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, November 27, 2011

i am at a loss.....

disclaimer: after i wrote all this down, i came back up here to write this. it is my disclaimer though not really a disclaimer as per the definition. i just wanted to say that i am fragile these days and if you feel moved to comment, please, please be nice. i would say be kind but sometimes kindness takes the form of censorship, criticism, you know that whole "cruel to be kind" thing. so don't be kind. be nice, because, as the expression goes, "i'm lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut."

i have all these ideas in swirling around in my head. creative ideas for sewing, writing, and yeah, sadly, photography. i have no time to do them. and right now, i have no camera.

i am at a loss as to what i am feeling. i do not know if anyone else out there is feeling or has felt this way. i will try to describe it, but forgive me if i cannot.

i feel at loose ends. for one thing, i have not been back to Church since the funeral Mass. and i am upset with myself. but i wake up Sunday mornings exhausted. right now i am fighting a bad head cold. i told myself this morning that i needed the sleep. but what about ...... you know, the religious stuff? after the life that i've had, the last thing i want to do is make God angry and watch Him give up on me. i don't want to go to Hell.

but i wish i could sleep all the time again. i need to work more here at the apartment but, God forgive me, i just want to curl up and sleep. i want to daydream, imagine i am with him again, and that our life is the one we dreamed of. i pull in and cuddle with the dogs and drink hot tea and just let myself go.

nothing appeals to me. food doesn't taste good. movies suck. books aren't holding my interest. i hurt all over. my foot is killing me. my knees hurt and crack and pop. my back and shoulders and neck ache. i want to save up for a massage but it would only be a one-time thing and, irrationally, i don't want to treat myself to something i can only have maybe once a year. i don't want to know how good it could feel and then walk out knowing i can't have it again until whenever i can afford it.

there are things i need like an eye exam and new glasses. i need a new split for my cracked bone foot. i need some labs done at the doctor's office. the time for script renewals will be approaching after the first of the year.

then there are the things i just want. silly things. ridiculous things. there is this pair of gloves i want. i want a new camera. i want this ring i saw that has two hearts and i could get mine and my Dragon's names engraved on the inside. see what i mean? stupid stuff and yet i tear the pages out of catalogs and magazines and tape them to the frig. i think, i'll save up. but crap, i need the glasses first, the lab work done, the doctor bill paid when i need the scripts. i'll need to renew my license plates tags thingys. money money money for things that suck. well, not suck but that aren't fun.

i want to go shopping. just shop a little. nothing wild and extravagant. i just want a little wiggle room for once. i will never get there no matter how hard i work.

i'm selling my Rudolph Build-A-Bear. this woman who is a frequent customer of mine came in looking for him. we're sold out. she was sad. she has Clarice but not Rudolph. she wants the set. all of a sudden i heard this person saying, "i have Rudolph. he even has the beautiful red velvet stable blanket. i'll sell him to you." that someone was me. i couldn't believe i said it but it was too late. the look of joy in her eyes......i have to sell my Rudolph to her.

and i mean of course i will. she needs it more than i do. i can't afford Clarice, too, and they are cute as a set. this woman has money. i'm sure she has a lovely home and a big Christmas tree to put them under. she deserves Rudolph more than i do. i gave her the price i paid for it. she's bringing the money next Friday to work. so i have my Rudolph sitting beside me wherever i am at the apartment until then, just spending time with him before he goes away.

stupid stuff like that makes me cry. i really like him. but $30 is $30. it's okay. time numbs pain, right? well, not all pain.

i miss my husband. i feel like he's fading from me. i sit and try to imagine feeling him near, or hearing his voice, remembering his mannerisms. it makes me cry because sometimes it is hard to do. and then i wonder if i am going insane because i'm really not supposed to be sitting there focusing on him like that. he's dead. i'm supposed to be living. but i'm so empty inside.

and when i'm not empty inside, i hurt. like over the camera, those gloves, Rudolph. see, the thing is this. i did without so much all my life but it never mattered before. with Voldemort, it was all about keeping the children safe and unaware of how bad bad was. then with my Dragon, sacrifices were easier. i had him. now that i am alone.........those gloves are really pretty. that ring is gorgeous. but i don't need another ring and the dollar store has gloves.

life is just not working out for me, or i am not being good girl and accepting my fate.

i feel out of sorts.

i am not sure how to make this work other than keep my head down and don't do anything stupid with my money or my time. i need to work every minute of every day or .........

or what? the time police will come and get me?

