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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


last night was a bad night for sleeping for some reason. maybe because rent is due tomorrow and i am waiting on the transfer. maybe because it feels like Fall outside right now. it rained yesterday and all last night. there is a cool wind. leaves doing their fluttering leaf thing ~ dancing and playing with the breeze while hanging onto their tree, in total control, until fate decides for them to let go.

then they seem like a kite with a broken string, going where the wind takes them, however far. but then i thought, maybe they were not in control while tethered to the tree, but only after they were free. maybe life really starts for them after they let go. maybe they aerodynamically control where they want to land. it is not for us to really know. a mystery of life. but it gave me an idea that my Dragon was let go so he could be free to fly in a different albeit more beautiful place.

i had an epiphany late last night, or early this morning, whatever your frame of reference.
it was like Dandy up there. the light shone in my brain and it felt like all the clutter of my sorrow and grief were stripped away. like Dandy, i saw the sky clearly. i think i know why my Dragon died first.

i have lived a loner life. i stayed out of range of my parents. i skipped ahead in school and therefore was not a peer of the people in class. i kept my back to the wall and strategically planned each day during my first marriage. when i met my Dragon, it took a moment, but i ultimately gave in body and soul. he is so strong. he is so resilient. he had survived so many things. he was a loner like me. and we had found each other. we did not have to be alone anymore.

we took so many walks. everyday we ventured to a new area to see what beauty was hidden up in somewhere. and we talked.
he told me his stories. he told me of his life. he told me his dreams, his hopes, and his wishes. he told me he loved me and that he knew he could not face a life without me. i thought he was being cute and romantic. never dreamed he was speaking seriously because, well, look at him. he is a Marine. he has been everywhere and done so many things in life and death situations. he is invincible.
he was my scavenger. he found shells and stones for my sculptures. he kept me safe while i looked through the camera lens. he kept me warm when it was cold. he swam with me in the ocean and taught me how to be free no matter where i am or how locked down i was. he taught me how to be wild and free in my mind.
he died so suddenly. one minute he was with me, beside me. his arm was behind me and his fingers were stroking my arm. then his fingers were digging into my arm and he was gasping for a breath.

i do not know this for fact because no one with medical training was there, but i believe he was gone before the EMT's got there. there was no light in his eyes. there was nothing in his eyes. he left me to be alone in this world that is, quite often, cold and cruel.

i have been cleaning out things. i have been tossing things i do not need to keep just because he touched it once. i found a letter written on the back of a hand-drawn map. i had never seen this before but it was in his "go bag" so i never had reason to go through it. but he has died and i have finally had the courage to go through it. these are the things he used when he would go "out of town." on the back of the map he wrote, "I need to go first. I can't live without you. You think I'm strong but I'm not. It's bull-headedness. I'm only strong enough so I can get back to you. But if something happened to you, I wouldn't be able to take it. All the light would be gone and I can't live in the dark after I've been given the light of your love. You're aren't living in the shadows. You're only the silhouette that stands behind the light you shine on me. Don't ever leave me. Don't die before me. I'm not strong enough. Only God knows how much I love you."

so you see. it had to be me here alone. he thought i was strong enough to be alone in this life without him. he is wrong but i am going to let it slide. it is the first time he has been wrong.
i always did what he asked of me because he asked so little and he always asked with a kiss. well, i will try to do this. he said he had to go first. he knew the ending of "Bicentennial Man" would not happen for us. so did i really, but i am an artist so i am always dreaming, conjuring up something magical and beautiful in my mind so i do not have to face reality.

i will do this for him. i will live as best as i can. he thinks i am strong enough so i will not give up. i will hold my head up to keep an eye out for danger, and to take my pictures of the full moon. but i will mostly keep my head down and sew and sketch and write. i will continue on in the shadows because the light he believed i possessed is shining forward, looking for him.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

meat and embroidery

Bunny has meat! 4 chicken boobs. 4 big hamburger patties. 4 sirloin steaks. 4 huge hot dogs. 4 gourmet baked potatoes. did Bunny say gourmet? yes, she did. see one of them up there sitting in her lap? Bunny keeps putting on her Dragon's watch cap to sit in the freezer to talk to her food. she wants each little individually wrapped piece of meat to know that she will get to each of them in turn. they will all be cooked and eaten with gratitude and enthusiasm.

