how did i get here?

my husband, my beautiful Dragon, died suddenly at 12:03 AM on 9 February 2009. there was a cold, lovely full moon and 3 feet of snow on the ground. i "slept" for the following 10 months and "woke" to the physical and emotional pain and torments of deep grief. i "woke" to find i had moved the day of his funeral and that i am lost. i am looking for me while i figure out the abstract, unanswerable questions that follow behind any death. my art has evolved. his death changed that as well because i am forever changed and will forever bear the mark of losing the only man i can ever love.
there is alive and there is dead and there is a place in between. i am here wholly in my heart for my children, but i feel empty inside at this time. i miss him. i have not gotten very far in my grief journey. i make no apologies for this.
this is my place, my blog, where i write to tell the universe that i am still here.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the Great Mobius Strip of Grief

my Internet went down on Sunday at 10 AM. right in the middle of my iChat with my son, our images froze onscreen. we finished our talk on the cells. technology is the double-edged sword of our lives. when it works it is wonderful. i can see my son who lives 8 hours away. when it turns on us, it is frustrating and even alienating. practically all of our contact is done online to even get to face-to-face. emails. tweets. texts. "meet me?" "can i come over?" i like to hear voices. i like to see faces. i do not have the money for a phone that is connected to the web like that. my cell is only for my children since we are all AT&T. $1 a day if i use it. no charge for talking to another AT&T cell. pay for what you use.

someone was going to call me Sunday. my magic jack plugs into the computer so with the Great 10AM Crash, i did not get the call. the repair man came at 7:30 last night and had to give me a new modem thingy that sits on the floor and blinks at me. so i am up.

i worked yesterday. i worked Saturday and Black Friday. i really like the job. the managers all say they like me and do not see any real reason why i would not be asked to stay on after the holidays. and then yesterday the 4th and final manager in line had her things to say. it made me apprehensive and between all of you and me, i do not need anymore stress and anxiety in my life.

she said, "before you i was the oldest but i told {the head manager} that it was okay."
i was not sure how to respond to that. then she got a little peeved that i was helping a customer and did not break away to answer the phone. "you can answer the phone, you know. here's what you say. i know you were with someone but you can answer the phone." she was idle. i had thought she would get the phone. with every customer i offer the sounds that can go into the toy. at the end of my shift she evaluated me and said, "you need to offer sounds." i told her i did to every customer. she ignored me and wrote it down as a critique. she asked how i liked working there. i told her i loved it and wanted to work hard to be able to stay beyond season. the other 3 managers had responded positively. she responded with, "well, you never know. i mean we may ask someone to stay on. we'll have to see how you work out."

my face felt hot. my head felt like it was going to explode. i simply smiled what i call a Mona Lisa smile. it was proper. it was in place. behind it was a mystery as to what i was truly feeling with her words ringing in my brain.

in this economy, knowing you are talking to a widow, knowing how hard things can be even for people who have a partner and two incomes, having your job threatened while you are a recent hire and still learning is cruel. cruel. mean. heartless. bullying.

then she turns it around and asks about my textile art and grief and the heritage behind my last name. "how do you pronounce it?" "what heritage?" i have no idea where i stand with this woman. i am on guard and on alert. i am also not on the schedule until Sunday. and then i only work 4 days that week. i need hours. hours. hours of work. but i am using this week to finish up the quilt that is due before Christmas.
Christmas is coming again,
without him
but this time i am wide awake.

i hear the bells, the songs,
without him
and at times my composure breaks.

i bought myself little star lights
without him
and i put them on my Dragon tree.

the tree he bought grew tall
without him
and the only one to decorate it is me.

i stood and cried by his tree
without him
i cried as i strung the lights.

Christmas is coming again
without him,
and nothing will ever feel right,
ever again....
without him.
i wish i could run to his arms and stay there. i want him to hold me and protect me, or at least spell me, from life's little cruelties. he was so great for letting me sit cuddled up to him and talk. he was so great for talking to me and easing my woes. he used humor. he used his ineffable {sacred} lightness that was part of who he was to comfort me. he surrounded me with his love.

i am facing the holidays and the start of the new year outside the fog of the first year and a half. the sleeping widow has woken up and she is crushed under the weight of reality. i want to go back into the fog and the numbness and bumble around. i do not want to think. i do not want to do anything but ............. i do not even know what i want to do anymore. i feel so overwhelmed with anxiety, panic, fears of one woman making me lose my job, not getting to keep the job, how long will my life without him be, a myriad of questions for which there is no answer, or no easy answer.

i really need him which is stupid funny because i need him because his death makes me need him more. i always needed him before simply because he made me so damn happy. yes, me happy. Bunny was happy once. but his death is so hard and i need him to help me get through it so it is a paradox of sorts. it is so simple a thought that is becomes complex; the Great Mobius Strip of Grief.

