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. Oh how I’ve missed this place. You. I’ve missed you. Your absence from here was felt. And all that you have gone through was felt. Is ‘being’ felt. I’m so happy you’re ‘here’ that I can’t even formulate a thought about sharing anything!!!! It felt so good to get up this morning, start to ride my bike and go through my emails and there YOU are. Of course, the first thing to open, read. The first person to visit. Thank you for coming back to us Rara! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What the best thing to wake up too this morning!! Your wonderful post, I am sooo friggen happy to see you out and back to the blogging world so quickly. I believe you will take this blogging world back by storm and that it will be a therapy and a beginning to a great future for you.
    I was so very shocked and sad to hear of Dave’s passing, and I’m sure when you are ready you will let us know what happened. I look forward to reading and catching up with you!!
    Yaaayyyyy, you did it girl, you got this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RaRa,

    I see this light that continues to shine despite all of it and you fill me with wonder. Your beauty endures beyond beyond somehow. Congratulations on remaining so full of energy that delights alongside of your loss, I’ve been out of touch this year and didn’t know your husband…words have escaped me until reading you here.

    Welcome back Love,

    RR

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RR, thank you for this comment and I am so very sorry it took me so long to reply. I read it when you posted it, of course, and absorbed it, but … I have been being gentle with myself. (Read; allowing laziness. Haha!)

      Thank you for your condolences and your welcome back. I appreciate it … so much. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh God, Rara. I have been looking forward to your freedom post for so long, I just didn’t expect it to be stained with sadness. I am heartbroken for you, just as the rest of the blogging community. When you want to rant, rave or cry remember that we are all here for you. You’re home now and we love you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lucy!! Thank you. I apologize for how long it took me to reply. I’ve had to take everything in such babysteps… it’s almost as silly as it is sad.

      Thank you for being here. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. So glad to see you back Rara. All I want to say is that you have been blessed with an indomitable, generous and a forgiving spirit. Keep on believing in love, and love for humanity. It would seems so paltry and indeed unfeeling even to say that David is at rest, knowing how you grieve for him. But he is my dear. 🙂

    I thank God that you are surrounded by such a loving community of bloggers. We love you Rara. It is well. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, chica… all is well. I mean, it’s all a mess, haha… but somehow, it’s all well, too. I can feel it. Thank you for reading and.. thank you in advance for your forgiveness of my slow reply. I am running, and walking, and crawling all at once it seems. *hugs* Thank you for being part of this little village still. I have missed you!

      Like

  6. Rara!!!

    I did a double take when I saw you post on IG and I did a double take this morning when I saw your name in my inbox! I want to hug my laptop. It’s so good to read/see/hear from you. And I am so sorry for all that you’ve been through.

    In the time you’ve been away, I’ve met two cool local bloggers and we immediately clicked….we’ve been friends since. We just came back from our first BlogHer conference and it was freaking awesome. I met some of my favourite bloggers over the weekend. And I hope you believe me when I say this…I was like it’s July 18th…Rara gets out today. And I couldn’t help think about what it would have been like…if I saw you at that conference. Anyways…all this too say…you were terribly missed.

    And I cannot wait to hear all your stories. ALL OF THEM…good, bad, sad, and indiiferent. ALL.

    Sending you some sunshine from Trinidad (even though it’s a bit overcast today).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so excited to see you went to BlogHer and and I’m so glad you’ve met some bloggers in real like. Blog family — blokin — is a WONDERFUL. Thank you for the hugs you sent me all the way from Trinidad… they kept me warm.

      Thank you for being here and thank you for making me so very excited to be here too. I’m sorry it took me so long to reply. I’m still getting the hang of all this once again. 🙂 xo!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have wanted to send a billion messages of love and support, fretting from afar even while grateful for your freedom and knowing your knack for finding silver.

    I’ve only barely restrained myself sending all those messages. I’ve already said what I can and, beside, you have other things to do and feel without a new kind of crowding.

    It’s so good to see you here. Better than I could possibly explain.

    There were heartbreaking hours-days behind and there will be heartbreaking hours-days ahead, but they will be silver hours-days, too, so very full of love.

    The boys are all snoring, but they’d send their love, too, if they were awake. I will send it for them; they don’t need to tell me of it again for me to feel its warmth even through their slumber.

    Much love, lady. So much love.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Deb. I don’t know what I would’ve done without you on this last stretch of my journey. I am grateful. For you, and your marvelous boys. *hugs* I’ll see you soon. (Sorry this reply is so late. I think I maybe took too big of a bite this last week. 😀 )

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Drali. I was a little horrified that it took me 12 days to reply to these comments, but then I re-read yours and felt better. Yes. There’s so much to say. So much to ask.

