Life often takes you in such unexpected directions. Sometimes you handle the change better than other times. Sometimes you find your way back to yourself, and sometimes, you don’t. Sometimes you have to find a new normal, that’s what I’m doing, now.
I haven’t written a blog post in over 5 months. I don’t know that it was necessarily writer’s block, as much as a complete inability to organize and give words to the thoughts running around in my head. Being at a complete loss for words is unusual for me, I rarely find it hard to express myself, but I was in a place where I could not communicate, I was so engulfed in simply getting through each day.
In the middle of September, I lost my beloved Miniature Schnauzer, Gigi. She had lived with diabetes for close to 2 years and almost every day was a struggle for her. Her kidneys finally started failing, despite all of our efforts to adapt, and I was forced to make the decision to end her suffering and let her go. We were fortunate that a fraternity brother of my dad’s, who happens to be a veterinarian, came to the only home she had ever known, and put her to sleep as she lay wrapped in her blanket in my arms. She was surrounded by the three people who loved her the most, as she quietly slipped from this world. It was the last act of love I could give to her.
She was an absolute love, precocious and independent, much like me, I suspect. She had some pretty big shoes to fill, coming after my first schnauzer, but she made her own place in our family, and healed my heart that was still broken from losing Lucy. I had sworn I would never get another, but then I saw her and I knew I needed her precious little soul. I’m so grateful for the 8 1/2 years I got to spend with her.
I suppose it’s normal to feel a certain amount of guilt, but whether it is, or not, I do. The rational part of my brain knows we did everything possible to keep her as healthy as we could, but the other part of me, the devil on my shoulder, will always remind me I should have done more. At the end of the day, I did the best I could, and that has to be enough.
Her death came about 3 months after we lost a very close family friend. He had lived the last years of his life with Parkinson’s disease and it was very difficult for my family to witness the toll it took on him and his family. He was wicked smart, and funny, and a wonderful friend to my father, and we miss him all the time. His death, though not completely unexpected, was still untimely and unfair.
Shortly after losing Gi, our sweet next door neighbor, who we’d known close to 30 years, also passed away. He lived a long and wonderful life into his mid-90s, but it was still another loss. Within the span of 16-17 months, three people who had been staples/constants in my life and my Gigi died and it was just too much.
Thinking about writing or doing anything, really, seemed frivolous and without a point. There were times I couldn’t breathe, when it felt like my skin was too tight and the world was moving around me but without me. Most everyone has been so good about it, appreciating and understanding the profound grief I haven’t been able to shake. We had a health scare at the end of January that required me to focus on something other than my sadness, it ended up being a blessing in disguise, though it didn’t seem so at the time. The deep throes of winter didn’t help, either, but as the days get warmer, I’ve started feeling hopeful, again, and thinking about things that make me happy.
A very dear friend who knows about loss and the toll it can take, has let me come and immerse myself in 6 adorable puppies born to her sweet dog. Another friend has kept me involved in her local business, always giving me a place to just ‘be’, when I need it. My sweet cousin keeps tabs on me, as much as distance allows, and the rest of my family, while mourning along with me, has been mindful about helping me to find purpose, again.
An extended family member had a beautiful book of Gigi made for me from photos she took off of Facebook. Another darling friend had a beautiful bracelet with Gi’s picture on a charm made and sent. So many people sent cards and lovely messages, many from her doctors, and others checked on me, often. Every single thought, word, gesture, and sentiment was appreciated beyond what I could express. Without question, they have helped to keep me going.
There are some who, I’m sure, think I’m being dramatic, that it’s silly to mourn for a dog, a neighbor, a friend, a cousin as I’ve been doing. Sometimes I think it’s silly, too. I’ve always been a fairly strong person, private in my struggles, so it’s been confusing for me to try to understand why I’m reacting to all of these things as I am, I’m figuring it out as I go. What I’ve realized is that I don’t need anyone to understand, and if someone is less than patient with me, I limit my contact with them, maybe permanently, maybe not, only time will tell.
I know there are people I’ve hurt because I’ve been unable to do what they felt like I should be doing to feel better. It’s hard to explain to someone you love, and who you know loves you, that you are not capable of whatever it is they want you to do. There have been times over the last few months, I could not make myself leave the house. The possibility of having to get out would fill me with such anxiety and dread, my ears would ring so loudly, I couldn’t hear people speaking to me.
I have tried to be kind to myself, to not push, to not expect too much. When I’ve put hesitation aside to jump back into things before I was ready, I reacted with anger and bitterness. That reaction puzzled me, until I took a breath and realized I was forcing myself to adhere to a pace that wasn’t right for me.
So the fog lifts, slowly, and getting out into the world is a little less painful every day. Grief, loss, depression are each difficult, on their own. I think they share similar ‘symptoms’, however, and that makes it hard to know what it is, exactly, that you’re experiencing. In the end, I suppose it doesn’t really matter, everyone gets through things differently, so giving the emotion a name is somewhat irrelevant, in my case, anyway.
This post was one of those that you feel compelled to write. I needed to explain my absence. I needed to put into words these feelings that are toxic and poisonous, in the hope it will help me to get past them, more quickly. And I needed a place to start, because it felt…wrong…to simply start blogging, again, as if nothing had happened.
I also hope it will help someone to not feel as isolated and broken as they might, otherwise. It’s a strange thing, but finding kinship, even in the worst of circumstances, is comforting. It makes you feel less alone and that gives way to the possibility of hope. It’s been freeing to write the words, in spite of the fact that I’ve cried so hard, I’ve had to stop because I couldn’t see through the tears.
My next post will be more ‘bloggish’: upbeat, positive, informative. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for listening. Sometimes you just need to know that you’ve been heard.