Thursday, April 2, 2020

Dedicated to My Husband - "Living on a Prayer"

So ... today is the day we've been both anticipating and dreading, they're going to call for us to pick up Snuggy pug's ashes, urn and plaster paw print.  I also got a cherry-wood box to put the urn in, with a place for his picture on the outside.  He will sit on our mantel, next to the urn box for Mark's horse, Blade. 

I may post it, I don't know - if I can bring myself to it.  

Grief is such a weird thing.  You feel all these emotions at once, and they're so intense - sadness, so heavy you feel it in your stomach.  Guilt, wondering if you could've done anything differently or more, if he knew you were trying to fix it, but just couldn't, if he knew for certain you loved him.  It can become so heavy that you have to distract yourself with something, anything, just to take a break from it.  

Then you start laughing at good memories - smiling and crying at the same time :)

Plus you also realize you have other people and pets to care for, a job to do, family and friends who may need you, and you don't want to disappoint them, you can't let any of the spinning plates fall.  

And we have another dog, a Sheltie.  I don't think Brookie really understood until yesterday. Shelties are extremely smart, but I think at first, she thought he was maybe at the vet, like when he had aspiration pneumonia, and would home again - and I think she finally realized yesterday - not this time.

Yesterday morning, she ran from room to room, looking for him.  Then she jumped up next to me, pawed at me for a petting, then curled up next to me on his blanket, in his spot on the couch, and laid her head down for hours :(

But no matter how you try to distract yourself with work, care for others - something eventually always brings you back to reality, especially when it's quiet.  His blanket with his smell still on it, a food bowl, a chewed up toy, even his insulin needles in the cabinet.  You have half a mind to throw it all out because it's too painful to look at, and the other half of you wants to pile all of it in your bed and sleep next to it lol.

Regardless of how my day goes, I now hold his soft sleep toy myself, at night - Manny the Manatee (who looks a little bit like Snuggy) - and then say "Night, night, Snuggy, I love you" as if he's still here. 

Not an exact replica of the Manny the Manatee (who looked like Snuggy) that we got at the Cincinnati Zoo, a few years ago, but close ...

It's a balance you have to find - you don't want to get too bogged down in grief that you don't take care of other things,  but you don't want to desperately avoid grief, either, because it comes back to bite you in the arse.  Tricky, isn't it?

So it's been a bit of a sad morning, here, very quiet, both my husband and I.  

We both just spent the better part of 2 hours kind of numb, just staring at the wall in total silence, waiting for the call that his memorial items are ready. 

In some ways, even though Snuggy and are were closest, I think it's been harder on him.  I think that's because when you start to grieve for the current loss, it usually pricks old grief, it's everyone you've lost - and my husband has lost many more loved ones that I have :(

However, I'm used to not coddling myself in grief, I was never allowed to grieve, it upset the people around me and their feelings were always more important than mine. Or at least I had to do it in the way dictated by family, despite the fact that they could never adhere to these rules themselves, but expected me to.

Plus I could never afford to take time off work to grieve. I had to go right back to work every time.  Which, truth be told, work helps with distraction - but not longer term.  Because the result of that is depression, from burying the pain too quickly, too much, or too long.   I guess that's why people drink and drug, sometimes, to drown pain, but that was never an option for me.

Plus I guess what's also true is - I fear grief.  

The last time I grieved, I had several losses in a short period of time, and a lot of family judgment on me, but I had to work 2, even 3 jobs, at the time.  I couldn't afford to be sad, and again, wasn't allowed.  Working customer service at the time, I had to compartmentalize in order to function.  

I'd smile all day, genuinely and empathetically solve people's order problems, but when I came home, I lay on the floor for a while, staring at the wall, noncommunicative, just exhausted, numb - kind of like Mark and I were today.  

However, all that "compartmentalizing," as I called it, of all the losses during that time - plus being injured myself by other loved ones around me at the same time, and not taking care of myself for that, either -  actually led to near abject, immobile depression for a while.  

Interestingly, burying the pain and refusing to fully cry, so that I could still function -  actually led to dysfunction.

When I finally let myself cry and feel the weight of all those losses, despite fear of it never stopping and somehow incapacitating me, it was much later.  

It was when I had gone back to working at home,  where it was safe, quiet, and there was less distraction - and my husband was there to snap me out of it, if it became too intense.

So I finally accepted it - my losses, as well as the injuries done to me by other loved ones in the process -  and that I needed to feel it, the full weight of it -  denial, sadness, anger, guilt, all of it  - it was normal, necessary, and healing - and just take that leap of faith that it would pass. 

So I sobbed for hours, like that heavy soul crying, and it scared me.  

