bed and sleep for the rest of my life.

my ex has been saying cruel things to both my daughter and myself to; i guess the best way to say it is keep us in our place. we know our place; it’s very far down in the sewer. i’ve watched his behavior now for over 25 years. i decided a long time ago that he is a closet misogynist and i haven’t changed my mind over the years. he despises women. he’s afraid of his mother and since his present wife is so very much like his mother, he’s afraid of her.

and that’s what’s happening to us now. when my daughter told her father she and her fiancée had set their wedding date, he told her “in no way can it interfere with (his stepdaughter’s name) wedding plans.” so i used my quilt money and my daughter and i planned for a very small wedding in the backyard of her fiancée’s grandmother’s house. but her future in-laws wanted it bigger and better and i had to sit down with then and admit to the fact that i had no money for something as grand as they wanted and that her father was not going to upset his wife by “throwing away money on a glorified party.” if playing chess can be used as a metaphor, i played him and the sum total of the funds he allowed his biological daughter was a gnat’s ass over $1000. but we made it a very nice wedding. i made a great many nice things for the happy couple that no one can get anywhere else. she and her husband were very happy with their little wedding.

right now my ex is angry about money again but he can’t take it out on the people who are spending it. he’s taking it out on my daughter and me because his stepdaughter is getting married in 2011 and his wife has already put the deposit down for a dress designer. not a dress, a designer FOR a dress. the dress hasn’t been designed yet. there will be a maid of honor and four other bridesmaids each with their own dress. he is being dragged to wedding expos and cake tastings, and meetings with caterers, and so on. i think it as karma.

the catalyst for this latest rain of verbal abuse is my fault though my Dragon would shake his head and think of that statement as a step back in my run to freedom. i probably should stop blaming myself for everything. twenty years of intense psychological abuse with the physical reinforcements of that kind of control makes the habits to survive it difficult to stop. what i did wrong was email that i needed a little bit of money for food as i had spent some of my allotted food money on a humidifier. i explained about the cough coming back a little bit and my fears of getting pneumonia again. my daughter and i agonized over it and in the end i made an executive decision with my allotted money and bought the damn thing. when he hadn’t responded after a week and food was getting frighteningly low, my daughter called him. it took him another two days to call her back. when he did he was screaming at her about everyone’s hand being in his money. he screamed at her about how much she’d cost him over the years and that no one needed to remind him of his obligations. he screamed, “your mother will get money for food when i say she can have it. she needs to learn to budget better.” my son-in-law took the cell and said, “excuse me. i was wondering if you were going to starve the mother of your children? would you like for her to call her son to ask him for the money for food?”

there was a moment of silence until he said, “i just transferred some money. it should be sufficient.”

they called me immediately and i admit i was weak with relief. he transferred $30, which was a windfall. we were all so excited. they came and got me and we went to Wal-Mart at 10 PM. i love Wal-Mart. it’s open when you’re open. food. i love food shopping sometimes. you get a little money and you can get food. it’s commerce. it’s awesome. i was able to get enough to last until my regular calendar time when i’m allowed to ask for my next installment. but i’m nervous about it because my rent goes up and it starts on the first. he knows it’s coming. he gave me permission but i’m anxious that he’ll forget and get mean. life is hard when he’s mean. there’s nothing i can do about him, or it. this is my life. maybe when the VA decides my claim there will be some wiggle room.

trying times.

my daughter is having a hard time right now because she’s watching her father jump through hoops for his stepdaughter’s wedding. she sees her father paying for her stepsister to have a big church wedding. he came tipsy to her wedding and didn’t feel a father-of-the-bride toast was necessary. i have been working with her, listening to her sorrows and anger, talking to her about how lucky she is to live so far away from her father, about how lucky we were to have had our Dragon, but it doesn’t ease the sting. that stuff can eat you up inside. i helping her try to sweep it aside. we’ve cried so much over losing him. she’d wanted him to walk her down the aisle. the very sad thing about her wedding was not only our Dragon not there but i had had to talk her father into walking her down the aisle. he’d said he wanted to do it and had negotiated for it in exchange for giving us some money, but when he arrived, he was angry about having to do it. he just wanted to sit down. he said it to me in front of the groom’s parents and they were shocked. he hates getting caught with his mask off so he had to do it. but he hurt her by walking her down the aisle and then spinning on his heel and walking off, not waiting for the priest to do the whole “who gives this bride away.” and now she’s watching her stepsister get the whole package. it’s hard for her to watch.

it’s hard for me to watch. i protected her all her life, redirecting his rages onto me. but being enough of a total, ironclad, egomaniacal *itch to stand over him and command him, i do not have that in my character or personality.

these days we feel alone in the world without our Dragon. my daughter’s husband is very good to her but he’s never dealt with a sociopath. it will take time for him to learn the game. our Dragon came to us already knowing the darkest side of human nature. he came to us with all the knowledge and power to handle someone like my ex-husband. but my daughter’s husband loves her and did a great job when he took over the phone call.

very trying times.

one of the widows from the group called out of the blue and asked if i wanted to go to the movies. i wanted to get out of the apartment so i blindly went like a lemming over a cliff. i know you’re all shaking your heads. it’s like watching a horror movie. dumb blonde opens door. “don’t go in there!” but i was lonely and i love movies.

i dressed in my nice jeans and a nice shirt. she came and we left and the first shoe dropped. instead of the movies she thought it better if we take a walk. “you sit inside and sew all day. you’ll get fat. you need to get out. maybe your frame of mind will improve with fresh air.” she hadn’t been around to know my frame of mind, but whatever. i told her that whatever she wanted was fine but that i wasn’t dressed for a walk. i said if she would take me back, i would gladly change.