i feel like if i work constantly, maybe nothing terrible will happen to me. or if it does, i will know it wasn't my fault. if i stay quiet, work hard at all 3 jobs, take in as many hours as i can, save and never have fun, possibly i won't get into trouble anymore and no one will be mad at me. if i mostly keep my thoughts to myself, no one will criticize me. ridiculous thought since there will always be people who actively pursue criticizing others no matter what. they can't stop themselves.

case in point, i got screamed at by a woman at 6 AM on Black Friday because she misread her coupon and the items she wanted weren't free. extreme couponing gone wrong. a mall security guard walking by heard her and came into the store. my manager and i were standing there explaining why we could not let her walk out of the store. she had the items in her purse and we were not letting her leave. $11.73 that's all she needed to pay. but she refused claiming, in her mind, the coupon was written wrong. this woman claimed she had but out shopping since 10 PM Thursday night and this was her last stop. she had paid nothing in all that time and she wasn't going to pay for these bears. the security guard ended up calling for backup and took her into custody. we got our bears back. as she was dragged from the store she blamed me. "you fucking c*nt! why did you read the coupon? it would have all worked out! you're sending a mother to jail!" my manager was grateful. the DM stopped by and thanked me. i smiled and nodded and kept working. but i felt terrible. i prevented a theft of the store but i still felt ragged and raw.

i don't know where i am anymore. i cannot seem to let go of that woman's criticism.....that i'm not grieving. i go over it in my mind. she reminds me of my mother. my mother would do that to me. i would say i feel ill, she would say, "you're fine." i would have a fever. she'd send me to school. the school would send me home. she would say they were being too easy on me, that i had faked it. vomiting in the toilet, she would stand over me and say, "get it out and then i'm sending you back to school. you're just pretending to be sick. you're doing this to me on purpose." there were times when the nurse would just let me stay in her office so that i could rest.

i would clean my room, help with supper, take care of the dog, take out the trash, and all the myriad of other chores i had. if she found a chore i had not had time to do, like run the vacuum yet, she would accuse me of not loving her. "you're ungrateful and thankless and ugly on the inside. sure, do the fun jobs first. you're out of time now. go to your room."

she said i have issues. yeah, i do. health. financial. emotional. i've hit the trifecta of anguish.

am i grieving or am i being a child about this? is life too hard for me, or am i being too weak?

grief is defined as deep mental anguish. i think i am grieving. yes, i have issues, but i am also grieving the death of my husband who loved me. he loved me and there was power in that that overcame health issues, financial issues, and emotional issues. the dark wasn't so dark if he was there with me. it was warm and fairly safe, and i could close my eyes and feel his arms around me. i could talk to him and he never ever criticized. he loved my mind, my thoughts. he loved my words. he loved my touch. he thought my hair felt soft. he loved my dimples. he loved my eyes. he said my eyes held deep thoughts.

i write all the time about how much i love him. let me write this. he loved me back.

i am staring down the barrel of Christmas, the New Year, my birthday, then......

3 years without him.

i am at a loss........

i have no camera to take a photo of Bunny to show you how much of a loss i am at, or where that is, or what it looks like.

these tears i am shedding tonight for all i want and cannot have, for all i lost and want back, for him to hold me and make me feel alive again show that i still grieve.

if you feel comfortable responding, does anyone out there feel at a loss, still, at times? maybe it's the accumulation at present of so many little things going wrong. maybe it's the accompanying head cold. but i am at a loss at present.

not a moment goes by that i do not think about you, my handsome, beautiful Dragon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day 2011 ~ when everything goes wrong

she looks pretty up there, in her store-bought fancy dress and shoes. but that's it for a while. no more photos.

it's been a tough week.

first, my hair dryer died. then my heater died. then my vacuum burned out a belt. hair dryer? my daughter gave me hers. she doesn't use it. heater? can't afford another one. vacuum belt? gonna pick one up Monday.

as for a new camera? can't afford it at this time. no more photos. no more fun. no more escape for me for a while. i am very sad over this. it is just one thing, one little thing that is sort of too much.

i have been doing a lot of thinking of late. gauging how i am doing on this road that my Dragon's death has put me on. i cannot measure my own journey against anyone else's. not going to be dating. not even considering it. money is so tight; very hand-to-mouth. so many little things going wrong. money out the door that i cannot afford to spend. i had to buy a new starter for my car, Midnight. had to. need the car. i cried all night long over that one. i had thought that my own personal apocalypse with Dragon's death that life's little troubles wouldn't be a problem. but that's not true. all this has brought me down. made me feel like i have done something wrong that made these little appliances break. didn't do a good job of taking care of them.

and now my camera is forever broken. my heart hurts over this. i love taking photos of Bunny. she conveys with her poses when words fail. i feel lost.

i miss him. but i keep remembering that woman saying to me: missing him is NOT grieving.

