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, March 31, 2013


 my store is closing.  they are closing my store.  that was the news i got 4 weeks ago next Thursday.  it slammed into me like a fist into my stomach.  my first thought was "no money and no health care."

i cried.  they let me go home that day because i was so very devastated.  they offered me a part time job back at the store i trained at, at that moment, i accepted.  but the next day i started looking for work.  that evening i had an interview lined up with Stride Rite - shoes.  selling bears to selling shoes.   they offered me a full time assistant manager position at a store the same long distance from my little apartment but it comes with health care so i took it.  $1 an hour less in pay.  so i took it.  because jobs are so hard to find and this one literally fell into my lap.  one week exactly from the day i heard they were closing my store, i had another job to walk into.

i was lucky and i know it.  but i am still scared.  tomorrow starts my new job.  first question?  what is the pay period?  when do i get a paycheck again?  second question?  when does health care kick in?

transitioning is so very scary for someone like me.  i'm still a Bunny of a woman.  i'm quiet.  i seldom defend myself.  case in point.  when i had to return the keys to my store, one of the part time managers at the store i returned them to told me i was crazy for accepting the job i did, that i was stupid to accept a job where i would still have to drive so far, and on and on.  what did i say in return?  nothing.  i cried and walked away.  she saw me crying.  she knew she had made me cry.  i did not look back.  what do you say to someone who points things out like that?  "is your life so miserable that you relish every opportunity to make someone cry and feel scared?  do you look in the mirror and see the monster i see inside you?"

but Bunny says nothing.  she just cries and walks away, and, of course, has yet another place and person she avoids.  such cruelty in the world.  thoughtless acts.  purposeless.
 i closed and locked the doors to my store for the last time on Good Friday.  i peeked back in and cried.  i cried for all the fuzzy friends i will not get to make.  i cried for the uncertain future i am headed into.  i cried out of fear and loneliness.  i cried all the way home.

home.  when i got home there they were.  my two friends.  they love me unrestrained.  they have no self-interests.  there is no evil in them, no malice.  they are incapable of revenge or cruelty.  dogs are "the rich man's guardian and the poor man's friend, the only creature faithful to the end."  ~ George Crabbe.
i love them.  i anticipate their greetings as i hurry up the stairs.  i open the door and sigh with relief.  i am with them again.  our little pack of three are reunited.  all is well within the sanctuary of our small little place.  we all pile on the bed and we all three sigh.  snuggle time.  cuddle time.  time to rest together.  one of our pack is now gone forever, and i know that these two will see him before i will.  but for now, we are together, and i can cry, ask them questions, "what do you think about this, or that?"  they listen with all the intensity of a worried therapist.  they lick my tears and sit on my legs trapping me, drifting off knowing that if i move, they will awaken.

transitioning is hard on them, too.  my daughter is coming over on breaks or after her own shift to walk them until my hours are figured out.  the first week i am being trained and have to drive an hour to another store and an hour back.  the company is paying for mileage but i do worry about my dogs, my friends, my babies; so my daughter is coming to walk them.    i can find comfort during the day in that.

so life has decided that i am to do something different now.  from bears to shoes.  a job of serving others.  on my knees fitting shoes to others' feet.  humble.  very humble.  i asked my children if they were ashamed that i had come to this and they said, no, that they were so very proud of me.  they felt i had earned this "move up" and they it was meant to be.  it all happened so fast and so easily.

i have no idea what lessons i am now supposed to learn and/or what i am to give to everyone now, but i guess i'll go with the flow.  i'll work, and learn, and give and give.  i'll keep my head down and work.

once i transition into this job i have made a promise to myself, set a new goal.  i want to try to be happy.  i want to try and find a way to accept this life better, be on better terms with it, because i am tired of being so afraid and so depressed.  i miss him badly.  i miss him as a friend, companion, lover, husband, as someone who truly cared about me.  i miss him, but i have to keep going and i want to do that "keep going" thing better than i have been.  fear and worry and grief have taken their toll on me.  so i am going to try to find "happy."  or i could grade on a curve and find "doin' okay."  i'd accept that.

life is a journey.  "doin' okay" first, then "happy."

