how did i get here?

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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

the ache that lives inside me

there is an ache that has moved in. it lives inside me now. it will be there until i die.

i have known great pain in my life. i have known terror. i have lived in fear. but i have never had an ache like this. this is the ache of mourning. of grief. of loneliness for only one person. the one person i can never have again in this lifetime.

i say "in this lifetime" because if i did not add that little phrase, i would hyperventilate. i need to see it there. i need to reassure myself that i will see him again. that he is waiting for me....
maybe on the other side of my moon.

i love the moon. all of it's phases. all of the colors it can be. i love the moon. in inconstant moon that is altered and reshaped with the suns capricious whims. inconstant because that is what nature wills. like the death of my Dragon. capricious. what nature willed.

i am missing him so much since Christmas. the downfall of Bunny started with that first cough of that round of pneumonia. and then her birthday, our birthday, hers and mine. then the 2nd year milestone and Valentine's Day ~ the infamous day of hearts for some and funerals for others. and finally the crowning blow. another attack of pneumonia.

Brokedown Bunny. crying a little more these days than before.
the moon, the stars, Bunny and her Dragon. heaven and dragons and bunnies. such an odd companionship. such an odd, odd, image. and yet, for Bunny, for me, the ache that lives in my heart. the pain of searching the moon for a passing shadow of a Dragon. the pain of hoping he is waiting for me, and sometimes, God help me, sometimes being afraid he is not.

the Bun and her Great Sparkly Moon Book. the Bun and her whimsical clothes.

the Bun and her little toy Dragon. if they weren't so cute looking together it could almost make you cry.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brokedown Bunny

i have pneumonia again. and they say i also have high blood pressure that has gone untreated. i am desperately working on health insurance. i think i can get it through work. i talk to my boss tomorrow evening. please cross your fingers. otherwise i will have to find a plan i can afford before the 30 allotment of pills i do have run out.

desperation. depression. fighting against the choking waves of panic that are ebbing around me. i am scared. i find control. then i am scared again. the battle rages.

i am broken down.

"if i lived closer...."

i have written it to others who are having a hard time. it has been written to me.

i do wish there was some kind of leper colony, some kind of widow{er} community center where a widow{er} can go for help, for conversation, for company. somewhere one can go where they understand you without you having to try and talk through the sobs. where people will hold your hand and comfort you when you are afraid or so lonely you want to crawl in a corner and suck on your hair.

alas, the ones who do talk to me are miles and miles away. i write out what i feel and think here and then hit "publish." and i wait. lonely. pathetic. sad little brokedown Bunny.

i do have a new shirt i made for her. small pleasures. i take them where i can find them.
trying it on she found a little smile.

i'll get the insurance somehow. i'll get the pills. my children and i are working on this together. somehow, whatever will be will be. i'll keep crawling. i'll keep working. i'll keep sewing. but oh, Lord, right now, i am such a broken down Bunny. so lost without him to talk to. so lost without him to comfort me. so lost without him to lean on.

"but oh, the things i learned from her // when sorrow walked with me."

i have learned a lot from all this trouble. i have learned so much.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

the world that Bunny sees

Bunny, that is to say i, am a wallflower. i am one by nature, nurture, and most definitely now, by choice. i talk a lot at work. i have to. guests come in and i need to find out a little about them, gage their wants, but mostly their desires. i feed on that desire like a vampire. it’s my job. get their money for our store. but i also try to get them to get for themselves what they want. and when i do their heart ceremony, i sincerely try to make it memorable, to make the hard earned money that they are going to spend on a stuffed animal worth their while.

so i cannot help but see things that might go unnoticed in a fast paced world. yhe fast pace all comes screeching to a halt at the “Choose Me,” at the sound board, and most definitely at the stuffer where the lines can get a little long if there are larger crowds in the store.

working in the store, a lot of the time people treat Bunny, me, a little like a servant. people get used to servants. they will say and do things in front of a servant they would never do in say the check out line of the grocery store, or in front of family during holidays, or at a scout meeting or school carnival.

"it's a mad world."

this is what Bunny sees. sometimes it is warms her spirit. sometimes it frightens her soul. sometimes it breaks her heart.

