Saying goodbye to someone you love feels like death stuck its fist in your chest and ripped out your heart while it was still warm and beating. You see it clenched in the bloody fist, desperately pumping out its slow, final rhythms, begging to be spared, but you’re too paralyzed to move. This can’t be happening. Not now.
That voice in your head, the rational one, is saying, “Be strong. Don’t cry. You know this has to be done.” The voice is right, but you want to be selfish and hold on a little longer.
The child in you wishes for just one more year. The Christian pleads with God to let this not be true while the sinner promises to be good and this time really forgive all those you’re “secretly” still angry with if only He’ll make the pain go away.
Death is cold. Death is numb. We all wish for one more day which will never come. Death is sterile and white and silent accompanied by an unending river of tears.
Life after death is like walking backwards uphill. Around every corner lurks a memory. Hallucinations come easily:
Sometimes I think I see you standing there. I feel you brush against my leg.
It wasn’t you. It can’t be you. You’re no longer with us. Oh, how we miss you.
I miss having someone follow me around all the time, give me kisses and hog my bed.
I miss tripping over your steps, picking your hair out of my clothes and sharing my food.
I miss your smell, the sound of your voice and the way your ears bounced when you walked.
I miss you watching me write, comforting me when I needed a hug and stealing my favorite blanket.
I still have your chair. Your favorite seats, blankets, toys and travel houses too.
They’re covered right now because they remind me so much of you.
One day, when I’m stronger, I’ll put these items someplace special.
I know it’s been four months, but I’m not ready yet.
Harry and Hermione miss you. I’m sorry they didn’t get to say goodbye.
Me-Mee misses you too. She said she will always love you.
Symba is still watching Dora, and the cats . . . well, they’re cats.
Taylor sends her love. Her heart still aches too.
You were our world. You still are. We miss you.
Jack Russell Terrier
11/6/00 – 4/27/15
Caity had a tumor. I drove four hours to see the same veterinarian who has been Caity’s doctor since she was six weeks old. She cried with us in the office that day as we all said goodbye.
I heard one of the best ways for creatives to deal with grief is to work through it using your medium of choice. Mine is writing, but the last thing I wanted to do was write. There was nothing happy or inspiring to talk about and I dreaded the entire emotional purging process I knew was sure to come. Fourteen years is a long time to spend with someone and love is love whether they walk on four legs or two.
Writing is a powerful way to come to terms with loss. So, if you can, write your way through it. Music (words with melody) is a wonderful expression of writing – unless your dog just died. We tried to eat something before the long drive home and stopped at Taylor’s favorite Thai restaurant. They were playing a Pop station and the first song that came on was “See You Again” by Wiz Kalifa. I lost it, put my head on the table and cried in my noodles.
This post is for Caity.