In fact, even when I had to stuff it all back in to get any work done at all, appropriately compartmentalize it, then I'd find myself waking up in the middle of the night with wet cheeks, tears running down my face.  That waking-up-crying thing actually went on for years, actually - until about two years ago.   But that's the only way I could do it and go to work in the morning, still function.  But now, I wasn't just existing, I was at least actively living. 

So it took a while, but I finally got it all out.  It finally passed. Mostly.  Or at least it got better.

The truth is, some losses never fully go away - we just cover them up with other stuff so we can function and care for others.

But my point is, I think if I had just let the natural process happen, feel the weight of it, stop the denial, and accept it, it wouldn't have gone down that way.  

Thus why I say you have to find a balance between feeling it and distraction/busying yourself, lest you find yourself eventually on your arse and not be able to get back up for a while, much later, until you do. 

So, both of us being in this kind of numb state today, I had to make a call, this morning, and while I was on hold on the phone for something, this song played on their hold music - and I think it's appropriate for us, maybe for whomever's reading, too.

I love you, Mark - we can do this.  All of it.  Pick up Snuggy's ashes, avoid COVID, work - for better for worse, in sickness and in health - we'll get through it all together :)

"Whoa, we're halfway there, whoa-oh, living on on a prayer, take my hand, we'll make it, I swear ...whoa-oh, living on a prayer"

"Living on A Prayer" - Bon Jovi


Tommy used to work on the docks, union's been on strike
He's down on his luck, it's tough, so tough
Gina works the diner all day working for her man
She brings home her pay, for love, for love

She says, we've got to hold on to what we've got
It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot for love
We'll give it a shot

Woah, we're half way there
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it I swear
Woah, livin' on a prayer

Tommy's got his six-string in hock
Now he's holding in what he used to make it talk
So tough, it's tough
Gina dreams of running away
When she cries in the night, Tommy whispers
Baby, it's okay, someday

We've got to hold on to what we've got
It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not
We've got each other and that's a lot for love
We'll give it a shot

Woah, we're half way there
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it I swear
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Livin' on a prayer

Oh, we've got to hold on, ready or not
You live for the fight when it's all that you've got

Woah, we're half way there
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it I swear
Woah, livin' on a prayer

Woah, we're half way there
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it I swear
Woah, livin' on a prayer


PS - We just heard that he's ready, his urn is ready, so we'll be going in a minute. 

 In the meantime, his regular vet called. Though I may not have shown it on here (or to anyone), I was struggling with guilt - why didn't I go with my gut instinct that his lethargy, and then the later seizures, were being caused by hypoglycemia versus hypoglycemia? Why didn't I just skip the shot altogether like my gut said? Did I kill him by not judging the insulin right?

So even though all the kind words had been said, I still couldn't get that out of my mind, saying, "I'm never getting another pet, I'm a terrible mom who makes bad decisions." 

 Also, I can't feel him, when everybody was saying you can feel your pet right after death. I have before, but I couldn't, this time.

So I called my vet, because my vet is kind, but he also won't sugar coat if you're doing something wrong - but he also on't beat me up like I'm doing to myself.  He'll tell me what I should've done differently, at least. I figured either he would confirm my fears or reassure me and I could move on. 

So I figured, "Instead of wondering, step up, take it on the chin - take responsibility and find out if you did this, made the wrong decision."

So he said, "Okay, tell me what happened."

I told him, and he said (paraphrasing):

"You know, both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia can cause seizures, as you said.  That's how we figured out he had diabetes to begin with, high sugar causes seizures. This time, it was too low. He was eating less, you were trying to gauge it, but I believe it was impossible, at that point, with everything else that was going on systemically, it was swinging wildly from one extreme to the other. And these COVID restrictions on what necessitates a need to go out and what doesn't, don't help." 

"His blood sugar was swinging to extremes, with the immobility and the progressive loss of systemic functions. I think it really was just his time, Chrystal. We knew this day was coming. That doesn't make it any easier, but it's less shock this way." 

"And you know what? I believe he passed in the parking lot at the emerg vet because he knew you'd have to make that decision once you got inside and he relieved you of having to make that choice - he sensed it somehow."

"So he just looked up at you, in your arms, and just let go - he knew it would be too tough for him and you. I really believe that. You took such good care of him.  You did NOT kill your dog - and you know I'd tell you if I believed any different. "

OMG, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off me, like I was absolved. Thank GOD (and Dr. S), and I mean that. 

I was ready to carry that guilt for the rest of my life, if I needed to, but as it turns out - I don't. 

Now, let's go get him and bring him back so we can still see each other every day :)

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