Good-bye to Another Friend

Got word today via Facebook (again! Damn you with your double edged sword of keeping me in touch with people/always being the “first” to break bad news.)  I suppose I should just be glad I found out at all, living as far away from most of my high school friends as I do.    We lost another person from our graduating class.  It feels like our class has lost quite a few people these past few years.  We’re only 32-34 years old.  We’ve lost friends to epilepsy, cancer, suicide, even murder.

My friend Scott passed this weekend.  He was one of my homeroom buddies back in high school, and unlike a lot of Facebook “acquaintances,” we actually did still interact with one another on Facebook.  Oddly, in some ways I learned more about him from Facebook than our time back in high school– like, for instance, what a sensitive soul he actually was.  This is so weird because…and I know it sounds so obvious it’s stupid, but…  he was just here not too long ago.  Now he’s not.

It seems most of us (that is, the people in our class, our “mutual friends” on Facebook,) don’t know cause of death; it’s being kept quiet right now…which for me tends to rule out accident, illness, etc.  And I guess it doesn’t really matter how he died.  He is just as gone.  And yet, knowing seems to be a piece in coming to terms with the loss…and in some cases, satisfying a sort of morbid curiosity many of us feel towards the death of someone we know who is not necessarily in our immediate circle of friends.  Along the same vein, I can’t help but be annoyed by the requisite number of busybodies and drama mongers (online), attempting to put themselves in the middle of everything, trying to make the loss somehow more about them.  (You disgust me, but this isn’t the time for me to call you out on it.)

Because of the internet and social networking, we are now highly in tune with the everyday goings-on of people we might not get to otherwise interact with regularly.  We get our news fast (sometimes too fast, and in a less than sensitive manner.)  It makes me wonder, are all these losses just a normal part of “growing up,” aging?  Are the amount of deaths in our age group just the relatively normal “fall off” of people, and we are only so aware of it because of the internet?

It’s also weird to think about it…like I said, he was here, now he’s not.  Chances are, he didn’t know he wouldn’t be here today.  Did he know how many people would miss him?  Tag his name in Facebook statuses and say nice things about him…

 

And (quietly) *to myself*…

One day will I be just a tagged name on Facebook? 

 

In Memory Of Scott (1981-2014)

 

Related:

Rest In Peace, Jer and Ricky

Things Not to Say/Rest in Peace, Greg

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Doggy Heaven: The [Bifröst] Bridge

I love animals, I do work at my local shelter, and am currently working towards becoming a certified dog trainer.  I  presently have two cats, one of which is a rescue cat, and if I had room, I’d bring the dogs home too.  I lost my oldest shelter cat to cancer about a year and a half ago, and I was actually present when my childhood pup was euthanized.   

I tell you all this so that no one assumes I don’t care about or understand the issues facing homeless animals or shelter life, etc. because what I am about to say may be unpopular to some of the more sensitive “animal people.”  Although I understand people wanting to think comforting things when they lose a beloved pet or animal companion, I really don’t get the Rainbow Bridge thing.  

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of a work of poetic prose written some time between 1980 and 1992, whose original creator is unknown. The theme is of a mythological place to which a pet goes upon its death, eventually to be reunited with its owner. It has gained popularity amongst animal lovers who have lost a pet. The belief shows similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse mythology (source).

I guess it is supposed to be like Doggy Heaven or whatever.  I don’t even really believe in people heaven, but I recognize and respect that there are a huge number of people in this country and others that do.  But does anyone really believe in the fabled Rainbow Bridge?  I’d assume it is used mostly as a metaphor for our beloved animals finally being at peace in the afterlife…or something.  But I swear, the way some people talk about it, it seems to have taken on a afterlife of it’s own.

**EDIT: I swear, I just saw a perfect example of this.  A friend’s dog passed and one of his friends told him “…hes crossed the rainbow bridge and running and playing with all the other luved furbabies who have left..hope him and [my cat] are chillin together…”  Maybe some people would find comfort in that… but if someone said that to me when my cat passed, I’d probably have wanted to throat punch them…   Because to my ears it just sounds like one of those well-meaning but ultimately hollow things people say to grieving people.

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

It is interesting to note that there seems to be some discussion among Christians as to whether or not animals “go to Heaven,” when they die, and whether or not they have “souls.”  Perhaps this is part of the reason some may feel a need for animals to have their very own heaven to go to when they pass from this world.  (1), (2), (3)

But,  though I would not begrudge anyone mourning a loss something that gives them comfort… I don’t believe in deluding myself for comfort’s sake either.