      I’m feeling more ready now than when I posted this, but I couldn’t have NOT posted this. You guys were part of my welcome-home-celebration. 🙂 *hugs* I have missed you. Thank you for welcoming me back. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for condolences on my loss, and your celebrations of my gains. Small steps is my mantra lately… and the reason I am so dreadfully late in responding to this comment. Thank you for taking the time to read, and welcome me back. I am so very thankful. 🙂

      Like

        1. It’s getting there. Mostly it was my head getting straight that needed to happen, and it’s really close to there. The other details– living, cats, work, probation– are still working themselves out. But I finally, as of just maybe hours ago, feel like I can mentally/emotionally handle all this now.

          So I call that winning. Haha! 🙂
          How are you?

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Alice. I’m super-late to this comment. (I fear I’ll be apologize on that score for awhile, as I settle back in slowly.) I just wanted to make sure I said thank you. Also… *huggles* 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello there,
    I am typing through tears after reading your post and I don’t even know you ( yet). My WP family loves you so I love you too!

    Welcome home, Be you, be free, just breathe and be.

    peace, litebeing ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On my locker on A-Yard, someone had scratched in “Just one day. Just breathe. Just believe.” I keep that in my heart. Thank you for being here, Lite, and for being so patient with me as I reply to comments slowly and respond to life haltingly. I appreciate you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Dear Beautiful Rara ~

    It has been a very long while since I’ve posted, or even checked in to WordPress, yet today when my email told me of your post, I clicked over to read… and so glad I did. Leaky eyes and a crack in my heart as I read, and then the crack widened so that my heart could sink, not in a bad way, rather a sinking in to the eternal depth of love that is our miracle.

    Recently, I heard John Powell talk about belonging, and he said something that rings true… that suffering is not a guarantee of love, but love is a guarantee of suffering. That’s the place where we connect, where we find out that we belong to one another, and I think, the place where we find grace in the worst of circumstances.

    In the depth of my heart, in the place where shared suffering lightens the load, my heart holds you, and it also holds the blogging community that holds you, and I bow to your strength, and to the strength of the community, and to your great love.

    hugs and rawrs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Amy. Thank you for this lovely comment. It has taken me so long to reply because, well. I haven’t quite got a grip of words yet. That’s so silly sounding, I know… I’ve used words nearly my whole life and 15 months without full range of them shouldn’t have diminished it, but it did.

      Love and suffering are, indeed, intertwined. One thing I learned in prison is to be grateful for the feeling of loss because I had something to lose… and not everyone did.

      I bow to you right back. Thank you for the hugs and the rawrs.
      (And let’s see what we can do about getting you back in blog, 😉 I miss you! )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, words. Sometimes they are there and sometimes they are not…. I often feel as if I never quite have a grip on them, even when I’ve been using them regularly! So often, words seem so inadequate, slippery maybe,even when its all we have. So no, doesn’t sound silly to me at all.
        I’ve been thinking about returning to the blog… and will get there eventually. I’m always here, even when I’m not. 😉
        big love

        Like

  10. Oh my GOD! My dear sweet RaRa. I have been so praying for you. I am crying such happy and sad tears right now. I am carrying you in my heart! What more can I say. I hope you have been getting the angels I have been sending you because I have been remiss in sending you letters. I so wish so much didn’t separate us so I could hold you in my arms and give you a big hug.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JuJu. Thank you for your angels, and the hugs-from-afar. Thank you for texting me. Thank you for … just being awesome. 🙂

      I’m sorry this reply is so late in coming. It’s because I’m still righting my world, but please know… you are loved. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh the smiles! Oh the tears! And Jane is hopping up and down next to me because she wants to see your little video on Instagram again!

    Our news of the day is that my cousin came to visit and showed us how to ice dye clothing. We no longer have anything white in our house, including my fingers!

    But the big news of the day is my favorite little dino picture keeps popping up on the internet everywhere! 🙂

    And so…

    HI!

    It’s good to have you back!

    (insert more smiles, and more tears…)

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Jessie. We’ve come a looooong way. 😀 I saw the ice dying… did I miss the final product? 🙂 It’s so good to be back and to be able to text you and email you all the things whenever I want. And the box of goodies, *huge smiles* I still wear the beads everywhere and I just had honey with my pancakes this morning. I’m gonna take a picture of all your letters in a stack once I get them sorted. *hugs* I am so thankful for you…. and your whole beautiful family.

