Ode to Sorrow (And All of the Lonely Hearts)

Sammy 3

Grief first came to me in the fall of 1987. It wasn’t my own. I watched it from afar as my great-aunt Maxine pulled the blankets from her bed and carried them to the laundry room; her head buried in their scent from days—maybe weeks—worth of wear. Her husband had died suddenly that morning. A heart attack they said. It took him out right after breakfast.

Maxine rolled all of the blankets in one big wad and stuffed them into the washer. “Damnit! Damnit!” She kicked at the bottom of the machine and slammed the lid shut. She lay the top half of her body across the washer and hugged the sides as she cried and screamed. Screamed and cried. A cycle of repetition. I watched from the doorway as she reluctantly let go.

I’ve experienced my own grief on multiple occasions since that November evening. It never gets easier. Two days ago I experienced it again. We said goodbye to our Sammy, that gnarly-toothed Lhasa Apso who never left my side. And now, he’s not here. I’ve closed my eyes for minutes at a time and have thought I could feel him nestled between my legs, but I’ve opened my eyes and he’s gone. Then the wind rattled the storm door this morning and I thought it was the tags on his collar clinking together like they used to do when he jumped from the floor to the couch. Eventually, these feelings and sounds will fade away.

I’ve sat here on the couch, in my pajamas, for two days. I want to let go, to move on, but I can’t. My thumb scrolls all of my newsfeeds up and down, down and up. Half the time I’m not even paying attention to what goes by. Once in a while, a funny video will catch my eye and I start to laugh only to have it slapped away by this aching pain in the pit of my stomach.

Tomorrow our housekeeper will come. She texted Cory to make sure it was still okay. “Is it?” he asked me. I nodded. Although I’m not ready for the last remnants of Sammy to be washed away, I know that I can’t go on like this forever.

I’ll shower today and will make it to the gym. I’ll kick the side of the weights as I scream “Damnit! Damnit!” and reluctantly let go.

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