Written October 2018
This is one of the more southern thoughts I’ve ever had, but it applies to everyone (as in all y’all): Sometimes, you just have to “set” (as in “sit”) on the porch with your pain. Meaning allow it a good and long space to come into your being, overtake your emotions and psyche, and ebb and flow as pain needs to do. The ride is not fun but once you’re on it, there is a semi quiet recognition that it’s what you needed all along – you were just too scared of the amount of pain to let in it in the first place.
Tonight I let the pain of losing and letting go of my beloved Newfoundland, Rebelle, enter my porch. The funny thing is that I’m on a porch in Pineto Beach, Italy. It’s a simple and small porch. There aren’t even rocking chairs – just some white plastic things with a table and the sound of a periodic humming train.
It just rained a fresh scent with some cooling breezes, so that probably primed me. Plus, we’d had a lovely seafood dinner with two carafes of wine so my guards were down.
Earlier in the day, my tears had just started, but this time was different. I allowed the pain into my being. Sounds quirky and hippyish and well hell, I lived on the west coast for 18 years, so it's probably both.
But I’ll tell you, it was a somewhat of a rewarding experience. I still miss my angle newfie girl terribly, but in a way, experiencing this type of present and physical pain brought me closer to her.
It took a while of general tears and malaise, but I let my mind wander, unconcerned with time and eventually returned to four months ago, on June 8, 2018, the morning at the vet when we laid her to rest. I was down on the floor, prone, with her head in my arms and my head upon hers. I whispered our sweet nothings, encouraged her to relax, told her how she was my one and only pooch and bestest friend ever, forever. During that time, I was pretty strong; it was after she passed that I disintegrated. Perhaps going back to this ultimately difficult but strong place was strengthening?
Don’t get me wrong, there were a ton of tears. My eyes are going to look like pillows tomorrow. But the aftermath of this emotional hurricane (and I’m sure it’s a first, certainly not a last), is a different kind of calm. After the worst wave of sadness passed, I thought of the meditations I started this past winter: I’d awaken at 5:30 am, first feeding Rebelle so as to tame the hungry beast, and then choose a quiet spot in front of our fireplace to just "set." Rebelle would usually snuggle there with me, always quiet. I didn’t think of it at the time, but now I understand that this was our silent togetherness – the beginning of our first end, in addition to my attempt at becoming a better and calmer person.
Winter gave way to spring, which gave way to my mid-life crisis where I decided my chosen cure would be to sell our Pacific Northwest home, travel and then eventually and move to a beach. (For the record, I wasn’t and still am not wrong; remember, I’m on Alba Adriatica in mid-September with 80-degree weather – my abandoned Portland is as rainy as ever.) However, this put quite a dent – as in a stop, to my meditation “practice.” Rebelle became sick and the immediate needs of the house overtook the calm of meditation. So, I just stopped; I didn’t “let it go,” I just fucking quit. And I didn’t consciously care.
The thought of writing or meditation was so immediately painful after Rebelle died that I didn’t dare entertain it. In fact, I emailed my writing coach (another mid-life crisis move: finally writing a book) and let her know I needed to put everything on hold. I couldn’t even read a book, let alone be in a quiet space, so my aim to betterment via calming meditation and cathartic prose was indefinitely on hold.
Tonight, I went back to the vet, cried a river, felt one with my newf as the breezes blew and I sat motionless. After I came to – as in stopped silently sobbing, I realized that what I’d done was a sorrowful meditation. Then I had the urge to write again for the first time in over four months. The things I’ve been avoiding have come back, just as her memories have arrived.
I then did something I haven’t done in maybe 20 years. I said a few prayers. Can’t remember them – likely because I’m the worst follower, but the point is I felt at peace enough to plead with a higher power for peace.
Perhaps there is a God / higher power. Does S/he mitigate your pain through time so that you don’t have to feel it all at once? Dole it out in little prescriptions based on what you can handle? Help you feel/pray through it so you aren’t so alone in and with your pain?
I really don’t know. And unlike most southerners, at this point I don’t care. But I do urge you to welcome your pain to your porch when you are ready so that you may have a continued and healing journey.
RIP my beloved bear, Rebelle da Newfer.
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