"and so much pain my dazzled eyes refuse to see...."

a father came in alone a while ago and opens with his story. on December 29th he finds out from his wife of 12 years has been cheating on him. he finds out when she kicks him out of "her house" so that it "won't be weird when" her new boyfriend moves in on December 30th, just in time for her kick ass party on the 31st. this father is forced to leave his 9-year-old daughter behind. in the ensuing months, his wife is attempting to take him for everything. she wants all the money, all of it. she wants his paycheck garnered and she will put HIM on an allowance. she wants full custody of their daughter with him only getting visitation once a month. his daughter cries over it. she wants to live with him. she does not like her mother’s new boyfriend.

the father spills all this out to me. he cries in the store. i run and get him a tissue. i listen to him. i talk him into making Build-A-Bear their thing. i talk him into buying a bear and putting his voice on a build-a-sound. he buys clothes and shoes, little glasses; he makes the bear look just like him. he buys gift cards that he plans on keeping for his daughter so that when he gets her on his once a month visit, he can bring her in to the store. he likes that this can be “their thing.” he leaves a little bit relieved. i feel drained. and worried. i’ve also talked him into talking to his lawyer to see if getting his daughter a cell so that he can text her would break any of the edicts set forth by the mother.


i was the party bear for a 6-year-old’s birthday party. she had 11 guests in the 5 and 6 age range. you really need to be on your game to keep them entertained while they wait for their animal to be stuffed. two little girls got up and stood directly in front of me demanding that i stuff their bears first, before the birthday girl. they did not feel they had to wait. they said that since they were Indian, they had a higher status than anyone else. they told me their father’s family was very rich and very important back in India therefore making them certainly more important than anyone at that party. they should go first.

i said, “no. please, go and sit down.” their mother was standing there and looked a little embarrassed. she told her daughters to go and sit down. these two little girls turned and cursed her. they told her she was white and did not understand. they said they were going to tell their father on her. i interrupted their cursing their mother and asked them, “is your father or anyone in your father’s family a doctor?” no, they were in banking. i said, “so no one in your family has cured a disease? no one has helped humanity in any way other than to handle money?" the girls looked stunned. i continued. "i have just seen the two of you disrespect your mother. i see nothing here that warrants you to get special treatment. come back to a party where you have helped someone or have been respectful to the mother who gave birth to you and i will make sure you go first.” they sat down. their mother thanked me later but for a couple of days after that i was stressed that their father might call to have me fired. he never did. i still work there.


i sat before a mother who smacked the back of her son’s head and told him he was stupid. it was because he wanted his bear to say “i love you” rather than have the roar put in. he didn’t like the roar. his mother made him get the roar.


i have stood before a mother who took an already stuffed tiger out of her 2-year-old son’s hands and told him he was too bad to have it. she told him he would “probably kill it. you’re that bad. you're stupid and bad.” she thrust the tiger into my arms and said, “take it back. he doesn’t deserve this.” the now sobbing child’s offense? he had accidently stepped on her foot that was wearing a very pretty sandal. she said it hurt and he probably messed up her expensive pedicure.


a mother took her 3-year-old out of his stroller and let him walk around the store. she stood in line at the stuffer. there was a lot of people in the store. suddenly this mother shrieked! “where’s Toby? where the fuck is my son? there are too many GD people in this fucking store! everyone get the fuck out so i can find my son!”

he was in his father’s arms not two feet from this woman. when the man got his wife to calm down and see that he was standing right there with their son she took the child from his father’s arms and said, “you fucking asshole! he needs to walk around.” she put her son back on the floor where he immediately went to his father to be picked up. she smacked her son’s bottom, hard, and pushed him away from them. “he needs to learn independence. stop picking him the fuck up!” as a collective, everyone in the store shook their heads.

i miss you, Dragon. i really would like to talk to you about some of this stuff. just to sit in your lap and talk it all away.

so many stories i could tell, but i will close this with one.

a woman came in on the 2 year anniversary of my Dragon’s death. i worked that day. no one knew what that day meant to me. no one knew that inside i was struggling to breathe. the woman had her two daughters with her, 9 and 13. she wanted to buy a bear for each of them. there was something about the woman that was off. i sensed her disquiet. nothing she said. nothing on her face. she was loving and smiling, laughing with her daughters. girls day out.

