The Losses I Keep
Rough day for me today.
I stayed at work a little later than I had planned, so I had to hustle to get to the hospital before visiting hours were over. My friend’s father had to have surgery to remove infections from both of his artificial knees. His son (my friend) lives in Georgia, so I went to visit Papa today as his “other” son, whom I’ve been for most of my life, anyway.
Like any normal person, I really dislike hospitals (does anybody “like” them?), so I was already pretty blue just walking out of my office towards the uptown train.
In case you aren’t from the northeast, it was a miserable rainy day in New York City today. My ten-minute walk to Grand Central took me right by an office I used to work at a few years back. Even in urban settings, geography can evoke some pretty heavy emotional weight. And this particular rainy neighborhood reminded me of a girl I used to work with. A girl who was very special to me. A girl whose heart I may or may not have broken somewhere along the way.
I’m sure I was a pathetic sight. But, my unhappy destination, my melancholy memories, and my lack of an umbrella made me feel even worse than I looked. I got on and off the train with equal apathy, and I only brightened myself up for the 25-minute hospital visit. My train and bus rides home did nothing to shake the gloom of greyness that was pretty much my whole day today.
This is slightly embarrassing, but I always know August 23rd will be a rough day for me, because that’s the day my dog died three years ago. I knew it when I went to bed last night, when I woke up this morning, and it stayed with me all day long.
For the last two years, I’ve made it a point to re-read two blog posts my brother and I had written the day Indy died. They were totally unsolicited and totally coincidental: I typed mine at my former desk in my former office (the one I walked past this evening), and my brother wrote his while on vacation in Hawaii, totally unaware that our dog had died that morning.
Each year, I read both his and mine, knowing that I’ll hate it, knowing that I’ll bawl my eyes out, knowing that it’ll hurt just as bad as it did three years ago. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but that’s kinda the point.
It’s one thing to say that you miss somebody, or to say that you miss something. It’s another thing entirely to reopen the wound and let the pain feel as fresh and new as it did way back when. I’m glad that I still feel the pain of losing my dog. I read what my brother wrote, and I just lost it. It took me ten minutes to read through my own because I couldn’t read through the tears. I’m glad that I can’t walk by my old office where she and I once worked together without it breaking my own heart (she took me to lunch the day Indy died, and again the following year, because she remembered the date).
As long as I can still feel the pain of losing my dog, or the pain of losing my friend, then they are still with me in a way.
If I forget the mistakes I’ve made that cost me my friend, I’ll only lose more friends in the future. By keeping that pain close to the surface, by acknowledging the losses I keep, I’m sure not to repeat those mistakes.
As for the dog? I hope to be crying over that goofy mutt for the rest of my life.