Today was the first day I drove home and wasn’t in tears -- not sure if that’s a sign I’m starting to feel better or that I just had a good cry yesterday so there were no tears left for the ride home. I’ve come to learn that there’s no pattern for grief--even though I continue to look for them. You can think you are doing better and out of nowhere it hits you so hard that you’re knocked to the ground. I’ve come to learn that grief isn’t a natural linear progression that moves forward with time. It’s not like you get better at it or can beat it as time moves forward. Some days, I feel like I’ve moved forward, but only to realize on other days, I’ve digressed even further than where I started. Either way, I think less crying is a positive thing; it means I can focus more energy on telling our story than the pain and sadness in my heart.
I remember one evening after Easter, I was in the dining room when you shouted from the living room, “Babe, can we go get Waffles tomorrow?” I respond with, “I can make waffles tomorrow, we don’t need to go out for waffles.” Then you said, “No babe, we need to go get Waffles tomorrow.” And I kept saying, “I can make waffles, why do we need to go get waffles?” Then you said, “No babe, come here, we need to go get Waffles tomorrow!” and you point to the TV where the news was doing a segment on all the rabbits that get surrendered at the shelter after Easter. You’re pointing at the TV and you keep saying, “Waffles babe, we need to go get Waffles.” I come to realize that Waffles is one of the rabbit at the shelter that the news was reporting. I said, “What?! No way, Pebbles will eat Waffles.” Then you said, “No, we can build Waffles a pin outside in the backyard.” I said, “Where will Waffles go when it’s raining?” And you said, “We can figure that out when it rains.” I’m like “No way, we don’t need another mouth to feed--2 dogs, 3 cats and 3 tanks full of fishes is enough for me!” Then you say, “But Waffles need a home and I’ve always wanted a rabbit!” I said, “No way, Waffles will have to find another home because I have no more love to give!” That was my line to you everytime you want to bring home another animal.
After we got Pebbles (our 5th animal), you sent me a photo of a french bulldog that needed a home with the caption, “Can we adopt this french bulldog? He needs a home and I’ve always wanted a french bulldog.” I thought about it for a couple days and it was really hard for me to say no to you but I just couldn’t fathom having another animal (we already had 3 cats, 2 dogs, and who knows how many fishes), so I finally found the guts to say, “I’m sorry Babe, but I have no more love to give.” You’d think that would be the end of you trying to bring home more animals. Nope!! Not at all, instead every month you would send me a picture of a dog that needed a home and I would respond with “I have no more love to give.” If it wasn’t a dog, then you would bug me about getting a parrot or a rabbit. After a few years, you finally realized that I wasn’t going to give in. So the pictures became more of ‘look at this dog or this animals that needs a home but I already told them you won’t let me have anymore animals, but I just wanted to show you their photo.’ If I let you have all the animals you wanted, we’d have our 5 fur babies, the fishes, and probably more dogs, a horse, a few rabbits, and some parrots (or whatever type of bird you wanted, I can't remember exactly as I always try to ignore you when you are talking about it).
Yes, a HORSE! For your birthday one year, I knew you loved horses, so I got you horseback riding lessons (that was a mistake!). You enjoyed it so much you were ready to buy a horse! I asked where were you going to keep this horse of yours? You said you looked at stables in the area and they weren’t that expensive and you could get a discount if you volunteer to help clean up the stable. Volunteer to clean up the stable?! I said, you don’t even clean the litter box unless I’m on a trip! You said this was different! (How was this different?? I have no clue. If anything, this was worse in my mind!) Every time we went on vacation, there was always a tour that involved riding a horse--never fails! I don’t think there’s been any vacation we’ve been on that didn’t involve riding a horse. (This reminds me, we never went on the dude ranch vacation you wanted to go on!)