steak! Bunny has not had a steak since her Dragon died, in over 19 months. steak is so upper crusty high class. Bunny had stopped looking at steak. but now she has 4 of them. 4 meals in which a steak is going to be on her plate.

i want to thank C. for the gift of the Omaha meat. she and her husband, who is Army but that's okay {little Marine joke} are together gathering things from his life in the Army for a "Hero Quilt" they want me to make.

i have a steak correctly thawed as per the the Omaha Meat People's instructions ~ frig thaw only to preserve the juiciness of it ~ and it is marinating right now. tonight Bunny will light candles and take an official break from work. she will eat a steak and a potato for supper tonight while sitting down and watching television. she won't balance the plate on her lap while she works on her photography. she is going to chew slowly, savoring each morsel. tonight, Bunny will be well fed.

thank you, C., from the bottom of my heart.

and this afternoon, Bunny finished the back of a quilt. after supper she will begin the embroidery work on the front. she is so excited. so many beautiful words. so many great ideas for drawings to embroider on the quilt.

if you cannot tell from the photo up there, Bunny is smiling.

Monday, September 27, 2010

knives, memories, and the futility of wishes

i cleaned out his "go bag" and found his favorite pocketknife.

one Veteran's Day early in our marriage, a couple of his Marine friends came to dinner and they sat and talked. one had gone on a mission with him. the other just knew my Dragon by reputation. my Dragon was a knife man. it is all tatted together like a silky thin spider's web of how he earned his nickname, Dragon. Marines are taught "one mind, one weapon." my Dragon was very good at hand-to-hand but he favored knives. as a tunnel rat it was his preferred weapon, even above a pistol which made noise. stealth was best in the tunnels. he had an affinity for knives.

when we would go out, if my Dragon would see a pocketknife, and if he liked it, he bought it. knives had saved his life many, many times. during the last mission less than 2 years before he died, it was a knife that got him home. maybe a story for another time. maybe never since it really isn't important to anyone but me.

he had a favorite pocketknife that he had thought was lost. we looked and looked but could not find it. i could feel the loss of that knife coming off him in waves. it is small, easily hidden, easy to palm. the blade tip is broken. part of that other maybe story. and we could not find it. i kept looking and looking for him without telling him, but we never found it.

and then he died.

i found it. i opened his "go bag" and there it was. his "go bag" was not something i had been able to touch except for moving it around the apartment out of my way. move it there out of my way. but never to open. too much of him inside. but then i worried that there were weapons inside and i do not know the concealed weapons laws for this state. so i took a belt of rum and coke for false courage and unzipped the bag.

there were no weapons but i found his favorite pocketknife. it was not in the pocket it was supposed to be in, but down in the bottom tucked under a seam that reinforced the bottom. when i found it i actually called out his name. i held it up and called to him. for a nanosecond i waited for him to come into a bedroom he had never been in from a living room he had never been in, in an apartment he had never seen. i knew where i was. i know every minute of everyday that he will never see this place. he will never come find me. he is not coming home from this mission. but i sat there waiting for him to come into the room to see his knife.

i know widows have been known to do that, but in all these months, i have never, ever called out to him to come to me believing that he would show up. this was the first time.
this is pretty Beach Bunny sitting with some of her Dragon's pocketknives. she has such a sweet face, doesn't she? it's why i use her instead of the real me.

but actually this is closer to the truth. this is raw looking Sock Beach Bunny. she is hurting inside and can only hug herself while she cries a little bit. just a little. tiny tears eeking down the sides of her face.

i miss him. a lot. there are days where i feel so blessed to have had him in my arms. i feel so honored to have been able to be in his life, hear his stories, comfort him in the dead of night when nightmares slammed into his psyche. but then there are days when i feel pulled far under the surface. i pop up but i hear that bell in the fog and i do not know if i am swimming to shore or further out to sea.

i miss walking with him. to me, my opinion, he is a beautiful man. i loved watching him walk. just an adorable man. i loved our walks all over Cape Ann, and miss them very much. he would massage my foot and then wrap it before i slipped it into my hiking boots. then he would massage it when we got back. my stinky, sweaty foot. he always laughed and said, "i've smelled worse things."
this is the path from the house we always started from.