my Dragon and i were scrounging for shells and small pieces of driftwood along the beach one day when a man walked up, a tourist during the season. he introduced himself and said he was an early riser like we were and saw us out all the time and that we were always holding hands. my Dragon introduced us and referred to me as his "lovely bride." the man said jokingly, "So you love her as much as the day you married her, huh?"

and my Dragon said, "No." my Dragon looked at me and reached for my hand. he smiled enigmatically and said, "i love her more and more with each passing day. we're growing old together so our love is growing." then he looked back at the man and said, "that's how it is for us. every day. more and more."
and that's how it still is. even though his spirit has transcended to another place, i love him more and more. every day. more and more. Angel Bunny pining for her absent Dragon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bunny cries

i like that quote i put under the picture of Bunny crying. i read it the other night late. way too very late.

"that was the night they promised to be together through everything, each to care for the other when old and gray. a lovers' pact, the most likely to last. ~ Krista J. Mikula

we had many nights like that, promising each other things we had no business promising. but when you love, you promised the moon and the stars. sadly, he did give me one of those things. he gave me the moon.
i am hurting so much more than i did last year, my first Christmas. it was still less than a year and i was still so numb. i cry so often now in the apartment. people think i am doing well, but i am not. what they see is a mask of coping with living day-to-day.

my children are thrilled with my job but for different reasons than i am. they want me to be out. they want me engaged in life. they want me to be talking to people and interacting with the world outside my door. i am grateful for the job. i am grateful that it is in a toy store. i am grateful for the paycheck. i am trying to find that balance of grieving for my Dragon and the joy i am supposed to be what? searching for? working for? walking towards?

i am depressed. i know it. there is nothing i can do about it except wake up, get up, get to work, whichever job is on the schedule first, then do the other job. and all i can do is cross my fingers it will be enough. i am getting more and more tired even though i am grateful for the job. please do not misunderstand. i am on my knees grateful for that job. i am just getting tired. i need to build myself up to this amount of work and this even smaller amount of sleep. the insomnia i already have with this new narrow window of time to try and find it in is killing me.
Bunny goes with me. i wish i could take Dragon but he was a special collector's edition and they do not sell him anymore. so Bunny goes with me in her elf costume and she rides in her back pack on my back. see the little patchwork purse hanging from the beads? that is my purse that i clip to the belt loop of my pants and have in my pocket so i do not have to have a purse in a locker in the back. i made it last night after i got home while i watched the Peanuts special on television.

yeah, i know. big f***ing deal. she made a tiny purse for her driver's license that she never needs because she does not own a car. and my debit card in case of emergency that drains a bank account that is only in the double digits. *sigh* so much stress, and it would all level out if he could be here with me. if he could hold me and tell me we will get through this. all i ever needed was my Dragon. i never wanted a castle. i never wanted to be wealthy. i only wanted just enough to make ends meet and be with my Dragon.

i love him. i feel nothing but emptiness.

"i would not wish any companion in the world but you." ~ Shakespeare

"so dear i love him that with him, all deaths i could endure. without him, live no life." ~ Shakespeare

off to work now. then back here to work. and missing my Dragon. and try to find some kind of balance. i am struggling. i guess that's all i wanted to say.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

holidays, work, & the Bun

the Bun is writing today since she will be a little busy and does not know when she will post again. she has a lot on her plate. oh, Lordy, Lordy. she will be a busy girl. sewing, quilting, stuffing bears, dressing bears {and by bear we mean bunnies and bears and puppies and kittens and wolves and Abominable Snowmen and reindeer, etc.}. she will also be grieving.

such a difference a year makes. 21 months, yeah, yeah, she knows the week and day and hour, but this time around her little eyes are wide awake. life has smacked her and smacked her, well, like it does for a lot of us, and yet it has given her some blessings. she got to go to the Soul Widows retreat. she has someone to talk to now once a week. she has a job. she has her children. and she has her memories of her lovely, lovely Dragon.

and she has her Christmas Tree.
this is her Dragon Tree. he bought it for her when it was just a twiggy thing in a tiny pot. now it has grown into this pretty little bit larger tree and for the first time she can decorate it for Christmas. Dragon tree. Bunny and her daughter went to Wally World aka Wal-Mart to get food for Thanksgiving and she got little twinkle lights and tiny ornaments for it.
they decorated it together since no one, absolutely no one should decorate a tree alone. yes, the Bun had egg nog. no, she did not spike it. the Bun goes easy on the demon rum since she is a giggly girl. besides, Dragon tree kind of leans a little bit anyway and we do not need Bunny leaning.
Bunny's much taller daughter helped her put the star on Dragon Tree. now, now, we know it is early but Bunny has her hours at her other job and she knows she will be busy there. then she will come home and sew and quilt and embroidery. she will be busy at home. all she wants to do is work and earn the almighty dollar so she can merely exist. but hey, some living has to go on. she wants to come home and turn on Christmas lights.
and so she will. lovely Dragon tree. sad, Dragonless little Bun.