“i don’t have that kind of time.”

the trail was muddy. i don’t mind muddy but i only have one pair of “nice” jeans. i didn’t have water or juice with me in a backpack with me. all i had was my nice purse. since i can eat only small meals to make the food last longer i get hungry and “low.” a pouch of Capri Sun was something i could have grabbed.

then the other shoe dropped. she asked me how i was doing and i got teary. i’ve been crying more lately. i wasn’t strong enough to hide it from her which is what i typically do with people i am wary of. she said she understood but had hoped i would be doing better since the holidays were over. i was “ahead” of her, she told me. she said she’d been reading about grief and believed that my cutting my hair and keeping it shorter meant i was punishing myself because my husband had died and i had not. i told her i had thought the shorter hair was nice. she said it wasn’t. she told me that i wasn’t grieving anymore but was clinically depressed and that i should get help. “you’re crying for yourself now. it’s not about him anymore. it’s been 11 months already. by now you're just making this about you.”

she moved into talking about her own grief. she said that her neighbor from across the street called her every day and brought her casseroles two and three times a week so she didn’t have to cook. they go together to the grocery store and out to lunch. they walk together and have gone to movies together. she told me that this was an example of a very good friend. she said that i was not a good friend because i didn’t call her everyday to check on her. she was angry with me because, at 11 months, i should be a better friend to her since i was a whole month ahead. she explained that being behind me in grief by one month meant that she was closer to the death of her husband. she was still grieving very deeply and having a hard time facing each day. i told her i was sorry it was hard for her but she interrupted by saying that the only way i could repair the damage was to start being kinder to her and being aware of her needs.

i tried not to laugh. maybe it’s odd that laughter was my first instinct but i sometimes wonder why people speak but are unable to hear it come out of their mouths. i held my tongue because i was afraid that once i got started, she would leave me there with no way to get back. probably not but it’s what i’m used to. i don’t toy with any strategy that keeps me safe. i simply ride the wave until i am close enough to start swimming.

and then i fell. my right heel slid in the wet mud far out in front and i went down into the splits. my left knee smacked down on an exposed tree root and pain shot up into my hip. she laughed at me and then sighed. she f***ing sighed at me; like i was a child she had given up on.

i struggled to get up and she saw my expression. i think my silence and my dark expression finally got to her. she asked if i was okay. all i said was, “i want to go home.” look at that statement. "i want to go home." it's the first time i've called the apartment home.

i was silent the whole way while she chatted as if nothing was wrong. in hindsight i think she was nervous. i don’t care anymore. she cried about the loss of her husband. she told me she’d wait for me to call her because she knew now that i understood her better. she pulled into my parking lot and i got out. she wanted to come up to say “hi” to my dogs, but i said, “no.” she tried to hug me but i turned away and went up the stairs to my apartment.

i have her number on my telephone contact list. i won’t be answering when her name appears no matter how lonely i’m feeling. that was her last chance.

really trying days sometimes.

occasionally i feel very alone but not as often anymore. mMy daughter calls two, sometimes three times a day to check on me. she wishes i could find a friend close by, preferably another widow, and one who understands better than “that woman.” that's how my daughter refers to the other widow. i tell her, “maybe someday.”

i think of my Dragon all the time. i’d like to talk to someone alive, someone present here in front of me, about him. in spite of it all, of “that woman” and my failure at the widow’s group, i think I’ve handled life okay. i haven’t done anything reprehensible. i don’t think i’m clinically depressed. if i were, i think i wouldn’t have given “that woman” a third chance. i wouldn’t be sharp enough to stand guard against the ex or help my daughter deal with her pain about losing our Dragon and her issues with her father. i also wouldn’t work as hard or as long as i do on the quilts. if i were depressed, i don't think i could adopt others' pain so i can make more meaningful quilts.

my Dragon died and i was alone for 20 hours before my children could arrive. i got moved into this apartment and i’m alone all the time until my daughter has a day off. i’ve created a job i can do here in the apartment so i can stay safely out of arm’s reach from people like “that woman.” i do get my allotted funds in time, sometimes it’s in the nick of time but there are so many people who go past the “nick of time” that i consider myself very lucky. he does scare me about it but i tell myself that it’s his way on controlling me. it’s nothing new. i had just thought i was free of it. and i was, while my Dragon reigned. i may be hungry for some days but i will never starve. i do have the apartment and it is my sanctuary, stained glass and all. and my sanctuary has a Dragon that lives there with me, after a fashion.

our walks can be a metaphor for our life then and one that o can use for this life now. he always broke trail for me during our winter walks. i walked behind him watching him. he was strong. his shoulders were so broad. his legs were powerful and broke trail with an ease in his stride that always had me in awe. he’d turn around often to check on me. he carried a flask of hot chocolate for me. i always asked if he was doing okay and he’d smile at me. he was always fine. the cold did not bother him. he’d been out in it before. he’d been out in everything before. he knew his limitations and they far exceeded my own, but he loved that i worried about him.

Ii’s almost been a year. i know i need to find that place inside me where i can “see” him in front of me again rather than wherever i ask God he is when i’m sobbing. i need to find my hidden inner reserves. i’m swimming alone again and having to deal with my ex and his idiosyncrasies. it’s very disheartening to have to do this again after the break of being my Dragon’s wife. he protected my children and me from so much of it. now it’s all back. my ex gloats every once in a while but often enough that i hurt from it and don’t have time to heal. i'm just tired is all. i'm only 52 but it's not the years, it's the mileage. my ex is angry that his wife right now but she's a badass and so much like his mother that it's, well, we need a couch and sweaters with suede elbow patches. i could never be like that.

my Dragon was very strong inside and had a will of iron. he was determined to always survive. i have that in me because i had to survive to be there to protect my children. now that my children are grown and my Dragon has died i am, well i’ll say it again. i’m tired. but i need to keep going simply because it’s not over for me yet. for some reason i’m still here. sort of like Papillion: "i'm still here, you ba*tards."

i am going to endure whatever happens like i did before i met my Dragon, but now i have the memory of knowing that once someone like him loved me. i tell myself that i’m living in a fairy tale. for me life is easier to deal with as a story than as reality though i am very aware of the reality i face.

i’m a woman who lived in the shadows. i met a Dragon and he took me places i’d never been, and showed me a love i never thought i would have. then he died. like the times he broke trail, he’s gone further up ahead. he’s just around a bend and one day i’ll catch up, and i want him to be proud of me.

i know people believe i should be doing all this for myself, and that i should be proud of myself for myself. i know that grief can be explained in a metaphor of rowing through a tempest or of swimming in a fog-shrouded ocean, or waking up from the pain of a horrible burn. it’s been all that for me.