besides being my camera bitch, he was my professional scavenger and pack mule. we had it down to almost communicating without words. i would look at something, like a lobster buoy or a piece of driftwood and he would look at me and lift his eyebrows, nodding, "yeah, you want that?" then he was off, climbing all over everything to bring it to me. such a sweetie.
i miss him. he is gone and i do not know if i really will get to be with him again. i think i could do it if i knew that he was waiting for me. well, i have to do it. there is no choice. but i think i could breathe if i knew he would come get me. i wish with all my might that i could find permanent comfort in that thought. but i also know faith is up to me and that wishing for a sign is futile. i will never get that sign. i just have to believe and stay strong. i just need to find some strength somewhere. does not sell it. ebay, nada. i guess it really does only come from within. damnit.

Judy, if you are reading this, i cling to that story you told me of your grandmother, i think it was. i hold it close in the darkness. thank you for telling me that. it is a light that i keep my eye on in the storms that come as tears of loneliness and sorrow.

i am glad i found his knife. they are all part of my shrine to my Dragon on the mantle. i am glad there are not any guns i have to explain. i think i would have just called the Marine Corps recruiting office rather than the police. i think it would have been easier to explain a "go bag" to a Marine than a cop.

"come to me in my dreams and then by day i shall be well again, for the night will more than pay the hopeless longing of the day."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

full moon & moon bunny ~ photos ~ small steps

it is another full moon. counting the full moon photograph i took the night he died, when i had the luxury of him standing right behind me, i have 20 full moons in frames on my wall. last night/tonight makes 21. he has been gone from me for 19 months and two weeks tonight.

the moon makes me pensive. it is my time for, almost like communion. i take photos but i also just stand and stare at the moon. it is so beautiful. it is so necessary to life here, tides and weather and stuff. i fell in love with the moon when i was a teenager. i have pictures of the moon dating back that far. but the only ones that matter are these most recent 20, make taht 21.

there is a young mother with two small children who watch me take photographs of the moon. they have also seen me talking to the rabbits that live in my area and they also have seen me with Beach Bunny, taking her photo outside. their mother came outside with them tonight to see Jupiter and the full moon. the children looked through my camera lens and saw the moon closer than their little eyes can see the detail. they called me Luna Bunny. Moon Bunny. their mother said that when i am outside, even when i walk the dogs in the evenings, they can see bunnies all over the grass. they see bunnies hop out from the trees. i don't know if that is a sign of anything other than i do not scare bunnies.

i sold some of my photographs. i am happy about that for two reasons. one, i need the money. two, my Dragon always, always loved my pictures. i would take pictures and he would stand and wonder what i was looking at. when we got home he would hurry me along to upload from the camera to the computer. then we'd sit and look at what i shot. he always liked my photographs. he always watched my back to make sure i did not step in it, or on it, or in front of its path....whatever trouble i could possible get into when i would go into my spaced out world of looking through the camera lens, he was there. he was there on 8 February 2009 with his hand on my shoulder steadying me in a brisk, icy wind off the ocean at 8 PM, just 4 hours and 3 minutes before he died. not that i'm still counting or anything.

but he would be proud that i am selling some photos. if i could hear him, he would probably be saying, "i knew it all along, love."
in going through my CD's of burned photos, 1000's and 1000's of pictures, i am finding ones where i turned and took his photo. more photos of my Dragon!! this is not work people! this is a treasure hunt! "go through all these CD's to find a dragon." cemeteries {we are big taphophiles}, old houses, hiking out to remote places, gardens, in town, i took pictures of everything. and i always took pictures of him. so it has been nice finding more pictures of him.

the one above was taken in a place called Blood Cemetery ~ aka Pine Hill Cemetery. it was Halloween 2003 and he is carrying my tripod. he is my camera bitch. i miss my old life.

the small steps from the title is what i took a break from sewing to do today. i cleaned out my closet and my chest of drawers. i took out all the shirts and pants he is never going to wear again, and that i will never put on. i took out all his underwear, too. there are only two pairs of his socks left since i made sock animals from all the others. i put all his clothes in a plastic trash bag and set it aside. i have plans for another quilt. i cannot donate them, i just can't. i plan on making quilts. one, two. i don't know what i'll get from it all, but it is not in my closet anymore. that is sort of a step. i do not have a lot of clothes myself, but if i ever get my stuff out of storage in New England, i will have the room now. i still have two of his sweatshirts, one t-shirt that i sleep in, two of his Marine shirts and his PT shorts from when he taught hand-to-hand that will always stay with my clothes. they are just too cool to not keep.

