this is not a test.

Relax.
This is just a blog post.

You’ve posted before. Over a thousand times, actually.

You’re a little rusty, sure.  It’s been over 400 days since you so much as glimpsed the internet…
but you don’t need a license to be a blogger so it’s not like you expired.  And it’s not as if they can revoke your blog if you post something foolish.

I mean.
Remember the time you posted a series of unicorns photoshopped into fine art?

Rembrandt - Danaë (loves her Unicorns)
Rembrandt – Danaë (loves her Unicorns)

Remember Brussell Crow?

Yum!
Yum!

See?

It’s just a blog post.
It’s not a test.

It doesn’t have to say all the things that need saying.  There’s time.  There’s always time for everything you need.

You can tell everyone later about how you went to state prison for over a year and experienced strange and wonderful and terrifying things.

And you will find a way to explain how you thought “I am free.” would be the biggest short story you’d ever live, but then 77 days ago, he died.

He died without you.

No one expects words to explain something so unexplainable.  Your husband dies — at 35-years-old with no warning — while you’re in prison making a cake out of creamer.  It’s impossible, but it happened and you’ve survived all 77 days of being alone and afraid.  Yes.  So far, you’ve survived being a widow.  Just like the time you survived being a felon, and being an inmate, and being a firefighter.

It’s just a label.
It’s just one more impossible lollipop you ate before breakfast.

No one is counting how many licks you took.
Blogs aren’t regulated by capricious, sugar-fiending owls.

This owl is only concerned with real lollipops.
This owl is only concerned with real lollipops.

No one is regulating at all.
No one is watching.

No one can see how many tears you’ve shed while typing, so type freely.
Cry freely.

Do all things freely because you are free.
It’s a beautiful label to wear on this beautiful day.

Take a big bite, or a small one.
Turn a big fall into a small step.
Tell a big story in a small way
because it’s your blog and you’re home free now.

You are home.
You are free.

And your readers — your blokin, your friends, your Pressers, your Best Beloveds — know the limitations of a blog and the limitations of you.

(They believe neither and accept both.)

They accept you.
As-is.

Even when you aren’t as-was, or as-could-be,
because it’s not a test.

It’s just a blog post and you are loved almost-exactly as much as you love.
(Somewhere between endlessly and infinitely.)

So relax.
Cry. Type. Blog.

Do your best.

This (life. post. step.) is not a test.

_____________________________

I’m home, Best Beloveds, and I love you.
My year has changed me, strengthened me, slowed me, and liquified me.  I am ready to start fresh here and I have a few zillion stories to tell, but first – mostly – I want to listen.

It was so very hard to hear your rawr through the locks. (Most days, I could barely hear my own.)

So, how are you? What did I miss?
Tell me everything.

321 thoughts on “this is not a test.

  1. I am so glad you’re free and writing and sharing that one-in-a-world voice, and absolutely heartbroken to hear that you’ve lost your husband. When I saw your blog pop back up with this title….and got glimpse of Brussell Crowe….I thought there would be joy afoot–and somehow there is, there wavering as a steady companion with the terrible weight of what you’ve already been through. I can’t say I know how you feel, because even though I’m a widow I don’t; I just have shared one part of one of your experiences, and wish I had one part your grace in going on. So very, beyond words, sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Steph, you’re full of grace. I am sorry you share any part of the sad experiences and I can only hope you have had full measure (or more) of the positive experiences that have also lit my way. Thank you for reading, empathizing, and reaching out– and I apologize for how long it took me to respond. *hugs*

      Like

  2. I can’t remember how I discovered your blog but it was shortly before you went to prison. i was heartbroken at the time – I just couldn’t believe how sad and unfair that was. Now here I am, a total stranger in Florida, crying into my morning coffee. You’re free. Dave is – ?!?! I can’t even process this. I love your writing and your spirit and your strength. Sending you so much light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *hugs* Some days, I can’t process it either.
      I’m sorry for how late this reply is, but I want you to know that it is genuine and true-hearted when I say I am in gratitude of your empathy and light.

      Thank you.

      Like

  3. Welcome back, Rara – I’ve missed you, and your words – and have been keeping you in my heart and prayers. Seeing your post in my email was one of the most delightful things I’ve seen in a long time. So glad you’re living your freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Katie! 😀 Ah, it’s good to see your smiling face. And it’s been so happy to see you on other social media platforms, too… it’s just… well, it’s all just so good.

      Except for the stuff that is awful, but as we always say… darkness is incapable of overcoming light. *hugs* I’m sorry for how long it took me to reply to your comment. Thank you for the welcome back. 🙂

      Like

  4. I had drifted away from your blog and then BAM! Somehow news of your incarceration drifted into sight. What?! No that can’t be right. And do you think I could find out what happened? Nope. ARGHHH. So I sent you money, sent you love and sent you prayers… and it never felt like enough. Then, suddenly, he died. WHAT? Surreal. All I could think of was you in that cell with that reality sitting there like a lump in your throat. Sometimes empathy sucks.
    Now you’re out and even more of a brilliant star and all I want to read is you. I was so scared we would lose you, that our collective love wouldn’t be enough to help you through the sucker punches.
    Grateful that somehow you did.
    (I think you somehow triggered a lot of dormant grief. Thank you?)