but it feels like it; the depth that i miss him. it feels like grieving. i cry. i sigh so heavily. my want of him is so great, to have him here to talk to, to have him present in my apartment, my life; to have him waiting for me when i get back from work.

i have so many of my things back and i know how blessed i am. i do feel like i am at home and yet, this is not home. i am struggling with finding my footing. i am slow to find my way. i do not feel safe. i know my children would move Heaven and Earth to make me safe, but for some reason, i wait too long to ask. i get ashamed that i cannot make my money stretch when it is just me all by myself. but it's retail. i make so very little hourly.

this week for example. i ran out of food. i was down to bread and cheese. grilled cheese every day. one can of tuna fish that i saved for our big Wednesday before Thanksgiving for lunch at work that i ate with a fork because i ran out of bread finally. i brought food back with me from my Thanksgiving meal with my daughter. i got my paycheck Wednesday in direct deposit. making my grocery list tonight. have to be at work at 5 AM in the morning, but that means i will be out in the middle of the afternoon. i can go to the grocery store.

but i got hungry, and too low. and i got sick frequently. kept it to myself. shaky. with having to buy the starter for my car, i had nothing left over for enough food. and i think that is where i differ from some widows. i don't have enough money to survive sometimes. it is always there in front of me and it makes missing him that much harder. he always told me, "everything's going to be alright." i say it to myself, but i don't believe me sometimes.

heavy mottos i keep in my head: "be frugal." "you don't need that." "balance that account to see what is left." "don't make a move." "grit your teeth and hang on a 8 more days, until payday."

i am always eeking by by the skin of my teeth. hanging on with my bloody fingernails is a more colorful expression. but i do hang on. my Dragon would be proud of me. stiff upper lip. no one knows at work really how very hard my day-to-day life is. they do not know about this blog. and i only tell you here now because......

because i have no one else to tell. i want my children to breathe and sleep untroubled.

i will wait until it is life or death.

and the way my life has gone, that might be just around the corner. that's a terrible thing to say. see? that's how much i miss my camera. i am a little bit heartsick.

but i am grateful for what i have accomplished at work. i am so grateful to have my things back and i still weep with humble gratitude. i adore my children. i love my dogs. i like my job very much. and i got a raise. yes, Bunny was good enough to warrant a little raise.

hopefully she'll be able to save some money. maybe she'll ask Santa for a new camera.

you never can tell when the eye of the storm might pass over you and the sun come out for a short while.

keep hanging on, Bunny. remember, Dragon loves you. he didn't want to go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

to grieve or not to grieve

Bunny had herself a little debate over on Dan's blog. sort of stepped in it if you'll pardon the expression, but someone commented that there is no such thing as grief sometimes being a whole life long journey. she said we are not grieving after 6 to 15 months. anything beyond that and there are other issues not relating to the death and/or depression.

she was very adamant that newbies should not be mislead or frightened that they will feel this way for a long time. she claims she most definitely over her grief. she does not grieve for her deceased husband any longer and is happily remarried. he has been gone for 6 years. she has been remarried for over 4 of those years. she misses him but it's not grief. she said that with Dan being in a new relationship, he was no longer grieving and he needed to understand that and use the correct words. she stated that falling in love again, there are circumstances that need to be reconciled but that none of them involve grief. one of her final arguments was that, and i can only extrapolate she meant Dan words and my own comments, only presenting what she felt was a limited viewpoint was not helpful to newbies. newbies need their own kind who are right there along with them timewise with only a small pep talk here and there from those who have, i guess, been successfully finished with their grief as role models of what to aspire to.

i must be honest and admit it bothered me a little bit. she seemed rigid in her point of view. she put all her psychological eggs in one basket and the human condition seemed restricted to that one point of view. 6 - 15 months and then you are okay. George Bonanno's book "The Other Side of Sadness" was her gospel. i've read it. i wasn't impressed.

in a nutshell Bonano says we are hardwired to deal with loss and death. we are resilient and can bounce back quickly. he claims he has talked to hundreds of widows and widowers, parents whose children have died, etc. he believes grief has been misinterpreted.

i have not talked to hundreds. but i do know a handful who use the word grief to explain what they feel. they have used it beyond the 15 month finish line arbitrarily set out there. my friend whose funeral i attended last week used it at 21 years out. a gentleman who "grieved" for 35 years used it. no one corrected him or medicated him. it was acknowledged and accepted that what he felt was grief for his dead wife all his life.

i have been thinking of all of this as i sewed today. i had the day off from the Bear store and have been frantically sewing on a quilt i am crossing my fingers i finish in time for Christmas. a lot of work this one. but i think while i sew and now i have to take a break and eat something. and i thought i would talk to myself, and to you, dear reader, to see if i am wrong. maybe what i feel is not grief.

let me just bullet some simple facts.

