Every morning it is the same thing. I wake up. I open my eyes. For about 30 seconds life is pre-July 21, 2017. Pre ALS. I wait for that morning breath whisker filled grin to turn and face me. I wait for the early morning ritual kiss and the pat on my back side “Mornin’ Mama, time to get up!” I blink and realize he is truly gone. Yet I am still here. In those 30 seconds? I can not breathe. The grief threatens to overtake me. Just as quickly as the pain begins to engulf me? I am greeted by a barking Golden Retriever who wants to be let out.
In the early months, I found that the tears were unpredictable and unstoppable. I would cry, and Henry would lap up my tears. I would wail, and he would sit beside me howling in unison. Sometimes he would place his paw in the air as if to say “High five! Let it out! Good job, Mama!” He would insist on holding my hand in the car. And, yes, he dug up my yard, peed on priceless rugs and drove me absolutely crazy. Amazingly? He distracted me from the deep anguishing grief. He made me laugh. He loved me unconditionally. Henry gave me a reason
to get out of the bed each morning.
I’ve learned in the past 13 months that grief has no divine order. In the early weeks I was joyful that my husband was in heaven. I knew that he was healed and whole. The proceeding months survival mode kicked in. Subsequently the numb months followed. And just about the time I thought I had this whole widow thing figured out? The grief came flooding back over me like a tidal wave threatening to pull me back out to sea.
Grief is a funny thing. That statement in itself is an oxymoron. There’s absolutely nothing funny about grief. Grief is evasive, tricky and it is sneaky. Sometimes it’s welcomed like a soft summer rain. Other times it is as vile as those last seconds before vomiting with the stomach bug.
C.S. Lewis penned it perfectly:
“It feels like being mildly drunk or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the
world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to
take it in. It is so uninteresting”.
I do not want to be that woman who can’t move beyond the past. I don’t want to re-live death. Truthfully,
I’m scared I won’t remember his life.
A friend told me that grief is Gods way of purifying and sanctifying. It is His way of forcing us to be still. Letting us find our way. Grief is meant to be experienced.
“Elizabeth, you must walk through it. Don’t avoid it. Don’t dread it. Embrace it.
Grieve. You are allowed. This past year? Your marriage? The bond you two
shared? All worthy of praise and grief”.
A neighbor recently reminded me that Dog is actually God spelled backward. I can attest to the fact that my goofy Golden has all of the attributes of Grace. He has loved me unconditionally, made me laugh, cried along with me, prayed with me and tried to lick my broken heart to healed. Henry is not my husband. In some respects I do feel Robin in Henry~ as ridiculous as that sounds. Henry was my husbands idea. We brought Henry home right before Robin passed away. He didn’t want me to be alone after his death.
Henry has been my saving grace this past year. He has saved me from the deep depths of despair. That black hole of grief. The hole that would have been so easy to not have come back from. Henry is a digger, a searcher and a comforter. He reminds me to keep digging deeper. To search through this new life with awe and wonder. To choose to comfort the world with kindness rather than bitterness in death. This fluffy ball of Golden has been the best grief counselor anyone could ever ask for.