Since my boyfriend died, sadness stalks me. I’m allowing myself to be a walking juxtaposition, a contradiction, a human. Yet, I howl animalistic like my dog Cassie did when in heat. The neighbor lady mentioned the howling. I apologized (for my dog being a dog). She said, “Oh, no, my girls love it!”
Isn’t that just like kids—getting giddy over how beautiful a living creature is when it goes a little wild? What if I could see my own tears and howls aren’t for squelching, but a gift of communication given to me by God?
The previous conversation is about a dog I no longer have in a place I no longer live. Still, I have a dog and a neighbor. And there are howls.
Gretchen is my neighbor in a duplex. I know her name because I wrote it down when they first moved in. Any time she brings a bone or toys for my dog, I’m surprised, thank her, and think, “What’s her name again?” That’s why I wrote it down, so I can look at and remember one day.
It was a couple of days ago when I was howling on my deck. Oh geez, to tell the truth, I passed the howling stage. I hadn’t cried for a couple days. I tired of grief hanging around. I couldn’t even get out the door for yoga. I tried to take care of myself. But, my self was dragging her ass.
So, I compromised: yoga at home. I rolled my mat out into the sunshine on my deck. Took child’s pose. Took mountain pose. Did some other moves I like—ta da! Warrior! I am a warrior!
I somehow slipped down into child’s pose and began bawling like one. I beat my fists and shook with fury. I shouted the impossible, “Come back, Fire! Come back!” to my dead boyfriend. How many times did he holler that at me when I got out of bed or left his house to come home? I always believed I could go back—to him. I’m furious he’s dead! “I miss you sooo much!” I cry.
He’s saying, “Yeah, get mad! Icey, get mad! Let it out! Go wild!” I do. I’m in full-on terrible-twos, don’t tell me no, I’m so fucking pissed form. If someone saw me…
I caught Gretchen in my peripheral vision. Then came the question. I don’t even know if she said it aloud, knowing the absurdity, or if I just knew the concerned look so often followed by, “Are you okay?” when I get caught crying in public.
I told Gretchen, “Remember that day—it was March 4th—you asked me if I had a boyfriend? He died that day. Heart attack in his sleep. Completely unexpected.”
She latched onto the part I didn’t realize I needed someone to. She said she understood how hard the sudden, unexpected loss can be…her daughter died…16 months old… unexpected… sudden… different from her mom passing not too long ago…cancer…”
Shit, I thought, we’re going to need a calculator. Not really, I didn’t really think that. I also didn’t think until later about what little we know of the troubles of people right next to us.
Actually, everything shifted from my shame over my pain to compassion for her path, and gratitude for her honoring my loss without that look of panic or pity I’ve witnessed too many times.
Remarkably unobtrusive, she talked about how the body deals with grief, referring to a conference her chiropractor husband had just gone to regarding Broken-Heart Syndrome—grief’s physical manifestation in the body. Gretchen gave me some vitamins and offered afternoon knocks for tea or wine. I said I might take her up on that. I didn’t say I’m more of a coffee and beer kind of gal. She said, “I’ll let you get back to your grieving. Don’t worry about the noise.”
Now, I was quiet, like a baby held and rocked after a bad dream. Maybe there’s something to that child’s pose.