      Like

      1. Well when you say it all like that life sounds pretty good! 🙂 I have to be sure to tell the girls you are still wearing the beads as that was completely their idea!
        Ice dying results (and me doing a handstand 🙂 ) can be found on my Behind the Willows facebook page which I have a love/hate relationship with. https://www.facebook.com/behindthewillows/photos/pcb.424941041027295/424940961027303/?type=1&theater

        *hugs* to you. Thanks for coming back to us! 🙂 🙂 🙂 (Is three too much? Nah, it should be four.)
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Like

  12. I haven’t read your blog for ages and ages but moreso in the last 6 months and I’m so sorry about your husband. I can’t imagine how that must have been for you while you were in there.

    I’m so glad to hear/see the words you write, because they mean you are free. What an incredible/happy/sad thing that must be.

    I send you much light and strength.

    xo

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Our hearts all broke for you so many times, I can’t even find words to express how I feel about what you’ve had, still have, to deal with. So happy to see you back in blogland, I know there will be much laughter and much tears as you share your stories. We’re listening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Vanessa-Jane. I’m so excited to be able to listen, too. That’s always more fun than writing, ha! I have so much catching up to do. I’ve been ghosting everyone’s blogs all day… oh it’s so good to be home. 🙂 *hugs*

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Lovely to see you again here Rara. You’re special and you’re strong. And do loving. One day you’ll notice you will be able to plan for the day, then for a week … Life will find its rhythm again. And we’re all here loving you. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One step, one breath. Got it. Now I just need someone to walk behind me and whisper that, ha! I keep forgetting and then I trip on my own feet and choke on my own breath. A chica, this is… Hard.

      Thank you for the welcome back. Its so very good to see you.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Rara, I found your blog after you had gone away and read it from start to pause. I’m happy that you’ve been released, but so sorry about your husband. All the platitudes in the world won’t make it any better – but do keep writing – it helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Woot! You are back! Fantastic! And excellwnt, and missed you, and missed your posts, wit, your Dino – everythingness, new word, why not?
    I am so sorry for your loss, cannot fathom really. I tried piecing it together from snippets I heard and looking for his blog, finally put two and two together and still unreal. :HUGS:
    I look forward to your writing again here in the he blogsphere. Welcome back and many blessings 🙂

    Like

  17. I’m so happy to see you back, Rara! (I’ve really missed getting jealous of your turns of phrase.)

    I know I never wrote to you in the last year (I thought about it a hundred times, but never knew quite what to say) but I’ve been so grateful to DJ and the others who kept us all updated on how you were doing. It was good to know that you were still somewhere being a smile and a shoulder to whoever the world placed you next to. I’m sorry that the world hasn’t paid you back in kind.

    I don’t know what to say about what’s been going on here. I was the Maid of Honor in my sister’s wedding, I’m getting ready to move thousands of miles from home, and two weeks from now I’ll have posted on my blog for 700 days in a row. (That seems like a too-short summary of the last year, but somehow it does hit the highlights.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The wedding was beautiful. 🙂 It was quiet and sweet and perfectly fitted to the bride and groom.

        And oddly enough, I’m headed to southern California. I got an offer to share an apartment that I just couldn’t turn down. I just got back from visiting the new roommates and seeing the place, and now I have to get ready to go.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I should be there late September, or early October (I’m still getting the details nailed down). I’ll be in Lancaster, CA (which is about an hour north of LA, with traffic). And I would absolutely love to meet up with you!

            Like

  18. Rawr. I am so sorry. It’s as if George R R Martin is writing your life.
    I only got to send you one letter while you were away – I got the message that you couldn’t afford stamps to send things back. I should have sent them anyway, without reply. I’m sorry.

    I imagine it’ll take a while to build things back up, especially as you have so much more to deal with now. Take your time. We’re all here for you and we all love you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I finally figured out the letter thing, but it took nearly my entire journey, ha. :). Thank you for writing when you did, and reading now, and for offering a hand of strength both times. I appreciate it. 🙂

      Like

  19. So happy to see your little rawr face popping up here again. There was never any possibility of you being forgotten, just loved and missed while we followed your story. ❤️❤️ Hugs for all you’ve been through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Thank you. In my little rawrLove book, you said something along the lines of … not being worried about not being Rarasaur on my return, because I could hardly be anyone else. I can’t tell you how comforting those words were to me. I read them many times, from many different bunks and cells. I am thankful for you. *hugs* I’m sorry it took me so long to get to your comment. I just sort of pooped out on the emotions of returning. I’m feeling nearly full force again, though– watch out, world. 😉

      Like

  20. I’m glad you have the strength to face your challenges and become stronger. I hope bright things will open up in your future. Perseverance opens a lot doors by itself, no matter what we face.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Welcome back. We had just met before you went away (two words that convey so much, I suppose). You may remember be (or not) as Helena. See, we’d just gotten to chatting, and then you were gone. I didn’t know you like others did, and so it didn’t feel right to me to reach out, to say anything. It would have been just air from a stranger. Since then, I’ve seen the outpouring of love from your friends, and it’s touched me. I am terribly sorry for the loss, and the fact that I felt some of that pain and got teary-eyed when your husband died, says so much about the people around you who love you.
    What’s that? I don’t look like a Helena?
    Yeah, a lot’s happened with me, too.
    Again, welcome back — I hope that you find your place again in the world sooner than later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. HK, I am sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to this. I don’t even have a real explanation for my slowness. I felt like I could tackle some things, and just couldn’t do other things… with no rhyme or reason or pattern of note. 🙂 I’ve been reading up on your “transformation”… 😀 You’ve had an eventful year, as well!