The last trip we went on was to Cuba and we ended up doing the longest horseback riding tour ever--it was literally all day! I’m glad we were able to go to Cuba since it was on your bucket list, but for the most part, it felt like the odds were against us, but we made it! I have to say it was probably one of the ‘roughest’ trip we went on, and you did not like roughing it on vacation. You prefered vacations that involved room service, poolside service, and tropical beverages with small umbrellas in them. But you wanted to see Cuba while it was still in a time capsule and before it got too touristy. The trip was amazing but there were a lot of moments where we weren’t sure if we were going to make it out of Cuba alive. I even fell off my horse towards the end of the tour. The lead horse decided it wanted to gallop up the hill, so my horse followed suit. When my horse started taking off and galloping towards the hill (I was a lot further from the hill than the lead horse), I got scared and dropped the reins to try to find something to hold onto (okay babe, I know now that the proper thing to do was to pull back on the reins--who knew?) But there wasn’t much to hold on to so I was being tossed around on the saddle and I started to have an out-of-body experience (which was probably shock). I blacked out (maybe I just closed my eyes but I don’t remember much) and felt this extreme sense of peace while my brain kept saying, “I think I’m going to fall.” Then as I was falling off the horse, my brain kept saying, “I think I’m falling” and then I felt two thuds (I landed once but then bounced up before I landed the second time). After I fell, all I could hear was you running towards me (I knew it was you cause I could feel you running towards me) and I kept thinking to myself, “Oh no, here he comes. He’s going to be S.” The locals were trying to help me up but you’re screaming at them to not touch me since you weren’t sure if I had broken anything or had any type of internal injuries that would get worse if I was moved. You of course get into our disaster training mode and start feeling for broken bones. My eyes were still closed as you were doing this and I say, “I’m fine babe.” Then you say, “No, you're not! Let me do what I’m trained to do.” I say, “I don’t feel any pain; I’m fine” Then you say, “It’s because you’re in shock.” Next thing you know, we are arguing as I’m laying on the ground (still unable to move with my eyes closed, but of course I continue to stubbornly tell you I’m fine). When I’m finally able to get up, the locals put me in an oversized wheelbarrow with a big hole in the center that is attached to a horse where I’m supposed to ride by sitting on the side of the wheelbarrow. Well, let’s just say, I probably would have fallen off the wheelbarrow also if I sat on the side like the locals did, so instead, I opted to sit inside the wheelbarrow but I had to make sure I didn’t fall through the hole in the center. I was thinking to myself it probably would have been easier to just get back on the horse since the wheelbarrow was a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride. As we were taking off, they ended up taking me onto the main road instead of following the path of the tour, so we got separated. I looked back at you as we were riding off and thought to myself, I wished you could have came inside the wheelbarrow with me (even though there no room for you), but I just wanted you to be with me. But about 5 to 10 minutes later, the lady riding with me (of course she was sitting on the side like it nothing) tapped me on the shoulder and guestered for me to look back. When I turned around to look, there you were--riding behind us on your horse (you were riding like a pro; galloping away). And, I thought to myself, “Of course he wouldn’t leave me, why would I ever think he wouldn’t follow behind me. How could I be that foolish to think he wouldn’t come with me” You never left my side--you were there with me the entire way.
When we got back to our room, I was going to shower so I could clean off all the mud on me from the fall. But before I could even grab my clothes, you grabbed me and held me as tight as you could and just started crying (yes, babe, you were crying!) and said, “I thought I was going to lose you. I felt this extreme sense of fear that I’ve never felt before in my life.” And we just stood there holding each other (with mud and all) for I don’t know how long, just thankful I was still alive and didn’t have any major injuries.
Later that night, I asked you what happened since I didn’t remember much. So from your side of the story, the lead horse started to get out of control and started galloping towards the hill, which cause your horse to follow suit (and apparently mine as well). But since you knew what to do, you pulled back the reins to slow down your horse, and you’re trying to get to the lead horse to help the rider, but then you hear me screaming. You turn around and you see me being bounced around on the horse as it’s galloping towards the hill. This would be the part of the story where you would point out that I didn’t ride the correctly (yeah, I got that babe! Thanks for reminding me again!). The horse was trying to buck me off as it was galloping towards the hill and you’re charging towards me to try to get to me before I could fall off. The tour guide is yelling at you to stop charging since it could scare my horse even more, but you didn’t stop, you weren’t going to let me fall if you could help it. But you were too far and couldn’t get to me in time, so I fell off the horse (this would be the part of the story where you would point out that I didn’t ride the horse correctly, but I did fall off the horse correctly. I slid off the side and took my foot out of the saddle so I wouldn't get dragged or trampled on--but I’m sure there was an angel that helped me cause it wasn’t like I did any of these things intentionally). When you saw me fall, this is the part of the story where you would say, “the adrenaline kicked in and I’m not even sure how I did it, but I jumped off the horse and landed on my feet before the horse could come to a complete stop, like John Wayne in the cowboy movies, and I ran towards you.”
Well Babe, we were lucky that day. I had a guardian angel looking over me because it could have been a lot worse. You might have been a widower that day. I wished you had a guardian angel looking over you on the morning of January 7th, so I wouldn’t have to be here alone, writing you these letters. Instead, we would be thanking the universe for giving us more time together so we could continue “to annoy each other for the rest of our lives” as we liked to call it.
I love you and miss you so much babe-- it’s almost unbearable.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.