but my life has been one of surviving what my loved ones punished me with. i survived childhood. i survived my ex. suddenly out of the blue, i was allowed to have a Dragon come into my life and love me. he was trying to show me that i was born for more than abuse. it’s hard to finally get that safe place in someone’s arms and then watch it be taken back.

through all these trying times, whatever i’m faced with, i need to remember that once upon a time a Dragon fierce and beautiful valued me, loved me beyond reason, and smiled for me. if he can live through all that he lived through during his life as a Marine, i can live through this with the same honor and dignity he had. i'm his Beach Bunny and everyone knows bunnies need a carrot. my Dragon is my carrot.

i’ll keep trying to raise the dead, me. i’ll try to rise back up the me i was meant to be. it won’t be the me i started out to be but it will be the me that my Dragon knew i had in me. in the end, he'll know it's me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Camp Widow Camo Hat

i saved my money and ordered a Camp Widow Camo Hat so i can dress like my Marine Dragon. i know. we're camouflaged. i bet you can't tell us apart so i'll give you a hint. my hat has "Camp Widow" embroidered on it.

it is a luxury item but i wanted it badly. silly thing really but i haven't allowed myself many luxuries beyond extra embroidery floss, and a stuffed rabbit to entertain myself with. i smiled when i opened the little box and saw it in there. after i set aside the quilting for the night, i had to set up Dragon and Beach Bunny for the photo. now that i look at it, Bunny is leaning. yep, she's definitely flirting with Dragon by leaning in a little bit close. but now it's time for all Bunnies to go to bed and rest.

and come up with more goofy ideas for Bunny. it's lame but it amuses me. my daughter likes it and she knows it makes me happy. it's my way of playing a little bit.

i needed to play for a few minutes today. see, i sort of got these heart palpitations today, a bit of a panic attack. it's going to be one whole year. i know it's coming but for some reason it sounded terrible. a year. i had to push the needle into the quilt and set the frame aside for a few minutes. my eyes started burning and tears trickled down. not sobs, just tears. and my heart started beating rapidly. i felt like i needed to run away but there is no where to go to get away from the fact that he is.....

i walked over to his urn to touch it and i realized for the second time since my Dragon died that i didn't have the funeral director person cut me a lock of his hair to keep. it made me so sad. i wish i had asked.

his ashes are in there. he is in there but not really him, not the part that i love, just the body that carried his soul. but it's the visible reminder of the part that i got to touch. his ashes are waiting for me to die and be cremated so that we can be mixed together. it's what he and i talked about. then some of our ashes can be split between my two children and the rest given to the ocean.

my palpitations passed and i got back to work. i wore my camo hat the rest of the day. but now, i'm off to bed to try to sleep. it's after midnight. i hope i sleep some.

Monday, January 18, 2010

upside down life

my lovely, wonderful husband died. my handsome Marine. my Dragon. he died and left me here alone. my life has been turned upside down and i am struggling to make sense of what i'm supposed to do now.

he called me his Beach Bunny because it's where i always ended up. for me, there is peace at the ocean's edge. shells, driftwood, sand dollars, smooth stones, ropes and line that were washed overboard and found their way to our cove. we'd walk the beach in the pre-dawn glow, during the brightest days or the wildest storms, and at night to watch the moon rise over the shimmery, watery horizon. we'd dance in the sand. we dreamed about what the rest of our lives together would be like. the rest of our lives together ended 9 February 2009.

now Bunny is upside down and the world is all wrong. i'm trying to find a way to save myself with creativity. my sewing for others. my sewing for myself. my writing. and now i found a new way to express my grief in a creative way that i hope keeps me from crying myself into a headache. solitary creativity as grief therapy.

i found a soft bunny and my daughter talked me into buying it today. i transferred over from my meager savings to get her. i'll get her a little swimmy suit when they get them in during the month of April. think about it. the photo shoot ideas are limitless.

i'm trying to save myself while i watch February come at me. the 9th will come. then Valentine's Day will roll right over me.

after that i'll be looking at every day from then on, however long "then on" lasts. and i'm scared. i am so scared without him. i wish.......

he promised me he wasn't ever going to leave me. he told me i was his whole world and then he said, "i love you so very much. i'll never leave you, my love. i'll put wheels on my walker and chase you around when we're old."

i know he didn't want to go and i'm not mad at him or at God. i am just so very sad that this is what has happened to me, to us, to the perfect us that lived in our own private world, in each other's arms, beside the beautifully harsh North Atlantic, down on the beach, in a secluded cove that held all the magic we could ever want.

close your eyes and imagine it. a Dragon and his Beach Bunny, dancing in each other's arms under the full moon. a haunting little song would drift up to you on the wind in a voice that was deep and filled with love.

"i'll give you a daisy a day, dear. i'll give you a daisy a day........

soft laughter. then you'd see the slowing down of their two bodies until only their feet shifted in the sand. the two shapes would appear almost as one as they turned dreamily under that soft silver light. the teasing would fade and be replaced with the feeling of the deep, spiritual bond between the two.

Dragon and Bunny in the world but not of it. in a world all their own. believing that they would grow old together. so grateful to have found each other. so in love that they never wanted to let each other go. holding hands even in the grocery store.

upside down is not fun. all the foam is rushing to Bunny's head. it makes her very tired.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

two little words

it's just two words: thank you. we hear it all the time. thanks. thank you. thanks a bunch. but sometimes the words are said in a hushed whisper. sometimes they are trying to say more than to just extend the courteous response. sometimes there are no words other than those two little words, but a wealth of deep emotion and humbled gratitude are behind them.

thank you for the daisies. it has been very hard today. i've been rearranging the apartment, cleaning places i don't get to on a weekly basis. i've been crying, sobbing, then sniffling. a knock on the door and there was a man with a vase of flowers. so beautiful. they smell like Heaven. a deliberate word choice there.

thank you. it's all i know to say. but hear the hushed whisper. know the deep emotion behind those words. it's not a platitude. it's spoken (or written here) with reverence.