she is headed into the holiday season wide awake. she is still in pain. she is still missing her Dragon, but the difference is now she knows exactly how much. shock and numbness are fading and the sharp, deep aching pain of his absence is felt in every fiber of her furry little body. she hopes all this work will help her hold back the tears until she falls into bed. she hopes the frenetic work she will be doing to keep up with deadlines and the long lines of people wanting stuffing for their new friends and clothes and accessories for them will keep her blind to what day it is, how close it is to Christmas, to the fact that her Dragon is not waiting for her at the apartment.

one day, Bunny is aware, her grief will be less sharp. she will always feel it. it chafes now from all the financial woes that add to her worry. Bunny is not so much on the road of grief towards healing so much as she on a meandering path of grief. Bunny has always done it different. she is wandering around her field of grief and her forest of grief. her life now filled with sorrow and she is stopping to look at flower that grows there, touch every tree that spreads its branches to the sky, and take a picture of every cloud that floats by. she is taking a picture of each evening there is a moon. Bunny is laying down to look up and is not afraid to keep laying there. she is not static. she is just meditating before she makes a move. this is more of a stroll for Bunny than it is a bona fide official journey of any kind.

looking back she believes she is making progress, some progress. Bunny no longer compares her grief with others. she is far too busy. she has far too many worries without wondering where she falls on the Great Timeline of Sorrow. she will just go her own way. holidays and work. the Bun will try to get through it. then she will skippity-do past her birthday.

early in February she will find a flower in a wide field and sit down again. she will mentally rest and wait for that wall of water that is the second anniversary of her Dragon's death. she will tumble and swirl and spin underwater until after Valentine's Day, the anniversary of his funeral that was so tragic. then she guesses she will get up and meander around again. Bunny's journey of grief will take a long, long time. she will love him and want him and miss him until she dies.

Bun hopes you like her Dragon Christmas Tree. she talks to him and hugs his pot all the time. she hopes all who read have a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving holiday, or a very good Thursday wherever you live and however you spend it.

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010

the great longing

i want to thank everyone who commented and those who emailed their congratulations on my getting the job. it is a good fit for me. toys. children of all ages. belief in the magic of toys. i hope to be good enough, great enough, that i will be invaluable and they will want to keep me after February. and i just need hours so that my paycheck helps me exist.

Thanksgiving is coming. then Christmas. New Years. then my birthday. then the milestone of the 2nd year and the Valentine's Day anniversary of his funeral. it is a 3 month gauntlet that drained me last year. i hope the job keeps my head above water emotionally so that i can tread water through it all.

the Bun goes to work with me. it seems eccentricity is a plus where i work. she rides in a "bear carrier" on my back to be all cute and fuzzy and adorable, attracting people into the store as i walk the Mall to get there. then she is all cute and fuzzy and adorable while i work, enticing people to buy clothes and accessories for their bears and bunnies, wolves and reindeer, monkeys and puppies and kittens.
the one thing i noticed is they do not sell the dragons anymore. you cannot even get them online. i feel so blessed to have gotten one. my daughter and son-in-law saw them and got me one. and you have seen enough of my photos to know he wears his Marine Dress Blues. i had thought about taking him to work but when i saw that they do not sell him anymore, i leave him home.

how awful would it be for a child to see my Dragon and want one.....and then find out he or she could not get one? they would be so sad. a near metaphor for what it is like for me. i saw my Dragon. i had him for just a little while, and then he died. he is gone and i know what he looks like. i know what he sounds like. i know what it feels like to hold him and love him. and now he is gone. i cannot have him anymore.

21 months, 1 week, 5 days, 8 hours and 49 minutes at this moment, and yes, i sometimes count it out. it is a morbid game i play. my wall is getting covered with full moon photographs. i will be adding one more after tonight....when i get over there to get it printed. another moon to the Wall of Moons that Mark His Absence. {i like grand names. it makes it sound less ridiculous, more ceremonial. right? a little bit right? not even? okay, well, remember i said eccentricity is an asset at work. the children seem to like me a lot.}

i have been reading a book titled, "Heaven. The Heart's Deepest Longing." very interesting presentation of why we do not feel comfortable here. it is religious and for that guy last month or so who thought i wrote too much of God. there it is again. God. Heaven. at least i am not advocating dealing with grief by shooting heroin in my eye.

i long for my Dragon. it is not getting any better. it is more familiar, these feelings of anguish and loneliness. i only want him. i see other men out now and there is no warm feeling. there is no, "does my hair look alright?" i do not think of myself as a woman, not like that. no flirty feelings come over me. some are handsome enough but only for artistic value. not personal. there is no longing for companionship. i have Carmen Sophia and Scootie Wootums for that. i have my daughter and my son. and i have my memories of my Dragon when i wish to dream romantically.

no other arms but his. no other lips but his. no other soul but his. stripped down of any pretense, take away all the thoughts and words and work on grief. i just want him. my great longing is him, and yes, it sounds like i am only marking time here.
right now at 21 months, 1 week, 5 days, 9 hours i am only marking time. i love him so.

