Sometimes I feel really okay. ish.
I can get on Instagram and make my silly vids, go on my silly rants, and think, okay this is a good moment right now. It feels good to be distracted. To be silly again. I don’t have good days or bad days, a day is much too large to sum up for me, instead there all broken down by good and bad moments.
Moments and heavy sighs.
The second Birdie goes down for a nap a rough moment typically sets in. I’m not sure if it’s because this is when I’m alone with my thoughts, or because this was always my Har time (probably a little of both) but this is when my fight or flight instinct sets in. Fight= I force myself to admit I never get to see him again. I know it probably sounds crazy I’m still struggling to accept this, but I am. On the surface I obviously know it’s true, but deep down it sometimes feels like a new realization I’m forcing myself to walk into every single day.
Sometimes I lay in bed at night and feel like I’ve spent the day trekking through an overgrown forest, a forest full of bushes and branches and pestering thoughts constantly taunting me, always in my way. I have to cut through them all and push the mind junk aside, just to find that little spot of light. And when I do I feel okay. ish.
I sit in the clearing of light I’ve worked so hard to find and think about how lucky I am that I got the time I did with Harlow. I can watch old videos and sometimes even smile. This is nice, I think. I’m making progress. But if I stay too long the weeds start to grow. I find the smallest thing that breaks me. A toy still hidden in our closet. His overnight bag hanging in our garage. His green hiking pack. And sometimes it’s not even a thing, it’s just a thought. The little voice that says, are you sure feel okay? Don’t forget he’s gone. And just like that the moment of light is gone and I have to get up and keep moving.
And that’s my fight motive, that’s when I’m feeling up to the task of tackling the forest. My flight motive is to sleep. For the first week I was on Birdie’s sleep schedule. When she napped, I napped. I’d forgotten how exhausting it is to be sad. To miss someone. How you carry the weight of their absence on your back all day long.
Sometimes I try to force myself to see Har as others did, “he was just a dog!” I shout. Get over it. You’re being weird.
But I’ve always been weird. And I’ve always been open about the fact I didn’t care if people thought I was over the top in the way I treated/loved/talked about Harlow. We made each other happy, what did it matter what anyone else thought? And yet for some reason I care right now. I care a lot. I’m insecure and self conscious about admitting how much I miss him. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m extra vulnerable right now or… or because there seems to be an appropriate timeframe for “grieving a pet,” and I know mine has expired.
Last week I was called insensitive in regards to those who are missing humans that have passed and that made me feel awful. I felt awful for thinking I’d hurt someone else, or that someone thought my own grief somehow took away from theirs. But I’d never compare my loss to anyone else’s and wish they’d do the same for me.
I know he was “just a dog.” But he was a dog who was my by side more than any human. In every second of my down time, Harlow was always there. Before Birdie, in our Chicago days when Chris would go out and I’d choose to stay in, when my phone is put away, when it’s just me, it was always just me and Har. I’m not sure what any of that means exactly, I just know how it feels. And it feels like a big gaping hole in my heart, like there’s a lump in my throat that will never go away.
But I know it will get better. It already has a little, day by day, moment by moment. This is how it works. You love big, you hurt big. And after some time you’ll feel okay again.