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, 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.


megan said...

oh susan. The surprise of her death hit me in the gut. I'm so sorry.

Debbie said...

So sorry about the loss of your friend. I can imagine how special it was to have someone who gets it and has wisdom to share be part of your weekly life. What a blessing she was in your life.. Thank you for sharing your friendship with us.

Anonymous said...

I am a lurker who has read your stories for a couple years - I am thankful that you had this friend, sorry for her passing, hopeful that you will find another. To think a simple act of ritual made such a meaningful connection. I am sure there is another waiting just around the corner. Praying you have eyes to see so you can extend again and connect. Who knows maybe you will be the elder this time imparting wisdom for another younger widow. Nothing is wasted when are open. Peace.

Janine said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. I will offer the next Mass I attend for her soul.
God Bless.

judemiller1 said...

She was just my age! I am so glad you found each other and she could be your understanding "mother" if only for a short time. You gave her so much and made her last few months so much better. I am hoping you can find another kindred soul to share with.

thelmaz said...

I am so sorry about your dear friend. Know that your friendship made her happy and made her losses easier to bear. Thinking of you,

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