Enya does a beautiful song. i moved it up to first on the playlist for this posting.

where are you this moment
only in my dreams
you're missing, but you're always
a heartbeat from me.

i'm lost now without you.
i don't know where you are.
i keep watching,
i keep hoping,
but time keeps us apart.

is there a way i can find you?
is there a sign i should know?
is there a road i could follow,
to bring you back home?

winter lies before me,
now you're so far away
in the darkness of my dreaming
the light of you will stay.

if i could be close beside you,
if i could be where you are,
if i could reach out and touch you,
and bring you back home.

is there a way i can find you?
is there a sing i should know?
is there a road i could follow,
to bring you back home,

to me.......

i think i have arrived at this: this passage by George Eliot:

but she lost energy at last even for her loud-whispered cries and moan: 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 in her thoughts.

yes, the more i read that, the more it seems to apply now. i cannot cry at work. i only sob quietly at night at times. tonight will be one of those nights. it will be the full moon. i will not put a photo of it here tonight or even tomorrow. you know what it looks like. i will put it in it's place in line in my moon album on my Facebook page. Bunny may or may not do something. it will be as my muse moves me. {i wrote it like that on purpose. i love alliteration.}

"so," she wrote as she mentally hoisted her mug of orange juice. "so, to the great longing i feel for my Dragon, to the full moon, and to me, and also to all who grieve whether it be loudly, or quietly. i wish for an end to the great longing we all feel, and i wish for the end to be the beginning of everything that is good and perfect and light, and loving. i wish for our ends to be with those we love who are waiting for us."

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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Build-A-Bear ~ the complexities of survival

i got the job at Build-A-Bear. seasonal for now. i hope i can prove myself, that they see i would be valuable to stay on after February.

after they called yesterday afternoon late, i cried. my daughter was still with me {her day off} so i was not alone to weather the storm of emotions that followed. i sobbed. i smiled. i was terrified. again with the "what ifs." i need this job to last. i need it to be at the very least 20 hours a week just to keep my head under the surface of disaster. i know how to breath through a straw.

i am alone.
my son has said he can help me, but in truth, i need to bear {no pun intended} the brunt of this burden on my own. i need to earn enough to squeak by. i start this afternoon and only get 3 hours. Saturday i am at work for only a 2.5 hour day. it may still be training, or work while being overseen so that i am proficient and prepared for Black Friday. and then i need hours. hours and hours. and then i will come home and sew on the commissions.

i got up this morning shaking, trembling. crying and relieved and terrified. i am tired. i keep saying that and i do not know how to explain it. i could but i do not think anyone would understand. it is something i am saving for the Matriarch of Grief and Joy who has given me the gift of her time in trade for the gift of a quilt i am going to make for her.

i wish he were here.
i have this fantasy that i go off to Build-A-Bear and he goes off to Loew's or something macho but not "out of town" job and we have our little apartment and food and our few bills are not a problem. we are not rich., but we do get by. and that we have each other to hold onto and laugh with and love and touch.

i miss kissing him.

i am tired and i do not know if it will get better. i hope it will. i am willing to work long hours and come home and work long hours. i know i will be more tired but maybe it will be enough. maybe being tired is the best i should hope for. maybe it is all i should expect and i am being greedy.
i have this other fantasy. someone with a lot of money comes along and loves my artwork. all of it. photographs. writing. stained glass. embroidery work. quilting. sewing. oil paintings. and they want to be my Patron. they want to sponsor me. pay my bills so that i do not have to worry about anything other than creating. they believe that my artwork is powerful and they are arrogant enough to want to be the one to "find" me and then be my sponsor. big feather in their cap.

foolish dream. foolish old woman. i think it is the fantasy of a love-starved woman who was not approved of during her life. and then when her Dragon finally found her, he was taken from her and she is slipping back into her old sorrows and believing the flashbacks that hit her like a Mac Truck.

i cut off my hair. the man who did it loved the picture i picked out. he fluffed and trimmed. he cut off about 2 inches. he called me a pixie. yeah, because when i look in the mirror at the dark circles under my eyes, at the silent terror in my eyes, and at the hollowed out soul that i know exists inside, i think "pixie!"

i wish my Dragon could be here with me. i wish his voice and touch and smell and the taste of his skin were still available to me. i miss him. i want to talk to him. i am so very grateful for the Build-A-Bear job and i feel greedy praying for enough hours so i can live. i got the job and now i am asking for more. my hand always seems to be out to God, but then, i have no one else to turn to.

i wish my Dragon could be with me here. life is so complex. simple things and yet complex as well. job. enough hours. transportation. not having a car and no bus route to get there.

