You may, or may not have noticed (or cared), but I’ve refrained from writing a personal blog on here for a while.
I’ve not known where to start to be honest.
The last personal blog I wrote was the one where I farewelled my Charlie Girl, and it left me emotionally empty, devoid of caring about anything too much, or wanting to even connect with my writing again.
Thanking each and every one of you 6 months after the fact may be silly, but I’m going to do it anyway.
For reaching out and sending us love.
For commiserating and empathising, understanding what I was going through and telling me that she’d be waiting for me one day, and that we’d be together again over the Rainbow Bridge.
Yes, it’s gotten easier.
But I still cry everyday.
Not delicate little tears in the corner of my eyes, to be dabbed away with lace.
Big, fat, salty tears, splashing into my food, on my laptop, and especially on that gold satin pillow case she used to sleep on.
Sobs so loud that Hank still comes running to me, putting his comforting head on my lap and licking my hand.
But I’m writing this as I’ve got a friend going through something similar.
She’s just lost her Molly Girl. I got an email last week from a lady who told me her Ruby was very sick and didn’t have long to go. I get emails almost daily from people wanting comfort, or telling me they understand what I’ve been through. Or, wanting to know how to keep breathing, eating, sleeping, when they can’t think of anything worse.
6 months is a long time, and also, not so long.
It’s a long time to imagine being without someone you love so much, and in the grand scheme of time, a split second, broken into breaths and blinks.
The last 6 months since Charlie died have been tough.
The first week I just felt numb, and fucking angry.
I kept a short journal of my thoughts, knowing I would want to look back, one day, and remember.
It’s been 24 hours since your death. Countless tears and breathlessness.
But also relief.
We know that you aren’t in pain anymore.
I love you.
Tonight, I screamed in the car, driving down the freeway towards home.
How unfair it was that you weren’t here with us, with me.
How selfish that god stole you away from me, you beautiful, loving girl, with your chocolate eyes and big smile.
I screamed and yelled and sobbed. I was sick of trying to hold it in and make it feel ok.
Your nana called today. She asked how I was, and I told her I was ok.
It was a lie.
She knew I wasn’t ok, as she’s not ok either.
We miss you.
Hank and I went to the beach this morning. He was there, on the sand, playing with the other kids and he turned and looked around….”Where’s Charlie mummy?” said his face. He is so sad. He’s been staring at the front door, just waiting for you to come home.
We are trying to laugh and remember, the beautiful and funny things you’ve done.
My biggest fear, is that I won’t remember any of them.
What if I forget? What if I forget the funny things? What if I forget the way you look, sound, smell? What if I forget the way you feel when i hold you in my arms, sheltering you? What if I forget how much I loved you?
I can’t forget
I cant forget
I cant forget
I love you and I miss you
And that’s all I’m going to share.
To read the rest, to me, is torture.
And the sad thing is, I did forget.
It’s like my brain shut down, determined to shield me from any more pain. I forgot the big things at first, like how you looked and smelt. Then it was moments- running after the horses around the track, cuddling up during a storm, how you’d stomp your feet, ready to go for a walk.
This frightened me and left me so furious that I’d not cherished more moments together.
How could I not remember? How were they not committed to my memory, which had always been SO good? Damn my fucking brain for failing me. Damn my weak heart for feeling like this. And fuck you universe for dealing such a shitty card to someone who didn’t deserve it.
Yes, anger was a dominant theme.
Yelling into pillows helped. Throwing pumice stones (as light and pitiful they are) into the ocean helped. Walking hard and fast, out running those thoughts helped.
But they always caught up. No matter how far I went. No matter how angry I was.
I retreated. It was all I could do.
I screened calls. Avoided text messages. Didn’t read Facebook chat messages and just went into a little bubble of misery.
Then, something happened.
I’m not going to pretend it was a bolt of lightening or some golden light that came from the heavens.
It was just logic.
That part of me that was the fighter, finally stood up. She wasn’t taking any more of this shit.
So up I got one morning, about a month after she died, and I just began to feel a bit better. I laughed. Spoke to some friends. Kept it light.
It was small steps to connecting with a life devoid of Charlie, putting back the building blocks of my heart and focusing on the here and now.
Then, as always, I let my heart lead the way.
We found Holly.
Small, sad, underfed, and flea infested…I knew she needed us.