and i'll take my little Carmen Sophia and Scootie Wootums along with me.  after all, "i get by with a little help from my friends."

p.s. the Veteran's Administration has approved my waiver and released me from any obligation to pay them back for their mistake.  {just keep breathing, Bunny.  for some reason that went your way.  just keep breathing.}

Sunday, March 24, 2013

the antichrist and others

my time with this job is almost at an end.  as Dickens wrote, and is oft times true, "it was the best of times.  it was the worst of times."  i met some nice people.  i have guests who come in looking for me.  i have also met some of the worst people, some of my staff included.

i have shared stories of some of these people.  here is the last.

a woman comes in with 8 children.  are they all hers?  who knows.  she sits down to text while these children systematically destroy the store.  they reach into the acrylics and threw whole bunches of clothes for the bears into the air.  they grab the skater display dog and cat and have "races."  they throw panties into the air.  they terrorize the few guests who were still in the store, too far into the process to run out.  i walk in, ready to start my shift, and see my manager and an associate NOT doing anything to stop this.  i get our birthday party bell, very loud, and ring it halting all activity in the store.  "who is with these children?"  the woman texting says, "they're with me.  they're just blowing off steam."  i tell her to get them and leave the store while she has the chance.  the chance being i am picking up the receiver and calling security.  she whistles and they all come running, continuing to tear things up as they go.  fortunate circumstance, security is right outside our doors.  the children go flooding past him but he grabs the woman and the youngest child.  he tells me to call back to security for back up.  the woman is furious and struggles.  the child screams.  i explain the situation and that 7 more children are loose in the mall.  security sends out people to cover doors.  the PA system blasts out a warning that these children are loose and destructive, and "wanted."  it was a bloody nightmare for all concerned.
and it took 3 of us 45 minutes to put the store to rights.

there is a girl, 20, who works as a part time manager.  she moved here with her sister, her sister's fiancee, and her own fiancee after the death of her mother.  she has been here for well over a year and a half.  she broke up with her fiancee and started in a lesbian relationship with her immediate supervisor.  because of this relationship, our boss moved her to my store so she could continue working for the company, but she, her lover, and our boss are treading on a minefield.  our company does not like relationships within the company being so close.  our boss is the boss over my store and the store where this girl's lover is.  not only that, but our boss is best friend's with this girl's lover.  the three of them hang out a lot outside of work.  my problem with this is the stealing of company time.  the girl, now my part time manager, is always late getting to the store, even when she's opening that day.  late, as in 15 to 20 minutes late, but our boss covers for her.  and by cover i mean she clocks her in on time so that she gets paid.  to me, and to our district manager, this is stealing money from the company.  yet if i complain or call attention to it, it is me against them.  yes i can call up the computer evidence of time being approved by our boss, but our boss has worked for the company for 6 years.  her word against mine.  it grates but there is nothing i can do.

a girl came into the store close to closing time.  the mall does not allow children to be in the mall alone after 6 pm.  she said she was not alone, that the man in the suit standing at the entrance was her driver and responsible for her.  she chose her bear, put in 3 sounds, chose a lot of clothes.  it was late and i excused myself to shut the doors.  the mall was closing.  both the girl and her driver were very correct in their behavior.  the girl said little.  he said less.  as she dressed her bear and gathered up all she had collected to purchase and started ringing her up.  it came to over $700.  yes, you read that correctly.  she pulled out a platinum card and paid for it.  it had her name on it.  she showed me her ID, not a driver's license, merely photo ID that allowed her to use the card.  4 big sacks later she was ready to go.  she only picked up her bear.  the driver came over and quietly asked, "ready to go, miss?"  "yes."  she thanked for me staying late and allowing her to shop.  she said, "i don't like being on the mall with regular people."  i smiled.  she asked, "what?"  i told her i was "regular people."  her comment?  "you're a worker bee.  i have to speak to you to get what i want.  you did a good job.  you have dignity. thank you again."  i opened the door and let her and her driver out.  she walked with a maturity i have never seen in a 10-year old.

and now for the antichrist.  this one still has me rattled.

