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.

Friday, December 23, 2011

suicide and hope ~ opposites sides of the same coin

when i wrote my last posting, i was in shock. Christmas with my daughter is not exactly as i would like it, but there was another thing that happened that day. i received a phone call that morning from the son of a woman i have be building a friendship with.

she is close to me in age. 2 years older. she is widowed. 3 years in January. her children are grown. so are mine. i work a lot but we have been speaking, meeting every once in a while for lunch when i can pay for mine. she had been kind to me when i lost my Church widow friend to the sudden heart attack.

the phone call early Tuesday morning was to tell me that she had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and had passed quietly during the night. her son is devastated. so am i.

i knew she was hurting. so am i. i knew she was sad. so am i. i knew she was missing him terribly. i am missing my Dragon so very much. i did not know she was thinking of taking her life.

i do not know how i missed it. her son does not know how he missed it. i went to her wake last night and i came home and cried. i have mixed feelings about this and will need to work them through in my own heart before writing more. but i just wanted to at least tell someone this. people who may feel my shock and share my sorrow, pain, intense wonder at her decision, all the questions and thoughts that cross a person's mind when they learn that .....

someone took their life because they were too sad to live.

i am sad, but the intensity she felt is not something i share with my friend. i have awe-inspiring storms that rumble and blow through my life. i get scared. i get intimidated. i get upset. it never crosses my mind to give up on living. my Dragon would be hurt and angry and devastated that i could not live without him; that his love had not made me strong, but broken me down. my children would be destroyed.
and in thinking of my own children, i would never want them to give up on life simply because i had died. oh, God, it would break my heart to see them in such despair.

i am widowed. it is still my belief that i always will be widowed. i have no interest in dating or finding anyone. but having said that, i have not given up on myself. i am eating as best i can to take care of the diabetes and high blood pressure. since May 31st, i have lost 27 pounds.
i eat healthy, inexpensive but healthy, like my friend up there. {still can't believe i got that shot just off my Dragon's and my beach where we spent so much of our time.}

i still dream. my dreams are for a small little home. humble and safe with a little garden and fence for my scotties. i'd call it Scotland Yard. just little fantasies that keep my spirit humming along. day dreams that allow my soul to feel nurtured and to let my creativity run free.
i keep up with the people i have "met" here as part of this lonely journey. Dan, Boo, Deb, SSSF, Rose, Sandy, Judy, Suzann, Lys, etc. all of you are important to me. i have lost some along the way. women for whom i wasn't enough. women who have passed ~ my Church friend who died and now this lovely, lonely lady.

we have to stay together. we must keep up with each other. some of us are flying faster than others. some of us, like me, are lolly-gagging at the back soaking up the sun while we drift along on our own little breeze. not all of us grieve the same way at the same time. that is what makes us all so wonderful.
but we must be kind to each other. we must try to stay in touch, check in every once in a while. and if we feel that one of us is in despair, then maybe we can reach out.

my last conversation with my friend who committed suicide was this:

"Bunny, i feel so lost."

"me, too, but we can be lost together. i am hoping that maybe, one day soon, maybe after this holiday season, we can sort of find our way again. it's just temporary, this being lost. it's Christmas and we feel their absence. we'll hang on together. just call me whenever you want to talk."

but she didn't call. instead, she took pills and now her son has lost both his parents. i feel for him so much. at the wake he looked like a deer in the headlights. his fiancee was right beside him. helping him. being there with him. i know she and him together will get through this.

as for me, i have lost another friend.

but i have the few that are sticking by me. today i returned home from work to an email from Dan. he is a blessing. he sent me an email that helped me and lifted my soul. Christmas can be so hard when you want things you cannot have. people like Dan who look back over their shoulders to check on us little ones; the only words are blessed. i feel humbled and grateful to say i know him and he is my friend.

Dan, thank you for being there even though you had no idea about the sad thing that had happened this week.

suicide and hope are opposites sides of the same coin. something terrible has happened that has caused you to experience a grief so profound that death has crossed your mind. you think about the afterlife. you wonder what is out there. you wonder if it is better. you wonder if you can join someone who has gone before you, your child, your mate, someone so important to you that life here has lost its color. but there are still reasons to continue to live the life that has been gifted to you. there is hope. i will never flip that coin. i will always hold it in my hand and then lay it carefully down in the center of the table. the side that has HOPE etched in it will always be shining upwards.

i pray we all hang in there. we all have so much to be grateful for. we all have someone still here who needs us, who loves us, and who waits for us to come home.
i pray that the peace that can be found at Christmas finds you all. i pray for the hope that we all need to find within reach, is right there for us to hang onto. and i wish for friends and family to surround you, even if it can only on the phone.

