I fear I am losing my mind. Corey is dead and has been since November 1st and I seem to still be moving through a fog. I feel like a murderer and I am haunted by his small face, his eyes looking into mine. He was my 8 lb poodle and I put him to sleep. That sounds so noble, like i did him some huge favor. Like the end result isn't still the same. He is dead and I am not.
I tell my grandson that Uncle's in heaven now. "Did God take Uncle Corey?" "yes", i whisper. "Then I don't like God. You tell me where heaven is and I'll go get him back!" I try to explain that Corey died and then God took him. It's lost on his not quite four year old mind. "
This is my first Christmas without Corey in twelve years. He was a pound puppy when I got him, well not a puppy but at least five years old. I just had my first birthday without him. He won't have another birthday.
I can see it in the eyes of those around me. Okay, enough now. But I am driven to tears at the drop of hat. I will take his toys out of the living room today. Family starts arriving for the holiday and even I recognize that it's time to move them, if only for the extra space which will soon be devoured by presents. Presents. Bah.
We are looking for more lights for the tree in a Christmas box, digging through the closet under the stairs. Steve tells me to look away. I have no idea what he's talking about and wonder how he's secreted away a gift for me amongst lights and ornaments and angels. There is no gift. I see that what he is trying to shield from my eyes is Corey's elf outfit. And I know that Steve can not bear to see me cry again. It's not as though I sit around crying. But it's not as though I am present in our lives either. I am stuck in between and unsure of how to get back. I've been traveling with Steve since I quit working and everytime we come home, it's fresh and new all over again. Corey is not here to greet me. Corey did not fly along with me. Corey is not.
It's Christmas and there should be cheer. I am raging inside. The last two days I am the woman I despise. Ugly, snapping, belittling Steve, barking orders at him, barking, ha, barking. I just want my effing dog back. I am compelled to go into the back yard, move the little pile of stones, and dig him up. I want to hold him, please can't he lick my cheek one more time. In the first week, Steve understood and he held me and gently talked me through the need to dig him up. Now I can not tell him that the feeling is just as strong. I know what death does. I know that what is buried is no longer my dog. But I am unable to focus on that and instead he is still fluffy and soft and he remembers me like when he was young. In my mind, he is no longer the blind old dog, but a younger version of himself, when he always knew who I was. There is no senility, just his regular grumpy, psychotic self. He was crazy. Anyone who met him had no doubt of his mental capacity, but he was my friend. My secret keeper.
It's my birthday and Steve tells me to close my eyes and hold out my hands. Even though we have agreed there will be no surprise dogs, I am still anxious. Excited and revulsed that there could be a small squirming puppy heading into my arms right now. And then the weight of the book rests heavily in my outstretched hands. A sigh of relief. Another of remorse. A travel book, for Italy, next summer. I am delighted and disappointed. We have an agreement, but still for a second, I hoped and yet I feared.
I remind myself that I did not lose a child. I remind myself of the words I've rehearsed. Old, senile, arthritis, going blind, good life, long life, happy life, incontinent, pain, biting, "for his good", no more suffering. I remind myself of his age and of his physical and mental ailments. I remind myself of the families I've worked with. Of their first Christmas this year without their loved one. I remind myself of all I am blessed with, of the love in my life.
There is no need to remind myself of the friendship of Corey.