Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The cellular side of grief

I have 4 long reports to write for my social work clients but writing is always therapeutic so a little blog post is needed for my sanity.  I am probably gonna ramble here so be warned.

My puppy is sick.  He is very, very sick and at this point we don’t know if he will make it or not.   He is no ordinary pup.  He is representative of so much in my life; he is my therapy and my healer and my restorer.  

His birth and care along with his siblings brought up so much stuff from my past I thought was long since buried.   His illness now brings up past shit too.  It’s never really gone.  Time heals and smooths out the sharp pointy bits but the loss and grief and sadness is absorbed into our cellular memory and when we have a fresh incident, it stirs it up again and is refueled.

I have a client who has had a hard life.  We spoke about things that happened to her 54 years ago and the tears welled up and the pain was fresh.  I remember speaking to a lady who lost her daughter in a drowning accident 30 years prior and that pain popped out like it was yesterday.  We have happy days and normal days and days where we don’t even think about those past heartaches and then boom…its there, its triggered and it hurts and it surprises us in the intensity and the real rawness it brings.

Paulie was born 2 weeks before Daniel moved out.  Although Daniel and I were ready for him to leave the nest I miss him and it was harder than I thought.  I enjoy a close relationship with him, a friendship and having my son and my friend not around was a loss.  And then I had the pups and my maternal drive was on steroids as I nurtured them and raised them.  Five of their siblings were stillborn, 4 were perfect and 1 never developed.  It almost cracked me and I was determined I would not lose any of my surviving 9.   When the fertility vet heard I had lost 5 she told me it was probably a viral infection and I would lose all of them in the next 48 hours.  Well sorry, but F*ck you!  My mother will tell you what a stubborn child I was (I prefer determined) and my babies were not going to die.   I kept a vigil in that room for 16 days 24-7 and then just during the day and at 8 weeks my babies went to their forever families.  Except one guy.  The one I simply couldn’t let go.  Named after my brother, the smallest little male of the lot.  I did not want another dog.  I was about to start working, my studies are demanding, my dystonia and anxiety, training for ironman, dealing with masses of dog poop for 2 months  I wanted my house back.  But no one else could own this boy, he was my boy.  And so he stayed and me who never ever kissed a dog and hates dog germs and stinky dog smelling houses took all my past heartache and allowed myself to love this dog with absolute abandon.  He was a safe bet, a guarantee of pure unconditional love for at least a decade.  I kissed him on his head (still don’t do dog slobber) every day and we snuggled and hugged and bonded and loved.   He cries when I see him and falls apart from love every time even if I have been gone half an hour.  He is a total wuss baby dog and loves the girls and Gary too.

When I yell at yet another object destroyed or something eaten or a wee inside the girls sometimes ask if I am sorry I kept him.  I admit I pause here, am I sorry?   I would love a clean house and furniture that isn’t destroyed.  But it not so much about keeping him, as being unable to part with him.   And now he is very, very sick with parvo virus.  This is a word that strikes terror in the heart of all rottie owners as they are particularly sensitive to parvo.  I was paranoid when the pups were small.  Everyone took their shoes off and washed hands and they had all their shots.  I even made this odd pact I would not mention or bad mouth the nasty right wing animal activist who was so awful to me and so many others.  And my boy still gets parvo?  The .1 in the 99.9% dogs are safe?

The hardest bit is not just that he might die, it’s being helpless and not being able to physically touch him or comfort him.  I am allowed to see him through the glass at the ICU but that will just upset him so I have to stay away.  He is there feeling awful and I am here and I cannot kiss his head or stroke him or sooth him.   This feels familiar.  Deep in my cells is that feeling of helplessness and grief from January 2004 when my nephew was born.  I couldn’t do anything for him or my sister but the worst bit was I could not hold him or see him or touch him.  I never did get to see or hold him.  And then even further back when Daniel was 20 months and I was a single parent and Daniel got Roto virus and spent 6 nights in hospital.  At least my mom and I could see him but it was hell.   That’s over 18 years ago?  The feelings are the same, those memories and the eina of it all.  What weird creatures we are with so much capacity for love and grief and everything in between. 


And now it's time to do some work.  To wash my face and be brave and do life and hope my naughty pup will come home.  Life does not owe me, everyone has tough stuff to deal with so I am not guaranteed a happy ending in this but hope junkie is not giving up on Paulie-boy or love or hope or unicorns or mermaids.  I want my boy. #prayforpaulie

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