When a loved one dies, people try to comfort you and some of the things they say is that the body is just a vessel to store the soul; and that your loved one is still very much present. Although I believe that to be true, I feel the concept is hard to grasp because it’s intangible. Everything that is spiritual is intangible – one must be very attuned to their being, their senses and their emotions to truly feel the spirits.
About a year ago, my most beloved companion passed away. It was the hardest moment in my life – to watch her suffer and then to watch her go. I felt myself wanting to be selfish by not letting her go but at the same time my heart was so broken watching her suffer. I don’t know what sacrifice is really about but I do know that it was a very difficult decision to make. Either way, I couldn’t win this. As she went from life to death, I felt that life stopped for me for awhile. I was dazed and in so much pain and I didn’t know how I was going to pull through. I just kept thinking ‘look at it in parts. If you can’t take it a day at a time, take it an hour at a time. If you can take it an hour at a time, take it a minute at a time. If you can’t take it a minute at a time, take it a second at a time.’ Those were some very painful seconds.
My survivor instinct kicked in – I told myself life had to go on so I suppressed the emotion as much as I could. I would have random bursts of emotions and I would bury my face in my pillow as I cried to my heart’s content. I went to see a counsellor because I didn’t know how to deal with my grief and I was so angry with myself because I couldn’t get my shit together. I was angry because all I wanted to do was to have Suzie with me, but I couldn’t. I tried so hard to recall how she felt on my legs when she curled into a ball and fell asleep on my lap. I tried so hard to recall how she smelt like, I kept smelling her collar as much as I could because I was so scared to lose her even in spirit. Everyone kept telling me that they can hear her walking about in the house or that they had dreams of her. Mine came less frequently. Not only was I angry that I couldn’t feel her as much as I could when she was still alive, I was jealous that everyone still got to experience her presence even in death while I couldn’t. I was so angry because I know that deep down, I’m not okay.
I don’t walk around with the deep grief in my heart every day. Most days, I am okay. At the back of my head, I still have thoughts of her but I am okay. Then there are random days where I’m not doing anything at all – I could just be sitting down in silence – then I start to recall a random memory of Suzie and suddenly the grief becomes so powerful that I feel so overwhelmed that I start to break down in a silent cry all over again.
The thing is, I don’t want to forget her and the price I have to pay for that is that I will never be able to escape this grief. But I know that’s a good thing because it only meant that I have that much of love for her. Even in death, the love endures. What’s difficult for me is that I am still a needy human – needing to feel her by my side, needing to kiss her, needing to hug her etc. It’s hard to fathom the spiritual to this because I’m so needy of the physical, the tangible. I wish I could snap my fingers and just like that I can replay all those memories again in real time.
It’s so silly that I still cry over her but yet it’s not. She wasn’t a human, but she was everything to me. She wasn’t the best damn dog in the world but she was the best to me. She was so flawed – she had so many health problems since she was a puppy. She was skinny and she was so problematic with her food. Some days she gave so much of a headache just trying to get her to eat. But she was mine and I was hers. She was the perfect fit.
“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on – in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”
His voice was raspy, which usually meant he needed to stop for a while. I placed the plant back on the ledge and went to shut off the tape recorder. This is the last sentence Morrie got out before I did:
“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” – Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom
It is no wonder I still grieve. The relationship hasn’t ended and it will never end. So one day at a time – I have about 80 more years until I am reunited with you again. That’s 29,200 days. While I’m at it, I will make it count.
See you in about 29,200 days, Suzie. I love you forever.