And there it was; one of my dog’s partially chewed up “boney-bones” as we used to call them. The cat had been fussing under my dresser so long that I finally wriggled under there to see what he was so interested in.
I thought I had gotten rid of everything after our Bichon died a few months ago, but I guess I missed this hidden bone. My cat sniffed intently for a few more seconds, lost interest and moved on to other stuff. I lingered for a moment smiling at the thought of my old guy chewing away on one of his many beloved rawhides in this private, quiet spot. I braced myself against a rush of tears, and was surprised that they didn’t come. I decided to leave this sweet reminder right where the little guy had left it. I’m OK with it there- it’s strangely comforting.. for now.
I’m OK with reminders of my dad…that’s pretty strange too. I never thought I’d be willing, but we made peace in the years before he died – after I got rid of all the baggage associated with my parents’ messy divorce. I have his photo on the piano, and his sun glasses are on display on my memory tray. When I see these reminders, I smile and think of happy times and the amazing life this man built for himself in spite of (because of?) the desperate circumstances of his youth.
I am not OK with reminders of my sister. Her shocking death on the week-end my eldest daughter graduated from college is radioactive. Everything connected to her is still “hot” to this day and requires special handling and thought. She had hemmed and hawed about joining us for the celebration that week-end back in 2007. In the end, my sister bailed out at the last minute (as she often did), stayed home and over-dosed on prescription medication. I’m sure it was an accident; she had grown way too confident in her ability to manage all the different pills. (“Cindy, I know what I’m doing!”) Her barking dogs finally got the neighbor’s attention… after a few days had passed. They wouldn’t let my mom see her youngest daughter; the tall one, the pretty one, the one who with a little make-up was the spitting image of Brooke Shields.
If you live long enough you will experience losses and the intense pain that follows. The journey out of the shadows can be long or short; an unrelenting climb or a relatively manageable trail. Every experience is unique with one exception: along the path to healing we will all encounter reminders that reveal exactly where we are in the grieving process. A holiday, a birthday, a song, a season, a place, even a hidden doggy bone…
Sometimes you are farther along than you thought..
Sometimes the journey hasn’t even begun.