Running to Stand Still
No post yesterday. My goal was to write 50 posts in a row – for you, my readers (and, full disclosure, for the search engines). I got to 49. I knew I wouldn’t have the time, thoughts, or discipline to write them every day, so I wrote about 3 weeks ahead. Then we moved, we lost one of our dogs, my husband’s been going through some personal challenges, and I just hit a wall. I used up all but one of my pre-written posts, and the remaining one is not finished. I have a list of at least 20 more topics, to which I keep adding, but I’ve not had the time or inclination to write ahead these last few weeks or days.
John and I have had some huge losses over these last three years, as I mentioned in a prior post, punctuated by the loss of some beloved pets. While different than losing a person, to be sure, the grief over pet good-byes is sometimes inexplicably heavier than the grief over losing a human. If you’re not a pet person, this may not make any sense at all to you. If you are, you probably understand.
As I’ve gotten older – matured, I like to think – I find myself more and more attached to my pets. We were always a dog family when I was a kid, but cats entered my life right around the time I met Eric’s birthfather and have had a place ever since. When I was pregnant with Eric, I had a cat, Quincie, and Koko, a beautiful merle-colored Australian shepherd. They’d made the move from Phoenix to New Jersey with me, and while Quincie was a typical cat, friendly on her terms, Koko was my pal and companion. She got sick quite suddenly, about six weeks before I was due, and I was concerned about how to manage getting her to the vet without a car.
I lived on the second floor of a four-family apartment and was trying to coax Koko to come down the stairs so she could go out to pee, when I lost my footing and fell down the stairs. At 34 weeks pregnant. Now I not only had a sick dog, but I had to worry about the baby. I immediately called the doctor’s answering service. They asked if there was bleeding – there wasn’t – and told me just to take a Tylenol and watch to see if any complications developed. I remember being alarmed by how calm they were. No complications – other than some really lovely black and blue marks.
Timing was everything, though, as Koko slipped away that night.
I don’t remember, specifically, telling Mary, my social worker, about Koko’s death – but I missed a couple days of work due to my fall, so perhaps I missed a meeting with her, too. At any rate, the agency freaked out. I got a call a few days later from Judy Greene, the birthparent coordinator, evidently in an effort to assess my grief about Koko. What it came down to was they were worried that because my dog had died, I wasn’t going to go through with the adoption. To this day, the idea of it just grates on me, because I can’t fathom how you could draw a causal relationship between the two. Nothing else in my life was different. Tony still wasn’t promising to stick around or marry me. My family still lived 2,700 miles away. And if I were to parent, I would still be trying to juggle all the costs, responsibilities, and emotions as a single mom. All the same fears and concerns I’d had the day before were still there, even though my dog was gone.
As I think on it now, Quincie was probably the one who got me through the adoption. If it hadn’t been for her, I’m not sure how I’d have handled losing Koko and then Tony’s leaving right on the heels of letting go of the baby. She didn’t make the move with me back to Phoenix, when that finally came 5 years later, passing away suddenly about a week before I left. It was as though she knew exactly when she needed to be there, and she was.
I watch, these days, as my husband hugs the two remaining dogs and loves on Isis, our cat. They help us cope with all kinds of things, don’t they?
People I know – my sister in particular was rabid about this – get upset when folks don’t call them back. I can almost always relate to the non-caller, though, because I know I’ve been that person more than once. When I get into this stuck place where I’ve found myself lately, I’m like a turtle, pulling my head inside my shell to hide from the world for a while. It doesn’t help the people who want or need to hear from me, but it’s been my way for a long time, and it will take more work, yet, to change that pattern. If you’re reading this and I owe you a call or email or blog posting, please accept my sincere apology and know that communication is forthcoming.
I was beating myself up about my stuckness when my husband reminded me that this time last year, I was still on the couch, pretty much 24/7, getting over pneumonia. Yeah, the first three months of 2017 went by with a whimper – so I suppose I’m ahead of the game if I’m comparing my now to my then. Point is, it’s time to get unstuck.
With props to U2.
Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, and consultant who coaches other authors to make and market exceptional books that change the world for the better. She is birthmother to Eric, who is finishing college in Boston this summer. Their adoption has been open for the better part of Eric’s life. She continues to toy with the idea that these posts will one day become a book. In the meantime, you can learn about her novel in progress, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World.