      Thank you for the welcome back. I appreciate it. 🙂

      Like

  22. An elephant sits on my chest and breathing is impossible. My heart goes out to you and I wish that this life time and time itself had been kinder.

    I am so sorry for your loss, and all the losses and stumbles that come with it. I am sorry you lost him, sorry for the 77 days of pain and the days that come and go as time in its totality eventually brings some peace. Eventually, but never soon enough.

    Do you have a raracat? Or a rarapuppy? I would love you to have a rarapuppy to keep your heart warm and loved at all times…. Sending Love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amber, thank you. *hugs* I’m sorry this reply is so late. I can hardly believe I let 11 days pass. My mission to take things tiny step by tiny step has caused quite a few things to fall between the cracks.

      I do have a raracat… two, actually, but I will more than likely not be able to keep them. I am trying. Thank you for the empathy, support, and strength. I value it all… and you… so very much. 🙂

      Like

  23. Aw Rawr. What to say? I “liked” the post because I was so overjoyed to know you were free. But so saddened to hear of the loss of your husband. Yet here you are rising from the ashes, starting anew in spite of the horrifying twists of fate. You are alive and will share with us, I’m sure, all of your lessons learned. And I pray for much laughter and joy to be sent your way. Laugh. It is the best medicine when the dark shadows creep in. Find your Patronus that will scare a way all the Dementors. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ” Find your Patronus that will scare a way all the Dementors.” – Yes! 🙂 Thank you, Kathleen. That made me smile, and smiling is almost as good as laughing. *hugs* I’m sorry for this late reply.. I promise future comments will be tackled promptly. I always read them instantly, of course, but for some reason (overwhelmed, I think) I just got all clogged up on the right words. I’m feeling … unclogged now. Maybe I just needed some time-distance between me and the gate.

      Thank you for the welcome back. 🙂

      Like

  24. Rara, I started following your blog when a fellow blogger friend reposted one of your posts. This was right before you went away. I’ve checked for updates over the last year and am so happy you’re back. My deepest condolences for your loss. I can’t imagine your pain and grief. I’m sending you positive vibes from up here in Norcal. *hugs*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Patty! I appreciate the support, and I think it’s fantastic that we are connected through friends. There’s no stronger tie. The positive vibes are very much appreciated, as are you.

      I’m sorry for the late reply, I promise I’m usually better at these things… these last 11 days, though, well… they really ran me to the ground! Thank you for everything, and I hope to bump into you all over the ‘sphere. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Kir– I am so very glad to be back. *hugs* Thank you for the warm welcome, and I’m so so sorry it took me so long to say that. 11 days to reply is unacceptable, and I will do better in the future, haha! 😀 xo!!

      Like

    1. GG, I’m sorry for all the tears. Except the good ones, I guess. 🙂 Thank you for being here and welcoming me back… I am thankful. I’m also sorry it took so long to reply to this comment. I just got a little too overwhelmed and… well, I’m feeling better now. So, thank you. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I think I speak for everyone when I say that you were missed, and we’re so happy you are back. You have an incredible amount of strength, and I know we’ll see that reflected in your writing going forward.

    Thinking of you always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jen, thank you so much for all the support. I hope I live up to y’alls expectations and don’t just melt into a big puddle of dino-colored goo. I’m sorry this reply is so late in coming. Thank you for the welcome back. 🙂 *hugs*

      Like

  26. Oh my gosh. All the hugs. I didn’t really know you before you went away. And only caught on to your blog as you were leaving. And now you’re back. And there’s this really great thing about being back, but then learning this really sad thing too. And well… as inadequate as this may seem, welcome back.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. We have lots of travel stories, and lots of inner healing stories, and lots of heart stories, which you’ll catch up with. Or not. It’s all good. As are you.
    It’s wonderful to have you back ❤
    Our big news is we were interviewed on HuffPost Live this morning!
    Much love and big hugs
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so wonderful to see you everywhere, Alison– I missed your face! 🙂 I saw the interview– how exciting!!! Thank you for walking with me so much on this journey. I appreciate you.

      Liked by 1 person

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