now that i am looking this over, it does not look as impressive as i thought it would look. i took his clothes out of the closet and put them in a trash bag for me to make another quilt or two. whooptie do. maybe i should have typed "teeny tiny steps" in the title.

peace to all from Moon Bunny.

a new widow for all of us to support, please.

i write for an online magazine and through that, have met a fairly new widow. Cathy. it has been just a little over 8 months for her. she and i email each other pretty much every day and i wanted to help her gain the support of others. her site is:

i hope whoever reads this will follow the link to her site and start to follow her, and give her your love and awareness that she has people who understand what she is going through.

thank you all for being out there for those who need you; i being one of them.

peace to you all.

Monday, September 20, 2010

dog in a cage

none of this is proofread. i wrote it Saturday and left it. i do have food right now. it's just been a long, long life joyfully interrupted by that brief period of extreme happiness with my Dragon.

oh, and the Burger King Fairy stops by during the dark times.

{my daughter is my daughter all the days of her life.}


yeah, it’s me again. i know i come to You entirely too much but You’re the only one i can really talk to. You’re the only one who knows me, who knows everything about me. You know what i’m thinking so i can do the shorthand-speak, or if i'm crying too hard to talk, i can say, “well, You know,” and i’ll know You really do know.

i feel like a dog in a cage. i saw that show about dogs, You know the one. they filmed a vet clinic that had a death row and they talked about the laws and how long the dogs are kept before their individual trips to that room at the end of the hall. all the dogs were pressed against their bars with eyes that i swear were glazed with awareness and fear. they were staring at the cameraman, at the narrator, at however many it took to film that show and it was so apparent. all those dogs only wanted a chance. not a second chance or a third, just a chance. they want what all of us want, a loving home and enough to eat, or just simply to be set free. it was heartbreaking because no one was there for them. they were just filming a show. no one was coming for those dogs. they were all silently asking in the only way open to them for help, for attention, to be understood and loved, or just to be freed and no one was paying attention. the people talked above their heads instead of looking at their body language ~ their ears, their tails, and especially their eyes.

i feel like that. i feel like a dog in a cage waiting. i feel like i beg with my worn out eyes, my words that seem to come out in a language no one understands, and/or with my stupid voice for attention and for understanding. i carefully walk the plank twice a month begging and subservient in my emails for my stipend. i am waiting quietly and politely for the VA to process my claim. in the meantime, i hurt. i’m terrified. i live in desperation each minute of every day. when will they send me a letter? when will i be allowed to breathe? am i ever going to be free of this incessant fear so i can just grieve for my husband? i feel like i’m stagnating at this point because i’m in this cage waiting and i can’t think about anything except how safe i felt with my Dragon.

how many times have i talked to You while leaning my head against the glass sliders looking out on concrete world of cars, watching people come and go living lives where at least they are free to come and go. i’m a hostage here while i wait on money, and then wait on a ride. i’m waiting on an unknown future that i have no more control over than i had control over my Dragon dying so suddenly. i know what i'd do if had money. i know where i would try to live. God, we both know i know how to be alone. i go for days without actually seeing anyone. if i felt safe, i think i could grieve in a more normal way, but fear keeps me in line. not being in charge of my own life holds me back from feeling safe. how can i go through the grieving process when my stomach eats itself from the stress of not knowing what the stipend-giver and the VA have planned for me?

i get so very hungry sometimes. You know. You’ve seen me. i never say, “i’m starved.” i’ve never starved, but i have been hungry. i get teary when i try to get excited over a plate of Saltines with apple butter on top, a bowl of oatmeal, and some Jell-O. three days, four days of it, it gets old and its really not enough calories. i pretend i’m on “Survivorman” and that this is a windfall, or better, “Man, Woman, Wild” where she’s with her husband and it’s all being filmed. i like that one because she seems to really feel blessed to have him with her, in life, not on the show. well, yes on the show, too, but what i mean is they really seem to love each other. You know what i mean. of course You do. You’re God.

