I learned something this week.
Not much, mind you, but something.
When we lost Emma on Monday I was surprised at how incredibly painful it was.
I felt as if someone was actually tearing my heart in half.
I expected to feel sad, of course.
Very, very sad.
But I didn't expect pain.
And, being me, naturally I had to analyze the whole thing.
And, being me, naturally I have to share what I learned.
It's not anything that will help others cope with a loss – but it may help their friends and family understand better what they're trying to cope with.
We've all experienced loss, whether it be of a pet, a parent or other family member, a job or a friend.
What I was having a hard time understanding this week was why the loss of my, admittedly wonderful, dog affected me more profoundly than the loss of a friend or even, dare I say it, my father.
I think most of us understand that, when we grieve, we are grieving for ourselves, for the gap in our lives.
When my friend's partner 'dropped dead' of a heart-attack at the age of 45 I grieved because I would miss hearing his scintillating conversation at our occasional dinner parties.
My friend grieved because she would miss him at dinner every single night….
When my father died I grieved because I would never again see him sitting in 'his' chair, overseeing Thanksgiving or Christmas or birthday celebrations on my visits home.
My mother grieved because that chair would be empty every day, all day, always.
This was the first time that I had a loss that affected my 'routine'.
For all other losses in my life I have had my routine to return to.
I went home to my husband and family, where everyday life continued on, a bit more sadly for awhile, but basically unchanged.
Even when I've lost other pets, I could go to work, where people duly expressed sympathy, and the bulk of the day went forward, unaffected.
When you work at home it's different.
Emma was my routine.
I get up at dawn – because that's when dogs get up.
I throw some clothes on and we go out for first walk. Emma and I would walk up the hill to look at the sunrise.
Well, I looked; she chased bunnies.
Sedi watched from the gate. (She's too crippled to walk that far).
Now Sedi watches me and I walk alone.
After breakfast, I made coffee and went to my desk to start my day. Emma came, without fail, and demanded the first of many cuddles. Sedi had a nap.
Mid-morning she would remind me that it was time for second walk and second cuddles.
And so on through-out the day until we took a last walk up the hill, me gazing at the stars, and Emma, once again, chasing bunnies; Sedi, once again, watching from the gate.
That's what I grieve for.
That routine, that life, is gone forever.
It's a big, gaping hole that I am slowly trying to fill.
Yesterday, I took my camera for a walk (while Sedi sat at the gate and watched).
I couldn't do that with Emma. If I stood still too long I would get a 'head-butt' in the back of the legs.
I'm trying to maintain the old routines for Sedi's sake and trying to create new routines for my sake.
I may have understood this all on an intellectual level before; now, maybe, I understand it on an emotional level.
I do hope I remember all this the next time I'm trying to comfort someone.
Grief and loss are much more complicated….
It's just what I learned this week.
And, just so you know, life is slowly getting back to normal, chez nous…. New routines and all.
The last time I thought of Emma it was with smiles, not tears. (Oops, spoke too soon…)
And, just so you know, comfort food is always helpful. (You were wondering how I was going to work that in, weren't you?)
1 pork tenderloin, 12oz (350gr)
1/2 green pepper
1 cup peas, frozen, no sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
3/4 cup (6oz, 180gr) beef stock
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbs water
1 1/4 cup pasta, bite-size, penne, fusilli
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Slice pork into rounds about 1/2" (1cm) thick. Roughly chop shallots and pepper.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet. Add cumin, paprika, shallots, pepper, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Move vegetables to the side, add pork slices and sauté 3 – 4 minutes per side. Add peas (no need to thaw first) thyme, mustard, beef stock, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in water, add to skillet and stir until thickened.
Add pasta to skillet, stir well to combine and serve.
I even miss having to sweep up all of Emma's beautiful long white hair every day.
Although, I don't think that's how I thought of it at the time.
Selective memory sets in.
And, just so you know, this is the last sad post about Emma.
Emma, at the end…. Sigh…