we are loved. we are needed. we are important.

i love you, Dragon. i am living. i am remembering you with smiles and laughter. and i will always love you. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas then and now

this story is told with old photographs. i cannot afford a camera. don't know when i'll be getting one to update you on my Bunny, on me. so i have gone back in and found old photos to explain what words cannot convey.this is me now. i am deflated. unstuffed as it were. i am a weary Bunny that life has and is kicking the stuffing out of.

this was Christmas before. i got to be with my children. in fact, that Santa is me. my children did not know it was me. i had a wonderful time. i used to love Christmas. i still do but it's more of a Whoville without the presents kind of feeling.
Christmas is sacred and i won't impose my beliefs on you.

Christmas now is like below. i get back from work and i am wiped out. yet i still have to get back up after a brief break and get to work. and now a phone call tonight just blew my Christmas apart again.
i do not know when i will ever get my son to come to me for Christmas. his father, and now this year his girlfriend, commandeer Christmas and i never get to be with him. years like this. years. i feel smaller and smaller each year. he admitted to me that he hates it being this way but he knows i love him and always will. he trusts me, he said, and hates hurting me but he knows i will never hold this against him. he goes with the person and to the person who can hurt him if he does not cooperate.

so the phone call tonight that has further taken Christmas away? my daughter and son-in-law have to go to his mother's for Christmas. my daughter had to tell her that i needed to be invited otherwise i would not get to see them at all. i would be alone on Christmas. so i was grudgingly invited.

i did not cry on the phone. my daughter wants to see me and i want to see her. my work schedule has been such that i have not gotten to see her in 2 weeks. so i am going in my own car so that when it gets too tense, i will leave. it is this other woman's house and she is very much Queen. it will be her family around and i quite simply will not exist.

one day a year. Christmas. and i put so much in store on it. and i keep bowing my head to make sure my children are not under any more pressure than they already are. but i am getting older. i feel older. i feel tired. i simply want one Christmas. just one. one more. that's all. one to remember forever. one where there is no pain, no pressure, no being so alone that i feel like the whole world died instead of just my husband who would do anything for me.

i just want one Christmas.

but i have my pack. a new Three Musketeers has evolved from the ashes.
Scootie Wootums, me, and Carmen Sophia. we are a pack. they love me. they trust me. i can be angry and they come to me. i can walk in the door deflated and beaten down in spirit, and they believe in me. i can be sick and they never leave my side. i see their loyalty. i watched them mourn, and still mourn, our Dragon. Scootie still goes to the closet to get his shoe to lay on the floor with his nose inside it. and Carmen puts her paw on it laying side-by-side. they miss him as i do. together in bed, they stretch out beside me so that, if i need to get up for a drink or to go to the rest room, they follow me. then we get snuggled back together. they are with me in this tiny place no matter what part of the apartment i go to. they lay on the bath mat when i take a shower.

they do not worry how they look or how they will be perceived. they mourn and they feel joy in the day. both emotions so close together. they are in touch with their feelings to a degree that we as humans fight against and probably shouldn't. they miss our Dragon but they are happy to be with me. their dejection when i have to leave for work breaks my heart. they seem to understand when i say, "i have tomorrow off!" they are thrilled. this is not appreciation for m as their caretaker. i truly believe they love me. me. me as i am. me. imperfections and all. me. tired and broken and deflated,

and unstuffed. they love me. and i love them.

and we love Dragon who is not here.
maybe i don't get to have Christmas because i am not really home. i haven't been home in years. i am not where i should be. i am not a family. well, i am a family of 1, or 3 if you let me count my dogs.

but my children have other people in their lives they have to appease. it just seems a shame that these people have to BE appeased.

it is my gift to them to not demand to be appeased. i have no hoops for them to jump through. i do not snap my fingers. i love my children and just want to be with them when they are free to be with me.

but i wonder where home is? Dragon? will home one day be with you? or will i be lost to the darkness still? will i be doomed to forever roam, never having a true home? will i ever feel safe and at peace? at least i know one thing for sure. Scootie Wootums and Carmen Sophia will probably wait for me and follow me into the dark, or the light, or whatever waits a deflated, unstuffed, unimportant Bunny like me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

being Bunny

when i sit and ponder my life, assess my character and/or lack of character, i truly see myself as i am. i have no illusions that i am this cool person that people love to know. i have no bag of tricks or endearing quality that keeps people close to me. what i do have is the ability to read people and adapt myself into being what they want and need of me at that time. what i do have is a wicked sense of humor that i seldom share because, as my Dragon once told me when i asked him, "you are razor sharp and your wit is dry. i love it, but then i survived Marine boot camp. i love a woman i have to run to keep up with. lots of big words, babe. very sexy. now let's get those clothes off and you can use those big words on me."