thank you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

quiet desperation

i want to go home. i think maybe he doesn't know where i am. i know others have written or spoken of "feeling him (her) around." i haven't had anything close to something that distinct. i'm not sure of anything anymore. so i want to go home. i want to lie down tonight and close my eyes and wake up and be in his arms at home. the only home i've ever known was with him.
where we lived in Rockport, we were so lucky. if you click on the above photo and let it get larger for you, past the harbor entrance to the right, just to the left of the Headlands, there. right there you'll catch a glimpse of our island.

i chose that photo because that's all i have these days, a glimpse of the island that held our attention, our vigil, our dreams and fantasies for so long. i tell myself, "tonight you'll go to the island and be with him." but my subconscious is kicking me in the ass. it won't do what i say.

i want to go home and this hasn't happened. i want him back.

i saw the trailer on television for this movie, "The Lovely Bones." i read the book a long time ago. i don't think the movie is going to be like the book at all. they feel their daughter. she helps them. my Dragon, well, i am so receptive to any sign, any little clue of his presence beyond meeting my bills, getting to eat a couple of times a day, beyond the immense blessing of getting to go to San Diego in August, beyond being allowed to make the quilts to help people heal. maybe i'm being greedy and that's why i can't feel his breath, or smell his morning coffee.

maybe it's because he's never been here with me. where is he? why can't he find me? or maybe he has found me and i'm too upset, crying too hard to know he's close. that means it's all my fault. that means i'm giving in to this grief and i have to stop being weak.

but i'm tired and i want to go home. i want to fall asleep with his body curled around me all warm and alive. i want to feel his hands on me stroking me so i relax and drift off. i want to feel his heart beating against my back and his beard on my neck.

i want a sign.
please, nothing huge. nothing of any Biblical or astronomical import. just a nudge tonight. just a whisper in my ear as i sit and sew late in the darkness that closes in when i have only that one light on beside my chair. just a slight touch. it could be as small as a tiny feeling of peace that finally is allowed to touch my heart.

it only takes a small spark to start getting warm. when one starts getting warm, hope will cease being dormant. it will rouse and start to stretch out it's stiff limbs. then one has a chance at surviving the worst thing that could ever happen. i don't need to really "live" live. i just want to survive so i can exist a little longer. i have some things i need to do, to take care of, before life kicks me in the teeth again. but by then i will accept it as my fate. i am an amiable soul.

but until then, all i wish for is a little sign from you, Dragon dear. a little sign that you remember me, maybe even that you're waiting for me. but i don't want to appear greedy. i just want to feel that you are happy and remember me with love.

i'm having such a hard time without you. in the morning, if you were still here, you'd wake me with kisses and caresses. you'd whisper what you whispered every year we were together.

happy birthday, love. you know why you were born, don't you? to be mine. you were born to be my love.

i'm going to wake up with puppy breath in my face and the job of finding the will to face another day. it's my daughter's birthday. that's what i'll wake up for and paste on a smile for. and i'll look in the mirror at a woman revealed in the harsh lighting. i'll see all too well. i know her sins and i know the sins she is a victim of. but i'll tell her just like i've told her every morning since he died, "it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

my birthday thoughts

if you are reading my words and are among us who mourn your spouse/fiancee, there is nothing i can tell you that you do not already know.
if you are here reading and have never known such a tragedy, there is nothing i can tell you either for there is no way to prepare.

my birthday is Saturday, the 16th, the first since my Dragon's death. i feel a wave of depression coming on that i do not know how i will handle, but probably i will not say anything. i mean what's the point. most of you reading here understand. so i will do something different, something to argue with the cold that lives inside me. i want you to meet my Dragon.

i know. you've read about him, BUT, you haven't been introduced to him. you only know him as my hero. let me introduce you to the man.

he hated having his picture taken. he was wanted in several countries for patriotic actions against said country and having his picture taken went against the grain. he never got a tattoo for the same reason though he let me paint a dragon on him once. that was a fun night.
he was my height which made kissing him and dancing with him in the sand perfect. he had big shoulders and thick muscles. his back even had muscles. his legs were tree trunks but speaking as an artist, he was perfectly proportioned.

i could wear his shoes but he could not wear mine.

he loved black coffee but being a Marine that kind of goes without saying. Rule #23. Never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live.

his favorite color was brown until i showed him the color of the ocean before a fast moving squall when the sun was still out. "turbulent sea foam turquoise-y green." (i reserve all rights and privileges to the use of that color name though i don't think Crayola will ever be upset or make a crayola long enough to stamp it on the sleeve.)

i was the only one who could tell him to do something and forget to say please and thank you but i never forgot and he appreciated that. he never "told" me to do anything. he asked sweetly and we did it together.

he wasn't afraid of anything and i had to be careful not to dare him to do anything i didn't want to see him do. he'd do anything.

he never thought it was odd that my relaxation reading was theoretical physics.

he could figure a way out of anything and contrary to popular myths about dragons and Marines, his first thoughts didn't involve violence. but he knew how to do that if it meant saving his men, his country, or his family.

he wasn't afraid of the dark or heights. for training once, they had him do a HALO dive after midnight landing on the deck of a darkened ship in the middle of the ocean. i asked him if he was scared and he said no. he said he'd been more scared of me saying no to his marriage proposal than anything else he'd ever done.

he knew a lot about survival. he hated that guy Bear Grylls but respected Les Stroud, as long as his show didn't look faked.

he'd been in every country in the world except for eleven. i'd point out a country on the map and ask, "what did you do here?" once he said, "i walked through that one to get to this one." i smiled and teased, "did anyone see you?" he smiled and said, "no, because that would have been bad." he meant it. you always knew when he was serious, even if he was smiling.

he loved the Marine Corps. he loved his country. Semper Fi.
he was the leader of his fire team. they got little ceramic skunks because they were always stuck with the "stinky" jobs.

he told me that he and his mom never admitted to each other that he'd been in Vietnam for even one tour much less three. she referred to it as that "time you were off with the Marines." her letters were addressed to California so he let her pretend he lived on base there.