i mentioned that maybe she would like to put her voice on a build-a-sound for each of the bears, that way her daughters would always have her voice with them. her face brightened, but still had an inscrutable quality to it. she wanted to do that so i took her off to the side, to a part of the store where it was quieter. she said to each of her daughter’s, “Mommy loves you so much. I will always be with you.” it hit me like a ton of bricks.

we stuffed the bears and put in what i call the “thumpy-thumpy heartbeat.” it is a little red heart that, when you press it, thumps for about 5 beats. it’s cool if you like the realism. i did a very poignant heart ceremony, more emotion than even i usually do. i felt i needed to.

when her daughters ran off to give their bears an “air bath,” the mother thanked me, hugged me and started to get very teary. she said, “the girls don’t know it yet, but i have to go back in for more breast cancer surgery. it will be the third time. i just don’t know. but thank you for this day. thank you for talking me into putting my voice in those bears. thank you so much for that heart ceremony.”

about 5 weeks later, their father came in to see me one day when i wasn’t working. he asked for my schedule. he wanted to talk only to me. no one knew why. he was very serious. everyone thought he was mad at me. so we waited for him to come in. when he walked in there was no other guest in the store. his eyes scanned us bear associates and his eyes stopped on me. he saw me with Bunny on my back. he walked up to the counter and said, “you did something extraordinary for my family. those bears, my wife was the one who went in for more cancer surgery. those bears mean everything to my girls now. my wife died on the table. i just wanted you to know that your talking to my wife, listening to her, it meant so much to her. my girls won’t let go of those bears except to go to school. i was wondering if i could buy more of those sound boxes and make more recordings of my wife’s voice i’ve collected. her cell phone message. from family movies. i don’t ever want my girls to not have a bear without her voice.”

i showed him how he could even make a re-recording of the one that was already in the bear, of the one she had made that day specifically for her girls. he bought 10 build-a-sounds. before he left he looked at me and said, “you understood what was happening, didn’t you? before she told you, she said you knew. what gave it away?”

i told him it was her eyes and her words. she had said, “I will always be with you.” i told him that "my husband had died and everyone tells me he will always be with me. if you say it, if you say that to someone, well, it’s not something you say unless you know you might be leaving.”

he nodded and shook my hand. “my girls and i, we’ll come back and see you soon.”

they have. i get hugs from the girls every time they come in. it also breaks my heart every time i see them. they are all hurting so badly, but then i understand that kind of pain. i understand any and every kind of pain. i see it all the time.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

life goes on but what am i?

a woman came into the store yesterday. her 77 year old mother was widowed 2o months ago. this woman misses her dad but she worries about her mother. she said to me, "you're a widow. please try to explain to me what she means when she says the nights are the hardest." this woman, the widow's daughter is my age, but this is the first time death has touched her life. she says she is trying to understand her mother but she cannot. she wants her mother to start dating. she laughed when i looked at her askance. "that's the same look my mother gives me."

so i tried to explain. from my own personal point of view.

i told her that maybe at 77, i think it is okay for her mother to not want to date. i quietly told her that her mother had been married to her husband for over 50 years and if she wants to stay home, garden a little, read, and nap that was okay. she has earned her time of rest.

i told this woman that nights were hard because a spouse gets use to the ritual of bedtime. a couple has their things they do. there is talking. there is the getting into bed and the kissing, the hand holding, the warmth. after doing that for years, to suddenly go to bed alone, it is a shock to the system and the routine. to know that if you get up in the night for a drink or to go to the bathroom, there is no voice in the dark asking if you are alright. there is no one to open the covers for you to climb back into bed and snuggle to warm up again. there is no one to listen to his or her breath in the darkness of the room.

then i told her that when a spouse dies, you are forever changed. nothing will taste the same, feel the same, look the same, and you will not react the same anymore. something very valuable has been taken from you. you want to talk about it. you do not want to talk about it. it changes with your mood and your mood changes every couple of breaths.

this woman asked me if i still cry. i looked at her. i just stood there in Build-A-Bear in my stupid khaki shorts, my denim work shirt with the lanyard around my neck that has my scissors clipped to it, and my plastic case for my photo of my Dragon and i could not speak. all i could do was try to remember how to breathe. then the woman caught her breath and said to me, "oh, my God, i am so very sorry." she touched my arm for a brief moment and said again, "oh, my God. the pain on your face. i see it on my mother's. i am so sorry. i shouldn't have asked. of course you cry. you loved him, didn't you? you are still in love with him. it doesn't just stop, does it?"