“here’s the daring widow down to her last sleeve of Saltines and a quarter jar of jelly. good girl! she’s learned that out here, far away from help, she must ration her food in order to make it last. and she’s learned one of the cardinal rules of survival. keep your spirits up. she’s putting the crackers on a plate instead of standing at the kitchen counter and eating them while crying. and setting up the stuffed bunny and taking photographs gives her just the break she needs to help her hang onto hope that things will improve.”

sometimes the cupboards are so bare yet i still have to wait on him to make the transfers of funds. i wait and i wait. my neck aches and my joints hurt and i know its lack of food that exacerbates that pain. i’m tired and hungry and suddenly i’m overwhelmed with missing my Dragon.

he died, God. i mean, You know, You were there, too. but my Dragon got to die and i didn’t. he got to go to a place where he doesn’t hurt anymore. he probably doesn’t even remember me. isn’t that how it works? he’s gone on to something better? it would destroy me to learn that he knows how bad it gets for me sometimes. please, i beg You. don’t let him know.

when he finally transfers the money, i have to wait for a ride, or walk over and get only what i can carry back which i just can’t do anymore. my foot hurts and i’m afraid i’ll get over there and can’t get back. and when i get food, i’m like a jittery, crazy person trying to fix me something to eat. i talk to the dogs. i hear myself saying crap like, “mommy’s going to have real food tonight! we get to have a real meal!” and then, in my jittery anticipation of getting to really eat, i do something stupid like put the mini meatloaves in the frig instead of the oven and 30 minutes later wonder why i can’t smell them cooking, and then i have to go find them and stick them in the oven. and wait longer. and i cry.

i know i’ve been trained with a harsh hand. like a whipped dog, i do what i’m told. i’ve been crushed into this person that i don’t feel like i was meant to be. i died inside a long time ago, but i still feel part of me inside. i dream these wonderful, beautiful dreams of things i can never have. i dream i have a home with a bit of a yard to take care of. i dream i have a garden with flowers and vegetables and herbs. i can see myself sponge painting walls to make them look older than they are. i’d have old wood floors with dhurrie rugs and comfortable old furniture. and i dream i have my things back. everything i had to leave in New England is back. all my clothes are in the closet. i have all my furniture back. i don’t have to spell out to you what i’ve lost. i just dream of having a place that i can take care of and where i can create a small life for myself. it will be my home and i’ll get to a point where i won’t hate myself anymore because i won’t have to beg for food and lights and a roof over my head. and then i can work through my grief over the fact that not all Dragons live forever. at least not with me.

i work hard. i sew non-stop. i wake to take my dogs out and then i get to work. when i get to eat a lunch or something, i stop sewing, but i sit at the computer and work on the photos so that maybe someone will buy one, or some. i set aside what i’m working on between 11 PM and 1 AM to go to bed. i get into bed and my body starts to spasm. i lie there and twitch and jerk with the pains that grab at me. my back aches. my hands throb and my fingers click and pop. my foot feels like knives are stabbing it. it feels like raptors are ripping it apart and it all scares me. is it just the stress? i know my foot is screwed but is there something else wrong, too? and what if there is? would I call 911? no. i don’t have the money. it would piss off the kennel keeper, too. i’m a dog on death row. no one fights for those dogs. few try to save them. they are beyond redemption. but are they beyond absolution?

God, please forgive me but i feel despondent. i thought all the presentations were behind me. remember those every Saturday morning? remember how blank his eyes would get? i did everything he told me to do but he always found fault. my priest told me i needed to leave him. he told me it would be all right. it was hell. he was bullshit about losing his money. not me. not the marriage. not the children. his money. i gave up 20 years of my rights to anything earned so he wouldn’t do the things he said he would. i was scared and no one was helping me. he closed it all down and took the money that day, before the children even got home from school. i told him at 9 AM after the kids went to school and my card was declined at the grocery store at 2:30 PM. what i did get to have, i did not get. i have to wait for it. i’d learned the lesson that there are some who are blessed with safer lives than i’ve been allowed to live. whatever You’re teaching me now that my Dragon has died, humbleness, humility, disgrace, shame, humiliation, let me take the test. i think i can pass. can i have a chance at something different for the end here?

