“Looks like your dog is walking you”. Harmless neighborhood remark. One I hear often, from many, as my dog drags me around the block.
Man, that comment absolutely ruffles my fur. I feel it start at the base of my spine, the hairs raising, right up to a lip curl, revealing fangs. Who knew I had ’em?
No. neighbor. You are wrong. The thing that has me by the neck, that is dragging me to and fro, threatening to pull me flat on my face on the icy sidewalk, is grief. And right now, I hate it. I resent it. And I really resent comments that refer to my dog training abilities.
But if you want to keep it literal, yes, you are right, my dog is walking me. Why? Because both my husband and dad died last year, and guess what? I haven’t had the time or energy to work on dog obedience. Carry treats in my pocket? I can’t even remember to wear gloves. (Not to mention the dog has chewed the fingers off of most of them. )
I know you are just trying to be funny. But really. Stop for a moment. Go ahead…ask yourself the question. What would you be doing if you were me? Would you even get out of bed? Would you still shovel your walk, shovel other people’s walks, take out your garbage? Did you know that I actually pick up other people’s dog shit, that they have “accidentally” left behind in the neighborhood? Is that something you would do, if your spouse had died? Would you still walk your dog several times a day, through tears and tiredness? Would you get up and go to work, like I do? Returning home to your husband’s ashes every night? Not dinner. Dust.
You ask what I have been doing, how I have been spending my time. Well, if you really want to know, I’m still in purgatory. Trying to get to the “other side”. No, not heaven. The other side: life. The “real world”, where people are happy, having family meals, walking their dog, together as we did, and hugging their husbands. I am suspended by memories and dreams of such a place, and spend my time trying to make it through each day. No one from the real world has offered to walk this grief puppy with me. To really try and understand what it has been like. And I don’t blame them. Who has time? It’s not their loss, or life. It’s mine. And it’s lonely.
Yes. I meet with a therapist. I participate in on-line communities. And I go to support groups. The only places where people seem to understand. But it’s not exactly a party. It’s hard, heart work. And while helpful, it’s full of other “walking wounded” like me. Do you think it would be painful to sit with me a little, and listen to my story? That’s what I’m doing when I go to support groups: listening to others talk about death, sickness, accidents, heart attacks, sudden losses, long term illnesses. That is how I am spending my time. I’d like to do other things, like learn archery, or sing in a choir, or take my dog to more obedience classes, but I am not there yet. I am still stuck in a gray middle-ground. Just trying to get myself, and my dog, around the block. And last time I looked, there was more dog food in the cupboard than people food. She seems to be faring better than I am.
This is my reality. Where I currently live. I am thankful for the good things, and that is really what I would like to be writing about. Not going on and on like a broken record. But I am still weak. Being pulled round and round in the deep grooves of my losses. I am in a place where grief is still doing the walking. Grief is doing the talking. So, if you don’t have something nice to say…
…or a hug to give, this puppy might bite.
P.S. I made it through the Starbucks drive-thru this morning without incident. I treated myself and the people behind me. Not to get thanks, to give thanks, an offering to the real world, in hopes that I will make it back.
P.P.S. A kind person, who I believe is a blog follower, also sent me a Starbucks e-gift card. So incredibly thoughtful. Amazing. Thank you, and also to those who have chosen to weather this week with me. I can feel the storm receding.