Thank you, but it's not okay
The night we put Jack down, despite being exhausted in every possible way, I didn't want to go to bed. And when I finally did, I laid awake for a long time, just staring around the dark bedroom, eyes wide open. I couldn't understand why I was fighting sleep so hard. I usually want to sleep all the time, and I was so tired, and maybe sleep would bring solace, albeit temporary; asleep, I could forget my loss. I knew I was afraid of what I might dream, and I knew I dreaded the wave of sorrow I was likely to feel when I woke up and remembered--but surely those two things were not enough to keep me awake.
A day--maybe two--passed before I realized what it had been, why I had refused to let myself sleep: Falling asleep meant I'd awake to a new day--one farther away from my time with Jack. Every day my time with Jack slips farther into past and memory. Staying awake, I could cling to the nowness of Jack. Jack had lived in that day. The next day would be the first day Jack did not live in. It would be the first day Jack was gone. He would not breathe the next day's air. The next day's sun would not shine on his coat. He would not eat the next day's breakfast or walk the next day's walk. As if staying awake could stop the passage of time, stop the turning over of the world.
Eventually I did fall asleep, and awoke to a world without Jack.
People keep telling me they are sorry, and it's nice and everyone means well and what else can anyone say, really? I'd say the same--and have, many times. The apologies are not the problem. The problem is this: I keep saying, "That's okay."
But it's not okay. It's not okay with me that Jack is gone. It's not okay that I'll never see him again, or if I will, I don't know when or how. It's not okay that I don't know where he is. It's not okay that I can't find the same sense of purpose and gratification and connection he provided. It's not okay that there no longer seems to be something greater than myself to get up for. It's not okay that the spot in my torso where my ribs part feels hollow and black. It's not okay that I still accidentally pick up his food bowl and bring it to the counter with Sadie's before realizing my folly. It's not okay that I am either crying, or wondering how I'm not. It's not okay that pets are supposed to cross the rainbow bridge, and Jack was afraid of bridges.
I'm working on replacing "that's okay" with "thank you." Thank you for your sympathy. Thank you for acknowledging my loss. Thank you for recognizing my grief.
But it's not okay.
Chester, Virginia. Amanda Sue Creasey is married with dogs, teaches high school English, and loves to write. When she isn't teaching, walking her dogs, or running, you can find her freelance writing or spending time with family and friends. Find her online at AmandaSueCreasey.com.
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