i’m hurting and scared. i’m frightened and tired. God, i miss him. You gave me my Dragon and then he died. why would You bother to do that? why would You show me what it’s like to be loved? because of the way things played out that only You and me and Dragon know about, You know, yeah, because of all that, our life together was so financially hard. we lived on nothing, giving it all to my children to save them, to protect them. but we had love. for a little while, someone loved me. You did allow me to have that brief time where i saw someone looking at me with love in his eyes. i have never been loved like that. i have never been encouraged like that or allowed to be myself without worrying about the repercussions. i was in such awe of him. to love someone like me he had to be flawed. but he wasn’t. he was perfect. i love him so much. You blessed me with my Dragon for those few years out of my life and i am on my knees in gratitude. how do i thank You for letting me taste what it is like to be liked, appreciated, and loved?

how many people get to be themselves without worry of being slapped or screamed at or verbally stripped of all dignity in front of friends, in front of their children? how many people are encouraged to speak their minds, or can buy the large box of crayons at the grocery store, or get to ask to stop at the farm stand for a peck of newly picked apples and not get in terrible trouble? my Dragon gave me all that. he was shocked when i’d ask permission for the smallest things. he cried that one time, when i told him what had happened to me, but he didn’t turn away from me. he held me while i cried, too. he kissed me and told me he would never leave me. he said he would never let anything bad happen to me ever again. he said he wanted to allowed me the time to heal so that i could learn to fly. he wanted me to be free and he knew, he just knew that i had so much life inside me to give. he said he would always fly beside me and make sure that i didn’t fall. he loved me in spite of what had been done to me. he was gently giving me the gift of myself. i was slowly coming to believe in the power of his love for me when he died. i had gotten within sight of believing it would all be all right only to watch it fade away while i watched the light fade from his eyes.

now i am back to being the dog in the cage. i wait for handouts. i wait for tiny bits of freedom, like going for groceries or to the library. i am waiting for the VA to give me something and i worry what that something will amount to. will it be enough to open the cage door? will anyone see me try to escape death row? how many dogs were euthanized today anyway? and why do we come up with words to disguise what we do to each other and to other beings? we kill dogs because their existence has become inconvenient. i am now inconvenient for some people. i am a burden. “why are you still here?” he wanted to know why i am still alive. “useless.” “you look a hundred years old.” “you’re sad for him but you never were sad about the divorce.” “why are you still here?”

i read that you never really know what a death will make you do. you try to reach past what’s possible, struggle to fit the pieces together even though they are far to broken to bother with anymore. i am sitting in my cage trying to fit the few pieces of my life that are left together again. my Dragon would want me to try. so i’m trying to hang on, but i don’t know how long i have. since my Dragon died so suddenly, i wore his boxers and one of this t-shirts to bed. since the widow who lived downstairs died alone in her apartment and was not found until the next morning, i wear shorts and his t-shirt to bed.

“now i lay me down to sleep. i pray the Lord my soul to keep. if i should die before i wake, i pray the Lord my soul to take.

don’t let me die in the bath alone, unable to reach my little cell phone. please don’t let me die undressed. let me get my pants on, and pull a shirt across my breast.”

my current weariness at the futility of my life makes me wonder how much longer i can go on like this before i drop in my tracks. i’m shattered. i’m trying to put me back together again but the pieces i have left are damaged from my life before my Dragon. there are so many pieces that are just gone. i’m no longer a complete person. and now that my beloved Dragon has died, well, i’m not flying anymore. i never even had time to get off the ground. and if so much of me is lost out there, how will i ever be allowed to go Home? i don’t look like who i was supposed to be, do i? or will You know me no matter what?

i’m so scared all the time. the stress is killing me. i know that. my life is being shortened with each panic attack. each time i check emails for him saying that he’s transferred the funds so i can pay bills and i get to eat, and it’s not there yet, i sob in fear. i feel my life’s clock ticking down. how will i be found? will i be given Last Rites? if they forget, does it matter to You? my intention was there.

