I’ve hesitated to write anything because I feel like I’m a walking cloud of BUMMER lately.
As in: “Heyyy hiiiiii, my grandpa died.”
And a month later, “Hey, what up, my grandma was murdered.”
And now, it’s “Hello. How are you? Our dog died in a freak accident in my daughter’s room.”
Yeah, we woke up on New Year’s Day to find our Labrador, Laser, had died during the night. In my daughter’s room. Just for added horror. Thankfully, the kids didn’t see because Mac and I got there first.
I’m telling you, friends, his death knocked the wind out of me. I spent an hour almost out of my mind, pacing the house yelling and whispering, “Not our dog, too!”
It simply couldn’t be. Not our dog, too.
It simply felt cruel. Mean. Like a few kicks to the ribs when I was already down. I didn’t even have it in me to sit my kids in a circle and give it to them gently. I simply said, “Laser has died” while crying in a doorway, and I let them cry and wail too.
I had no fight left.
Our DOG? Our 4.5 year old ball of love and cuddles and warmth? He was the member of the family who was constant, the one who trotted around the house giving joy and hugs and asking for a pat on the head or a belly scratch – pure, uncomplicated love. He was the one who we held in all our grieving. He was the one who held us.
To have him suddenly ripped from our arms in a time when we were already desperate? Well, shit.
I got mad. And then I got really, really fucking sad.
When George found out, she screamed and cried for 15 minutes then crawled onto the couch, pulled a big blanket over her head and body, and stayed there, silently, immobile and non-responsive, for about 3 hours. I pulled the blanket back and saw tears falling from the bridge of her nose.
I patted her back. She pulled the blanket back up.
It was as if she had given up, as if she were saying, “You know what? If this world is like this, I’m fucking OUT.”
Forget all of you.
I could relate. That’s exactly how I felt.
How could they take our dog, too? Who’s “they?” I don’t know. THEY. The ones who decide this sort of thing: who lives and dies.
God? Satan? The fates? Luck?
For the first time, I didn’t know if I was going to keep getting up and functioning, or if I was going to go to bed and stay there. My life felt pitch black all around me. Dark. I picked up my head and I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t see a way. I couldn’t see what to do next.
I didn’t want to talk to you. I didn’t want to see you. I didn’t want to discuss it. I wanted to pull a blanket over my head and stay there.
If this is the world, I’m fucking out. (And it sure doesn’t help that the outside world has turned into terrifying apocalyptic hell, either.)
And then a few nights ago, I was reading a story in one of George’s favorite books about a man who is walking alone over a huge mountain. He’s way up high among the rocks and trees when a storm comes, and it grows dark all around him, and he loses his way entirely. He can’t see to take a step, and he’s stuck up there, cold and lost, so he crouches behind a rock and starts praying. He asks life or god or whatever to help him, and just kind of trusts, and after a while, a light appears before him, a tiny lantern hovering just in front of him.
He gets up and begins to follow it, but he can only see the small circle of light right in front him. He can’t see the path ahead of him, on the sides or behind, but he can see his footing for the next step. He can see just enough to take a single step safely into the dark, into the nothing, and know he won’t fall.
The light leads him off the mountain.
I cried as I read that story, because I realized I am that man, but I also have that light. I can’t see behind me, or above or beside. I can’t even see the path, but I can see enough to take one tiny step in the dark, and if I do that long enough, I’ll get off this fucking mountain.
I think about how grateful I am to be sober. I think about a dear friend who relapsed recently, and wonder if he will survive, and I think about how much grace I live daily to breathe a sober breath. To be here for my family and kids and mom rather than in a street somewhere.
I think about my children, my few soul friends, my husband who crawls around the house on all fours so the kids can pretend he’s a horse. I think about my baby’s dimpled hand patting me as he falls asleep, whispering “my mama” over and over again. I think about the vital beauty of the earth around me, and how at the last, it’s really just nice to be alive, you know? Here. Even among the bullshit.
It really is fucking nice to be alive, with you, with the light and the mountain, and even the pain, because I know it’s from the depths of love. For my grandmother, for my friend Laser, for the uncomplicated devotion between a dog and his family, a grandmother and her grandchildren, and my mom and me.
So we’ll keep walking, and the trust is enough for me.