Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

I love the smell of grief in the morning

I had my first dream about Lucky. Just before I woke up this morning, I dreamed I went downstairs and he was waiting on the kitchen floor by the back door, smile-panting at me, and I had a strip of bacon in my hand, and I ate half of it because I didn't think the whole strip would be good for him, and I was half aware that I was dreaming and I thought, if I can get him to eat this bacon, he can stay. (I wasn't thinking this part in the dream per se, but in a lot of myths and folktales, there's the motif of the person who has to stay in an otherworld after eating something--Persephone in Hades, people who go off with the fairies, and so on.) And I leaned down to give him the bacon and he turned into Sam, who was more than happy to take it from me.

I'm to the point where I keep just sitting and staring at some place he ought to be, usually some spot on the floor in my room, and imagining him being there, remembering what it was like to pet him, like there's a place in my head where I can still be with him. I believe this is what people refer to as "living in the past." I don't seem to be in control of this kind of reverie at the moment, but this is why I'm hoping I'm well enough to go see The Black Dahlia tonight, because if nothing else it will fill the empty place in my head for a few hours.

As for crying, I thought I was getting to where I was okay, and then I was in the bathtub and I realized that, if I go to a movie tonight, he won't be waiting for me when I come home. My parents would go to bed and turn off all the lights downstairs except for the porch, and I'd come in and he'd be waiting at the top of the stairs, listening for me, and he'd come thumping down the stairs with a single low "Ruuuhf!," like he had to say something ("And just where have you been?") but he knew he was supposed to be quiet. And I'd put my keys and my purse down and pet him at the bottom of the stairs in the dark and he'd wag his tail so hard. Generally he barked some--not half as much as the poms--and a lick was a very special occasion, but Lord Almighty was he a wagger. So I ended up crying in the bathtub, hoping my sister and her boyfriend wouldn't hear me in the next room.

I'm kind of at the why-God-why stage now. I understand how he died, medically, but I can't bring myself to understand why--why now, why so soon, why such a sweet dog. There is no why, of course--depending on your philosophical leanings, there either is no why, period, or there's no why because we're not allowed to see inside the mind of God. You could say that because of what happened this week, our lives will drift into some subtly different direction than they would have otherwise--the butterfly effect, if you will. I tend to subscribe to that view because I'm a writer, and I tend to view God as a cosmic writer. Everything has some kind of effect or consequence or correlation; we're just not able or allowed to see the big picture now, if ever. I mean, I can say now that my father walking out on us was a watershed event in my life that actually heralded better things; it was probably the best thing that ever happened to my mother, in its own way. Later, I went through a major depression pretty much the entire year of 2001, where I nearly flunked out my last semester of college and didn't apply to grad school for another whole year, but the things I did during that time, the friendships that began, are still with me today. I didn't apply to the big creative writing programs--partly because I was scared, and partly because I dreaded the idea of professors trying to break me of my style and trying to remake me in their own images; I had already had a bad experience with a visiting professor from a top program, and while it was irrational of me to spin that one encounter out into What a Big Program Will Totally Be Like, I think it helped me say, this is how I write and what I write, and I want to write that better. I don't want to write Very Serious, Literary Examinations of the Human Condition in Which Nothing Actually Happens, and I'm tired of writing poetry that has to be buried in arcane symbolism for it to be considered any good. In the program where I ended up, here in-state, they actually liked Black Ribbon and were supportive of it, even though it was verging on genre (which Literary Types Do Not Like). And so I was scared and stubborn and evasive, and for my troubles, I... got a book deal. Not for my fiction, but for movie parodies I sure as hell wouldn't have been writing if I'd gone to Iowa. And at the same time, I'd lie awake sometimes and wonder what I was missing out on. If nothing else, the friends I would have made that I now wasn't going to. I made new friends anyway--just different friends. I kept wondering what it would have been like if I'd sacked up and made a different decision, and then every now and then something would happen and I'd say, I made the right decision after all. I'm on the right road. I don't know where I'm going, but I know it's the right way. But there's more than one crossroads, you know. I feel now like I chose the right way at that point, even though it seemed wrong at the time, but now I lie awake and wonder if there's other turns I've missed since. But it is something I have picked up from my mother, when something goes wrong, to ask, what is God trying to tell me? Sometimes I feel like I can't move forward, like something's pressing me down--it's depression but at the same time, I swear to you, almost every time it happens and I miss out on something, I find out later that missing out on that first thing meant that I was around to catch something better. I think of it as the hand of God pulling you back--of course you sit there and worry that maybe this time you just really are being depressed or irrational or scared, and it's not God at all; maybe it's just your way of rationalizing bad choices. But I keep looking back and thinking, "Thank God I didn't do that," which is what leads me to think that some kind of providence held me back for something better.

So I keep trying to think of Lucky in terms of that. I was so attached to him--probably too attached to him--that him being gone will allow me to move on and basically become a functioning, independent adult. It'll allow me to finally leave the nest. And God must have said (I thought to myself), he was a good dog, and you loved each other, so I'll take him as peacefully as I can. I was in bed with that fever just before it happened; he was sleeping on the floor beside my bed. He always had to be near me. I keep staring at that spot. But--and maybe I'm entering something of a bargaining stage here--I keep asking why he had to go now. Even if the Lamictal helps me pull my shit together and start becoming a real adult, it'll be a while before I can afford to move out. Maybe a year, maybe two. He could have stayed here with us until then. And then you come back around to the idea that it wasn't your fault, it was just "his time" to go regardless of what was going on with you--there was no why. And I'm not sure I like that explanation any better.



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Tags: grief, house of bark, philosophical ramblings
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