The light.

Dear Alec,

In some ways, everything reminds me of you. I remember driving home one Saturday afternoon a couple months ago and the sunlight filtering through the trees was so gorgeous that it punched me in the gut with how much I missed you, and I started crying. I know, that sounds like a John Denver song. When you were here, sunshine didn’t make me cry. But things are different now. The point is sad things, happy things, unrelated things, relevant things…all remind me of you. Sometimes more starkly than others but it is always there. You are always there. And on that drive I guarantee you were already on my mind, but the golden sunlight triggered a flood of emotions. I don’t know why. I just kept thinking how beautiful it was, and that thought led me directly to you.

The sun: formerly non tear-inducing phenomenon.

Beautiful things, sad things. You are everywhere, in my air, my breath, tangled in my hair and in my dreams at night. Sometimes I picture you walking next to me. You don’t limp anymore. You’re like you were when your body worked perfectly. I don’t need to look at pictures. I can see you. I mean, I pretend.

The way I miss you reminds me of the way I heard grief conceptualized once that stuck with me. It was grief as music: sometimes a symphony and other times background music, but always playing. This metaphor is akin to acute and subtle grief (intense distress vs. the relative calm moments in between). So it is with these reminders. It’s like I’m always thinking of you in the back of my mind. Sometimes it just overpowers me more than at other times. I have also heard grief described as an ocean with waves of different sizes, ebbing and flowing, changing but always there. In and out. Beauty and sadness. Life and death. Love and loss. Me and you.

Everything I say is you in parentheses. I don’t know what that means. But I wrote it down a while ago and it felt true.

When daylight savings time happened in March, I became (more) depressed (than usual). It took me a minute to recognize that the longer days had triggered this more pronounced sense of melancholy. This is when we were supposed to start swimming again after work. The longer days signified all the things I had looked forward to doing with you, but never would again. Triggers come from the strangest places (daylight savings time? this is what throws me over the edge?), but they aren’t really that strange. Nothing is strange in grief. Because everything is strange, unfamiliar, wrong. I’m so tired of crying. I’m so tired of me without you.

It’s a funny coincidence, just last night I read in one of my books (Grieving Mindfully – highly recommended, especially for people with busy brains who feel everything too deeply, like me) that changes in the length of the days can re-trigger grief. So once again, I find I am not alone in my experiences, as bewildering as they may seem; others have been there before and others will be after. We just don’t always talk about it.

Truthfully, after a brief hopeful period around when I did my “magic words” collage and imagined connecting with you, I have been feeling so depressed. Then I thought about the calendar. This time last year was the happy calm before the storm. No wonder I am anxious and feeling sadder than usual. I know the calendar is an arbitrary timekeeper, but does something inside remind us of what we were doing 365 days ago? Do our cells remember when the light changes? I don’t know. But March of last year was the last time I was truly happy. Everything changed in early April. Then I had a brief, all too brief, period of happiness, of elation in fact, when I got the news that it wasn’t cancer. I would learn in May that was not true. A false diagnosis. The lab results had missed a cancer so aggressive it didn’t need any help taking hold, let alone that six-week head start during which we could have started treatment. A mistake. Oops. This month. One year ago. Everything fell apart. Just a calendar. But the light reminds us when we try to forget.

Alec, it’s funny that the almost overwhelming urge to write to you came over me today, out of the blue. I understand people doing that with dead people, but we never talked, not in words, when you were alive, because well, you’re a dog. So why do I want to write to you, as if you could read? I don’t know. Of course I always wished we could communicate better. I always wished I could perfectly understand you, and you, me. Is that why? Is it that my blog feels unfocused, rambling, too sad, with no audience? Maybe with you as my imaginary audience I can gain some of the focus I lamented losing in the magic words post, one of the many things I lost in the fire of your death. These are called secondary losses, and there were so many that came with losing you. Parts of myself burned away, gone like smoke. Whole pieces of my soul gone missing. Important ones.

That’s all for now. If I have any hope to keep writing, and I feel I must, that it’s important somehow, then I must stop over-editing and second guessing myself and just write, let it be raw and unfocused, at least for now. Perhaps out of chaos will come clarity. I have time to see if that’s true, I suppose. With you gone, sweetie, there is not much else that’s really been pressing.

Theme song for this post is “The Light, pt. 2” by Mason Jennings:

Across the gardens, across the schoolyards
Across the chapels where lovers have leapt
Across the table in our old kitchen
Across the cities where our future slept
It’s the light that’s changing
It’s the light that’s changing
It’s the light that’s changing
It’s only the light


Filed under Grief and loss, Love after death

6 responses to “The light.

  1. I’m reading and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I haven’t commented because words rarely offer much comfort, at least in my experience. Loss and grief are personal, and there is a wall that few if any can permeate to ease the grief we are experiencing. I’ve chosen to avoid gut-wrenching, soul eating grief by surrounding myself with, without a doubt, too many critters. It allows me not to connect so deeply with a specific cat or dog and continue going on when one is lost. This year, having lost 3 cats & a dog since December, along with treating 3 sick cats and dealing with my own health problems, has been really tough. However, 21 years after losing my soul mate, Casey, the most wonderful cat ever to have lived, I still miss him. The ones we truly connect with never , ever leave us.

    • Connie it’s great to hear from you! Your comments on my old blog were always so comforting. I am sorry to hear you are going through a rough time 😦 I hope things get better for you soon. A friend who works at a sanctuary has seen a lot of animals she cares for die over the years, and she mentioned this is a way she deals with loss, by not connecting too deeply with one animal over another. I totally get that. I could never do this again, what I have been through with Alec. No no no. The whole experience completely shattered my life but I am trying to put the pieces back together and see what new picture might emerge. I like this idea that those we truly connect with never ever (NEVER) leave us. This is the blanket I wrap around myself as I move forward.

  2. I don’t know where I heard/read this recently, so forgive me up front. In fact, you may have written it in an earlier post. Regardless, I found it comforting. When someone we love passes, their energy remains because energy cannot be destroyed. Those atoms remain and we may, very well, absorb some of them ourselves, becoming a part of who we are. It made me feel that they are still physically with us, but in a different form. Even so, they will always reside firmly in our hearts. I think the best way we can honor their lives is by living a life they would want us to and sharing our joy, kindness and compassion with others – be they dogs, cats, cows, pigs, chickens, etc…..and even sometimes other humans.

    Wishing you comfort and peace of mind. Your life was better because Alec was in it.

  3. April

    Beautiful post, Nic. Love you.

  4. Sharon Discorfano

    My Pushkin song is The Very Thought of You, which I used to sing to him. Now, the words are even more real to me: “I see your face in every flower, your eyes in the stars above… “

  5. Pingback: Monument. | Alec's Story

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