They say time heals all wounds, but I disagree. I believe we learn to live with loss, but we never stop missing those we love.
We go about our lives until something triggers that deep yearning, that place in your heart where your loved one resides. For me, it’s almost always a song. Music burns the moment into my soul, good or bad.
My Grandpa Sam. The best man I’ve ever known. I lost him when I was 16. His song is “Hold Me Now,” by The Thompson Twins. Why? Because the last time I saw him I was at his house, the television tuned to MTV. That video came on. He was amused by the dancing, sort of a flailing arm motion with a knee bounce, “This is dancing?” he said. And he started doing it. It was adorable. It made my heart burst, and I giggled along with him.
It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, if that song comes on…let’s just say it takes a monumental effort on my part to control the waterworks, and sometimes I just can’t.
There are times when I hear his song and it feels like he’s reaching out to me. One time in particular, on top of personal troubles, I had a rough day at work. Relieved to be going home, I turned the car on, and Hold Me Now was playing. I sat there and cried on his shoulder. And he comforted me.
Something about just turning the radio on, and “that song” is playing…it has meaning.
It happened to me yesterday while I was running errands. I was having a great day, feeling better about my life than I have in a while, lots of positive energy. I went to PetSmart, where they were having a pet adoption day. As I was going in the store, a couple was coming out with a cart full of cat accoutrements…including a cat! They looked so happy, and I just wanted to hug them for saving a sweet feline.
I bought my litter and a cat toy (cuz why not have 10,001?), returned to my car, and started it up. Oh no. “It’s ok,” I told myself, “It’s ok.” It was not ok. I burst into tears. The song? Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” Some of you will think I’m crazy, but this is my cat Sushi’s song. Back in May of 2011, it was the song of the moment, and I loved it, I found it inspiring.
Sushi was dying of cancer. She had surgery to have a tumor removed. She managed to open her incision. I can’t imagine the pain she must have been in. We rushed her to the emergency vet. They suggested we return home, they would call us. So we did. I watched Lady Gaga perform this song on Saturday Night Live that night, telling myself Sushi would be alright. Then the call came. There was nothing they could do.
I was extremely attached to Sushi. She was so intelligent. She understood how mirrors worked, and organized her toys by color (even though cats don’t see the full spectrum, she appeared to discern likeness) and designated the crawlspace a “wilderness” area where she hunted them. She was spunky and communicative, and I loved her dearly.
The lesson I learned from losing Sushi the way I did is this: animals don’t understand that surgery is supposed to help them. It must seem like torture to them, on top of being sick. We want to be able to keep our dear pets with us as long as possible, of course, but when it’s their time, we need to let them go, not prolong their agony. I have guilt over the way Sushi went. But she had cancer, which was going to get her in the end.
However, logical thinking has no place in grief, so yesterday turned out to be a Driving and Crying kind of day. I would pull it together to go into a store, but sobbed when it was time to drive again—ugh!
And, of course, as I sit here writing about my grandfather and my cat, all those feelings well up again.
I’ve heard that failed relationships cause similar grief, but I have to disagree there too. I think in the initial stages the loss can feel as strong as a death, and I have my “break up songs” too…but in the end it isn’t the same. Over time those songs don’t continue to trigger the same magnitude of emotion.
Loss is a part of life. People and pets come and go, and leave their mark upon us. We love them, learn from them, and carry them with us always.