    Like

  5. I know we’ve already talked about this else-web, but I’m incredibly happy that you’re back in the world, and that you’re writing again. And I am so, so sorry for your loss- I know that’s an incredibly difficult thing to face. ::hugs::

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry that it took me so long to reply to this comment, and I’m sorry that you know that loss of a Big Love is so very hard to face. But I am happy that there’s an else-web where we can chat long chats, and a this-web where we can follow each other on our journies. *hugs* It’s good to be back.

      Like

  6. I was so happy to read on Facebook that your were finally physically free … because spiritually, I don’t think anyone could imprison you … and it was a pure delight when your avatar popped up in my mailbox the other day … then the shock. I’d no idea that Dave had passed away … though you’ve been in my thoughts life has taken it’s turns and bumps over here in Italy and I’d not been keeping up with your news over the past months.

    You’re indomitable spirit and your tie with Dave will surely pull you through even this … I’d wished there’d been a happy ending with you and Greyson reuniting the other day … huge hugs Rara … un abbraccio. Bastet (Georgia)

    Like

  7. I’m gonna be weird and just send you a huge, big, awkward and very tight HUG.
    It’s early over here and it’s all I can come up with at the moment, the only thing I would do if I could see you. Shut up and hug you.

    You are one strong rara.

    Like

  8. So happy to see you again, thrilled at your release, but my heart hurts so badly for your loss. Take your time and know many many people love and care for you, even in the distance of the blogosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Often the distance of the blogosphere feels closer than my closest neighbor. That’s an odd thing, isn’t it? 🙂 Thank you for the welcome back. I’m so sorry it took me this long to reply to your beautiful comment… I’ve just been a little overwhelmed lately. Things are righting themselves more and more every day, though, and I know that is in large part due to all the good wishes (like yours) coming my way.

      Thank you. 🙂

      Like

  9. Rara, this post is beautiful even in its tragedy. You’ve experienced some incredibly hard circumstances recently, but I truly believe nothing is too difficult to overcome. For anyone, but especially for someone as strong as you. Things will never be the same, but you will find a new normal. I promise.

    Like

  10. I, like so many of your dedicated audience, are so happy that you’re back, Rara. But, I truly was floored to read this post, and find out the news about your husband. I can’t imagine what you must be feeling after all you’ve been through, but I do know that writing is the best medicine.

    Wishing you healing thoughts. Can’t wait to read more from you! Welcome back!

    Like

  11. So very glad you’re out, and back, even if you’re not yet home. So deeply sorry your husband isn’t there to share it with you and make it all sparkly and wonderful and full of unicorns, the way it was supposed to be. So very much looking forward to getting to know you.

    Like

  12. Welcome back, Rara. I am deeply sorry for the loss of your husband before “his time”, wishing you to accept his passing and continue with your life, your writing and blogging as best as it can be. We are just like a big family over here. So looking forward to hearing from ya soon!

    Like

  13. I found your blog just before you left for prison, and at first I wondered if it was fiction-this prison twist-was it made up? How could this be true? But I read a bunch of your husbands posts and quickly saw it was not. His heart was in every word. I am so sorry very for your incredible loss.

    Like

  14. I’m glad you’re back Rara! I really miss you!

    I’m sorry about your husband. My deepest condolence to you my dear. I know it will take time for you to heal and I hope that you will find the strength to carry on, one day at a time. Sending you virtual hugs and love from the Philippines!

    Gee

    Like

    1. Dawn. *hugs* Thank you for the welcome back. I’m sorry for the delayed comment… and the tears. I am grateful for your companionship in my journey, my grief, and my celebration of “home”. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. The whole blogosphere was devastated for you with what you e been through. I’m so sorry. I’m so glad you’re back, and more importantly, free, but I wish I had that magic wand to make it better. Much love to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m so sorry for your husband. So young, and you not there. What must you be feeling. It must taint your freedom.

    I wish you strength and fortitude to go forwards. It seems you have both in bucket loads although we all have our frailties and fears. Little steps, I suppose, and take as much as you can from the hundreds of people who wish you well. 🙂

    Sarah
    France

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome! I promise the posts get less dramatic. This week is just an exception, ha. :). Thank you for your condolences and the reminder to take a deep breath. 🙂 I’m glad you stopped by, Jinzo.

      Like

    1. Thank you, Jenny. Any friend of the Willows 🙂 is a friend of mine. Welcome to my little space. I hope you find many more friends and adventures here. *hugs*

      Like

  17. You have great friends, fierce friends, friendly friends, loving friends. I read their words and admired the depth of their devotion the past year-plus, Rara, and lamented your absence from the us of it, and then mourned because Dave was taken from your world. My little writings and picture-taking every day go on to the best of my ability, because you asked, and I think my engagement will be better with you in the conversations.

