Life is not linear. Oh sure, time marches in a certain direction. Tuesday follows Monday. 6:00 follows 5:00, May follows April. 2016 has indeed followed 2015.
If you had asked me on January 24, 2015 whether Sunday would follow Saturday, or if I’d ever turn a page on any calendar again, I am sure I would have said no. I’m not sure I even WANTED it to. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t suicidal. I didn’t want to be GONE….. I just wanted to stop. Everything.
Perhaps I thought if I stopped, I could very slowly rewind back a few months. Back before…. Everything. Back before loss entered our lives in such… droves.
I missed my uncle. I missed my mother (a loss slightly farther back but still painful). I missed my job. I missed acting. I missed the friends I no longer saw every day. I missed Bubba and Edgar. I missed Zeta Rose and her inordinately short ears.
But mostly, or at least most immediately, I missed my best friend.
Life is not linear. Grief is not logical. The die-hard project manager in me wanted a schedule for this grief business. At what point, exactly, was I going to feel whole again? Alas, it keeps to no schedule and has no discernable path. I knew that, but I didn’t KNOW it, you know?
And yet… while I stopped time, time did not stop. There was work to be done. I was in the middle of co-authoring a book and deadlines were approaching. There was a crazy, pinging puppy to train. There were a million little things to do every day. I suppose I did them. I’m not sure. Honestly, I was mostly busy keeping my sh*t together, hoping it wasn’t super obvious that I had stopped time.
Also in the spirit of honesty, I must tell you that it never occurred to me that this level of grief was “just about a dog.” I know many people that have lost a pet have felt that their grief has been minimized, I even knew that there were people in my life that felt that way about my plight – as you read this you may be thinking the same thing. These people were either smart or kind enough not to ever say that to me. But for me, it never occurred to me that it was anything but normal. I may have wanted it gone, and I was definitely frustrated that I couldn’t seem to control when it reared its weepy head, but I knew it was perfectly reasonable that I’d grieve.
Thank goodness for puppies. I continued sniffle each time I found Dexter slobber on my clothes, or the couch, or bite marks on door knobs and cabinets. But I was highly entertained by the silly, clown of a dog growing in the house. He brought rocks as big as his head in from the back yard for a snack. He did the “whaaaaaaaat?” head twist so far I thought he’d screw his head right off his wiggle-butt body. He started watching tv – his favorite show (no joke) is Pit Bulls and Parolees. He hears Tia Maria Torres and comes running to sit in front of the tv and watch the show. He spent (still spends, really) a ridiculous amount of time standing on the back of the couch like a goat perched on the side of a mountain. Silly boy. We began to call him William – long for Billy, as in Billy Goat. How can you not laugh at that?
Plus, he was born, bred, selected, and/or raised to be a healer. A Heeler Healer, or perhaps a Healer Heeler. He very naturally stepped right in and stood at my side night and day, working his little magic on me. If I sounded upset, he’d stop whatever he was doing (probably standing on the back of a chair or chewing on rocks) and run to me. He still does this. All of it. The perching, the chewing on rocks, and instantly leaping to my side if he suspects I’m upset. Somehow, this dog knows to stop the insanity and sit quietly, emanating love. One day, I hope to certify him as a therapy dog. He’s still crazy, pinging from room to room, leaping like a gazelle all over the back yard, eating the wrong thing, pulling on his leash, faaaaar too interested in our poor old Dame Kitty LuLu (16 and full of piss and vinegar, she’s having none of that). But he’ll calm down eventually, and then he can share his gift with the world.
A few months later, Hubby pointed out to me that Logan was HIS dog. I was doing my darnedest to fill the Dexter-sized hole in my heart, and I had sort of co-opted him. Like a loud echo, just as he had with Zeta, Hubby asked for his dog back.