A week ago I thought the light would never come back on, that sad and lost were my new ways of life. I thought, like the overweight woman who loses the pounds but never FEELS thin, I would walk around in this body of mine faking a smile and an interest in life, but never FEEL light again. Dead eyes and heavy heart. The end. I would never want another dog, I would have to pretend to care about the two I still have, and healing would consist of not crying when I ordered a coffee from someone who made the mistake of being extra nice to me.
I tried baking. Tears fell in the batter so I added less salt. I tried painting. The donkeys came in twos and threes, blurred and drippy but hey, it’s watercolor. I tried reading. The third time through a well written paragraph I gave up for a slow, spatial game of blocks on a grid I can play on my iPad without thinking. I tried petting the brown dogs. Nice dogs. Good dogs. Easy, clean dogs. Yeah, yeah. I tried riding Mac. Off road. Fast, free. He came back sweaty and I came back smiling. Sore. Healing. Pat held my hand while we watched stupid tv shows, and sweet, sweet you said the kindest things to me about Linus and life and love. Thank you.
I know about the seven stages of grief. I can vouch for four, and they are colors: blinding white horror – the NO you can’t scream; followed by a black, thick molasses of immobilizing SAD; then a red, bloody RAW with flashes of glaring anger and sneering cynicism; then finally bruised, blue tenderness that loosens its chokehold and may bring a few tears but feels less like a monster, more like a friend. And then hints of yellow, highlights and reflections of orange and purple, silver linings, start to creep back in. Tender is a heightened state, one I can live with and feel alive with. I think it makes me more appreciative, more gentle, more easily amused, more patient, more aware. Tender makes Rudy funnier and softer and dearer, makes the forgiveness of an old friend more precious, makes the sunset on the mountains more spectacular, the campfire-grilled venison more perfect. It’s a color, not an earthy neutral grey or brown, but a primary color of accepting what’s missing AND what’s right here. I do feel blue, which feels right to me; the smile is real, the paintings are coming in twos and threes, and my tender heart is lighter.