{the woman at the Charlotte Transit Authority ~ the Bus Lady ~ thought it was strange, too, that she could not get me a bus route that does not have me walking 3/4 of a mile to a bus stop to have me sit on the bus for 40 minutes to make a less than 10 minute drive by car to the Mall where Build-A-Bear is located.}

i am tired of life and i wish he were here with me. but i sit with my quilt of his clothes wrapped around me and i pretend it still smells like him. i dream he is with me. i dream he is coming home soon.
but i got the job at Build-A-Bear. however terrified i am about how many hours and how long will they keep me, i am sobbingly, humbly grateful i got the job.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

stress, fear, grief

the full moon is returning. i get anxious for it. what if there is cloud cover? what if the new camera stops working? what if whatever is growling out there in the darkness comes out of the stand of trees and gets me? {another story. *sigh*}

i have a quilt in the frame to get finished in time for a young man to receive it before Christmas. what if my hand keeps cramping? what if the double quilting takes me longer? what if i get it to the post office too late? what if the mail is slow?

Build-A-Bear has not called. what if they do not want me? what if i do not ever get the chance to wear the blue blouse and build a bear for someone?

i have a job interview at Sears on Tuesday morning. what if they do not want me?

i have filled out a job application for Michael's Craft Store. what if they do not want me?

i am a f*cking artist! i can type between 78 and 88 wpm. i am detail oriented, meticulous with order, filing, notes, appointments. i have a crazy, off-the-charts memory. though no one who has met me in the widow world would believe me, in the business world i am on top of all my responsibilities. i will get the quilt done and to the post office in time if i have to work 24/7. i am intelligent, resourceful, on task, look for more work to stay busy and earn my keep. i have experience in a number of capacities. i can balance a spreadsheet. i can clean well enough for surgery. i can strategize for multiple problems. i am intuitive to people's moods and feelings. i would never say anything to hurt anyone. i think very hard before i speak. i would be good at customer service.

i have so many skills. why can i not get a job in the real world? my art is my life and soul but i need a steady stream of income. i need it yesterday. i was awesome at the interview at Build-A-Bear. the only thing was that i was not 18 - 21 like the other women were. i had more on the ball and answered first. those girls answered all their questions with the lame-assed, "well, like she said" and pointed to me! ah, nevermind. maybe Sears or Michael's will hire me, but what if they don't.

what if? what if? i am killing myself on the "what ifs."

i want to go home.
i want to go back to where he and i were. but different. i want the financial worries to be gone. i want him to have not had to go out on that last "out of town" trip that took so much out of him. i want to be safe financially. not wealthy. not rich. just safe. i want him to be safe and well. i want to be with him back where we were, haunting the water's edge, scavenging for treasures the ocean tosses up to see if we are paying attention.
i want his hands on my neck and shoulders. see, now that the clock is ticking and it is imperative that i find a job NOW, i work so hard to keep a clean apartment and to get these quilts done and the jeans done. if i am not working on something, if i stop work for the night before 10 PM i feel like i am lazy. i feel terrified that i am failing. and working on any commission work is not bringing me a weekly, or bi-monthly paycheck. i am terrified. i have panic attacks all through the day. it is my second job or i guess i multi-task. sew, send out resumes, fill out job applications, try to breathe.

if he were here we would figure this out together. if he were here i would deeply massage his tired muscles and in turn, he would gently massage my hands. he would deeply massage my neck and shoulders from being hunched over the sewing. if he were here someone would be touching me and i would not feel alone. my children are there and they are adults. thank God. but they are my children and i am supposed to take care of them. at least protect them. how can i protect them from you know who, from life, from everything that money can protect you from without having money? i cannot even take care of myself.
our life was not a fairy tale but it was as close as it could be without the money to feel secure. we loved. we loved each other. we loved where we lived. we loved the people we were getting to know. we loved the storms and the sunshine. we loved the seasons and our walks. we loved being with each other. every day was a blessing and we were working hard to build a future. his deal was falling through but the woman was charged with embezzlement and fraud. she is in prison, but my Dragon did not live to see that justice. he is removed from the pain of that and in a way, i am glad. but then i think about the time he was dying, and i wonder.

was he even cognitively processing? did he know he was dying? was he screaming in a voice no one heard that he could not leave me like this? did he die worried about me? that's when i shatter into a million pieces all over again. i want him to feel like his life was successful. i want him to know i love him and am proud of him. i want him to feel peace. i want him to forget the cruelties of this life and only know peace and relaxation and joy.

i hope Heaven has an ocean for him to be walking beside. and a place like Bearskin Neck. old places where passing time has no meaning.
i have been in a tailspin ever since he died. i am under so much stress, i am so afraid that i cannot grieve at times. i can only miss having him there to comfort me, help me, share with me the trials of life. i can only miss crawling into bed beside him "and all but your presence forget."

