I’ve never been good at facing ‘tragedies of life’. I mean, I’ve never visited a family member in the hospital. I was surprisingly nonplussed by the passing of my dear sweet Gramma last year (I miss her, and I’m sad, but my world wasn’t exactly rocked). It’s a defense mechanism. It usually backfires, because whatever energy I’m storing up inside me comes out in other nonproductive ways (like overreactions, fights, panic attacks, laziness, and pessimism, to name a few).
I’m not sure where it came from. Maybe I’m a naturally pessimistic and shallow person. Maybe there was some early childhood incident where my parents did show me how to handle something and now ‘say what you’re expected to, file it away in your brain, and move on like nothing happened until you snap’ is my M.O. Who knows?
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I’ve always been good at writing – but only (however ironically) during such tragedies. When my neighbor killed himself (we were both 13) I went through an amazing poetry-writing phase. Even now when I go back and read some of that, I can’t believe it came out of little adolescent me. I’ve been through several depressive episodes that have yielded monologues, poems, short stories, and letters that move me to tears all these years later. When my boyfriend and I broke up several years ago, I spent about a year maintaining a hilarious and sarcasm-filled college-girl blog that I now can’t seem to find the voice for.
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I don’t know why this is so hard for me to handle in person. I don’t know why I can’t tell people, cry for a while in my room, eat some ice cream, and move on. I don’t know why I didn’t rush home and drop my responsibilities. I don’t know why I can’t just call my mother (the cold that made me lose my voice notwithstanding and talk, even if it’s not about this. But I can’t. Something blocks me, and that something is probably what betrays me and my search for happiness later. The one thing I do know is that I can handle it here.
Misty Morn’s Ariel’s Angel is gone. Forever gone. Even though we knew this was coming, and I haven’t lived at home in 3 years, and she was never the dog of my dreams, and she was never very involved, or very bright, or very loyal…I still hurt. It’s not so much the fact that she’s gone – it’s that she’s not here. It’s not that she’s dead, it’s that she’s no longer alive.
She was beautiful – more beautiful than we, who lived with her every day, stopped to notice. She tried so hard. She always seemed a little lost, and maybe we should’ve been more gentle with her. She was weird, and she was ours. She was there when I wasn’t visiting my hospitalized family members. She was there when my neighbor died. She was home when I broke up with my boyfriend, and she was home when I fell into that pit of despair that resides within my own brain…but she was still mine: she still was.
The worst part about this, honestly, is that now I’m dog-less. Being a dog lover, a dog owner, a dog person has been such a huge part of me for as long as I can remember. And now…being dog-less…it hurts so much and it’s not something I was prepared for. I thought I would be sad, and miss Angel, and I do. But I didn’t realize how much it would hurt me to think that to myself. To think: I don’t own a dog. I have no dog. Every dog out there is someone else’s (or nobody’s) and suddenly…I see how it is. To not be a dog person. To see the idealized picture of a dog that everyone else has and to think ‘huh, that’s nice, good for them’ before going back about my day.
And I don’t want it to be like that.
I hope, someday, I get one again. I’m terrified, to my very core, that I’ll get used to this. You can get used to anything after enough time, they say. I’m terrified that a dog will seem expensive, and dirty, and large, and difficult to obtain and I will just never get around to it. I’m terrified that I will forget all the reasons I need one.
Because even when she was 13, and smelled bad, and had dandruff, and couldn’t get up stairs, and didn’t recognize me, and couldn’t hear, and didn’t like to be touched or held or played with…Angel made me smile. She made me feel better just looking at her, hearing her snore, knowing there was a dog over there. All dogs go to heaven because all dogs are Angels.
Don’t let me forget that.