he'd eat anything, cooked or raw. if it crawled, walked, swam, or flew, he had a recipe for it. he'd eat a lot of things raw, too. he said that when he was away from home, he usually wasn't in the tourist part of the country so he would find something to eat and keep it down. protein was protein. but he didn't mind that i was a picky eater. he called it an "endearing quirk." and he'd eat the sides i didn't like.

he didn't kill spiders or mice, etc. he'd catch them and set them free outside, and yes, he sometimes could catch a fly in the air. he never killed those either.

he loved old houses, history, the ocean, and John Wayne movies. so did i.

he loved going to bed early and not going directly to sleep. so did i.

when he found out that i collected rocks and shells and sand dollars, he started collecting them, too. he picked up every rock he ever found.

the day of his funeral, after it, when it was time for my daughter and i to drive away from my ocean forever, i took all my rocks and shells and sand dollars to our beach. it was Valentine's Day. it was my gift back to our beach since i don't think i will ever see it again. i set all my collected treasures free.

i kept his shells and sand dollars and rocks though. i put his bigger sand dollars in my grandfather's cufflink box. i covered some of his rocks to "protect" his fingerprints which i fully believe with all my heart are still on his rocks.

he finally grew to accept that i adored the ground he walked on. i never thought he was a monster. his ex-wife learned what he did and screamed at him. she called him a murderer. that's why she divorced him. he was a terrible, evil person as far as she was concerned. he'd been divorced for 12 years when we met. i thought he was a patriot. i thought his eyes looked closed off. i wanted to make his eyes smile so i made it my sole purpose in life to let him know that his ex-wife was just a person, one person, and that she was wrong.

i told him i loved him every day, several times a day because i thought he was just so cool. he always blushed.
when he got a call, picked up his go bag to leave, i never cried. i kissed him and told him to be careful. he said he was proud of me for not crying in front of him but he knew i was scared for him and cried while he was gone. when he would come home, it would take me two weeks to stop smiling. i held his hand all the time. i would sit in his lap, on the floor at his feet asking his questions, letting him talk it out, or i would sit scrunched up against his side. he loved that i would do that.

the day my ex-husband met my Dragon, he had dropped my son off from taking him out to supper. my ex was upset about something and called me out to the driveway. to make his point he grabbed my hand and bent it back in a way that physiology and nature did not intend it to go. it was just what he did and i never showed emotion or he'd get too excited. if i waited him out, he would stop and let go. but my Dragon didn't think i needed to wait like that. my Dragon came out and said in a voice that was low and soft and devoid of emotion, "release her." when my ex did, my Dragon slapped my ex with an open hand. the crack was very loud. louder than they ever show on television when someone does that. my ex fell on top of the hood of his car. my Dragon leaned over him and said, "if you ever touch her or her children again, i will come into your home and wake you up. mine will be the last face you see. i know how to do it. it's what they trained me for and i have to tell you that for you, my moral compass would bend way back, as far back as you had her hand. that means that for you, i would enjoy it."

my ex has never touched me or either of my children. i still ask though since my son has elected himself as the ambassador to keep the peace. he still goes to see his father but only, as he says, "you keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

i never saw my Dragon threaten anyone before that or after that. it was a side he didn't let me see. he was upset that i saw it that time, but i told him, "i know you only use your powers for good." he hugged me. it was a turning point for us. he believed i was in his life to release him of his demons. he said, "because you love me, i'll find absolution." i cried behind his back because it hurt me so much that he felt that way about himself.

he thought it was funny that i don't care for diamonds. but he wanted me to have one so he found the ring you see below. the diamond is very tiny. it's called a "pinpoint of light." it made him think of a star in the sky. it's my engagement ring. the other band is my wedding ring. it has "love always" engraved in it. i've taken the set off twice since he gave them to me. the first time was when i sat beside his body in the hospital after they told me he was dead. i took the ring off and turned the heart that he had facing out towards him, back towards me. my heart is his. it is not for anyone to feel is open to them in any way but a quiet friendship.

the second time i took my rings off was for this photo. so you could see how well he knew me and accepted my jewelry quirks. i put my rings back on before i uploaded the photo.
he taught me all i know about love.

he isn't here for my birthday. he died. i believe the world is a darker, colder, and less safe place because of that. i'm sure there is someone out there who has taken his place in the seedy, not tourist parts of the world, where things need to be done, but i think my Dragon was the best and most honorable. but that's me.

i miss him. terribly. and now with my birthday coming i feel a darkness rising up, threatening to make me hurt hard again. so i wanted to introduce you to the man i know. now i don't have to think too hard. i can come back here and read on Saturday when i need a fortress against the pain.

thank you for sticking with me. btw, i love him.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the perfect metaphor

when i was twelve, my leg caught on fire.

i was very introverted as a child, always drawing and reading. my mother found a local artist who sometimes took in students. he didn't like to take them younger than twelve but i was so quiet and respectful, so much wanting to draw and learn to paint with oils that he took me at seven. i stayed with pencils and charcoal for years until he finally gave me my first set of oils. i was ten.

everyone in the class was older than i was until i turned fourteen. then i had peers but i had such seniority that it was like i wasn't part of the class.

i took lessons from this man until his death when i was sixteen.

back to the fire. we had painted a still life that had these wonderful drippy candles. it was clean up time and the boys were acting up. or out. who knows with boys. anyway, one of them spilled turpentine on my bare leg. i was wearing cutoffs. then i was shoved into the table where the still life was set up. candle fell. flame found the turpentine on the back of my calf.

i remember staring at it. i can still close my eyes and see that flame on my leg. it sizzled and popped. i remember being absorbed in staring into that flame, not feeling it at all. yet. i felt distanced from it.

my teacher came running up and lifted me up and then down onto the floor. he had an old shirt to cut off the oxygen from the fire.

cutting to the end of the story, i had second and third degree burns on my calf. i was lying on my stomach in the back seat of the car while my mother drove like a manic to the hospital. i remember it was almost summer in Texas (where i grew up) and i was shivering. i thought that was odd since i had been burned, the flames almost burned onto my retinas, or memory as it seems, but i was so cold. i don't remember much after i got into the ER but i remember it was the first time i ever remembered spending the night at the hospital.