i am tired of fighting for a life. i would settle for an existence. i do not need much. my wants are fading with each passing day. dreams are something i write down in long hand in a journal that no one will see. trying to capture and keep hope close is like trying to light a trick candle. it is a cruel and embarrassing joke. i strike the match and the flame catches to the wick, but then it goes out. i keep striking match after match and i am running out of matches, and time. the darkness is coming, a dark so absolute i may as well be at the bottom of the Challenger Deep. it is a place where i will no longer be an artist. i will no longer be me. i will be prey. dramatic? maybe. truth? pretty close.

stress and fear are hindering my grief. i am not grieving. i am crying out for him to come and save me. Bunny's one long, single and only howl. please come back and save me, Dragon. i want to go home.
i need you, my darling, my darling
with it's yearning my very heart aches
the load that divides us weighs harder.
i shrink from the jar that it makes.
old sorrows rise up to beset me
old doubts make my spirit their own
oh, come through the darkness and save me
for i am alone.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bunny did a bad, bad thing

yes, Bunny did a bad, bad thing. possibly blasphemous. but she had to. she was upset and did not know what else to do.

at the Soul Widows retreat, the art therapist, Diane Strazzer, had her make a journal. you saw the photo. it had a lovely full moon photo and an old flag photo and a castle photo, all cut out of magazines and glued onto paper as a cover for the journal. then she sprayed it with an adhesive to hold everything down tightly. but the spray was bubbly and it dried still tacky to the touch. so Bunny had to rub glue all over her cover to make the adhesive spray settle down. it did, in part, but as this week progressed, the combination started reacting badly. or something. the images on the cut out pictures started fading. they started pulling away from the cover. the spray adhesive started getting tacky again.

Bunny was sad. she did not want her journal cover to fall apart like this. so one night, late, she took it all apart and made this new cover from old fabrics she had in her stash.
she covered it in burlap. she put stars on it for her Dragon and her. she cut out a silk dragon and put on the cover. duh. dragon.
the inside is from a pair of jeans her Dragon wore and Bunny embroidered a daisy on it and the line from the song he always sang to her.
the inside back cover is from a soft flannel that had "Marines" on it. because Bunny's Dragon is, yeah, a Marine.

Bunny is going to take the advice offered up last weekend and write her Dragon's stories in the journal, and then her thoughts. each night when she goes to bed, she is going to go to take a few minutes and reflect on a story and she is going to write about her lovely, lovely Dragon. so handsome. so strong. oh, so missed. Bunny grieves hard for her Dragon. he is lost to her, or she to him; whatever the case, she aches to be with him, to be near him. the holidays are coming and Bunny feels the weight of each commercial, each little candy cane at the grocery store, each and every little angel, ball, and twinkle light that is being sold to decorate for the holiday season.

so maybe Bunny did not do such a bad, bad thing. she saved her journal. she will write her way through the holidays. oh, yes, Bunny writes a great deal more than she types. but the thing is, if she gets to go to another Soul Widows retreat, her journal will be so very different than the others. but then Bunny is different, too. all she can do is shrug. i mean, all she wanted to do was save her journal from dissolving which was what it looked like it was going to do.

Bunny believes her tribe will understand and accept. that's what soul widows do. they understand. Anam Cara. Irish Gaelic for "soul friend." yep, Bunny believes they will not mind that her journal cover is different. after all, it is what's on the inside that counts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dragon in Stone ~ because Lonesome Dove asked

i have insomnia. i had it as a child, a teenager, and an adult. i sleep fairly light. i think i am always on guard. sometimes i read. sometimes i give in to my imagination that works such overtime hours and get up. Marilyn's Melrose Inn was too beautiful to try and doze when i knew my time there would be so short. Marilyn had collected treasures from years and years of searching or stumbling over all the things she has placed in her inn, her home.

very early one morning, i wandered into the expansive dining room. we had talked about isolation the day before and i was feeling it close in on me as the weekend was coming to a close. i would be going back to my apartment that i am very grateful to have, but i would indeed be going back to physical isolation. not mental because i know how to entertain myself. i know how to sit silently in a room.

i found this dragon. the morning sun was streaming in from a window far across the dining room. in that early silent morning when i was the only one awake, and up, wandering around, it seemed to me that the sun had traveled 93 million miles plus 20 feet to touch this little dragon sculpture that had been placed in this stone. it is an igneous rock. the dragon was created to be a fierce creature moving through its hard, impermeable mass as if it were water.
it took my breath away. he is gold. he is handsome. i got teary.

he was in a hutch in an area that is probably not investigated very often. he is small. those are flower ceramic pots he sits beside. it made me think of my Dragon. my husband. the man and the myth.

