Quarantine may have begun as something novel, gone on to become fodder for memes and gifs (many genuinely humorous and showing the ingenuity of the human capacity to find laughter in adversity), but it now finds us picking through a dire reality and wondering where to go from here. Whether you’re grieving what your life looked like before or grieving a particular loss, the isolation and lack of a daily routine to return to can make mourning acutely difficult. Or, at least, it has for me.
During this time, I have been mourning the loss of my darling girl, Wendy, who was a loving, calm, and loyal soul with four paws and a tail. The week before quarantine, I had to make the decision all pet owners dread. An awful place to be in during ordinary times, but which is compounded now by my limited ability to venture outside the home in which we shared her last days.
In our nine years together, Wendy traveled with me to 21 states, often carried as a newborn, a toddler, a football, and even once in a baby Björn while hiking in Yosemite. She hated camping, by the way, but I always said it was good for her and builds character. She opted to sit in her camp chair or on top of the picnic table in response. In the end, I told her she’d never have to go camping again.
She was my soulmate, the absolute love of my life. My arms, my being, feels empty without her. I grasp for her and there is nothing. Just blankets she once lay in. Now cold, but still smelling of her. My girl.
The part I struggle with most now is not knowing where she is. I have her ashes and cherish them on my bedside table, but she’s not there. Where is she? Where has she gone? Oh, oh how I wish I knew. It eats at me. I look for her in the quiet of night, seeking in the dark. I reach for her in moments of laughter; is she laughing too? And, I call to her in my dreams; show yourself, tell me you’re still here with me.
Oh, how I wish.
I suppose that’s what becomes of us when we lose loved ones and wish they would come to us from the beyond. Something. Anything. Tell me I’m not alone.
When she was dying- I cry to admit it now, but it’s true- when she was dying, I told her she must haunt me, she must; that I couldn’t stand to be without her. Please, I pleaded. And here I am, not feeling haunted at all and it kills me. I can’t be upset with her…she’s moved on to what comes next and that’s a good thing, of course it is. I just wish it wasn’t all so final. I wish I could still feel her with me But, I can’t. She’s elsewhere. I have her ashes on my bedside table and her picture in my locket…but, she’s elsewhere.
And I’m still here.