i remember waking up in the night alone in a hospital room. back then parents didn't stay. no one stayed. nurses came and went but no one stayed with you, no matter how young or scared you were. i woke up because i hurt. the pain was terrible. i don't even remember labor hurting as bad as the pain from that burn.

and i stayed cold.

shock. numb. cold. and then the pain.

that's the way i'm feeling now.

the fire is my Dragon's death. the shock is that he really died. the numbness lasted for so long. through the funeral, the move here, trying to find an existence where he wasn't there, my daughter's wedding, the holidays, and the 11th month. my birthday, our birthday, my daughter's and mine, is Saturday. she and her husband have a gift certificate left over from their wedding. they are taking me, and her, out to an Italian restaurant Saturday evening for our birthday. Italian food, wine, my daughter and her husband. and then home alone.

i thought the pain had started but it hadn't. i think it was the discomfort of the numbness wearing off. i'm cold now. and i hurt. i don't want February 9th to come. i definitely don't want Valentine's Day to come.

the 14th can come but the thought of hearts and lace and couples is bothering me. it shouldn't. they have what i had. they should be allowed to have it. i envy them because i don't even have to close my eyes to feel his touch, hear his voice, smell his skin, or remember his love.

everyone should experience a love like i had (have) with my Dragon. but now that he has died, i feel a niggling bit of envy at what i lost. it's not that i want what they have. it's that i had all i could ever want and had to watch it go away.

it's the perfect metaphor ~ at least for me. it's like a fire. it's like being badly burned. you see it start to happen and you can't react fast enough. there's nothing you can do to have stopped it happening because what happened was beyond your control.

first you go numb. then you get cold. very cold. the only thing comparable is experiencing hypothermia. and while you're still freezing cold the pain hits and there is nothing like it. it splits you from your body until all you want to do is leave your body, get away from the pain.

like i want to distance myself from the idea that my Dragon is not going to walk through the door of my apartment, take me in his arms, and take me to bed and make this all a very long, bad dream.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wine, Boo, and Song

i wasn't going to get online today. it's the eleventh month. like it's only the eleventh month but it's the eleventh month already. eleven months without touching him, or being touched by him. it's not a year yet but eleven reminds me of twelve and that's a year.

i just watched Boo go through it from afar physically, though not emotionally. i won't be afar from myself and i don't know how brave i'll be emotionally. not going to think about that tonight.

i got an email from Jude. lovely, lovely. she remembered me today.

Suddenwidow has book our flights for Camp Widow. i'm really going. i don't know how to thank my two fairy godmothers for this. so if they look close at the photo, they will see an embroidery frame and beads being sewn on in some kind of pattern, i don't know. it's such a mystery that they will have to wait until August to find out.

but she emailed my flight info and she has a candle lit for my Dragon and me.

my daughter stopped by with a bucket of fried chicken and a bottle of white zinfandel. (i'm a lightweight.) so i poured a glass for myself and for her and we toasted our Dragon. she left and i put on that song, "Whistling Away the Dark." i lit a candle and then the phone rang.

it was Boo. she knows what day it is, too. we talked. we spoke of our men. we laughed about her dogs. we both know it's a hard day for me. she has a candle lit. three candles. "better to light a candle than curse the darkness" never meant more to me than these days. Boo and i both know i have some very dark corners in my life that my Dragon was healing, but didn't have the time to get to every corner. it's up to me to finish what he started. i need to do this for myself, but it will be him that is my carrot.

get it? i was his Beach Bunny? carrot as incentive? yes, i've had a glass of wine.

i miss him. i miss his beard. his laugh. i miss him taking the dogs out when it's so freakin' cold. he'd take them out and then he'd come back, take his shirt off, and put his cold skin right up against me. i loved it, warming him. i loved the way he smelled. he smelled like pine and salt and the cold.

so i wasn't going to get online but i took a photo of my glass, at my chair where i work at night by the lamp. the glass has hearts on it and l'amour in script around it. my son and daughter gave us the set of two with a basket of cheese and crackers and wine for my Dragon's and my first Valentine's together. they were so happy he had found us.

thank you, Jude for the email. thanks to my daughter for the food and the wine.

and thank you, Boo for the phone call, the checking up on me. you heard the catch in my voice and we shouldered on. we laughed and no matter how much quilting i got done today, i'm more proud of that bit of laughter. it's more than i would have managed on my own.

tonight the music is playing and i'm working by the light, by his photo, with my glass of wine in one of our glasses. i'm drinking from it now, on the eleventh month.

it will be too hard to do it on the twelfth month.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"whistling away the dark"



i finished my third Dragon handkerchief around midnight. i had an oldies station playing on the radio and this song came on as i was tying off the last knot. it stayed in my head as i brushed my teeth and went to lie on the bed. i pulled the quilt up and i found the song still playing in my mind. Henry Mancini song. Julie Andrews, the singer.

often i think this sad, old world
is whistling in the dark
Just like a child, who, late from school
Walks bravely home through the park
To keep their spirits soaring
And keep the night at bay
Neither quite knowing which way they are going
They sing the shadows away.

Often I think my poor old heart
Has given up for good
And then I see a brave new face
I glimpse some new neighborhood
So walk me back home, my darling
Tell me dreams really come true
Whistling, whistling, here in the dark with you
Whistling, whistling, here in the dark with you.

my life has been changed, and yes, i'll say it. it's changed for the worse because my Dragon was so perfectly flawed yet so perfect for me. and no, i don't know "which way i am going." i'm following the path as it comes. and while i struggle forward i find things to push the "shadows away." sewing for others brings a purpose to my life; as if maybe this is one very small reason i am still here. but i reserve the very late at night for myself. and when i finish each dragon on these handkerchiefs, i see him again. his strength. his life that he lived every minute of. it's always late, so very late, when i finish one of these and i guess you could say that i take these feelings of communion with him to bed with me. so in a way i'm "whistling in the dark" until he can "walk me back home." only when i am with him again will "my dreams really come true."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

equilibrium

my life has been turned upside down. again. this time there is no chance of recovery, only acceptance.

i survived childhood committed to a philosophy of never treating my own children as i had been treated. fear is not a teaching tool i care for.

