Ever since I started this blog, and even moreso since writing All Dogs Go to Kevin, people write to tell me about their pets who are no longer with them.
They used to apologize for writing, or say they weren’t even sure why they were telling me about their pet, but most people don’t do that anymore. I think they know that they don’t need to explain.
As followers of the blog know, I love birthdays. Birthdays are fun, and I love love love that my birthday coincides with National Dog Day. I always celebrate. This year, though, I could barely be bothered. It was so bad that I got a card in the mail last week from a relative and it took me a full minute to figure out why, exactly, she was sending me one. It was more than not feeling like celebrating, it was as if my brain consciously turned it off.
Part of me wondered if it was because I was finally getting sick of getting older, if my rotten back and increasing-in-number doctor’s appointments were finally clueing me in that birthdays stink. I went about my routine for the day, ran some errands, and came home to scrounge up something to eat for lunch.
And then I understood.
I have never in my life spent my birthday day by myself. Mom never would have let that happen. With the kids in school and my husband at work, it would have been inconceivable to her that I would eat lunch by myself, and we would go out. Always. Today, however, I was alone, and in that moment all the little sadnesses that piled up just felt like more than I was ready to hold.
So when people asked me how my birthday was, I said, “meh,” because it was true, and then I said, “I really miss my mom.” It probably was not the answer they were expecting or really knew what to do with, but it was honest and I had to say it.
Because grief is like a hot potato burning in your hands. If you don’t toss it up in the air to give your hands a break every once in a while, they get burned, and then you drop it and then have to pick it up with blistered fingers. The need to let go of what you are holding onto, for just a second, is all that lets you continue to carry it around.
So when people write, I get it, I really do. Because while many people look at someone walking down the street tossing a hot potato in the air like they’re nuts, wondering why they can’t just put it down, I just nod. It is too terrible and precious to throw away; all you can do is wait for it to cool down. It will.
Steph Schmidt says
I get it. Sending you hugs…
Lisa W says
I get it, too. I’m still finding myself surprised by moments of grief after my dad passed eight years ago. Not as often, but every once in a while. If I lived in San Diego, I would’ve taken you out to lunch… some dog-friendly cafe where Brody could hang out, too.
Heather W says
Earl gets it. He sends hugs from Arkansas. Me, too.
I get it. Lost my Dad almost 20 years ago and I still find myself crying. And it usually happens on his birthday or mine. Sending purrs, gentle headbutts, and lots of hugs. And I won’t say it will get better because sometimes it doesn’t. We just have to soldier on.
I left a comment earlier but it looks like it didn’t go through. I attached a link to an article about grief that was really good. Kind of like the hot potato thing but different 🙂 Never put the hot potato down. It will cool enough eventually!
Your journey with your mom and with your pets was a huge encouragement/support for me this week…. a reminder that we can impact people’s lives that we are not even aware of. So, even though you were unaware…. thank you. Happy Birthday and hugs!
Dr. V says
I found it- somehow the comment wound up in the moderation panel (weird.) I’m so glad all is well with your family!!
Diana Reed says
So sorry about your Mom, I still have both my parents and feel blessed. Though I live 1000 miles away now. That is where I feel guilty. Moving away. I miss the lunches with my Mom and know she is just two days away…need to get home soon. Hugs
It’s early days still, Jessica, very early days. Grief can be a flexible companion, but the little bastard never really goes away. Wishing you heart’s ease.
Donna Cundy says
People will post stuff. Feel what you feel. Grieve. You are good at pulling it all together, but before that – feel what you need to feel. Then trust yourself and share. Its what you do. <3
Michelle Drackett says
I so understand. It was 2 months ago yesterday that my mom passed suddenly. She was my best friend. I’m still working through the anger part, or, I’ve gone back to it. It’s not going well. But then, how is it supposed to go? I’m sorry about your birthday. I’m already dreading holidays. *sigh* None of it is fair.