Completely deaf- it sounded like the challenge that the fighter in me needed. Something to sink my teeth into.
Charlie was work- hard work. Abused, neglected, anxious.
Hank- superbly easy, apart from the gourmet tastebuds that loved eating all of my expensive ingredients and $350 headphones from NYC.
But this, bring it on.
Deaf it turns out, has been easy.
Puppy has been hard.
We’ve never had a dog this young.
And the first 3 months of having her were disastrous.
I almost couldn’t do it. Almost gave up. Sent her back.
We hadn’t connected. She gave me indifference, and I gave her contempt.
Didn’t she realise what an amazing home she’d been lucky enough to come into? That she had HUGE shoes to fill and was doing a lousy job of it so far?
That her, putting one paw in the wrong direction would leave me furious and in tears, for Charlie, my perfect Charlie, never did anything wrong.
It’s been a transition. And a tough one. My level headed husband saved the day, as always.
Gently reminding me that she was a puppy. A deaf one no less. Who would take a little bit longer to train and connect with.
And here we are, 5 months after adopting Holly.
And I love her.
Not because she’s a replacement. But because I just love her for her.
Truly. Her little love-heart shaped nose is in our lives for a reason.
Now, we laugh at the funny things she does. And there are lots of them.
And when I’m gone, I miss her. I miss Hank, Paul and of course Charlie.
No longer filled with anything but love, that contempt and anger is gone.
She’s a gift, just as Charlie was, and as Hank is.
I sometimes thought I’d been rash in adopting another dog so soon. But Hank was miserable. He’s never been an only child, and it broke my heart to see him alone.
It was for him as much as her- saving her from god knows what, and saving him from a broken heart.
And now that he’s smiling again, it’s all been worth it- for everyone.
We talk about Charlie often. Me and Hank. I talk to him, and show him photos. I’ve shown Holly videos, and told her too- and she understands in her own way, fluttering her ridiculously long eyelashes at me.
Right now, they’re sleeping on the rug on my office floor. Never far from my side, just how I like it.
So, the point of this?
What helped me navigate the maze of grief:
–Being with my emotions 100%. Not dulling them with alcohol or medication (some people may need this, and that’s ok. But delaying the emotions delays the healing in my opinion). No matter how tortuous they were. I was with them.
–Treatments – Reiki, acupuncture and massage.
–Aromatherapy – lavender and frankincense seemed to work best for me.
–Sacred Self Oils – namely ‘Surrender’, ‘Peace’, and ‘Sanctuary’.
–Meditation every day – check out this one from Sara at The Space in Between
–Having an Altar in the house – a space for Charlie
–Rose Quartz (previously my most despised Crystal – now something I have to have on me every day)
–Crying, still- it just helps. And having a husband who understands, and doesn’t mock me or get angry for still crying has been amazing. He feels it too.
–Love, and giving it freely. In the past, I would have….(well I kind of did with Holly). Closed the door, walls up, barricaded my heart against any more pain (cause love is pain right?). But giving that love has been true medicine. And it took time. But if you can find space to give love, and adopt again, please do. It does help heal.
So, for those suffering. I feel you. I know you, because I am you. We all are, in one way or another.
We are sufferers of love, pain, life.
That grief, that palpable, thick emotion is strong. But the power is finding the light in that darkness, and recognising the gift that life is, and was, and always will be.
The biggest lesson we learnt?
Cliché I know, but it really is ‘life is short’.
We recognise that the flame of life can be snuffed out in a second. And we aren’t wasting any time in the world of ‘someday’.
Today is someday.
You’ll get there too. I promise.
This is the reply I sent to Ruby’s owner, and I know it’ll help you too.
I know that right now you just want to curl up in a ball and hide away….or like I wanted to, and not go on without her. But know, and I promise, that it will be ok.
That soon, you’ll begin to remember the funny things Ruby did.
The way she smelt.
The way her fur felt.
Right now, I’m sure it’s all like a different world, and trying to remember the funny memories and such is hard. But I swear to you, it won’t always be like that.
It’s heart wrenching when we lose our loves- but one thing that has helped me through, is remembering what a gift they were. That they taught us lessons and helped us be better people.
Ruby has opened up your heart, so that it may be bigger, and that you can give more love to dogs who need it.
Keep those beautiful hearts open, and feeling all of those feelings…for that’s why we are here.