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.