Y’all, this is the start of a series on grief. I don’t want to bore you, and there will be those of you who don’t want to read this. You might just be tired of the whole thing. I won’t be posting on grief every day, just periodically as I work my way through this process. I understand if I turn you off by doing so, but I’ve already learned so much from all of you – maybe you can add your experiences to my journey.
I think that I’m very experienced at grief. I would rather be less experienced, honestly.
From the moment I got the phone call from the surgeon telling me what the histopath report indicated – that Flash had hemangiosarcoma – and I will never, never, never Google that again – I’ve been making arrangements.
First of all, I wrote that blog post about Flash. Secondly, I wrote the very long one about the lessons I’ve learned. I had a week to prepare myself intellectually and I did. Every day I recognized – aloud – that it would be the last Monday or the last Tuesday or the last event of some such or another with Flash. I had talks with my dog as I was hand feeding him chicken. I told Flash how much I loved him, endlessly. I thanked him for being my dog, for caring for me, and for protecting me. I told him how devastated I was that he had cancer, but that my last responsibility to him was to ensure he didn’t suffer.
Okay, that was all the intellectual stuff.
I was unprepared for the lightning bolt of grief that hit me yesterday.
I’m sincerely glad that the neighbors didn’t call the police because, yes, there was screaming involved. I had been crying for nine days straight and yesterday was the 10th. And today, of course. My eyes look black instead of brown. Oh, and I’ve been guzzling Pepto Bismol. I haven’t been able to eat very much and my entire digestive system is royally screwed up.
But back to my preparations.
For example, I knew that I was going to have to change my schedule. I had spent the last six weeks being Flash’s caregiver. I hadn’t been able to work. Everything about my life was going to have to change, beginning with my environment.
One of the first things I did when I got home yesterday was collect up all the medications Flash had been on and put them in a plastic bag along with his water bowl and the other bowls he used and any uneaten yogurt and chicken. Trust me when I say I don’t think I can do chicken for quite a while. I didn’t want any visible reminders right at that moment. I walked into the living room and saw his sheep, the only stuffed toy he’d ever liked. I kinda/sorta lost it. I grabbed the sheep, sat on the couch, and rocked back and forth.
I have more stuff to remove, but I will do that in increments.
Last night was not good. I kept looking toward the bathroom where he chose to sleep. I had prepared myself for this by sitting in my bedroom alone and visualizing what it would be like with him not there. Let me tell you, we can do a lot of things intellectually, but then our emotions take over.
I didn’t hear him last night, but I felt like he was just away – a natural part of the grieving process. Maybe he was in the hospital again. He’d been in the hospital a total of five days in the last six weeks, so it was easy to rationalize that’s where he was. Intellectually, I knew that wasn’t real because I had been with him yesterday. Emotionally, I so wanted it to be.
When I woke up this morning I walked into the kitchen, and opened the back door to let Flash outside. I’m sure that’s a muscle memory sort of thing. Seven years of doing it every day six or seven times.
I got my coffee and went into the office, opened the curtains and saw a runner in front of the house. I prepared myself for the onslaught of barking. The room remained quiet until my tears started.
Another episode: the mailman came and the house was still.
Time will gradually replace one memory with another. After all, I had seven years with Flash.
Still, I hadn’t anticipated the sheer power of this emotional jolt.
I started reading a book last night called The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies. I was surprised to find the answer to the question of why I’m feeling this grief so strongly, but we’ll discuss that later. For now, it’s one day at a time. One hour at a time, perhaps.
Before I go, I have to tell you about the most tone deaf person I’ve ever met.
When I called the vet’s office on Thursday to verify my appointment on Friday, the staff member there told me the time. I said we would be there, but I was crying a little. The woman then said, “So, do you have any fun things planned for the weekend?” There are very few times when I’m taken aback, but that was one of them. I told her that I was probably going to go home, go to bed, and pull the covers over my head.
This is the same woman who asked me about hemangiosarcoma. I told her that it had an MST of 19 days to 83 days. She asked me how long it had been for Flash and I told her 38 days. She then said, “Oh, you’re halfway there!” Again, facepalm.
After I left the vet, she ran outside and I had to roll down the window of the car, still crying. She wanted to know if I was all right. Really? Really? I told her I was fine and she reached in to give me a hug. Honey chile, if I don’t know you from Adam, do NOT hug me. Unfortunately, I was raising the window at the time and caught her arm.