The peculiar thing about mourning is that it doesn’t go neatly back into its place. You can’t just stow it away when you’re bored with it. Packing away grief is like trying to stuff a cat in a box. It doesn’t go quietly or willingly. It sticks its toes out and digs in, holding on tightly, refusing to cooperate. It slashes at you, drawing blood from whatever exposed piece of flesh is within its reach. And if you’re not careful, it will get loose and hide in places you never expected it would go.
I have taken the loss of our sweet cat Harry very hard. This is no surprise as I always feel horrible at the loss or suffering of an animal, more so than most humans, maybe more than I should. I saw the movie Marley and Me with my daughter when she was a little girl. As the credits rolled, everyone else in the theater, including Kat, got up to leave. I was unable to move. I dared not look anyone in the eye for fear that the weeping that I was barely stuffing down was going to come rushing out and embarrass us both. I couldn’t see the floor below me for the tears running down my cheeks. It took me a few minutes to compose myself. And that was over someone else’s dog.
While mourning Harry’s loss I have discovered (like it or not, ready or not) that I’m mourning other things as well.
I am mourning the loss of my health. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has robbed me and my family of so very much. Another downward spiral began about a year ago. I have never regained the status quo in energy or cognitive functioning that I had before that decline began. And, believe me, it wasn’t great to begin with. Being sick and tired does not help you cope well with loss of any kind.
I am also mourning the loss of dreams, hopes, and goals I had for my daughter and the youth in our community. We had high hopes to get a unique drama program for teens off the ground by this fall. Everything looked so promising back in the spring. Almost immediately the situation began to unravel, taking strange turns and forks in the road none of us could have predicted. Our original vision got lost. The backing and support that was once so strong fell away.
If my health were better, I would forge ahead in a new direction. If we had but a little more time. But the truth is that was our last chance to make something special happen for Kathryn. She has about two more years of homeschool left before it’s time to enter the grown-up world. Career, college, and her future away from home will soon be the new norm. The thought of starting over now is overwhelming.
It has been very hard to come to grips with all these losses at once. We are coming off of a very difficult year to begin with. There has not been a month in quite some time that we did not have some sort of serious problem, equipment failure, illness or curve ball. If it could break around here, it did. If it were not for my mother, we’d all be living under an interstate overpass.
I know, as a somewhat rational human being, that we must find a way to work through all this, to process it and move forward. I don’t think you can move through grief completely, as in coming out of a fog into bright sunshine or crossing the border from one country to another. You move forward, carrying less and less of it with you as time goes by.
Right now the load is very heavy. It’s thick and cumbersome. And it may be for some time yet. One day when we’re busy about the work of living, we’ll notice our hearts are lighter. We’ll be able to think of Harry without that awful wrenching in our stomachs. We’ll remember the good times and the things we were able to accomplish. Until then, we press on hoping to leave a tiny bit of grief behind each day.
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