* i still cry over him.
* i work successfully outside of my sewing here at the apartment.
* i ache sometimes with wanting him back.
* i laugh.
* i think about where he is and if he is safe in Heaven.
* i also worry that there might not really be a Heaven and like one of those episodes of "Ghost Hunters" he is stuck at the hospital or the room where he died.
* i tell jokes and interact. i am considered very witty where i work.
* i am not depressed, but i do feel sadness that all my dreams died with him.
* i smile and tease the people i work with, our guests, and am the main Party Bear at the store because i am so energetic and relate well to all age groups.
* i worry that i will not find him when i die.
* i sew for Bunny so that she looks pretty for work and for the photos i use here and on Facebook.
* i wish i had him to talk to and hold my hand and see him smile at me "that way" that made me tingle all over.
* i have no one single desire to have sex, meet anyone new, put myself out there; at least not yet. maybe never. i have no clue. but right now, i still wear my rings and strangers believe i am married.
* in my heart i feel i am grieving; the old fashioned kind that i grew up with.
* i no longer cry in public.

so am i grieving or am i finished with it and don't realize it? that was one of that woman's statements. i don't realize i am over my grief. i did feel insulted that she thinks i might not know my own heart and feelings. i was insulted that the words i personally choose are now considered wrong by "experts."

i stood my ground in the comment section of Dan's blog. i feel that we should be allowed to express ourselves as we see fit. language is so important. it is how we connect with each other.

her worry about newbies getting only one point of view seems misguided. she is presenting her point of view as the only correct one. kind of scary if you're a newbie {i hate that word} who feels like i did back then. {yes, i have re-read my blog from back then and really, only the intensity of the pain has lessened, but not my beliefs.} besides, of course newbies {still hating that word}, anyone, who reads blogs and books and listens to widow(er)s talk are getting only one side of the story. they are getting that writer's point of view. that's why libraries have so many different books. that's why there are a multitude of blogs out there. that's the beauty of differing points of view. but telling someone that they are absolutely wrong in what they feel and the words they choose to express those feelings is, at best, unkind.

i'm thinking: pick the ones that agree with your morals, your feelings, and your thoughts. pick and read and cleave to the ideas and concepts that bring you comfort and don't read the ones that don't. but do not negate what someone feels. do not condemn or criticize the words someone uses to describe their personal experience. grief is such a personal journey. it may last a week, 6 months, 15 months, or 35 years. but i do not believe anyone has the right to say, "this is the only way to grieve." or to say, "you are not grieving; you are done with it."

no one has the right to speak to someone else and use such absolutes.

'nuff said. if you wish to comment, feel free, but pretty please do so with respect. Bunny is very nervous about putting her thoughts out there. so many do criticize without realizing how much words can hurt.

and now, Bunny is going to make breakfast tacos for her supper, pull her piano shawl up around her fuzzy chin and watch some tv while she eats. then it's back to sewing.

sew, Bunny, sew. and grieve the way that feels comfortable to you.

Monday, November 7, 2011


last summer i met a woman at the Church i attend. she was sitting behind me and when we made the sign of peace, i turned to extend my hand. she shook mine with both of hers. after Mass, she and i walked out together. we stood together for a moment talking and then she said, "you're a widow. so am i, 21 years."

i said, "yes, i am, 2 years 5 months."

her smile was soft. she reached out for my hand and squeezed it. "you're so early into it. would you like to go down the street to {a little restaurant} for some breakfast?"

i have been very lonely and was happy with the idea. this started a Sunday morning routine that i looked forward to all these many weeks. i told her i was 52. she told me her age: 72. she talked to me, answering questions, sharing her story while i shared mine. we had moments where we'd cry together. she was different than a friend, more like a mother whose world knowledge exceeded mine. she guided me and helped me feel a little bit okay with where i am in my grief.

she confessed that she was still grieving. after 21 years, she still had "bad days." she said she had never been to a grief counselor, that it wasn't done back in her day. you simply were expected to accept graciously, friends would rally around you for a few weeks, but then you were left to your own counsel. she said that my lack of "fence neighbors" as she called them, and being left on my own so much made us kindred spirits.

she gave me a suggestion. at 5 years out she said she had still be "suffering," as she put it; much like i have been writing of lately. she said she sat down and wrote her own obituary. she put in it all the things she had "died" of. she said it helped her clarify what her fears were, her worries, and her sorrows so she could address them individually.

so i wrote my own obituary. she liked mine and said it was poetic.

i think i am ready to share this with anyone who might still be out there reading.

