You now know to never open anything from the vet right after losing your best buddy, for it isn’t a letter of condolence as you think; instead, whomever is in charge of accounts has already, just a scant three days after, thoughtlessly and mindlessly sent you a bill, and in that bill, is the word EUTHENASIA and CREMATION. The cremation you can swallow easier than the other word (even though they have not yet called you to pick up your best buddy’s ashes and you feel a little sick – her collar is there, too, waiting…). After you open the bill you thought was a letter, you can’t walk back up your driveway—the very driveway your best buddy walked with you to get the mail or take those mountain walks—instead, you sit on a rock at the end of the driveway and cry and you stay on the rock, with the bill that wasn’t a letter held in your hand and you try not to picture that word. You stay sitting on the rock until the word isn’t flashing in your head like Neon, then you wipe your face and climb back up and go inside.
Every time you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and every morning when you get up, you slide off the bed in a certain way, just in case your buddy had come to lie too close and you don’t want to disturb her, then, you remember and you get up and shuffle shuffle your feet, because they are heavy. You have kept your buddy’s bed in one spot as if you are afraid your buddy will come “visit” and will want her bed, and you know this crazy, yet it is not crazy, for didn’t you see the Shadow Man and didn’t you feel your brother come walk with you and yours after his funeral? But, you also know you just don’t have the heart to put it away, as you had to do with your buddy’s feed bowl.
So far, your buddy has not come to you and you have not felt her. You are both relieved and sad.
Your feet are like lead. Your appetite is gone and you know you must eat, so you consume weird things like a plate with crackers and jalapeño cheese, peanut butter and jelly crackers, cream cheese on cracker with a big black olive perched on top, pickles, and a scoop of ice cream with peanuts and chocolate, and then you are sick all night. Images plague you on the third night—your buddy in a collage of images where you are caught between waking and sleeping.
You know there is a Secret Society of grief-stricken people but you can’t join it because it is secret, because everyone goes into hiding, ashamed of their grief over “an animal…” But, you feel what you feel, and how can you deny it? You know if you do not face your grief and your loss head on, if you try tricks to keep it at bay, it will come back in the tiny corners, in the dark of night, in the time when all is still. No One Gets By. Listen: No One Gets By.
Since it happened Monday and this is already Thursday, you start to pretend you are fine to other people you are emailing, for you haven’t been around people (and you think of your reclusive writer’s nature, and how your buddy really was your faithful constant friend). For, after all, people won’t be patient with you if you cry and cry or if you don’t feel like doing your work, or if you want to talk obsessively about it, or if you don’t feel like making these–:-)—in your emails, or if you don’t want to pull yourself out of it because you are tired; oh, you’ll be okay you may be reminded, and there will be more animals you may be reminded, and she was getting old you may be reminded, and remember the good times and love she gave you you are reminded and one day you can get another one you are reminded. You feel ashamed when you think, "shut the fuck up," for you know they love you and want to comfort you. You use lots of !! exclamation points!! in your emails!!! s everyone things!!! you are Great!!!! but if they saw your face as you !!! put them there!!!, they’d see …nothing, slack.!!!
You will be in a room, or writing the email, or out on an errand, and you see someone and they come up to you and you smile and you are showing them that you aren’t behaving “wrong,” that you are just fine; but, when you are by yourself, your shoulders slump and your stomach feels sick and everything looks just this side of wrong, as if you entered the wrong house but are hoping no one notices.
You read the things people write and you recognize the ones who know what you are feeling and you are thankful at the same time you are sad for them as they are sad for you…you feel a kinship, but you also want to run away and be alone.
You find yourself watching television shows you normally do not, and every time a pet is shown, you darkly think, “Yeah, that one may be dead by now,” or “Just wait, that poor thing won’t be here much longer, it looks old,” or, “Poor people don’t know what they’re in for (because you didn’t).”
You wonder when it won’t hurt anymore. You wonder if it will always hurt. You wonder if you are wondering too much.
You obsessively write write and google google and write write. The usual routines feel wrong, so you make a few new ones, the miss the old routine and round and round and round you go.
In the middle of the night, you go hug the other dog, just in case he was feeling bad. In the morning, you hug him, just in case he is lonely. You try not to get pissed off when he jumps around excited for his walk, with you thinking, “sure, you can go on your walk, you can be all excited…” then you are ashamed, and hug and pet him.
You know that when your best buddy dies, it is as if a part of your body is cut off, for your best buddy was an innocent, beautiful creature, one who was by your side for so very long, who loved you and wanted to be with you all the time of her life.
You feel like shit.