Rather than writing about my own difficulties I’m posting this link about Jonathan Pitre instead because he reminds me that even my worst day is far better than his best day. Whatever pain I may be feeling in my heart is absolutely nothing compared to the suffering he experiences every single second and yet he isn’t bitter or resentful. I am humbled by his grace and strength and feel compelled to share.
One of the things Jason and I mutually dreaded were trips to Costco. The only thing that made our bi-weekly trips bearable was that we were miserable together and could find a small amount of joy in the snarky comments we made to each other about our fellow shoppers. We also knew that La Croix and large tubs of hummus weren’t going to magically appear in the refrigerator without a little pain and suffering on our part. I remember when Jason got a prescription for Xanax because it was the only way he could sleep when traveling to Asia or Europe for business. I also remember the first time he offered me one of his magic pills before walking into the warehouse of evil. We were like two calm gazelles wandering through a forest of famished hyenas, completely oblivious to the obnoxious lines of people waiting for free samples of yogurt or the gaggle of carts ahead of us…seemingly all full of loud and unhappy children. From then on we basically drugged ourselves so we could make it through Costco without having a nervous breakdown while navigating our way to the soda water. I suddenly didn’t mind standing in line behind that person who is arguing about the validity of his coupons even though the dates are clearly written on the top, or getting held up while someone searches for the bag of kale with the best date. I would dreamily gaze up at a smiling Jason and we’d both shrug our shoulders in unison feeling completely in harmony with the chaos around us.
I still take Xanax before I go shopping but now I take it so I don’t panic for entirely different reasons. The most crowded places have now become the loneliest places for me. I think the only thing worse than doing something you love without the person you love is doing something you hate without the person you love.
This handsome face is why I wake up in the morning and begrudgingly drag myself to work. He’s my best friend and the reason I keep breathing. I’ve thought many times about going in search of Jason but I can’t just yet because this face depends on me. He’s not just my dog Klaus, he is my entire universe if that isn’t already apparent. He’s got big brown expressive eyes and long eyelashes just like Jason, and I study them every night before I go to bed and wonder if maybe he’s my connection to whatever is beyond this life. I’m an atheist but it is hard to believe that Jason’s energy just ceased to be when he died…there was far too much spirit glowing inside his 6’1″ slender frame to just disappear or be reduced to ashes inside a wooden tomb.
Jason and I adopted Klaus right after we got married. He was intended to be a foster dog but I “foster failed” and cried and pleaded with Jason to keep him. I just knew he was supposed to be with me and now I know why.
I eat crappy cheap stuff so Klaus can eat the Beluga Caviar of pet food and I take him to doggy daycare so he isn’t alone while I’m at work (but really because I can watch him play on the webcams as a happy distraction). I leave work promptly at 5pm because I can’t wait to feel his silky ears and kiss his whiskery snout. His bottom lip sticks out and he always has a pouty expression unless he has a tennis ball or frisbee in his mouth. Sometimes he’s so tired he falls asleep in the car and I turn the music off so I can hear him snore instead.
He lets me curl myself around him at night and wet his fur with my tears. This is his way of listening and his way of telling me to keep trudging forward despite my overwhelming desire to wave the white flag. To anyone who has ever doubted the unconditional and therapeutic love of a pet, stop doubting. He saves me. Every single day he saves me.
Before Jason died I couldn’t even stomach the idea of a world without him and yet I’m still here because of Klaus. Thank you Jason for letting me be a foster failure and leaving a nightlight for me when you left.
I’ve spent the last several months mentally and physically avoiding the past and all things associated with the life I had prior to April 13th, 2014. I’ve barely checked my blog or posted anything because I would rather pretend like it never happened. I’ve even considered quitting my job because the people I have to see at work remind me of my old life too much. Nothing is different for them but everything has changed for me. Sitting in department meetings becomes painful when conversations about couples’ Halloween costumes or holiday plans with the in-laws arise, and I’m reminded that I have nothing to contribute to the discussion because I am no longer a part of that demographic…the married or coupled population I’ve grown to dislike over the past 18 months.
I’ve become obsessed with the idea of running away and assuming a brand new identity that isn’t at all associated with the verb “widowed.” I’ve become resentful of forms requiring me to check boxes identifying my marital status. Why does my relationship status matter to the dermatologist? And why does the receptionist always look at the form and sadly remark “Oh, you seem too young to be a widow” as if that thought hasn’t already barreled through my brain a thousand times.
What I’ve come to realize is that there is no running away and the grief I go to bed with and wake up with will follow me to every zip code or continent on the planet. I learned last year in group counseling that the changing of seasons are usually the most difficult times of the year. I moved to a new house in the spring and took a leave of absence during the summer hoping to clear my head and gain a more positive perspective on life. Now the leaves are falling and life around me is dead and drying up again. I’ve felt a crushing loneliness that I hadn’t anticipated and it seems as though nothing has become easier like I was told.
Grief oscillates. It may leave for a brief moment but it always returns. This is one thing I CAN count on. Everything else is unpredictable and unstable. But sadness and loss will always be trustworthy companions even when everyone else has disappeared.