i survived a twenty year marriage to a thoughtless man, Voldemort, who saw me as someone who, in his words, "would always take it. i thought i had you trained." i'd tried to run once when my children were babies but he tracked me through a credit card receipt. he came for us, for my son. he had my son in his arms and said, "you can have her and go. he's mine." he had my son. there is no terror greater than what those four words can do to a mother. he had my son. i made a decision that moment to endure the life he made me have. i could not run again. he watched too closely. "where's the change from the cash?" and if i had a check, like an inheritance check from my father's estate, $35,000 that i had wanted put into two savings accounts for my two children, it went missing. "i took it. you don't know how to handle money." before you scold me about his taking my inheritance check know that i did ask questions. i did investigate. what happened because i dared to is not a story to relate casually or quickly so i will cut to the end of the story. i never saw the money again.

but i survived the marriage by waiting. i got my divorce when my children were old enough to stand up to him, to have learned how to handle him. i do not have to live with him anymore. no more pinches. no more fingernails digging into my upper arm guiding me to a more private place. he can't lecture me or berate me anymore for failing his daily expectations. i had gone around a corner and caught a glimpse of the sun. and in that sunlit sky was a dragon of a man living and breathing so beautifully. and the Dragon saw me.

this Dragon was stronger, meaner, and tougher than Voldemort had ever fancied himself as. the Dragon was very capable and ready of following through on his promises if Voldemort did anything to hurt my children or me. but this Dragon was also kind and loving, generous and crazy in love with living every moment of his life. so brave, so blessed are those who can do that. blessed for some reason, the Dragon became my Dragon and he loved me. he wanted to be with me and live his life with me beside him. but he'd have to teach me some things.

he was in the middle of teaching me that i didn't have to ask permission to speak. i didn't have to start each sentence with, "i'm sorry." he was teaching me that i didn't have to listen to the weight and speed of every footstep. i didn't have to watch the tells of anger in face and hands, in shoulders or legs. no one was going to come after me again. we got the children off safe to their own new, grown up lives. we were just getting started on a new life together where i had love and encouragement, pride in my creative attempts, and, all i can do is go back to that one word because it frees us for every other thing possible, love. my Dragon loved me.

eight years. only eight years out of fifty-one to try to get myself out of the suitcase i had put myself in to protect myself for so long. to hide myself from my mother. to protect myself from Voldemort. eight years to break five decades of Stockholm syndrome. it is harder than it seems, to accept freedom.

eight years with my Dragon before he died. sometimes, in my darker moments, it feels like it he was a gift that was taken back. as if God said, "here he is. this is your dream. see him? he's a dragon with honor and courage. do you love him? you do? good, because he's worth it. okay, well, now you know what you can aspire to. i'm taking him home. you are to do this alone. buck up. he loves you. have a little faith."

i still cry everyday. sometimes a little. sometimes a lot. being so very much alone is hard. i can't call a friend to go out to a movie, or to come sit with me. no one has me over for gatherings or simply to keep me from being alone so much. i don't own a car so i stay here in the apartment and work. i love sewing but the monotony of waking knowing i cannot get into a car to take myself out for a short drive does make me feel bad sometimes. i do let my thoughts stray to why i could not connect with the widow's group. i waffle from feeling selfish for wanting to tell my own story to feeling like i shouldn't have to tolerate the things that happened to me from some of them. i try to be fair and realize i don't have a history here and trying to build one with women who are themselves grieving is asking too much of them. they don't know me. maybe they don't really like my personality. not everyone has to like everyone they meet and a widow's group just happens. survivors stray over to the closest group of people who might understand. but they don't have to understand or like you just because they are on the same journey.

so i am living and accepting my grief over the death of my Dragon alone. i write here and get wonderful feedback. i've "met" some wonderful people who i believe would miss me if i failed to ever appear again, if my photo behind my blog description never changed again. i have been gifted with the chance to go to Camp Widow 2010 in August to meet some of these people. i am humbly grateful.

i am living with my grief and i have not traveled far even though in three days it will be eleven months since he died. but i think i have found an equilibrium. by definition, equilibrium is being at a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces. the opposing forces are my deep sorrow and devastation over his death pulling me face down in the dirt against the power of his love for me trying to keep me moving. well, i'm moving a little bit. his love will always win. he is that powerful of a man. his love is that incredible. but i metaphorically lie down a lot, but i lie down face up so i can see the sky. the moon and the stars, the sun in the daytime are so beautiful. so when i am tired from grieving the loss of him, i lie down, but not in the dirt. in some nice grass that is warm and soft and sweet smelling. and i do cry, but i am looking up so the tears run down the sides of my face and water the grass. then i get up and move a bit further. mostly by crawling, but any momentum is a good thing. then i lie down face up again to watch the clouds float by, or watch the phases of the moon.

i've read so many books on grief. i've read so many quotes. i've finally settled on one that fits me right now.

George Eliot: But she lost energy at last even for her loud-whispered cries and moans: she subsided into helpless sobs, and on the cold floor she sobbed herself to sleep. In the chill hours of the morning twilight, when all was dim around her, she awoke--not with any amazed wondering where she was or what had happened, but with the clearest consciousness that she was looking into the eyes of sorrow. She rose and wrapped warm things around her, and seated herself in a great chair where she had often watched before. She was vigorous enough to have borne that hard night without feeling ill in body, beyond some aching and fatigue, but she had waked to a new condition: she felt as if her soul had been liberated from its terrible conflict; she was no longer wrestling with her grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer on her thoughts.


i know i will leave something behind when i die, quilts for others who grieve and dragons for my children to hold and remember the Dragon who came into their lives and had their backs, and who loved their mother with his whole being. a love like that deserves some embroidered dragons.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

the Dragon and his bride

i am taking a break from sewing. i finished pinning the batting in the quilt for Suddenwidow's eldest son and it's sitting in the frame for me to start work on it fresh in the morning. i was about to pick up the latest Dragon handkerchief when one of my Scotties, Scootie Wootums, came in from the bedroom dragging one of my Dragon's shoes. he brought it to the floor at my feet and laid his face across the toe. i cried.

i needed to do something to gain a bit of control so i went and got my Dragon puppet. {i bought it long ago when my children were very, very young. sometimes when i read to them, i had the dragon read to them.} i have some old troll dolls from a hundred years ago when i was a girl and one of them is in a wedding dress. so i put her in the lap of the dragon and took their picture. why? because my Dragon always referred to me as his bride.

