We’ve had seven weeks of nearly non-stop heavy rain, which have kept us indoors. The rains, which started a few days before Banjo died, are beginning to dry up. He died at 5pm, and it was dark outside in December. The other day it was still light at 5pm. It feels mean to move on without him.
I feel like I’m stagnating. I don’t cry every day, but I am not myself. I’m more tired. Sleeping more. Feeling a lot more anxious. I’m not drinking as much as I did over the holidays, but I find myself looking forward to a glass of something a few nights a week.
I put V to bed and sing her the song I have always sung at bedtime. It’s based on My Little Buttercup from the movie The Three Amigos, but I changed the lyrics.
“We all love each other / V__, Mama, Daddy, and Wu,
Oh! Dear little buttercup / Sweet little buttercup / My little buttercup, I love you!”
My heart sighs every time I sing the name Wu, my nickname for Banjo (that was the sound of his happy bark). And when my kiddo is settled and I quietly shut her bedroom door behind me, there is no giant dog lying in the hallway outside her room. Just an empty space that deafens and blinds me.
Last week I found the courage to give away his things. I curled up on his big dog bed and smelled his warm, honey smell. It was a sunny afternoon, and I drifted off for 20 minutes or so. When I woke up I had the courage to empty out his half-eaten bowl of food. And then I had the courage to wash up his bowls. And then I had the courage to respond to the shelter to confirm that Yes, tomorrow would be fine. The car was bursting at its seams, dog paraphernalia piled high around V in her car seat. I picked a foster-based shelter that rescues dogs from kill shelters. The woman who met me marvelled at the giant bed, crate, toys, food bowls, food storage….. She said Banjo had obviously been well loved. I nodded. Before leaving, I knelt by his dog bed and smelled it for the last time.
Back in the car, V asked, “Mama? Ah yoo crying Mama?”
“Yes, baby. Mama is sad. Sometimes moms get sad.”
Sometimes moms break down in the grocery store buying a chicken. Crying, heart-broken, because there is no dog at home to eat the scary parts. Crying, fist-shaking, at the hypocrisy of the dead weight in my hand, the creature who was hatched and slaughtered so that my family might eat for a couple of days.
I long to take out the small dog bed I’ve kept and smell it, but it might unravel me too much. If I can just shut out the terrible memory of his death a little longer…. if I can just stave off the anxiety… if I can just make sure it doesn’t feel more overwhelming than this, then it’ll be okay.
Maybe confronting death, wet eye to glassy eye, isn’t something to ever get used to. It’s appropriate that I should feel this way. Is this the bargaining phase of grief?
The rains have been relentless. Some days have been sunny, but the nights have been cold. California houses aren’t built for the cold and ours has neither heating nor insulation. We’ve been layering up indoors. Cosying up at night with hot toddies and hot chocolates and hot water bottles underneath blankets.
Days are okay. There has been a bit of splashing in muddy puddles in pink glittery Peppa Pig rainboots (that, bizarrely, were half the price to buy and have two-day-shipped from the UK than here in the US). The usual palette of dark green and ochre colours of Southern California’s landscape is a bright pea green that I associate with the UK. Weeds and thistles have overrun the backyard’s slope into the canyon; the patch of earth that used to be Banjo’s scratching ground is green with soft clover and moss. The days might be longer, but they are easier than the nights.
At only 2¼, V seems to have given up napping. In some ways this is inconvenient, but in others it frees up my time to do more with a toddler in tow. Thanks to my friend, Momsicle, I have a new freelance gig which has allowed me to afford a babysitter two mornings a week. I’ve been able to edit 68 pages of the second draft of my book, work on other gigs, and even go to physical therapy (for my back, cause by diastasis recti separation) knowing V is being entertained. I haven’t yet ever spent more than five, maybe six, hours apart from my girl, and I didn’t realise how much I needed a break.
Speaking of breaks… I reckon it will be April or May before we do another transfer. It’ll be another month before I meet with my Ob/Gyn to discuss having a hysteroscopy, and I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait after that. (My RE could do it sooner, but I’d have to pay out of pocket as I have zero infertility coverage.)
Our RE pulled some strings and the really good news is that we have been offered unlimited (which for us means five) embryo transfers for less than the cost of two transfers. If it works the first time, they will refund the difference, so there is no financial risk for us. Financially, this is good; but it also speaks to their confidence that it will work next time (i.e. our embryos haven’t been damaged).
I’m trying to use this time wisely, to mend my diastasis recti, heal my heart, and set aside money to pay for another FET. Instead of feeling frustrated, sad, or anxious, I must think of this time as hibernation, not stagnation. Mama Bear is resting, powering up before she leaps into Spring.