i carry a lot of baggage; i admit that. growing up deathly afraid of my mother, becoming afraid of my first husband, being the way i am {being born a Bunny of a person} and living a life of emotional poverty, and now financial poverty, has weighed on me. it makes a person a little more fragile. it also turns them into survivors grateful for any minute blessing. i found the love of my own person infinity so late. then seeing him die, working on him to get him to breathe, then seeing that spark that made him my love, that light in his eyes, the recognition of this world fade away; it ripped me apart. so yes, i carry a lot of things within my soul.

when i was a little girl, i dreamed of where i would live and how life would be. my dreams were fanciful to say the least.
yeah, my place was the stuff of childish wishes and fairy dust and warm starry night skies.

as i got older, i dreamed of living in an old home, saving it, and filling it with equally old things. not expensive treasures but with things tossed aside, comfortable things, and things that i had made like stained glass. i'd have a lot of wood in my home and a big stone fireplace. it was representative of my feeling unsafe and desperately needing a sanctuary to retreat to. i need warmth and space to be myself without fearing abuse in whatever form it took.
what i got was what some call a "character building" life. i learned things i never wanted to learn, things i pray my children never learn about. i learned to adapt, and to survive. but i lost so much along the way. i lost things. i lost a lot of myself. sacrifices i was willing to make for the greater good.

i lost a little dog that meant a great deal to me. DudleyLove. that's him below. i recently found all my photos of him. he was my shadow for so long. lost his ear to the cancer that finally took him from me. i laid on the floor with him his final night on this earth. the next morning, i laid on the floor at the vet's for his final breaths. it damn near killed me.
and then i lost my beloved Dragon. and i did die that night. a part of me is gone. i am not the same person at all and by that i mean i am not the person i started out to be, nor am i the person i became because of my mother, or because of Voldemort {first husband}. nor did i get the time to become the woman i was being allowed to become because of my Dragon's love. i am, once again, so very different. i wonder sometimes if God would recognize me as the child he sent to earth almost 54 years ago. but then, He's been with me every step of the way so i guess that question is moot.

i miss my Dragon. i miss missing him more than i do right now. i used to miss him more but time is taking care of the intensity. now, i simply ache for him.

i work at the Bear. i am Bunny both here and there. oh, my gosh, i'll have to turn that into a poem later on. but for now, just know that i am doing okay. {no, Bunny, it's not arrogant to say}...i am doing well at the Bear. i can connect with people. i have made a lasting impression on some who come back to see me often.

but i miss him. and i sometimes still cry. like last night. needed him so badly, but all i had was my pillow with his photo silk screened on it. so i talked to the darkness and cried for him.
but today went better. my daughter came up and helped me with some problems. see, it's been a rough almost 2 weeks. rent increase notice came and since the apartments were bought out by a big corporation, there is nothing the front office can do. but it's only a $27 increase. crap. but they are going to fix all the little problems with my apartment now. yea! and i had an issue with Time Warner Cable but my daughter took care of that. i am now paying less for my cable than i ever have before. she was awesome.

i worry about the VA dumping me because they will think i make too much money at the Bear which does not cover rent, and it's not like i shop at all for anything other than food and sewing supplies, but i do worry they will applaud my work ethic and say, "so long." so then, as my daughter says, her brother will be there for me. she said, and i quote, "you are safe, mom. you were always there, every day, for us. you still are. and now it's our turn to be there for you. it's not like you gave up on life. you work hard at the store and at your sewing business. we're here to do whatever it takes to keep you safe. just breathe."

and so that's what i am going to be doing this Christmas season, and after. during my birthday and his upcoming anniversary, the one where his soul left mine behind. i will also breathe through Valentine's Day, the anniversary of his funeral. and i will keep that as my mantra now. "just breathe." "just breathe."

and i think my Dragon will understand that i cannot cry every single day, but i do miss him every single moment of every single day. i am not ready to "move on," or "get a life." besides, i think i actually have a life. i work, i sew, i take care of myself and my little dogs. i help people. i write, i still dream. yeah, big accomplishment that one is: i still dream. my life is simply one where, if i may personify grief, i have accepted grief as a lasting companion and feel it is grieving along with me.

i will always want my Dragon. i have met men at the store. no one has risen me from the dead yet. no one, no matter how cool or unique in their own way, will match my Dragon. i am not feeling it.

