I’ve been silent these past months, not by choice but because grief, depression, and crippling anxiety attacks have rendered me immobile. I have felt stationary – unable to muster basic interest in most things besides sleeping, reading, and endlessly scrolling through social media feeds. I’ve still pushed myself everyday; I’ve still gotten out of bed and gone to work, but that in and of itself has caused anxiety as I question my ability to do my job, my career choices, and my prospects for the future.
We discovered a minor leak inside the Winnebago the day after Thanksgiving. It’s in the spot where the coach and the cab meet and it’s midway down in a corner area. Since we’ve only owned it for a month, even though it’s 12 years old, I was fairly dramatic about it. (“I can’t believe she’s leaking! I hope it’s okay! What if they can’t fix it? What if we’re left with nothing but a pile of rust and mold? Did we buy a lemon?!”) Continue reading “Leaking roofs, leaking eyes, and Christmas annoyances”
My dad believed in visitors from the afterlife. He was also a man of stories, and one of his frequent stories was a memory from when his younger brother, John, died as a teenager in the early 70s. The story goes like this: John was in his hospital bed, comatose in the very last minutes of life. My dad had rushed to his bedside from several hours north, barely making it in time. Right before John succumbed to cancer and died, my dad looked up and saw, floating near the ceiling in the corner of that hospital room, ethereal versions of his grandmother, grandfather, and an aunt. Dad said it was as if they were there to greet John’s spirit on the other side. Continue reading “Waiting”
Three weeks, one day.
These days, I measure the passage of time based on my father’s passing. In these subsequent 22 days since his death, grief has taken its place in my life like a shadow. My only real reprieve is for a few hours of work each day when I’m so immersed in the crazy world of employee relations that I can compartmentalize my pain.
My dad died nine days ago after having suffered a massive stroke two days prior. He died in a hospital in southeastern Indiana while my connecting flight was sitting on the tarmac in Salt Lake City, getting ready to take off for Indianapolis.
I didn’t get to say goodbye.
When November rolls around every year, there are always two dates on the calendar that matter – my birthday and Thanksgiving. The first grows less significant each year as I reach the age where I start to pretend that I don’t have birthdays at all. The latter, which is a holiday that’s supposed to be filled with gratitude and love and familial closeness, leaves me empty.
I’m the first to admit that I’m a total stranger to grief. At 33 years old, I still have both my parents as well as all four of my grandparents. I’ve never even lost an aunt, uncle, or cousin. As a result, the grief I’ve experienced this week, after having put down my beloved dog, Kyle, on Tuesday, has been nearly unbearable. Today is the first day that I’ve felt even close to “normal” and even then, I’ll go from completely fine to sobbing in absolutely no time. My chest and stomach ache most of the time, like I’m worrying a hole right through both of them. I don’t feel well, I don’t know how to relax, and nothing seems to keep me occupied for longer than a few minutes.
I’m just… sad. I miss my companion and friend. I miss his bossy barking when he wanted outside or when he was hungry for a treat. I miss the insistent way he’d bump his hand against my palm when he wanted petted. I miss his inquisitive stare and his happy bounce. And most glaring of all is that his presence is missing. From where I’m sitting, I can see the wooden urn holding his ashes. That’s all that’s left of him, except for my memories.
The house feels so empty without him. Roxie, our younger dog, has spent her week getting her bearings now that she’s no longer submissive to the alpha dog. She’s testing her limits and testing my patience. There’s no back and forth banter barking now because she has no one to “talk” to. All is quiet. Well, all except my heart, that is. It’s a rough, choppy mess that feels like it’s been sliced into a million little slivers. Everyone tells me that I’ll feel whole again someday. Right now, I would prefer to not feel anything at all because this grieving thing? Pure hell.
You’ve been gone for 32 hours. I’m sorry that you got so sick and that I couldn’t save you, but I hope you knew, up until the very end, that I loved you and that I always will. I hope that, wherever you are now, you’ve got a big, squishy toy full of stuffing and a loud squeaker and that you’re just squeaking away, content, young again, happy, and finally free of pain. I miss you so much already. You took a chunk of my heart with you when you left.