so i took this photograph.

my husband was known as a good man whose job took him "out of town" at times. he was a Scoutmaster. and that's all they knew.

i knew him as the Dragon of the Corps. i saw his scars. i knew his stories. i was there the times he woke up fighting a foe from long ago, or last month. i was there when he would get caught in a moment, something in a film we were watching that caused a flashback to a "brother" he could not save.

i knew him as my husband who held my hand and had my back. he kept me warm when i was cold, yes, even metaphorically cold. life cold. he kept my feelings safe and my mind entertained with laughter, his irreverence, and his teasing. he was a very earthy man, tactile, sexual, sensual, and affectionate. we were guilty of mild public displays of affection.

i knew him as my companion and confident. i could tell him things that no one knew. and he believed me. he saw my scars and kissed them as i had kissed all of his. we validated each other.

i also knew him as My Dragon. i saw him confront the demon in my life and teach him the meaning of fear, and the truth that he would follow through with his promise should either my children or i be hurt.

i knew him as my lover. he gave me tenderness.

i knew the man and i knew the myth that surrounded him. he was the Dragon but he was my Dragon and i knew both sides. i knew the man ~ his tenderness and love and search for absolution for the service he gave his country. i knew the myth ~ his emotions shut off as he left for a trip to i never knew where, or if he would come back.

the Dragon is more than a nickname. it is his legacy. protection, loyalty, rule-breaker, fierce, lover, loner, family man. in every dragon i see, i find something of him. i miss him desperately. i need his strength. i want to be the dragoness but my scales are slow in growing. i think exhaustion and worry, strife and sorrow are preventing them from coming in quickly. i am tried. i ache. i ache for him and for relief.

but i am the Dragon's wife and, if i wake up, i will get up, and i will keep going. as much as i am further away from when we last touched, i am closer to being with him again, however time and life and fate plays out.

Dragon in Stone. it is a beautiful image.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Soul Widows Spiritual Retreat ~ Nine ~ Sunday ~ Finis

this is the 9th and final posting i will make to conclude this series i have done on the Soul Widows Spiritual Retreat. i purposely ended at 9 because in numerology, 9 is sacred. it is considered the Holy Trinity times 3. it is seems to represent 9 positive characteristics: selflessness, fulfillment, completion, universality, universal understanding, interrelatedness, compassion, idealism, tolerance, forgiveness, generosity, benevolence, humanitarianism, emotionalism, and justice. these were all things spoken of to one degree or another through the weekend, so i end this series at 9.

it has also been very emotional for me to pull all this out of myself and lay it here for public consumption, far beyond the security of the tribe. 21 months milestone passed and my Dragon is still gone. i miss him and will until i, myself, pass. but in writing persistently to get this all said, of how meaningful and near-perfect this weekend was, it has helped that 21 month milestone pass without the mournful flood of tears that come on the 8/9 of each month.

Sunday dawned and i was up early. more private photos of small things that have meaning. i was ready and waiting for the last sessions that were coming. another was to join us for the day, the Fiery Fairy's partner in their counseling business, in friendship, in everything women share when they are sisters and kindred spirits. she is our veteran. she has been a widow for 21 years. there was a collective gasp. she still lived. she had survived.

there was so much to ask her. there was her story to listen to. she had fallen apart as we all had. it was good to know that this strong woman sitting with us had melted onto the floor of her life when her husband had died. we were not weak. we were normal.

the sharing was extraordinary. i listened with awe at the strength in this woman's voice. i saw the extraordinary kinship our Fiery Fairy has with this friend and business partner. they were sympatico. the set up was perfect. we had befriended and bonded with our Fiery Fairy and then here comes the, by our standards, Matriarch of Grief and Joy by the sheer number of years she has lived with sorrow. her spine is strong. her hands full of expression. her eyes, yes, there is grief etched there, but also joy and laughter. she is living, which is beyond existing which some of us are doing at this time. but we are infants compared to 21 years.

when we broke for lunch, our Matriarch of Grief and Joy and our Fiery Fairy had shown us hope.
hope was waiting for us, for me. i knew it was possible and walking out of the restaurant after lunch, the sun gave a visual to remind me. {if that had been Dragon who had not known i had stopped to take a picture, he would have asked me, "what did you see?" when i caught up to him.}

we went back to the alcove and the next exercise was to say one word, or a hyphenated word about each other. we gifted each other with a name of sorts. you read mine for everyone in the posting about The Women. and now i presented our Matriarch of Grief and Joy. it was a moving exercise. i was the last to be named and i admit i was sweating. my hands were trembling. i have been called many names, and until the name "mom," and until my Dragon, and since his death, they have all been bad. and i have accepted it silently. but did not know what words would fall from the mouths of the tribe.

