We're here. We're ok. In fact, some of us are hardly phased by the events of yesterday.
The spouse - he's had it rough. It's sad. He's sad. He's not despondant but it's still there with him - the grief of losing a life that's been apart of yours for some time.
Me? I'm ok. I cried when I got up yesterday and sat petting the dog. I cried when she left. I cried when I dumped her toys and remaining bits of food into the garbage. I cried a bit when he came home with just an empty leash and collar in his hands. I got teary thinking about telling the boy. But today is different. Sure, something is missing. I find myself moving to the backdoor to call her in when we're leaving the house. I still walk a wider path when I enter the kitchen to avoid the water bowl that is not there. I step over her missing body when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Yet it's not quite as sad today as it was just a mere day ago. I know this was best for her. I know it's better now. And because of that I'm ok.
The boy? Hardly phased. He came home from his night over the grandparent's. He was excited about his new shoes - the ones they took a trip way out of the way to find because these are the ones he's wanted for so long and now, now his feet had grown enough to fit them. He held out his feet and admired them yet again. Sketchers. "I've wanted them for so long!" sighs this child of mine who is not quite four.
I asked him to help me feed his fish or to at least come say hello. I wanted him out of ear shot of Dad, who was pulled together but on the verge of renewed expressions of grief if the boy let loose with a good wail. It's not that I didn't want Logan to see his parents cry and mourn. It was more about guarding my husband from the picking of a scab that hadn't even had a chance to form yet. I didn't want to irritate the grief briming below the surface. He was the one there with her when she took her last breathe and, truth be told, he's more apt to simmer in a "half-empty" type of glass than I or, it would now seem, Logan.
"Logan," I said softly. He looked up at me with a big smile. I picked him up and plopped him on his bed. Sitting next to him, I put an arm around him.
"Do you remember how I told you that Tasha was very old and very sick?" I asked him. He nodded and stared at his new shoes. "Well, Tasha died this morning. She's not with us any longer."
He just looked at me and then, he said (thankfully without a shrug) "Ok."
Ok. That was it. Ok.
"It's ok to be sad," I told him, just in case maybe he was being the stoic male. "I mean, it's ok to be ok but it's also ok to be sad."
"I'm ok," he said. "I have my fish."
I wasn't sure he quite understood the finality of it. The complete end and all that. "Honey, you understand that Tasha is not coming back, right?"
"I understand. She's up in heaven now playing with Uncle Mike. They both died and they won't come back to play with me. It's ok. I got Swirly Whirly (the fish) so I wouldn't miss Tasha when she died. I knew she was sick and really old. You told me that. So I wanted my fish to help me not be sad," he said in the 'heavy' stuff delivered so simply way only a young child can pull off.
He got down off his bed and, calling over his shoulder as he walked away from me, said "Can we play a game on the computer now?"
I sat on his bed a little stunned. I hadn't known what to expect but it hadn't been this. When I had to tell him my uncle had passed, a man he knew before but scarcely remembered out of a wheelchair, he had cried a bit in my arms. This news, however, was met with less emotion than when I had to tell him I accidently threw out his spy glasses.
He went with me today to the supermarket, as is our Sunday custom. I don't even recall what it was that triggered his comment but I do remember it was present tense - Tasha likes those! I almost didn't say anything. In fact, perhaps I should have not said anything. Yet I did, perhaps smarting a bit from the dog's death, I did correct him.
"You mean Tasha did like those," I said, and then quickly added, "Remember honey, Tasha isn't alive any more."
"I know," he said.
"Are you still ok with this?" I asked him. I thought back to the dogs we saw out walking last night - two huskies running with a man on his bike. I have no idea how he got them to do that, even with leads connected to the back of the frame. Tasha would have been the first dog to audibly laugh if we had ever attempted such a thing. Then, I'm sure she would have articulated the words, "You friggin' kidding me?"
Those two dogs ran by us - two Siberians the same shade of light frosted grey as ours had been. Two with the same ice blue eyes and the same full, fluffed and curled tail. As they had passed, Meg pointed to them and giggled, "Ta-cha!" she said and we expected it. At 20 months she has no concept that the dog is gone. In fact, she was still tossing food on the floor to her this morning.
Logan saw them too. "Wow! They look just like Tasha!" he had said. Bruce looked away and said nothing. I said simply, "Yup, they sure do, huh?"
This morning, in the supermarket parking lot I thought about those dogs and his observation. I thought about the slip to present tense. "You're still ok?" I said again.
"Yeah, I am," said Logan. "I'm ok. I have my fish to love and to help me not miss Tasha too much. She's ok in heaven. I bet she's having fun with Uncle Mike."
And he reminded me, without knowing it, that death is sad for those of us left behind - but not so much for those that have passed on. I let myself slip into my child's imagination for a moment and I saw them - my uncle tossing the ball to my dog, who would, in normal Tasha fashion, refuse to fetch it. I wondered if my cranky grandmother, who was terrfied of dogs to begin with not to mention our husky she swore was a wolf, would join in. Sometimes tells me she'd not. And that, is just fine. Normal is comforting.