However…this would be nice…

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Do you believe there’s a real Rainbow Bridge?

Do you think animals go to Heaven?

Feel free to (respectfully) discuss!

 

This time last year…

This time last year was a bad time for me.  I lost my grandmother and my cat in the same week.  I didn’t make it back to my home state for my grandmother’s funeral…and I buried my cat, my longtime buddy, in a blanket in the park.  My grandma died in a hospital after succumbing to injuries from a fall.  My beloved Neeners died in my lap on the way to the vet’s office for what was to be a second opinion.

I still have a strange feeling of unreality when it comes to my grandma’s passing; maybe it’s from lack of closure because of not being able to be at her funeral.  Most of the time, my grief is sort of a dull sadness that resides in the back of my mind.  The other day, I happened on a photo of her holding my daughter when J* was about three months old, and I suddenly felt the grief rear up, along with the familiar disbelief– denial– I’m really never going to see her again?

With Neeners, my grief is tainted by an unshakable guilt– why did I not do something for her sooner?  Even if I couldn’t save her, maybe I could have at least spared her pain.  What must she have thought of me when I had to give her the medicine that made her sick to her stomach?  Did she think I was torturing her and she didn’t know why?  I feel like I failed her somehow, even when I try to tell myself I did the best I could.  If we had had the money to get the tests she needed for a more accurate diagnosis, sooner…

It’s too late for me to do anything about any of this.  I could try to end this post with some wise thought or platitude about how time marches on and we all die sometime.  Really, my only point with this post was to sort of remember my lost loved ones on this sort of anniversary week of their passing… and hoping that “honoring” them somehow keeps them from being forgotten.

Peach

I stand in the doorway, unnoticed, watching her while she draws.  Her head is bent low over her paper, the tips of her straw-colored hair almost touching the flat writing surface of the little school desk that her Nana rescued from a yard sale for five dollars.  Despite the slightness of her frame, the expression of extreme concentration on her unlined brow makes her look curiously studious as she hunches over her drawing, rendering each line painstakingly, and then attacking it with her giant gum eraser when she see something she doesn’t like.

I am overwhelmed with a species of muted sorrow.  She is growing so fast .  It seems like only last week she was  lining her stuffed animals against the wall to play “school,” teaching them the alphabet and scolding them in her nonsensical toddler’s vocabulary.   Only last week.  But maybe time is different now.  Four years have passed.  And I’ve spent every moment of them, every moment I can, watching her.

I try to speak to her, but she never answers.  Maybe I should have listened more when she was little.  Now I grieve for those moments, working at my laptop at night, when she would wobble over and try to insert herself onto my lap, dividing my attention from my work.  It seemed so important at the time…

I feel a tear slip down my cheek and I laugh softly at the irony.  “I love you so much, ” I say to her, for probably the thousandth time these past few years.  I have to make sure she knows.  I wasn’t ready to go.  My heart would have broken in half, had there been any life left there, at the thought of not being there to watch her grow, to tell her how special she was to me, and let her know everyday how much I loved her.  So I stayed for a while longer.

I drift soundlessly to her side and peer over her shoulder.  She has a colored pencil clutched tightly in her little hand -it’s Peach- as she surveys her art with all of a seven year old’s critical eye.  The three figures on the page stand in a line, linked together by their stick fingers.  Two large and one small one in the middle.  They stand in front of a white house with purple shutters and a lumpy brown dog frolics in the very green grass behind.  A huge yellow sun with long eyelashes and pink cheeks smiles down on them.

After another moment, she puts the Peach pencil down and picks up a red one the color of bricks.  I watch silently as she pencils a wobbly heart next to the figure in the blue triangle dress.  Then she begins to carefully print.  She prints the word “mommy”, and my eyes once again fill with phantom tears.  I can go home now.

Time in a Bottle

(The story of a young couple trying to cope with the girl’s terminal illness)

I spark the bowl and inhale deeply, careful to leave some fresh green for her to burn. She likes that, and any good pothead knows that this is proper etiquette when sharing a bowl. She’s not in too much pain today, but smoking has become a habit now. Actually sort of a ritual, our ritual. I can’t actually share her physical pain, but I can share everything else with her, including the self-medication. One bowl in the morning when she wakes up, two if she’s in a lot of pain. One mid-morning. One before lunch. A bowl mid-afternoon, one mid-evening, one before bed. And in between whenever else she needs or wants one. Whatever she needs, whenever. Continue reading