    Like

  18. Dear, dear Rara, I was sooo excited to see you back here again and know you are free again. I was equally horrified and saddened to learn that you lost your husband. How much can one person take? Had you not had enough struggle already, I wondered… I have no words. And then your bright sparkle in the middle of it all. You are still you, Rara-you, with Rara-strength.
    I’m one of your silent followers, but believe me, your absence out here was noticed, as a very loud silence.
    I have no words, can not imagine what you are going through. I wish you strength and balance, laughter and tears among family and friends. Take good care!

    Like

    1. I was so happy to see your name pop up everywhere. :). You are a quiet reader, perhaps, but also a very familiar part of my little bloggy home. Thank you for being here now and for remembering me in the silence I left behind. *hugs*

      Like

  19. You must have a lot to say! I don’t know the whole stroy behind why you ended up in jail, but I was certainly shocked. Moreso when I learned that Dave had passed away. WTF? You have my love and best wishes moving forward. It can only get better, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don! Squee! *hugs* It’s good to see you.

      Goodness, since I took down most of my posts.. okay, all of my posts… no one really knows the full story. If you ever feel like a real time chat, I’ll tell all with case file info and all, but it’s pretty much not a story I intend to tell to the public. Making it possibly the first story-I-could-tell that I don’t-wanna-tell on the blog. Interesting! Life changes.

      Instead, I’ll just be talking about all the random stuff I learned and saw in prison, and the justice system, how I widow, and all my normal stuff, too… cats, muppets, oh you know. It’s been so long since I typed I want to type all the things.

      As to my Dave…. I still don’t know what to say about that. I can’t even figure out what facial expression I’m supposed to be wearing when I talk about it.

      But I’m mostly okay, just a little… blank.

      Thank you for the love and wishes, and support. I certainly hope it gets better!

      So what exciting things happened with you in this last year?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I look forward to your posts, particularly about prison. I know there is a lot of bad and a lot of good that happens there, so your point of view (that of a person who isn’t a career criminal) will be interesting.

        I’ve had an interesting year, blog wise. I really sort of stopped blogging regularly, and it’s been refreshing. Then a post of mine went a little bit viral and got me interested in blogging again, but it turns out that now I can’t post something unless I think it will be acceptable to read by half a million people. Lol. I’m working on it.

        I don’t really want you to tell a story you don’t want to tell. Sometimes moving on and forgetting the past is the best thing. Maybe.

        Your kindness and positivity were certainly missed, so we’re all glad to have you back.

        Like

  20. I’ve been off- blog a lot for the last year which means I hear your news in horrible out of date lumps. I hope you got my card. I hope you got all your mail from everyone who could send any, and all the loving and worried thoughts from those who couldn’t manage to write too.
    I need to read your recent posts before I start asking stuff… xxx

    Like

  21. I’m so delighted to see you in my reader! It has been awhile since I have been on and hardly posting at all, but I have anxiously been waiting your return. I had to scroll back to your first return post here so I could say hello. I am pressed for time but will return when all is quiet to catch-up. Hugs and love (( ❤ ))

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I feel ashamed that I hardly came here while you were away. I feel stupid for not being aware of your loss. I feel sorry for your loss, dear Ra. Grayson did a lot with this blog while you were away. And I didn’t even acknowledge it. I feel like I lost someone close, too. He would have been so happy to see you free. God bless his soul for loving you so much. *hugs*

    Liked by 2 people

  23. There are no words for what I felt when learning about you, and your life, as an outsider, and to now see how strong you stand and embrace what life is, in all its pain and happiness and everything in between.

    I started blogging while you were away. I am new to this whole world on WordPress, relative to others, and yet I knew your name within the first few weeks. This community pours its heart out for you, Rara, and it is an inspiring thing. I hope they (we) can see you through the tougher days, when you’re not feeling the strength of a ‘rawr’ yourself.

    May you have the time to heal, the time to soak in life when you were kept from it for so long, and then have only happiness thereafter.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I am going to say that I am very sorry that I was guilty in my beginning days of blogging of dropping in then out sporadic and all. I followed you, I remember hearing you were in prison and sent out with a group blog post a big hug and hello.
    Now, let me say I went I had to stop writing this is horrible to lose someone while “inside” let alone the love of your life.
    I am beyond sorry. You will be in my prayers and hope some special “sign” or memory will comfort you. I was surprised someone else lost a Dad who loved space since mine worked on rocket parts. If we see a falling star, we siblings and my grown kids call each other and say “he is rearranging the stars again.” 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I know I’m late to the party, welcoming you back…but here I am, waving hello, my heart in my throat reading your words.
    Thank you for being gentle with yourself, and generous enough to share with us too.

    Liked by 2 people

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