all i could manage was, "no, death does not stop someone from loving the deceased."

this woman came into the store again today. she brought her mother with her. her mother came up to me at the stuffer with Bunny. she wanted to stuff a bunny like my Bunny. she smiled at me and i knew her. i knew her eyes. without her daughter needing to be there, i could see it in her eyes. we are living through a shared pain.

i stuffed her bunny and then did a very poignant heart ceremony for her. she put one in. i put one in her bunny, too, for the memory of another widow she had connected to. her daughter was in tears, sobbing. the 77 year old widow and i? we did not cry. we smiled at each other, though i know the evidence of our loss was reflected in our eyes.

we hugged, the older widow and i. then they left.

my daughter and her husband are doing better. he has a job. he is helping her. she is happy. "mom, your talk to him shocked him. you have a way about you when you talk like that. it's your voice, your words. you don't talk long but you do go for the gut. you ripped him apart and he has straightened up and is back to the guy i fell in love with."

i'm glad for her. i want her safe and happy. they have rented a house. further away. not by much but it is a good 20 - 25 minutes away now.

life goes on. mine does not. what is going on with me right now is the way it will be until i die. get up and work. go to bed and fight to sleep. get up and work. go to bed and fight to sleep. i am the kind of person who shines in someone's life for 10 minutes to maybe 2 months tops and then i am not needed anymore. i have my online friends. i do not know what i would do without you all. i have my dogs. my children have their lives. they would be beside me in a New York minute if i needed them, so i don't abuse the privilege.

i miss him. i miss him breathing beside me. i miss talking to him. i miss his silences. i miss knowing he will be there when i wake up. i miss the companionship. i miss believing in .... something, anything, other than an existence such as i have; one of constant, never-ending work.

someday i am going to save up enough money to go to a beach somewhere. go by myself. me and the dogs. rent a small cabin. sit on the beach and just talk to him. be with him. remember him. hold myself in my arms and pretend we are still together. it will have to be timed for me to be there during a full moon. and i want to go during a warm time. i have been so cold for so long now.

i'd really rather be dreaming than be awake. it's just sleep is so hard to find.
that's something i have become a master at.
what am i? what do people see when they see me? they want the Bunny Lady for the parties because she is so much fun. i know. i was shocked to hear that, too. i've been told i am awesome. so soulful with the heart ceremonies. i am the go-to girl for kids with cancer and widows and divorced dads who have their kids only once a week. heartfelt. i understand the human condition. i think i am the girl who cried flowers.

it's a book by Jane Yolan. the story is about a woman who, when she cries, instead of tears, she cries flowers. but to cry, she must be sad. the villagers abuse her by telling her horrible sad stories so she cries flowers for them. she is pale and wan. exhausted. a man falls in love with her and she with him. they marry and he takes her further away so she can be happy. he does not want her sad. but they find her, the villagers. and while her husband is away during the day, they come to her and make her cry so they will have bouquets for weddings, and funerals, and christenings. her husband comes home early one day and finds her sobbing. he chases out the people and is angry with his wife for allowing them to be so cruel. she explains that they need her and she does not want to be mean. they want flowers. her husband is still angry and cannot understand why she lets the people use her so. she cannot understand why he cannot see that she cannot turn them away. she leaves and runs into the forest. she cries and cries, and she dies because she is so tired from her life. her husband finds her as the forest takes her body and turns her into a living tree. an olive tree. her branches reach down to her husband and form a small home for him. the fruit from her branches feed him. she shelters him. and in this way, they are together until he passes from this life. the moment he dies, she, as the tree, dies, too.

i am tired from all the crying and consoling and comforting and hearts and listening i do for everyone every day. but i am so humbly grateful for the job. tomorrow i start my training as a manager. yes, they want me to become a manager.

life goes on, but what am i? i am Bunny who keeps her silence. i am abandonedsouls sewing for everyone. i am womanNshadows who sits in the dark and misses her Dragon more than is probably good for her.

it's a process, i guess. only another widow(er) would understand.