how did i get here?

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

Monday, February 7, 2011

730 aka 2 years

because by tomorrow, it will be too hard to write........

"i didn't hear you leave.
i wonder how am i still here.
and i don't want to move a thing.
it might change my memory.

oh, i am what i am.
i do what i want,
but i can't hide.

and i won't go.
i won't sleep.
i can't breathe
until you're resting here with me.

i don't want to call my friends
for they might wake me from this dream
and i can't leave this bed
risk forgetting all that's been......."
i still see him sometimes. it is more of a pretense than any real feeling that i have caught a glimpse of him. when i am stressed or upset, or scared, i pretend he is close by. i imagine that he is near and all i have to do is say his name.

how can it be 2 years? how have i live through 730 days and nights without him? how am i going to survive another 730, or another 365, or simply another day?

the same way i have been. if i wake up, i get up. i take care of my little dogs. i keep up with my adult children. i go to work. i come back and work here. then i go to bed. i pray for him at least twice a day. i think about the little things i need to do to keep going. i do not falter so much as just collapse sometimes from being so tired. the pneumonia this time around really took a lot out of me. i still have a little bit of a dry cough that i keep up with. when i do die, i do not want anyone to say that i did not "live," that i did not try to do things or take care of myself. i am living. i am just not living with as much enthusiasm as i did when he was with me.

i used to worry that i would die before my children became independent adults, that i would leave them with their father. now that my Dragon and i got them all grown up, and now that he has died, i do not worry so much about death except for becoming ill and lingering, costing money. i do not want to be a burden.

i have always predicted and yet, never thought that my life would end like this for me. throughout a childhood of not being loved and then through a first marriage of not being loved, i always thought i would end up alone. but then i met him and i was loved. and for the first time in my life, i was allowed to love someone ~ openly love a person.

he is so easy to love. such a warm man, so much gentleness in him. raw power, earthiness, passion, all the things that excite me. he has such an irreverent sense of humor and an intelligence that challenges me. he is handsome, adorable. his soul is a match to mine. his body is a match to mine. his mind is a match to mine. two perfectly fitting puzzle pieces that joined together to show the picture of a couple whose spirits intermingled to such a degree that it is difficult to untangle us. and yet, somehow, it happened.

what he saw in me is beyond me, especially since things have gone back to the way it was before. i have had more than a few people here treat me like i was treated before i met him. i am a "non-person" to some. to them i am apparently incapable of emotions, or they do not matter. so what he saw in me to love, to keep close to him, to cherish as he did, i cannot fathom. but i am grateful to have had it. when he was alive, i would look at him and think, "i love him so much and he loves me. me! i am with him which means i am not alone anymore. i will not die alone. he sees something in me worth loving, worth staying with."

but he died first and now i am alone with only the memories of what was and what we dreamed of for ourselves, but at least i have those memories of him to add to my ruminations. now i can add the secret knowledge that i was loved even if no one understands how or why.

one of the women i work with asked me how it feels to have finally gotten my chance at love only to watch it be taken away. she asked this sincerely, with wonder and wishing for some knowledge she seems to think i possess. she says she does not love her husband as i love my Dragon and for me to lose him after so short a time together, what do i think about it? how do i feel?

all i could think to say was that he was like a shooting star. he burned so hot and shot across my life so fast. i was in awe of him. i desired him so much. i was allowed the privilege to hang on to him for as long as i could, but his journey had to continue on to a place i cannot go. at least not yet.
she cried. i do not know if it was for me or for herself; that she does not have that connection to her husband to be able to feel that deeply about him. either way, she has a deeper understanding of me and who i am, and why i can connect to our guests in the store as i do. now they all understand how i can so quickly get someone to impart their life story while i stuff a bear or tiger, or bunny; then create a "Heart Ceremony" specifically for their life.

i do not know what is to become of me. i am meekly surviving. i am being creative. i get to make quilts and embroider things like jeans for little girls and Bunnies. i get to think of him and dream of him. i get to remember him and all the things he did for me, gave me, helped me become. he was trying to set me free from all the demons of my past. he wanted me to be able to fly.

i cannot fly, but i can drive now. it means freedom for me. i have named my car Midnight. it is black so that makes it easy. also that is about the time he died, well, 3 minutes after. midnight came and my life changed forever. during the nighttime, when my nightmares slither and snarl close to the surface, he had to leave me. on the night of a full moon, he was called away.