God, where do You plan on me going? Heaven? Purgatory? Hell? the thought of being thrown down there where all hope lives and dies over and over frightens me more than being hungry. will i be allowed to see my Dragon? can i, please? i would work for You. i can do a lot of things. i know how to take care of horses and cows. i can work a field and put up and keep up a barbed wire fence. i can drive a tractor for hours under a baking sun. i can grow flowers. i can paint and sew. i can carve wood and throw pottery, make stained glass windows, and draw. i can clean and i know the Dewey Decimal System like the back of my hand, like each scar on my body, like every pain that vibrates through my body. i would work so very hard for the privilege of being allowed to be with my Dragon in Heaven.

please, God. i need a break. i see myself like a dog in a cage on death row. i had love and i can hold the memory of it close so i’m not asking for anything like that. i can’t go through explaining the scars again anyway. i’m too old and it would be too hard to talk about all that. and You know and i know that only a Dragon of man can love a woman like me.

so what am i asking for? i’m asking for forgiveness for all my sins. i want my Dragon to be forgiven so that he’s in Heaven. i want him to have peace and joy and light. i want to try and find a way to get my things back out of storage. i want my clothes. i want to sit in his favorite chair. i want to get rid of stuff, organize the rest of it for my children, and to just touch it again, see it all again before You let me die.

i’m asking for the cage door to be unlocked. please, please let the VA come through for me with enough that i can run. i think if i can wave just enough cash at the fear, i can start to work on the grief of losing the only man i will ever love, the only person who loved me, the only person who could keep me safe. maybe if, like a dog in a cage, i could get a reprieve, i could reconcile myself to the fact that i got to be loved for 8 years and that’s all. i’m not greedy. out of an entire lifetime, eight is plenty. eight out of well, you know how old i am and how old i’ll be when i die so You can do the math, but it’s enough. he loved me so much and that is such a rare thing, for someone to be able to love me, that i humbly accept only 8 years.

please, God. i just need the cage door left open. please, make a little commotion that distracts anyone from looking at me. just give me the chance to run.

in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,


Saturday night @ 11 PM

Sunday morning at 4 AM

i took Sunday off from other work ~ Sunday night at 9:30 PM

it still isn't finished but at least it's square.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

the woman downstairs died today

the woman who lived downstairs from me died today. she was 63.

she was the first person to speak to me after i moved here, and the only one who ever has. she liked my dogs. Ms. Carmen Sophia of the Joyful Yelp and Mr. Scootie Wootums, Lord of the Dance were her special friends and she loved talking to them and petting them. it's funny. they are crazy babies for everyone, but for her, they were gentle and demure.

Memorial Day she threw pebbles at my sliders to get my attention. she could not climb stairs so she threw little stones. i went downstairs and she gave me a poppy she had gotten at the store while she had been out. she knows my Dragon is a Marine and she wanted me to know she was remembering his service. i got teary and she hugged me.

she lived alone and she died alone. she was a widow whose only child had died two years after her husband. she has a niece who lives in California. because of her infirmities she had in-home help that came twice a week to clean her apartment and get her groceries. one of them found her at noon today. i became aware of the tragedy when police cars and the fire truck and the ambulance came rushing up. the apartment manager let everyone in and then there was no more rushing about.

you can tell when the emergency is no longer an emergency by the way people act. 3 hours later i watched them take her out of her apartment for the last time. no one who loved her was standing there to keep vigil like i had done with my Dragon. i did watch from my glass sliders and whispered goodbye to her. i cried for her, but i do not know if that counts at all. she is gone and free of the limitations and pains of this life here.

i fed my dogs and walked them. her wreath for the summer season is still on her door. her welcome mat is still on the concrete outside. all is quiet. i can almost imagine she is sitting inside watching television wondering what to get herself for supper.


there are things i could say, things that are floating through my mind right now, but i am too upset about so many things to express them. i do not know what to say except this:

the woman downstairs died today, and she was a lovely soul. private and independent, still she had noticed me living upstairs alone and we kind of kept up with each other. i went and got her mail for her. if she was going to her car for a doctor's appointment and i was out with the dogs she always stopped to speak to me. this is probably not true and only my perception but it seemed she died alone and will be unremarked upon, so i wanted to let someone know that she lived near me and had been kind to me.

she died and i am sad.
her name was Carolyn.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the path ~ Soul Widows

“Life is March weather, savage and serene in one hour.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

it is true. life is a wild ride that has no hint of what is around the corner. no one can do more than plan and then, as my Marine husband used to say, “improvise, adapt, and overcome.” i have redone my song list. i let it play while i sew. it plays out my story, not unlike using the language of flowers to send a note. i am sending notes {musical} to speak what i cannot say.

