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.

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.


Suddenwidow said...

I hear you way out here. It is a process, that is unique for all of us. But it always feels so uncomfortable and wrong, like a coat that doesn't fit. We've been thrust into a life that we don't want yet we are forced to live. Such a strange existence with no way out.

I'm so glad that your daughter and her husband are doing better. And manager training! Awesome!! I'm glad you are being valued for the amazing employee that I know you are!

Time alone on a warm beach to wrap yourself in your memories and his love...that sounds wonderful.

Praying you find some peaceful rest this week.

judemiller1 said...

What a beautiful thing you did for that widow--it brings tears to my eyes.

Yes--you must--I have told you before and you must get back to the beach.

Widow in Oz said...

Another beautiful post. You have a wonderful way with words - the kindness of your heart shimmers within these. Your encounter with the widow will provide her with much peace. Especilly loved the story of the girl who cried flowers.

Anonymous said...

I've cried so hard reading your post - cried for you and for me. I so wish something good for you - something or someone to be there for you instead of you having to be there for others. Not a replacement - not at all. Just someone or something to bring you happiness, even though I know it will never amount to the real happiness you knew with your Dragon. I know it because I've lost all that too. Hugs. Thoughts. Best wishes.

thelmaz said...

Yes, only other widows understand. How kind you were to explain widowhood to the daughter, and how lovely that the mother came to get a bunny. Take care

Dan, in real time. said...

This post was beautiful. I loved your telling of the older widow. That story resounds so clearly to me. No surprise, huh. No matter what walk of life we come from, what age, or how long we had them in our lives, being left behind is a common struggle. I so wish that it was like the non widowed think, that life gets better once we have done our obligatory grieving. How stupid, right? It doesn't, well, at least for us it doesn't seem to. I must say these past couple of days we have had some sun again, and it is definitely lifting my spirits. I hope you have a ray of sunlight in your life as well.

I too am please to hear the your daughter's relationship in in repair. Sounds like you really stepped up as the mom, and made a difference.

Much love.


womanNshadows said...

thank you all.

Suzann said...

Dearest Sister - what a lovely story of being a companion to the to the other widow - we know, we just know.

I was so stunned when I saw the title of this post as I know I made a post with the same (or very close) to this early in my 6 year blog -

You are so precious to me and your heart is pure - I hold you close each day and hope you remember that I am always here 4 am or 4 pm - or anytime at all.

Love and Hugs across the miles between. S.

Pam said...

i'm reading your new blogs now, and i can totally understand that feeling -- what am i?
the weirdest thing, after my boyfriend died, people started telling me that life goes on, my 25th birthday came along two weeks after he died. people insisted on reminding me that i was young and had lots to look forward to -- how can i explain to them how that sounds like a curse, rather than hope? if i could give the years away, i would, just to go find him again.

i've been reading through your blogs, and at least i don't feel so nutty here all by myself. nobody really gets it. people have break-ups yeah, people lose parents, yeah -- losses are losses, but they aren't quite the same. i've never felt as "at home" with anyone as i did with him. we had everything in common and this brilliant, gleaming vision of our future together; something mundane and beautiful and full of kids and happiness. and it all fell apart one day in the summer, while the sun smiled on everyone but us.

it's all i can really think about. 2 years is coming up this June, and people seem confused about why im not "better;" i don't understand their version of "better." i don't know if there is a "better" after something like this.

anyway, Bunny; i am going to bookmark your blog, because you have so many things to say that are so heartfelt and i can relate to you so well. you are a very beautiful spirit, and i'm glad to have run across you.


Katybeth said...

My husband died suddenly in June of 2009.l clicked on you blog today on Michaelmas. I was trying to help my 17 year old find an ending for his high school college essay--Life goes on. I didn't succeed but finding your blog was a blessing. ♥

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