i will not tell you other than to say i was overwhelmed with humbleness. they really saw something in me that was good and decent. i like the word decent better than beautiful. beauty fades with time but decency is steadfast. i cried a bit. i did not know what to do with the words other than to hold them close for a time. i never know what to do with a compliment other than to silently nod and accept.

from outside the alcove, this exercise may have seemed silly, new-agey, a tree-hugger moment, but that thought would only cross a closed mind and a shallow heart. giving someone a name is a gift. in some cultures, there is a whole ceremony involved and the tribe turns out for it. your name is all you are and all you carry with you when you die. names are important. it is how others see you. screw the machines. it is instant feedback and you will react physiologically. your heart will race as you wait. your palms will sweat. your actions are not hidden and they speak to who you are. you will be named.

at our closing, our Fiery Fairy gave us a gift of a coffee mug to remind us of Tryon, the village. she also gave us a rose from her small daughter, a fairy to be sure. as ephemeral as childhood is and the innocence that is its gift, i think our Fairy's daughter will grow to be a woman like her mother. she wanted us to have a flower. and our Fairy found roses. red roses. in the language of flowers the meaning was not lost on me, hence the tissue box beside Bunny.
i received another gift. this one from our Matriarch of Grief and Joy. she is going to be my counselor for a brief time, before she has to move at the beginning of the summer. but she will be there through the holidays, through my birthday, and his death and funeral anniversary on Valentine's Day. she is doing this for me and i am speechless. when i think "what if." what if i had not gone. what if i had stayed locked inside myself while i was there. but the smallness of the group was perfect for bringing one such as me out of herself enough to register that i was actually there.

i hope and pray that my words reach out to other widows who may be looking for something like this organization. Soul Widows is small. i believe it will grow, but i know Elizabeth and our Fiery Fairy will keep the groups small so that intimate secrets can be spoken of in safety. they will continue on the path they have chosen because there are women out there who need to cling for a time. they cannot fall so hard and then get right up. they are not immediately empowered by their loss as to move in an aggressively positive forward direction. some women have a difficult time with that transition from wife to widow. they will need a tight sisterhood. they need a clan. they will find they crave becoming part of a tribe of women who only need look at sorrowful eyes and trembling hands that think they can wring the stress away alone.

no. you cannot. alone in the world. read it again. alone. in. the. world. it sounds like the title of a Wes Craven film. horror. fear. terror. we are not alone in the world. there are many foundations and organizations out there. Soul Widows was what i needed. i needed a candle for my husband and our love. i needed Elizabeth and her gift that allowed me to come. i needed the Clown of God to push me over the wall i had built so that i could laugh without restraint. i needed to meet the Goddess Diana to see the passion for justice and know that it is right to fight for yourself and damn the world for setting it up that way. i needed to meet the Ceramic Storyteller so that i could share my own history of the Angel Cards and how i used them with my own children during bad times, and to listen to her and validate her fierce mother's heart. i needed the Disciple of Grace to steadfastly keep reminding me that it is safe to call her Friend. i needed someone like our Fiery Fairy to show me that there are counselors out there, people, women who truly care and have made it their life's work to save us; to find us and save us all if she can. and to meet the Matriarch of Grief and Joy so that i have a hand to reach out to, to see that i will be able to talk and learn, to cry and find strength, and to know that i do not have to stay silent and alone. i now have a tribe of sisters to whom i can call to.


this weekend, Soul Widows showed me a way towards the light. Elizabeth and our Fiery Fairy, the entire tribe helped me see that there is a light out there for me. no, it is not the headlight of the oncoming train. but even if it is, i will not face it alone.

the light for me maybe still be veiled by my stress and grief and worry and anxiety and mourning, but the warmth it offers, the freedom beyond the curtains is worth fighting for.
never give up. "improvise, adapt, overcome." the Marine Corps motto. well, one of them. my Dragon never gave up, even when he was dying. i am not giving up. i never was, but now i know that i will have a tribe to call to when i am on my knees.

my love for my Dragon is set in stone. i cannot imagine any other standing beside me as i contemplate eternity. he was a powerful life force on Earth and now that his soul is set free, oh, my.....imagine what he is feeling and doing and seeing now that his great love of adventure is free to go wherever. Heaven. the Universe. joining St. Michael the Archangel and his Warrior Gang of Fierce Angels. my Dragon would join them and their fight for us all.
i love him. i love my children. i love my sisters. i love our Fairy and our Matriarch. i had said i would never love again, but when i wrote that in the intensity of my grief i was forgetting that there are many ways to love.

thank you to Elizabeth. thank you to our Fiery Fairy. thank you to our Matriarch of Grief and Joy. thank you to all the women of the tribe who accepted me and thought good things about me, and told me so.


p.s. to all who read, please note, that the colors over the words Soul Widows and Angel Cards are hyperlinks to find the website and to find the cards. the Angel Cards, mostly to make sure our Ceramic Storyteller has it.

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