Beach Bunny, little known artist and bear builder, died last night from complications of losing her soul mate, her Dragon. she was 53 years old. soft-spoken and gentle of nature, Bunny had never been the type to go down without a struggle, but in the final days of her life, she revealed an unknown side of her psyche. this hidden, fragile side to her personality came to light as a result of blow after blow from life; medical, physical, emotional, and spiritual. sadly, it all became too much for her.

her awareness of the futility of her attempts at finding any kind of a safe life after the death of her husband forced her to her knees, awash in tears. she had fought all her life against those who would crush her. all through the years of her life she had secretly clung to the belief that sometimes life saves the best until last. when she met her Dragon, all her dreams had come true, but, alas, not for long.

her time with her Dragon was all too short and he was taken from her even as she struggled to save him. in her mind, she had failed him. in her heart, she had let him die because she was too stupid to save him. this was a belief she held even all through the final moments of her death. with the heavy blows that continued to hit her after his death, her mind, heart, and spirit continued to suffer. a few days ago, one last blow came and she realized that she may never achieve any kind of peaceful co-existence with life. she was knocked to her knees, then knocked further down into the dirt. she did not have the reserves of strength to rise again. she lay there and, ultimately, the worry and stress took her last breath as its own.

as expected, no one was present to witness the passing of this gentle little spirit.

Bunny will be missed by only a very few. it is not believed that anyone will even remark upon the passing of this little soul who lived in obscurity, who tried hard to continue on in the absence of her beloved Dragon. one has to wonder what the purpose of so quiet a life; what reason there was for her being born? she suffered at the hands of so many who were supposed to love her: mother, father, brother, first husband.... violence, deaths that left unresolved issues, unanswered questions, cruelty, lies, abuse, abandonment; it created more weight that settle upon Bunny's soft little shoulders. it was a whole world of weight that finally became more than she could carry.
she staggered under the burden, fell, and could not rise. there is always a last straw, a final blow, and it came to Bunny. there was no one nearby to help her.

what epitaph can we put on little Bunny's grave? "the deeper the sorrow, the less tongue it hath." Beach Bunny has stopped talking now.

these are all things i am going to be addressing as my life continues.

i went to Mass Sunday morning. the Priest was waiting for me. he pulled me aside and told me that the widow i spent my Sunday mornings with died Saturday night of a sudden heart attack ~ just like my Dragon.

i am going to her funeral Mass tomorrow.

what obituary would i write for her?

a small, elderly woman who lived a small life made an enormous impact on a shabby little widow Bunny. two widows who had a brief time to spend together, got the chance to not be so lonely. this elderly widow took Bunny under her wing and showed her that it was alright to grieve. she told Bunny that pain is not something to be fought against, but to let its current carry you however far it will. it is something to be learned from. this elderly widow told Bunny that "grief is a grace if one looks deep into it." this great and tiny widow embraced another widow and shared her wisdom. the pew where two widows passed a Sunday morning Mass together will now seat one solitary widow again. the memory of the other widow will be greatly honored. the loss of her is staggering and will be felt forever.

Sunday before last, as we parted in the parking lot of the restaurant down from our Church, she reached out to me and held my hands together in each one of hers and said to me: "you have made me so happy. you are such a giving person. you have listened to me as no one has since my husband died. and you let me hold your hands. no one touches widows, not enough anyway. i like that you let me hold your hands. i have been so very lonely for company and God gave me you. thank you. Bless you. see you next, Sunday."

i wish to say: no, Bless you. and God keep you close. may you already be in your husband's arms again never to part. thank you for the brief time i got to have with you. i will remember all you taught me. i will look for you in the sunlight when it shines through the stained glass windows.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


it is November. i worked late last night, just me and the manager, getting the store set with all the marketing strategies and merchandize for the coming of Christmas.

Veteran's Weekend is coming. the man who was my husband's spotter has been dead now for almost 11 months. he had kept the stories alive for me, knowing how much i needed them. i find that staring at the closing of the year is maybe one of the reasons i am low. it has been so long since i had anyone to talk to that really knew that side of my Dragon, the Marine Force Recon side of him, the side that was his hero side. and with the death of someone i had leaned on so much for their stories, i realize i will never have any fresh retellings, any little tales i haven't yet heard, ever again.

so while i am still down, suffering the same thoughts and feelings i have been writing about, i have come to realize that redundancy is boring for everyone but the sufferer so with that in mind.............

whose the pretty turkey?
creativity keeps me going. it is my own solitary grief therapy.

i love you, Dragon. i miss you.