I've written before about the emotional sniper fire associated with grieving.
The holiday weekend...I was aware of missing Jill but it wasn't beating me up. A dull throb instead of a piercing pain. I think that was because I was in motion most of the weekend. Stillness is a way of opening the door and letting the longing in. I took little dog on a hike (if it's a paved surface it's a walk. If it's unpaved it's a hike. We both prefer hikes). As we got out of the car in the parking lot of the park we'd be hitting a trail in, a woman drove by in her candy apple red convertible blasting a Hall & Oates tune. She was probably late fifties, had unnaturally blonde hair and a deep unnaturally orange tan and lipstick that matched her car. The look, the wheels, the tunes...she struck me as ridiculous. But if I looked past my judgement as she slowly stalked the parking lot for an empty space, how she really looked was very, very happy. Which made me think of Jill. She did not believe in guilty pleasures. There were pleasures, and feeling guilty about ‘em was just dumb. If she was enjoying herself what you thought about that was your problem...she was gonna keep enjoying herself.
I found myself walking along, a little dog tugging on her leash, as I crumbled.
The park was crowded but everyone was vying for proximity to the lake, so Caya and I headed the other way. We were soon alone in the woods. I sat down on the edge of a pretty tall grass meadow and cried. Sadness, yes. But also a suffocating anger. I have spent a lot of time mad at Jill. This time I was mad, I guess, at God. The stingy bastard hadn't given me the miracle I didn't really believe in but so desperately wanted. Despite relentless attempts at faith and fervent prayer, she died anyway.
Caya is my Sous Chef and Physical Therapist. But best of all she's my sweet little dog. She reminds us of the things that are important. Pack is important. Pack gone is a very bad thing. Pack happy is so good. Pack sad, Pack crying...that's about the worst thing there is. She tended to me, sitting there in the grass among the windflowers. She whimpered and cried and pranced about trying to get me to look at her. She crawled in my lap, frantically, desperately licking at my tears until, no matter how badly I wanted to continue my wallowing, I couldn't help but laugh. She kept at it until I convinced her I was all better.
She was a very good little dog the whole hike. She heeled the entire time (this is not Caya's strong suit) and instead of being distracted by every smell and sound and critter and bug and blowing leaf, kept looking up at me, making sure I wasn't going to get all broken again.
She was my warm, barking, frolicking care package. A furry little miracle. I have so many miracles. I have Erin and Kim. I have Caya. I have these magnificent people I get to work with. I have this extended family of Jill’s brother and sisters and mom and dad nieces and nephews and cousins and friends. I have people who mean the world to me who I'll disappear from for years at a time but who, when I have fallen, show nothing but kindness and sympathy and endless, endless caring. I have my mom and my brothers and nieces and nephew and aunts and uncles and cousins and...they add up to so many miracles.
And I had my years with her. All those days and nights and conversations and phone calls, and touches and whispers and laughs and smiles. And that, maybe, is the biggest miracle of all. I had her. Not perfect, but perfect for me.
If this sounds like acceptance, it isn't. I am, despite attempts not to be, still embittered by the loss, by the stinging rebuke of the miracle not granted. It's the difference between knowing something and feeling it. Right now, I feel robbed. Justified or not, there it is.
But I can think of all the miracles in my life...they're all people (including one funny four legged one), not events...and know my life is rich and beautiful. Maybe somewhere down the road I will be able to internalize that and recognize that they are miracle enough for any lifetime.