i always thought i would die first. i am nothing special and can only offer my interpretations of life as i see it through sewing, painting, photography, woodcarvings, and stained glass.

me wishing for love created before i met my Dragon

i also give everyone my two cents here. sometimes they throw it back but i can only be who i am. and who i am is that i do not know what to do with myself. yes, i sew and work my behind off on it, but why was it him that left this world first? why not me? my Dragon was so much more full of life. i have never met anyone with the energy and the, i do not know if i should even use the word. aura. no, that is not the direction i want to go. but there was something about him that made people look at him, go to him; everyone gravitated to him. he lived every moment of his life while i have been trained to ask permission to breathe.

this is the path my Dragon and i always took to the cove we lived beside. it is a spiritual path and one that we walked very slowly on.

life presents a path in front of each of us. it is sometimes easy and sometimes hard. sometimes it takes us close to Hell, close enough that we believe we are there. my path had kept me close to Hell for over 40 years, and then i met my Dragon and he lead me to his path. it was such a beautiful journey. no matter the season, where he walked there was such beauty and joy and love. yes, we had difficult times. sometimes he would get a call and look at me as he listened. if the only thing he said was, “i’ll be waiting,” i knew he was leaving on a mission. the "go bag" was ready and off he would go somewhere doing something. i would miss him and worry about him, but he did come back to me. i had the privilege of having him die in my arms. he was with me when it happened. it is a double-edged sword.

walking back down the road to our old house after checking the mail. our place was tucked way back in by the cove.

now i am on my path alone again. it is no longer his path, or our path. it is mine and it is so strange. i wish for a friend. i wish for a little more freedom. the VA called a couple of weeks ago and they hope to have something for me in “3 – 4 weeks.” my fingers are crossed that my days of being a burden to you-know-who is over. i really need to be able to breathe.

i am going on another widow’s retreat. i think i can guess what is crossing your mind. let me say that i was not ready for Camp Widow. i did not know what to expect. i keep my head down all the time and seldom look up. it was large and noisy and it came during my Dragon Days, birthday, 18-month milestone, and our wedding anniversary. i was afraid to be away from my apartment. i admit i was intimidated.

this retreat is a spiritual one. it is organized by Elizabeth Woods who founded Soul Widows. she has gifted me with a scholarship to go and be a part of something smaller, more intimate, in a beautiful old bed and breakfast in Tryon, NC close to the Blue Ridge Mountains. she offers personal interaction and group therapy, art therapy, rituals and journal writing. we will go outside to a place called Pearson’s Falls where i am sure, that first weekend in November when the retreat occurs, the beautiful trees and fresh air will renew my spirit. i see this retreat as more along the lines of what i need at this time. it is a place where i may be part of a small group. i will have a turn to talk and be heard and i will be given the privilege of listening to and being strong for someone else.

i want to honor Elizabeth’s gift to me by writing about her retreat and my excitement in going. i cannot explain why i already feel such elated anticipation in going, but it feels right. her website speaks to me in a quiet way that i crave. the tone reminds me of my Dragon, when he would be gentle with me when i was scared or upset. sacred is the only word i can come up with.

i plan on taking Bunny and my camera and writing about our time there. Bunny is very excited and is checking the weather to see if she will need her Dragon’s watch cap to keep her little fuzzy head warm.

i am on a path i never wanted to be on. i honestly did not believe he would die first. he is so strong both in body and spirit. and his heart? a heart attack? seriously? his heart was enormous in an emotional and spiritual sense. i never thought it would quit on him. i had wanted to go first even though i am afraid of everything. like new adventures. i am scared to live and scared to die. i am a huge mess and yet, i know he loved me, loves me? loves me. i love him and miss him terribly. but i am looking forward to feeling connected to something and someone, everyone, through Soul Widows. i am already packed and ready to go in my mind.

and as for my path now, wherever it takes me, my mind will always long for the ocean. maybe one day i will be allowed the chance to finish my life beside it again.

the boardwalk over the dunes to Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester; just a short but gloriously meandering 4 mile walk from our place.

for now, i am living a life with my Dragon alive inside me. i am reaching for one where i feel blessed to tell others about him. i am working on being the woman i was when he was alive beside me. the Dragon's widow. the Dragon's wife. i want to see him smiling when i rejoin him.