Thursday, February 10, 2011

Breathe in. Breathe out.

It was tough to fall asleep last night. I stayed up as late as I could justify but knowing that I had to get up for work this morning I headed upstairs and was trying hard not to look over to the corner where she would no longer be. Losing a beloved pet is incredibly heart-wrenching. Time heals all wounds they say but that's small comfort on the first evening without your furry loved one. For nearly 17 years she'd slept on the floor at my side of the bed. How was I to move on without her? Still, dutifully, I crawled into bed, took a deep breath, and tried to relax.

My husband had gone to bed much earlier. It had been an exhausting day for us all so I understood his reasons for turning in for the night a few hours before I did. I heard him sleeping. I heard him slowly breathe in and breathe out. "I wish I could turn off my brain", I thought. Just stop thinking...just stop thinking...relax.

I pulled up my pillows, switched sides, and sighed again. This is going to be a long night, I thought. And then I felt Eric's arms envelop me and pull me close. My head went naturally to his chest. He kissed my head. He rubbed my back. I began to drift. A few minutes later I fell asleep in his arms.

I try to be strong. I am strong. I am sometimes too strong. But a simple embrace, even one that comes in sleep, reminds me I can let go. My husband's arms and his gentle kiss remind me I can be vulnerable yet remain safe and protected. I can let my burdens fall away for a few hours at least.

How will I move on without her? Slowly. Tearfully. One step at a time. But I will move forward. And I will honor her by returning to my happy self. But for now I may be taking two steps forward and in the evenings, one step back. Grief is a process. Distractions that busy the mind help during the day but when the world is quieted and it's time to rest, my imagination will race and my heart will continue to ache. That's when I'll tell myself to breathe in and breathe out. That's when I'll find myself gravitating once again to those arms that will pull me close to the one who never leaves my side.

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