but when i dream of him, he is always in the light. he is always out walking with me, holding my hand, laughing with me, teasing me, smiling at me.
i was loved. only someone who has been treated as i have been all my life can understand the significance of those 3 words. I Was Loved. he held me. he smiled at me. he kissed me. he wrapped his arms around me and loved me.

oh, please, help me. i love him. i miss him. this is a heartbreak that either will not let go of me or i cannot let go of. he is the only one for me. it is not that i cannot love again. it is that i do not want to. no one can compare to this man, this Dragon with the giant spirit that lived inside him and is now freed from his body, and from me. how i can risk being fooled by another Voldemort? over half a century of abuse from people i trusted, people who were supposed to love me, or promised they did. broken promises. out right lies. such betrayal. and then to find my Dragon. to be given such a short time with joy. so little time with any real peace and security. not enough time to explore the love we shared and still do.

i sometimes feel like i am breaking apart. little pieces are falling off me and drifting away on an unfeeling wind, like the ash that is all i have left of him. i was burned up with him in the crematorium. the terrible thing is i still need him. i always needed him more than i thought he needed me though he loved to debate me about that. i never wanted to know a moment of time without him and yet, here i stand staring at the number 2 on my metaphorical cake. or 730. and i am staring down the barrel of however many more years i have been blessed with/cursed to have to live without him. and i still need him. do you hear me? whoever is listening up there/out there; i still need him. i still love him. i still want him. does this make you cry as much as it does me?

he is so handsome. he is so strong. he is so necessary to my happiness, to my mind, to my body, to my heart. thank God i gave him my heart to take with him. it feels right to have no heart anymore. i still do have my spirit and that is what i use to warm myself, my daughter and son, my little dogs, anyone who needs my words or my way with a needle and thread. i call upon my paltry, little spirit. but i really wish he were here with me.

i do not feel like i am where i belong. i am driving now but the whole world is different. i feel out-of-place. i am not driving to meet him. i am not going anywhere that he is. i wish i could wake up from this dream but then i see that i am already awake and then i am wishing i were dreaming so i can be with him.

he is my peace of mind therefore i am not at peace.

i have seen other widows' photos and writings of the memorials they have given their husbands. plaques and benches and large rock gardens. they are all so beautiful. there are photos of a great many friends and other family members who gather to commemorate a wonderful life. they console each other and share stories. i wish i could do that for my Dragon. i wish i could gather people beside the ocean and build a standing stone garden; balance rocks on top of each other into sentinels by the water's edge and then have one large one with his name carved into it. my Dragon, carved in stone for all time.

i wish i could tell you the stories that made up his life. i wish i could tell you what he did when he was away on a mission. he lived a life in the shadows but always dreamed of the light. he wanted absolution for the "sins", he called them, that were committed in the name of God and country and patriotism. he did dangerous work for very low pay and always knew no one could ever know. he knew his life's work would forever remain a secret, but he did tell me some things. he was careful. he chose his words so that even i do not know everything, but i know what spending that time in the darkness cost him. i know he had his moments when he dreamed that his sacrifices would be allowed to be known, that he would get credit for what he did. and when the job ended, when he came back from his last mission and the bullets stopped flying, he told me that at least i knew him. he said, "you know what i did and why i did it. you know what it cost me. that's more than i ever thought i'd get. i love you for taking on the burden of my life. i love you. i feel safe with you."

so i cannot ever tell you what he did. i cannot have a big memorial service for him. the few men he did know and trusted are either dead or retired to other places and must remain anonymous. no one would come. they would simply honor him by raising a drink, not to the sun, but to the darkness where they spent so much of their time. if i managed to get anyone else to come, i could only stand there and say, "he is my Dragon. he is a great man. and i miss him." such a short testimonial for a life i knew to be legendary. and my own stories of him? you never met him. it would simply be a story about a man you never knew.

and now, with Brick's death, i no longer have his stories about their times together. my friend has died; honorably, heroically, but still, he has been taken away from this world and it has wounded me. i never met the man. we talked on the phone. he had a sixth sense about calling me. "i just read your blog" or "you sound down on Facebook, talk to me. what's going on?" then he would say, "want to hear a story?" he was kind. he honored my Dragon by checking up on me, never being flirty, always respectful. he maintained the boundary of "widow of my brother." he was my friend and i am better for having gotten to know him as i had, and the world is less for his death. he was killed in a fire fight with Somali pirates and i was told his death was instantaneous. a blessing. like my Dragon, Brick was not the kind of man to probably do well lingering. i pray he closed his eyes for the last time here and opened them with my Dragon reaching out a hand to him.