i was alone in the store.  we do not have anyone come in to help out until 1 PM.  a woman and her 3-year old son came in.  they were buying an "i'm sorry bear" for his 9-month old brother who was in the hospital.  i asked what happened to the little one.  mom said, "Baker here had an accident and his therapist thought an 'i'm sorry' gift would help him understand he needs to set things right.  he had an accident with the iron.  i was ironing and left it to answer the phone.  Baker unplugged the iron and took it down the hall into his little brother's room and dropped it in is crib.  Ben got burned."  it was all i could do to keep my face from showing my horror at this story.  Baker stood there looking at me with eyes that held no emotion.  he scanned the bears and grabbed one.  we went to stuff it and i asked if he wanted it soft and cuddly or stuffed really full.  he reached out and pinched the hell out of my leg and said, "don't ask stupid questions."  keep in mind this child is 3-years old.  his mother clucked -- i have read that word in books all my life and never really understood it until this woman did it -- she clucked, as if this was merely a dropped towel, "oh, Baker, sweetie.  she wants to give you want you want."  hearing those words the little boy asked me, "you want to give me what i want?"  in pain, i said, "i want to stuff the bear like you would like it."  "fine.  soft."  all through the process the mother was telling Baker that the bear was for his brother.  it suddenly dawned on him as they came to pay out that this really wasn't for him.  he stood in the middle of the store and screamed in outrage.  he stopped all action of people outside the store who looked in at this child's tantrum.  his mother ran to the wall and said, "Baker, honey, i didn't know you'd be so upset.  come pick one for yourself!"  Baker cut himself off, smiled at me, and went to pick out a bear for himself.  it took me 10 minutes of adjusting the stuffing levels to make this child happy.  in the meantime i found out that this woman had had both boys by different fathers, was not married, and believed men were filthy.  but if she was to be "cursed with boys" she would "raise them right."  apparently raising them meant that Baker could do what he wanted when he wanted how he wanted.  he controlled the entire show.  his mother whispered to me, "please don't make him mad.  he'll take it out on me."  she "protects him" by locking him in his room at night so she can sleep.  she "protects him" by doing everything she can to keep him from getting mad.
as the bears were being rung out, Baker took the bear meant for his brother, held it by its legs, and starting beating it against the counter.  his voice was raspy and deep as he said, "i wish Ben would die."  he said this over and over.  his mother just smiled nervously and said, "i think someone needs a nap."  he screamed no for the longest time.  he carried that note loud and long.  a Navy SEAL would have been impressed with how long he held his breath with that word.
the mother and child left the store and i just stood there, feeling so cold inside, and worried.  in about 10 years or so, i think i might be scanning the news for the name Baker, to see if he's done anything yet with the blackness and hatred he carries inside himself.

i hold these stories inside. there is really no one to tell.  i tell my children bits and pieces but, you know, those daily things you wish to share, you share with your spouse.  "oh, my Lord, you won't believe what happened today."  and you talk.  they make you feel better.  they hug you.  they make you a hot cup of tea.  they laugh.  they comfort.  they are there.

i miss him.  with all that i am, and all that is happening to me right now, i miss him.  i do talk to him.  i do tell him all this.  there just isn't any answering voice.  there are no hot cups of tea being made for me.  and there are no hugs to be had.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Thursday's child

panic attack.  i am in the middle of one at this very moment.  i cannot get my breath.  my chest hurts.  i cannot stop crying.  i feel like i'm having a heart attack.  maybe it would be for the best if i did.  slamming pain into the chest and then gone like he was.  then all this fear and worry would be over.

i am so very scared and my typing that for you, whoever, to read; it doesn't have the impact that it does for me.  this overwhelming fear that is dragging me down into this abyss.  i've interviewed for two jobs and am waiting to hear back.  i think, i believe, i have a chance at both; one more than the other, but the waiting is killing me.

i need to know i have a job that i can transition into.  i need to survive.

there are all these quotes about finding your happiness inside yourself.  there are all these sayings about living rather than just existing.  living.  existing.  those are so far out of my reach.

i just want to survive.

where is my Dragon when i need him?

"it is darkest before the dawn." screw you whoever said that.  what if there will never be a dawn?  what if there was a child born on a Thursday - and it all came true?  "Thursday's child has far to go."

what if, for some children, dawn never comes.