Don’t Make Me Let Go.
Grief is one of those things.
You know, one of those things.
Everyone deals with death differently, and everyone grieves in their own way. Sometimes grief is quiet and unassuming. Sometimes it is loud and in your face. Sometimes, it doesn't feel like it's existent, and you're just numb to it all.
But that's still grief.
My Grandpa died 5 1/2 years ago now, and I still find myself absolutely sobbing at the thought of him being gone. I'm not just grieving him, but the house that he used to walk around in everyday. I'm grieving the Thanksgivings where he isn't present, forking down my Grandma's incredible green bean casserole that just doesn't taste the same anymore. The long weekend visits where he'd reach into his pocket and run his finger down the fine toothed comb he kept in his pocket when he walked by me, knowing the reaction I would give him and the sharp look that always made him smile. The big family Christmases where the seat next to my Grandma is empty in honor of one of the most important people in her lives.
Add another chair empty next to my Grandma at Christmas. This one is to honor my Aunt who died of cancer last March. It's been a year and 1/2 since she passed, yet it hits me like it happened yesterday. It hits my mom so much harder. I'll never forget what my Grandma said to my mom as Lisa passed, "I am almost 90 years old. I shouldn't be watching my own child fade before I do." Cancer is another one of those things.
I work in a boarding kennel, where dogs and cats come and go with every family vacation. Sometimes they stay for a night or two, sometimes they stay for a week or so. The relationship I have the privilege of building with these pets is rewarding, but it is also just as devastating for us as it is for the owners sometimes. Every so often, we have an older dog who comes to stay with us, and we are the last friendly faces they see. Not their owner, not their housemate. Us; Me. Jamaica had a heart attack and passed away right there in my lap. I found Biggie the next morning, still as a stone in his run, his housemates blissfully unaware of his passing in the runs nearby. Zima... well... yeah.
There are some phone calls that I have taken whose pups have passed after a good, long life, and they wanted to thank us for taking such good care of them while mom and dad went on vacation. There are phone calls that I have taken whose pups passed after 2 or 3 years of living in this world, and were abruptly taken in awful or unpredictable ways. They all thank us for our help and the love we had for their pets and they hang up the phone, hopefully feeling a little bit better for having talked about their pet with us and sharing those good memories. People don't always realize that after we hang up that phone, we cry just as hard.
Mishka passed away last summer. I babysit his owners kids, and I am friends with his people. I knew Mish from the kennel, and I knew him at home, too. I will never forget my coworker running up my driveway after her shift, tears streaming down her face. She didn't have to say anything. I knew it was Mishka who'd passed. Something in the universe had told me it was him. Months later and I walk through their house to finish making dinner for the kids, and I'm slapped in the face with a memory that I forgot that I'd had. Talking with their mom about him even now, a year later, and we both find ourselves crying about his loss.
I will never, ever forget sitting on the floor of my boyfriends living room, Minnie happy to be surrounded by everyone she loves. You wouldn't have known anything was awry with her. Looking at that smiling greyhound with her paws crossed so elegantly. Her eyes full of love and full of life to be lived yet. But what you couldn't see was the intense pain she felt every time she tried to stand up. You didn't see the countless mornings that one of us woke up to her letting her stool go because she couldn't hold it longer than an hour or two anymore, and it was nowhere near solid. She looked so embarrassed and guilty. Her incontinence was getting worse and worse, and her pain was unmanageable, no matter how many different medications we had tried. Her quality of life had diminished significantly, and it was too much for her, let alone us, to go through all of that with no true ending in sight. Watching the vet administer that gooey, pink liquid and Minnie slowly slipping away was one of the hardest things I've ever had to witness. And then having to be strong for her family, since she wasn't my family pet was even harder; Bringing her things to my place of work to donate to a dog who could really use it during their stay. I still see her bed in our stack of dog beds that we use for those older pups who need just a little extra cushion and it's like I'm transported back to the day she died. That was Minnie's. It will always be Minnie's.
Losing loved ones is never easy, but its even harder knowing that eventually, you have to let them go. I can't let myself let them go. Letting go means exactly that- letting them go. People tell me, "You don't have to let them fade away. You can honor them with the love you had for them."
I can't just let them go. I can't just grieve and expect to heal with time. I can't talk about those that I loved who've passed without feeling that scar on my heart reopen and bleed again.
This isn't going to end with some positive, lighthearted comment about how their memory will forever live on in my head and in my heart. It doesn't change that those who I've lost are gone. It doesn't change that the pain and grief I feel from their loss is so great and so heavy.
Maybe I will move on from it all some day. Maybe it'll have happened enough to where I feel more comfortable with the notion of letting go and pushing forward without them physically here.
Until then... Grief is just one of those things.