"and this is my lovely bride." he always said it that way. the day of the night he died we had gone out and we'd met someone and he had the opportunity to introduce me. "and this is my lovely bride."

i asked him once when he would stop calling me his bride. he said, "never. i will always think of you as my bride because that was the luckiest, happiest day of my life."

so tonight Scootie is dozing on my Dragon's shoe and i am going to go back and embroider one of his handkerchiefs and remind myself that i am still my Dragon's "bride."

Friday, January 1, 2010

an abstract life

the moon rises and is a warm color. buff or beige with the craters being the darker mottling on the surface. i've thought of her as a woman. the lonely woman next door who can only shine when the sun shines on her. sort of like me. i shined when my Dragon smiled at me. but i do know that the surface creates an illusion called "the Man in the Moon." masculine and feminine.

i feel a kinship with the moon and sometimes think of her in the feminine. but when i search for the moon, possessively and painstakingly wait for it to clear the trees so i can talk to the moon face to face, it is to my Dragon that i speak. only the moon can pull this off in my imagination. only in my imagination would it have to.
as the Earth turns, the moon appears smaller in the night sky and it starts to cool off in color. to me it looks more silver. it's subtle. maybe no one has noticed and you can't see what i see as a difference between the two photographs above. it might only look that way to me. value, hue; color has always been a huge part of my life as an artist.

this holiday season has been difficult to put it mildly. beyond the obvious of missing my Dragon, i have had to face some very harsh realities. i am alone. not to put too fine a point to it, or one that is melodramatic, but i realized yesterday that if i died right now, only two people would come to my funeral, my daughter and my son.

my brother doesn't speak because i committed the unspeakable. i became a Catholic.

i lived a segregated life before the Dragon and few kept up with me. after the divorce and becoming my Dragon's wife, we lived such poor lives, gypsy lives, that no one could know us, or me rather. the church at his funeral on Valentine's Day had almost 50 people that managed to drop everything to come and pay their respects to a man whom they cared about and deeply respected.

no, it is only me who has managed to get this far and leave no trace of my existence. only in an abstract sense am in here.

i am not pouting. i am merely trying to work this out in my head. seeing it in black and white helps.

people here online will suddenly realize that i am no longer here. my daughter has all my passwords and knows to post a notice should anything untoward happen. i value all i have "met" here and i am arrogant enough to think you all need to know why i might no longer be a "voice" here. that's it. it's you. all of you. and there is no way she would think to do a posting until after i am gone by at least a couple of weeks.

thus my funeral will be an "Eleanor Rigby."

why this horrible missive? what brought this on? a couple of things and i've been thinking about them for the last three days.

one. the woman who gave me the book inscribed to her friend called upon her return from her vacation over Christmas. i had been crying and she thought my voice sounded "rough." i explained and she thought i should try to sound better on the phone. i tried. she talked about her trip and how wonderful it was. i listened and murmured in the appropriate places but i admit i was sad that day. actively sad. New Year's was coming. that whole thing about it being a different year number than the one he died in. but i did listen. i heard everything and told her i was happy for her. but she said i did not sound excited enough for her, and that i should be because it had been such a reversal of emotional fortune for her (my terminology - verbatim it was: "i had the best time, better than i thought i would considering it's my first Christmas as a widow and you should be happy for me, well, sound happier. i'm sorry you're having a tough day but this is my time and i'm trying to tell you about it. you should rise to the occasion.")

i just could not manage to make my voice rise enough and she hung up on me. an email on New Year's eve from her confirmed her anger and criticism of my lack of understanding her needs. apparently i am not a good friend. i failed to measure up to. there is nothing i can do about it. i could not apologize enough nor make her understand that i was having a very bad day and i was alone through it.

second. with my dismissal from her life, i realized that should anything happen to me, only the fact that i would not answer my cell when my daughter called would anyone know something was wrong. no one but her calls daily. no friends check in with me because i have acquaintances. there is one widow who reads my writing and i do not want her to feel berated. she is young and dealing with her own pain. she touches base and i do feel that if i were doing a "Hamlet," a "to be or not to be" thing, i could call her. but you see, i will never get that close to the edge. i fight against that despair every minute of every day. and that is the only reason i would bother her.

i believe in God and in doing so, i have to at least acknowledge that there is evil. evil can be found in despair. it is the absence of all hope and i will not go there. i will fight and struggle and find a way to stay connected to a world that i have managed to leave no footprints on.

yes, i know. the quilts. and my writing. i get emails that instill me with hope that i matter. and i am humbly grateful. but again, it leaves only an abstract mark, like the feeling of a passing zephyr. you feel the gentle caress but then it passes and you will forget that moment. the quilts are tangible solace and once they are made, they are a tribute to the one whose clothes they are made from. that's the foundation of my creations. to honor and bring to a renewed life the clothing left behind. the quilts are for the families. i bow out and move to start on the next one. but i also worry about getting more commissions.

i worry about people wanting what i can make, what i can give them. i think these quilts will be my sole legacy besides my two children who really are enough. but i live such a solitary existence and i believe everyone wants to think that they will be missed. i believe everyone wants to believe that someone will stand in a church beside their remains, whether they be in a casket or as ash in an urn, and know that someone, several someones, knew them well enough to pick out hymns, readings, or composed something from the heart. i think people need to hold onto the idea that they will be missed and that friends as well as family will gather together and mourn them, that losing them will be awful and their life celebrated.

it's something i need to work out in my head. i need to find the lasting power of being abstract. it has just been hard to realize that my life is more abstract than most. the people who might miss me, won't miss me until it's all water under the bridge. that subtle wonder of where i might be. "she hasn't written in a while. i wonder what she's up to?"

sort of like the warm and cool colors of the moon. until someone points it out, you don't really notice.