and i know what you're going to say to me so don't. let me quantify my remarks with this. you do not know my Dragon and all we had between us. i will never tell you all the private stuff. you do not know our love and our life together. he was so incredible a person that even if we had only been friends, i would have been in awe of him. i used to tell him he was the guy every guy thought he was after 3 drinks. so let that one go. to me, my Dragon was and is the end-all/be-all. 'nuff said. {besides, i cannot be the only one who raises their spouses up to lofty pedestals. we all know what we had. leave us to our glorious memories.}
so i am going to "just breathe" my way along this life. i am humbly grateful for anything i get and everything i have. i mean, after all, how many people get to BE Bunny?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

winter feelings

the song that starts off this blog is not one that particularly relates to my grief. i just like it. that's what music is for.

i miss my camera. Bunny is looking pretty cute these days with some Christmas clothes i made her but i have no way of showing you.

people are so strange at work. they are either decent and fun or they are obnoxious and greedy and arrogant. there is no in-between. i was doing a heart ceremony for a little girl when a man in his 60's, very well-dressed, put his arrogant, self-entitled hand between my face and the face of the child i was helping and snapped his arrogant, self-entitled fingers. his words to me?

"get up and come help me, NOW." yes, emphasis on the "now."

i patiently told him i would be right with him. his "BITCH!" echoed through the store as he left in a huff. my manager patted me on the back later and said i had done the right thing. you don't abandon a child mid-heart ceremony.

a child came up to me and demanded i stuff her bear. her mother apologized for her attitude. i was patient. {i am always patient.} when it came time for the heart, she reached in the bin with both hands and grabbed so many little satin hearts that quite a few fell to the floor. her mother was horrified and told her to put them all back and take only one. i encouraged her to take only one by saying that there were so many other children who will be coming and will want hearts in their bears.

"i don't care about them. they can go suck it." {she was 10. this child was 10 years old.}

her mother gasped. "if you continue to talk like that i'm not getting the bear."

"yes, you are. you always get me what i want."

and sadly, the little girl got the bear, clothes, underbears - underwear for bears, shoes, purse, a $38 pink wardrobe for the clothes, a little bear cell phone, and a backpack like i carry Bunny in.

but the bear only got one heart.

i told her she could only put one heart in the bear. i held the bear, looking at her, and speaking in a low tone. i simply said, "i need you to put back every single heart, taking only one for your bear. this is a day, just a day when your mom decided to do something nice for you. and the bear? she's not greedy. she only wants one heart. please, put them all back and just pick out one for her. that's all she wants. one heart. one little girl to take care of her."

one heart in the bear. one small conversation in a gentle voice. but the rest of the time there, the little girl was tragically greedy.

and then there was the little girl who was home "visiting" from St. Jude's Children's Hospital where she's being treated for a brain tumor. she came home to "visit" because her mother is dying of her own form of cancer and won't make it to Christmas. the family brought them in for Bunny to help them make bears. the mother put her voice on a Build-A-Sound so the little girl can take it back to St. Jude's with her. the little girl put her voice on a Build-A-Sound so her mother will have it.

and yes, i was excused for a break after they all left the store so i could go to the back room and let go a little bit, and then compose myself to get back out there.

i miss my Dragon. i miss telling him about my day. i miss his holding me and feeling his warmth.

Christmas is coming and i wish he were here.

a police officer who is assigned to the area comes to the Mall a lot to do his beat; to do a walk through. the Mall is part of his assignment. i have gotten to know him. he is my age and will retire in 2 more years he says. he found out i was a widow. he has asked me to lunch.

and i told him, "no. i'm sorry. i hope our conversations did not mislead you. but going out to lunch with you would be unfair to you. i am still in love with my husband. i'm not ready for anything beyond friendship."

he was very gracious. he told me i had not mislead him at all. he knows i wear my wedding rings. he had just asked one of the other girls because he has never seen my husband come to pick me up or even visit me during work. he had just wondered and then had become interested in me. "i see you with the customers. you're so sweet. and i see how the kids love you. i was drawn to that. and any woman who can wear a bunny on her back and carry if off like you do is worth knowing. we'll be friends. how about that?"

i agreed and we shook on it.

a few days later he brought me a slip of paper that had a quote on it he had found.

it said, "we need time to miss the people and the things we lose no matter whether the loss is temporary or permanent." this quote comes from one of my favorite people. Mister Rogers.

it was cold when he had to leave me. he went where i cannot yet go. it is getting colder again. Christmas is coming. New Year's. my birthday. then his anniversary. his. just his. the anniversary of his having to leave me.

December, January, February. one-quarter of a year to get through. me and Bunny. we'll get by.