I didn’t think I’d be so tired today.
I forgot how much space holding grief takes up in a body.
Maybe that sounds like language that’s too something, but yesterday my dog Julio died on my watch. Roughly a few hours after Chris and I decided to put him to sleep later that day, I turned from my video interview with the mindfulness expert and saw Julio begin his final movements. Our dog Indu rushed in and hunched up nearby. I turned back to the mindfulness expert’s video image and told him I really needed to go. He kept talking but I was gone, moving toward my Julio and scooping him up in a blanket.
Is it too much to tell stories like this, to say how thankful I am that no one else was home? How I called the vet and my husband and carried my dog through the front door and into an impossibly sunny March morning. How the brown blanket Chris bought for my birthday years ago wrapped up my old dog. I got in the car but I couldn’t drive. I saw a neighbor get in his car. I stepped out of the car and asked my neighbor to drive me to the vet.
How there was nothing left to do but let myself be held by others, by my kind neighbor and the vet. I thanked my neighbor, telling him I couldn’t do this alone. The vet hugged me and told me I was a good mama.
That’s one of the only true things I know. That at hard times, there’s always someone there. Heck, there’s more than one person there and the people there may surprise you.
Some people aren’t like me: they don’t spill over the worst news. I’ve spent a long time thinking about who I share myself with, but I know I spill over the hard stuff in small ways to a wide array of folks. But there’s always this net, even if people don’t share what’s going on with themselves.
I didn’t share my news all day long, but the fabric of my day held me. At in-person interviews for a story I am working on, I asked and listened to other people for hours, hours after my dog died. I was held by life continuing, yet I couldn’t help but be awed that these people who I had just met where exactly what I needed then. Maybe give to much meaning to random circumstances, but the PR woman who complimented me like crazy and half offered me a job: oh yes, what a buoy for my day.
Because up ahead was telling my kids. And a funeral for Julio in our backyard. But still and yet, even as I held my kids up, the universe kept giving back to me. Watching my eldest shovel dirt while standing with my husband and my youngest, I thought, ‘We did this, we made ourselves a family.’
A family. A movie I watched in college about the death of a dad has stuck with me forever. One of the kids says at the end of the movie in a voice over, “Being together saved us.”
Connection saves us. All the ways we link ourselves together and work to strengthen the fabric between us carries us when we really need to be carried. As we watched our dog Julio’s demise these last few months, I worried about his end and holding my kids. I forgot, though, that people would hold me. I didn’t realize my kids would hold me, too. That all of these years of holding them when they needed me means they extend care to me now, too. We cared for each other last night. We remembered the playful joy that Julio poured into our lives. Our sadness was enmeshed in our joy, and being together saved us.