730 days and nights without my Dragon. i honestly do not know how i am doing it. how am i breathing? how am i laughing? having Bunny as my alter ego and taking her photograph amuses me. making bunnies and bears and tigers at work helps. sewing quilts for others helps a great deal. i can do something unique that i have really not seen very many other places. i have a little bit of a purpose.

730 days and nights.

i cling to two things, two signs that i do not know if they are signs from him or i simply want them to be. one was a radio that never played, that was not even plugged in, popping on at 12:03 AM exactly 24 hours after my Dragon died. it was playing the chorus from Sarah McLachlin's "Angel." "in the arms of the angel far away from here......" at first it terrified my children and i. it broke me down. it was the first time since i was told they could not save him, that he had died, that i sobbed uncontrollably. now i do not know if i should look to it for comfort. i do not know what to do about it, and yet, i cling to it because it was so mysterious.

the other sign was when my daughter and i were driving the U-Haul across the state line into the state i now live in. i was teary. i was saying, "he won't know where i am." my daughter was trying to comfort me saying, "mom, if anyone can find you, it's {Dragon}. he loves you. he'll find you." we were quiet for a moment and then she gasped. she pointed to the sky and there was a heart cloud. a perfect heart cloud floating over the mountains. she said, "see, i told you he knows where you are. you haven't lost him. he's with you. he'll be with you always."

have i mentioned that i was his shadow and he was mine?
i can no more imagine my life without him here beside me than you can conceive of a quiet little girl absolutely terrified of her mother, yet both those things have happened. both those things are true.

i hurt so much some times i pretend he is simply away on a mission and will come back to me soon. it is a bold faced lie that i tell myself to try and quiet my aching soul, much like a child telling herself after a severe punishment, "mommy loves me." i absolutely will myself to believe it. it helps that i believe i will see him again. one of the perks of having my car, Midnight, now is that i can return to Church. i can go every Sunday and, as some people have told me, "fill my head with that useless drivel that there is a God and He cares about you." there is one person in particular i would like to ask this of: how can you be so very angry at someone you do not believe is real?

730 days and nights without him and only more of the same to look forward to. but i live. i try to live well. i have recently made someone else angry with me by not being someone they wanted me to be or not being able to do something they wanted me to do. i do not know exactly what i have done wrong this time, but Christmas through Valentine's is a very bad time for me and i cannot, i no longer have the strength or energy to knock myself out anymore. i need to try to keep myself healthy so i can keep working both jobs. i need to make ends meet. i need to survive.

i still love him. i am still so very much in love with him. nothing has lessened those feelings. nothing has changed. i do see him, faults and all, and i love him. he is most definitely on a pedestal, but if you knew what i knew; if you had seen the artwork of scars on his body and watched me nurse him when he came back to me all shot up, you would not begrudge me my hero worship of him. he is my Dragon and i adore him.
this face. how can i go through another day not being able to walk over to him and kiss him?

my dearest Dragon, my heart, i think i will always remember you outdoors; the wind blowing, the gulls crying overhead, the sounds of the waves against the rock, and the awe in your face as you looked out at the majesty of the sanctuary that God has created by the ocean's edge. i will die loving you.


judemiller1 said...

You have just shared Dragon's memorial with us. Such a beautiful tribute and one I feel deeply at this time in my life. Because you and I have much the same past--it is wonderful to have finally found real love and it is cruel to have it taken so quickly.

Dan, in real time. said...

I agree with Jude, this is a beautiful tribute. It is built with your love and devotion. You don't need grand walls, with words permanently chiseled into stone. You don't need large crowds gathered. All you need is your voice, singing his praises, which will be carried in the wind, across the sea, and up toward that big presence of a moon. With each full moon, your tribute stands tall, and glows for all of us to see.

What a wonderful love story.

Sandy said...

I also agree. This was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. In a way it enables us to get to know him a little bit.

J-in-Wales said...

It is impossible, isn't it, to comprehend how those minutes become hours become days become weeks become months and then - incredibly - become years. It is impossible to believe that they haven't been here for all that time. I do the pretending he is away working thing often. It works for a short while, and I think we deserve a little pretence now and again.

Your words are so beautiful and give a real sense of a man it would have been a privilege to know. I wish you strength to get through these next few days.

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