I’m late for grief? So, do I grieve wrong – or some other such nonsense?
Yes. And, No.
Really what this is all about is this long crying jag I had in the car today on my way home from the doctor’s office. Ah, the doctor’s office – home of all stressors!
I had surgery on my left Achilles tendon and heel in mid January. This was no small or minor surgery. It involved an Osteotomy (a removal of part of my heel bone), a graft onto my Achilles, and the whole thing reattached to my heel. Basically, my surgeon created better anatomy.
Anyway, even though I’m progressing along at a faster rate of healing than expected, there are days when I swear it would hurt less to stab myself. The amount of swelling against the healed scar makes for a nerve stew that feels like the scar is on fire. Yes, ON F**KING FIRE. Really. FIRE!
Nothing came of my appointment today that I would consider useful. In fact, there were a few very blatant HIPPA violations. Pain + Privacy Issues… well, you can see where this is going to end up. After having my identity stolen TWICE, I’ve got some very strong opinions on privacy and the protection thereof.
So, as I was hobbling the 1/4 mile to my car with the assistance/hindrance of crutches, my mind and body were wearing down. I just stared at the floor only to occasionally look up so I wouldn’t collide with anyone or anything. Normally, my head is up and attention on everything around me… only this time I had something I wanted to hide.
I didn’t want anyone to see the tears in my eyes.
I wasn’t crying because of the physical pain as horrible as it was. I wasn’t crying because I was frustrated with the situation. I was crying because of something that happened on Thursday March 24th.
You see… our pack lost a member. We had to let Thora go. Cancer. While she had lived a very, very long and very, very, very happy life, she was the Heart of the Pack. Everyone thinks their dog is special. However, not all dogs can be the most special.
What set Thora apart was her ability to figure out what anyone, whether it be a known friend or stranger, needed emotionally. She knew when someone was hurting and would seek them out. She knew when someone was lonely and would flop her head on their knee. She just knew. And, this isn’t some romantic twaddle after the fact. It’s the truth.
In fact, she hated all of her prospective adoptive parents. Seriously. She was scheduled to be put down when we got a call out of the blue (still don’t know how they got our number) telling us that if we didn’t come – no one would. We knew she had temperament issues, but we figured we’d see when we got there.
The animal control officer brought her out, she looked straight at us, and she tugged as hard as she could to get to us all the while her tail was wagging faster than a hummingbird’s wings trying to get away from a hawk. It was bizarre and wonderful.
She’d been waiting for us.
We went though so much together. SO MUCH. I lost and gained my mind. We lost so many wanted pregnancies. Jeffrey, our beloved basset and her BFF, passed away which led us to get Lucian, our GSD, because Thora stopped eating. That scared the s**t out of us. We bought our first home. We had our first experience with owning a LEMON and dumped it ASAP for a better vehicle. And, we lost so many people that we love. I say LOVE and not LOVED on purpose.
So, three weeks ago, I took Thora to see a specialist, Dr. Todd McCoy – a canine dentist, about a growth in her jaw. Deep down, I knew it was cancer. I think Jason did, too. We just wanted to be 100%. Dr. McCoy was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I think it was harder for him to deliver the news than it was for me to hear it. He teared up at the end of our visit as he was saying goodbye to Thora, and he’d only met her once. He looked at me and said, “She really is as special as Dr. Kuecker said she is,” and he smiled through his tears.
“Yes. Yes, she really is. I think they sent me to you because they couldn’t bear to tell me.”
The following Thursday came, and Thora’s favorite vet tech was there – Candace. We love Candace, and Candace LOOOOOOVES Thora. Candace was there to help us, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. How do you thank someone that loves your dog as as much as you do that is going to help your dog die? My Granny, many years ago – I think I was 14 – said that the kindest thing you can do for your dog is to help them die if their natural death would be a slow and painful decline. I shared that with Candace, and I could tell that it meant a lot to her that we really were so grateful to her for her compassion.
(sidenote: I’m crying as I write this.)
Thora got her first shot which was an anesthetic which made her fall asleep and feel no pain when the second shot would stop her heart. We sat there for 10 minutes after the first shot as she fell asleep. Thora was struggling to stay awake, and I could tell she wanted something. So, I sat down in front of her, she put her head in my lap, and she looked up at me as if to say, “Hey, don’t be sad Mom. I’m here.” Then, she fell asleep for the last time.
We left before the second shot. Candace was with her, and death isn’t pretty. Thora wasn’t aware, and we knew that she would cross the rainbow bridge with the help from her friend, Candace.
I cried but not that much. I thought that maybe I’d been granted a reprieve from the kind of grief I’ve felt in the past because I’m now a practicing Buddhist. However, there was a part of me that knew I was intellectualizing. I even said it out loud.
There was plenty of sadness and tears between then and today just not as much I thought here would be for someone whom had been such a huge and important part of my life. There were plenty of passing thoughts of… “Delayed Grief, again?” But, I brushed it aside knowing that if it was Delayed Grief, it would come, and it would be by some weird trigger.
So, what is Delayed Grief? It’s the GMO of emotions. Just kidding. Well, sort of. Delayed Grief in individuals that would be considered normal or gifted in development is when the mind shunts grief aside to deal with at a later date. That’s the most simplistic explanation I can think of. It usually develops as by-product of the coping tools that children of abuse develop in order to survive the abuse. Most fellow survivors I’ve spoken with have shared with me how they felt emotionally stunted at times because showing emotion draws attention. We learned not to show emotion in front of our abuser in order to try to avoid abuse.
Eventually, you no longer become aware that you’re shoving emotions aside. Your mind does it for you.
So, here I’ve been over the past week going about my business. My foot started hurting. REALLY, REALLY HURTING. ON FIRE AND SWOLLEN HURTING. My doctor’s PA heard maybe 2/3 of what I was saying to her. I could tell because she’d repeat the exact opposite of what I told her just a few minutes later. Some person I didn’t even know was eavesdropping in on my private appointment. I was tired. I had to hike 1/4 mile to my car. My mind finally hit the barrier that I so badly needed to hit and break. I needed to grieve. I STILL NEED TO GRIEVE EVEN MORE.
And, so… I might be late, but there is no right or wrong when it comes to grief. I miss her. I miss her so much, and now that I’m REALLY feeling it – I can understand better what my husband has been feeling. Not that I didn’t understand before… I did. But, I can feel it alongside him, now.
And, I can also feel what Lucian must be feeling, too. He lost his BFF. We’re not ready for another dog. He’s going to get lots of play dates with his friends, but I know he’s sad because he just isn’t himself.
We all love her. Anyone that she trusted had her trust for life. She was so kind and so smart. She was our “Once In A Lifetime Dog”.