Your dad and I have made it two weeks now. I had to ask him this morning if it had been three weeks because it seems at least that long. I still have a headache when I wake up in the morning. Still tired and fighting the depression of losing you. I have a box of tissues in the passenger side of the Jeep because I just never know when I
might be shedding a few tears. Your dad has decided to wean himself off of comfort food by transitioning from chocolate cupcakes to lemon cupcakes. I don’t ask, I just smile and envy his metabolism. It is all part of the journey.
At night sometimes I still think I can hear your claws on your scratching whale and it is still super hard to come home and not see you running to greet us. Our hearts sink when the key goes in the lock. You knew when you heard the word “disarmed” that we were coming back into the house and seeing your big green eyes made us smile from ear to ear. Your water fountain is still unplugged and stagnant. I know I should pick it up and put it away.
After work today, I went to the clinic to collect your ashes. To be honest, I put this off for a few days. Your dad listened to the voice mail message maybe even last week, I am sorry, the days have all run together and I am not certain and don’t seem to care enough to sort them out. But today your dad encouraged me to go ahead and stop on my way home.
I had to steel myself to walk back in the door, the smells, the smiles on friendly faces and the heartache of having to say out loud. “I am here to collect Gracey’s ashes.” You would be proud because I was brave and stood waiting, emotions all in check. But then I saw the beautiful little wooden box I chose just after we lost you and that lump in my throat returned. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes and I thanked everyone again for how much they cared for you too.
I made it outside and got into the Jeep. I carefully opened the pretty bag holding your box and I ran my finger over the hand carved design on the top that reminded me of an Indonesian design and that is why I chose it because if you were a tiger, I think you would have been a Sumatran tiger. You were a petite cat and even though you liked to behave like your big cousin the Amur tiger, let’s be honest you weren’t so fond of getting your paws cold and wet in the snow. You were much more suited to meditating in the sun in your thinking circle.
At first this made me smile but when I saw “Gracey” on the name plate, I felt the emotional wave break and I began to cry so hard right there in my car. I couldn’t breathe and my stomach hurt. I thought I might throw up. I know of course as a rational being that you passed away in my arms two weeks ago, but seeing your name on the box made it seem so final. Like the exclamation point at the end of a run on sentence.
I thought I would call your dad and that would make me feel better, but when I heard his voice, I couldn’t speak. He heard me sobbing and he said, “Oh Jo, I know it’s so hard.” And then he said “You aren’t driving like that are you?” And that made me laugh through the tears because you know how he worries. And I said yes, but I am really fine and he had to think stubborn Irish woman.
There was a storm coming when I got home and the wind really picked up. Your dad and I were looking out the kitchen window when Bossy Backyard Blue Jay came to the sun room and was looking inside. This was the first time your dad witnessed his behavior. Bossy then flew over on the perch outside the window and looked in at both of us. He tilted his head to one side and I told him to get back to his pine tree and stay safe. He stayed longer and the wind was really blowing. I started to worry something was wrong with him and then he flew away into the pines. Your dad was speechless.
I think he sees you in the sun room. I like that thought.