I didn’t want to go.
She was snuggled, warm and soft, against my chest. Her breathing was in that perfectly relaxing rhythm that lulls and comforts, as if she were a yogi of napping.
My heart felt too full. It turned to liquid as it trickled out of my eyes.
I held her a little too long, a bit too needy, but she accepted my energy nonetheless. In return, she gave me Love. Moxie is always willing to give Love.
And 10 minutes too late, I arose, feeling hurt and empty and numb…and desperate for distraction.
Thankfully, that distraction was a healthy one. My personal trainer kept me focused on my fitness goals, on my progress, on my future…for almost 90 minutes.
Muscles used and body sweaty, I left, feeling lighter, physically and emotionally. I tackled my next chore, one of a more domestic nature: refilling the water jugs.
As I pulled up to Super Pure Water (as opposed to Pure Water?), I realized that Jules Vet was next door. It’s been more than 10 days since we transitioned Callie and since I hadn’t heard from them about her remains, I thought that might be easier if I could be strong, and in control, proactively seeking answers. It seemed the better alternative to the shock of a phone call.
Maybe if I can control the terms, it will hurt less.
I made it to through the entrance and to the counter before words abandoned me.
People say to just put one foot in front of another. Focus on the simple tasks. Healing will come with time.
I’ve been feeling stronger. I go to work and feel passionately about what I do. I like helping businesses grow in ways they’ve never considered, with tools they didn’t know were available. Learning new skills, doing what you’re great at, and being successful at it is one of the best feelings. It’s an elixir for the hurt, for the loss.
But eventually, I have to go home. The drive is laborious. An internal pep talk ensues for the 100-minute+ commute. “Be Strong for Moxie”, I tell myself.
Mitch Albon recently said words that encapsulate my feelings:
“Have you ever known a person who was always in a certain place? And then all of a sudden, he or she is gone? I know of no word for that emptiness, but if silence could talk, that would be its sound.”
That’s what it’s like at home sometimes; the silence screams.
Unlike Moxie, who thinks that the whole world is her playground, Callie had her favorite places: the corner behind the dining room table on the thick chocolate brown rug, the comfy forest green dog bed in front of the fireplace, the top of the stairs where she could keep a protective eye on the front door, and when she wasn’t sleeping in bed with me, the large dusty blue dog bed in the corner of the room. During her last weekend, when she had become too weak to come to bed and had no interest in the new dog stairs that would allow her easy access, I slept on the floor next to her while she was sprawled out on that bed.
Moxie still won’t sleep there, even in her absence. Two nights ago, Moxie slept on the floor, facing Callie’s bed, almost as if she was waiting for her return.
And that’s when it’s hard to stay strong.
I admit, I’ve become a mild hoarder. I just recently washed the jeans that I wore to Callie’s transition, her blonde fur and her scent still lingering. I still have the tissues that attempted and failed to dry my tears, that I shoved into my pockets at some point of that evening. Other memorabilia is too private to share. Just last night, I finally stripped my bed of the sheets she had been on, and still can’t bring myself to wash them.
This morning, I found Moxie curled up on the floor in them. She misses her sister.
I am starting to take those steps towards healing. I don’t want to live forever in this sad space…and I certainly don’t want Moxie to.
But like all changes, it’s a process. Each day, the reality of the situation becomes clearer. It was her time. It was the right decision. Callie is no longer in pain and that brings me more happiness than not.
And I’ve had to learn more new coping skills. I am so blessed and this experience has reinforced that. Death and disease have been coming at an increase pace and that’s just part of Life. I am learning to adjust, to cope, to breathe, and focus on what I am able to change.
Last week at work, a colleague struggled with a perceived failure, beating themselves up verbally. I heard myself say: “We learn more from the struggles and failures than we do from the successes.”
Sometimes the best advice that I give myself is the advice intended for others.
Callie taught me Love and Patience. She taught me that the best things in life aren’t always the easiest but the ones that challenge me the most. And she taught me that while pain is heartbreaking, it’s never as painful as withholding my heart, withholding Love.
Where there is no love, there is no life.