Grief is a tricky thing. It is kind of like that gum you step on in a parking lot. It gets stuck to the bottom of your shoe, you are angry it’s there. Then you try and remove it, frustration sets in, then sadness, your shoe is ruined. Next you try to remove it with scrubbing, water, ice, detergent, and anything you can think of to get every trace of it gone. You can revive that shoe, make it viable again, but that damn gum remains. Eventually you give in and because it’s your favorite pair of shoes, you tell yourself you can still salvage them. Wearing them more often will make the gum wear away. I am brilliant I have found the solution, you tell yourself. At first, the sole sticks to the ground and makes that sticky noise, you ignore it and keep walking. Purposefully into and on things you think will make it go away. Little by little the noise stops, the stickiness lessens and before you know it, it is almost completely gone. Then one day you walk somewhere and that little pebble gets stuck in those deeply stuck remnants, that are in the grooves and crevasses that you just could never quite get to clear out. That pebble makes noise, is annoying and drudges up all the old emotions you had when the gum was there. You get creative and start to dry and dig that pebble out with your fingers, can’t do it. You move on to a stick, a fork, a knife, a toothpick and finally you dislodge it from its cavern of annoyance and go back to your normal routine. For a moment, you are free of it, until the next pebble seeks you out and sets you back to all the emotions of the original chewing gum absent mindlessly spit out in a hot parking lot…..
By now I think you understand my analogy. No matter what you do, that grief will always be with you. It lessens over time until something gets stuck to us that opens that door of emotions and we experience it all over again like time never passed.
As a pet groomer and owner, I have had to say good bye to many of my furry friends’ due to age, disease or accident. As a human being I have lost those close to me due to the same circumstances. The emotions are always the same. The pain is so deep that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t ever dislodge it from my soul. Some days are harder than others. Yesterday, Wednesday was a pebble in my favorite shoe kind of day.
I have been grooming this little lovely Maltese since she was 8 weeks old. She would see me every other week for her spa pampering and we built a very close bond. A few months ago, while grooming her I discovered a lump on the side of her throat. It was tender to the touch and I made mental note of it, and continued the groom. She is 3 years old now, so it had to be an allergy, an injury, no way could it be any kind of life ending disease, she is way too young and well cared for. When her mother arrived to pick her up from her spa day, I immediately told her about my discovery. She called the vet right there while standing in the salon. She would take her right over to the vet. A few days later she called me. Through tears and disbelief in her voice she revealed that Diva had Lymphoma and it was throughout her entire lymph system. She was given a life expectancy of 2 months. I hung up the phone with her owner and just sat down and cried. Really cried, sobbed, snotty nose, huge tears. My sadness was deep for this little dog I had grown to love. But this incident was also the pebble for me.
I lost my niece to brain cancer at a young age not so long ago. Every week I would go see her and give her a massage. Due to the cancers ravages it crippled up her body so it was painful for her to open her hands, feet and limbs. I treasured those moments together with Nitalia, even though when I left her each Wednesday I would cry the entire hour ride home. I didn’t know if I would see her again by our time scheduled on Wednesday. Time passed far to quickly and then a week came with a Wednesday without Nitalia.
Yesterday was a Wednesday, yesterday I groomed Diva and she was definitely not the same as our last visit. I cried through the entire bath and blow dry. Her little eyes looking up at me as I gently brushed through her thin brittle coat, remerging how thick and lovely it used to be. She lay on my table unable to stand for a long time. The entire time her eyes fixed on me. I could feel her heaviness of being done with this world and the sickness growing inside her little body. I mentally had a conversation with her. Telling her I loved her, cherished her, and that she was always a bright spot in my day. I thanked her for all the love and kisses she shared while I groomed her. I told her she was forgiven for the bites and naughtiness when she didn’t want me to touch her feet and cut her nails. I composed myself to go back to the front of the salon where her mom was now waiting. She didn’t want to leave incase anything happened during the groom. She watched me give Diva a hair cut through tired and swollen eyes. They had been to the vet just before their appointment with me, and was told it wouldn’t be long now.
I groomed her the best that I could. With all the love and affection that I had for her. I put her bows in her ears, watching her little tail wag just a little. This is how she always knew the groom was over. She would get so excited when she saw the bows. For a second, I saw a glimmer in her eyes, her tail raised and wagged for brief moment and she sat up and gave me a little smile. I quickly snapped a photo of her.
Her owner cried and told me this has been the happiest they have seen her. They left the salon and I fell apart. I had to go into the ladies room to compose myself. This sometimes is the life of a groomer who has clients that become friends and touch their hearts.
Grief sucks, literally. It sucks the light out of you and covers you in darkness. We need to experience all the emotions of grief, it is cathartic for our emotional well-being. We have to keep walking on things to get that pebble out of our shoe. Knock it loose, pry it out and cry it out. Wednesdays have always been tough to me. I love you Nitalia for planting seeds in me that your 12 year old heart couldn’t even dream of, but your old soul knew everything about. Thank you Diva for being my furry friend and my pebble, because sometimes you just need to visit the darkness to appreciate the all the bright light in your life.