Grief sucks. I’m just putting that out there. It kicks your butt and leaves you a beaten and bloody lump on the floor. Then it steps over you with a wave and says, ‘Catch ya later, chump!’ And it does. It actually comes back later and whoops your ass again. And again. And then once again for good measure in case you weren’t paying attention the first few times. In fact, it keeps coming back until you lose count of how many trips it’s made.
But damned if I’m going to just sit back and let it take a piece out of me. No way. I’m not a scrapper for nothing. I channel my inner Pat Benatar and ‘put up my dukes and get down to it’. Then it hits me with its best shot. And I go down for the count. If I had any brains, I would stay there. Just let it wash over me, get its licks in and then go on its merry way. But I’ve never been very good at just standing still and letting someone get their licks in.
So I bounce back up, smack my chest like a prize fighter and yell, “Yah? You want a piece of this?”
Turns out it does. And down I go again.
The process repeats itself until I begin to question my sanity. And in that questioning here is something I’ve learned: Grief cannot be beaten. It has an unlimited supply of return engagements which it is more than happy to use until you finally throw up your arms and say, “Fine! I give! Uncle!”
I hate crying uncle. I don’t think I’ve ever cried uncle.
I’m crying uncle now.
See, I figured I could just push past grief, smack it into submission and be on my way. That’s my usual modus operandi when faced with a problem. I didn’t need to go through the six steps. I didn’t even need to know what the six steps were. What did it matter? Cooper was gone. She was not coming back. Denial, anger, whatever else – useless emotions. A waste of time. I was not going to stand still and deal with that crap. Not me. Grief was nothing more than a problem I was going to solve.
I would immerse myself in all things dog. Books, training DVDs, websites. I would get another one. Take that grief. I’ll get a beagle. No...no that isn’t going to work. A lab rescue dog then. No, wait, a sheltie. What? You need a home for a golden retriever? Sign me up! But every time an opportunity presented itself my gut would clamor into an uproar and I would back pedal like a commitment-phobe being shotgunned to the altar.
Note to self: Grief cannot be circumvented.
I admit I can get tunnel vision. I get fixated on something I’m going to do and I just barrel through until I get there. This works most of the time. It keeps me focused and gets me to where I need to be. But apparently grief did not get the memo. It can not be barreled through. It cannot be burrowed under. It's too damn fat to squeeze around. And, worst of all, it will not be ignored.
So here I am, realizing this three months later, looking around at an empty house void of Cooper. I am not over her passing. Not by a long shot. I notice little things, hints that my subconscious knew this all along. Little corners I refused to vacuum, because some of her hair still lived in tiny pockets. Her bed still resting at the foot of mine. The good morning and goodnight I still say at the beginning and end of each day. The screensaver that graces the computer at work. The crying jags that come out of nowhere and the dull, relentless ache somewhere in the hollowed out area where all the things we used to do used to live.
There is not room there for another dog. Not yet. Maybe not for some time to come. That place still belongs to Cooper and I’m not ready to move her out or put her somewhere else.
So to recap: Grief sucks. It cannot be beaten. It will not be ignored. It kicks your ass.
Fine. I get it. Lesson learned.