I've been cruising along pretty well this year. Feeling fairly secure in my job, so sleep isn't quite the challenge it has been; finally began the process of getting the mortgage in my name; getting to know the grandbaby, with a new one on the way; a new relationship with lots of fun and zing; family and friends doing pretty well - all in all, things are going well. The saying of which causes my knuckles to search compulsively for a piece of wood to knock on.
Susan told me early on after losing Lee that once I got through all the anniversaries the first couple of times, it would be random shit out of left field that would knock me down. I was prepared for her birthdays and the day she died to be hard. I didn't expect Easter, of all things, to be tough. Halloween was particularly difficult - the light-hearted, in-your-face-finger at death was something I could appreciate, but not really participate in. The Resurrection story is raw and painful for anyone of faith, and particularly so when what you most want is the one you lost to be magically resurrected too.
It will be a while before I can put up a Christmas tree without Lee there to do it with me, and Thanksgiving, her favorite holiday of all, will be hard for a lot of years. She loved her cousins and aunts and uncles, and just sparkled when she was with them. She and Brad both leave such big holes, and that last Thanksgiving we had with her was magical. Not many people could have my parents, my siblings, and her pre-teen cousins all dancing and singing together "I like big butts", but I'm sure no one who knew her is surprised to hear she could engineer that particular bit of hilarity. Aching from laughing is a state that people often found themselves in when they were with Lee.
It is getting better - I'm able to remember these moments and smile now, instead of feeling the wrench of missing out on the laughs and love she had in her future.
I've acquired a bit of a shell when it comes to the graduation and wedding and birth announcements of Lee's peers - I enjoy getting them, and am happy and hopeful for the new brides and new families. I'm not to the point of being able to attend, but it isn't a wipeout thing to receive them anymore, either. Things really are getting better.
So I surely wasn't prepared for a movie trailer to slay me this evening. Here's the movie - I wish I could find one that doesn't make you watch a commercial first, but God knows I can't sit through watching the thing again to find out if there is one out there.
Hachi: A Dog's Tale
I was starting up a movie for Brianna after finally getting home from work at 8:30, so I was already tired, which just adds fuel to the fire. I couldn't fast forward - they won't let you skip the copyright warnings, the message from the FBI, the Surgeon General, etc. ad nauseum. Oy. And some of them won't let you skip the trailers. I was watching this trailer about a dog who waits and waits and waits for his deceased master to get off the train every day. And remembered a particularly awful moment in the aftermath of Lee's death.
Anyone who knew Lee knew she loved animals, especially hurt or homeless animals. We had a parade of critters over the years that she rescued and brought home, and she was directly responsible for every pet we've had for the last 20 years. Lucky Dog loves her Brian, and loved Lee, and one of her favorite games when she was a puppy was when I would say to her, "Where's Lee!? Where's Brian!?" She'd take off and go find them, and would bark excitedly when they were found (usually just hanging out quite peacefully in their rooms). She missed them when they went off to college, and would bark and sing and paw at them, and tear around the house in circles whenever they came home. Lee pretended to be annoyed by this, but she secretly loved it that Lucky would get so excited to see her.
One day about six months after she died, Brian pulled up to the house, and I said to her, "Where's Brian!?" Except, it came out, "Where's Lee!?" Like anyone with more than one child or dog or goldfish, you occasionally run through every named person or animal who has ever lived there before arriving at the right name.
Lucky bolted up, started towards the door, and then stopped and looked at me very intently. She's part Border Collie, and is truly one of the smartest dogs I've ever been around, and you could almost see the thoughts going through her doggy brain. 'It's been a while, where IS she?' As she got more and more agitated, I desperately tried to distract her with, "Where's Brian? Brian's here!" but it was too late. She started to whine and whimper, and took off full speed towards the front door, then came tearing back into the back yard where I was sitting. She looked at me again, as if to ask me "Well? Where is she???" and ran into the house again. Brian was in the house by now, but she kept looking for Lee. It completely wiped me out ... that even my dog was missing her.
I had forgotten all about that until I saw the trailer, and it all came back. I'm not one to assign human qualities to animals, and I get particularly irritated with people who equate the loss of a pet with the loss of a child, but those who believe animals can't think are uninformed.
I just hope that when Lucky crosses the Rainbow Bridge, Lee is there to greet her, and Lucky can "find" her at last.