April 28, 2020
A while back, we adopted a sweet dog named Addie. She was the goodest girl.
But due to a series of unfortunate events, we were unable to keep her. On her last day with us, I put her in her crate in the car and drove her through the cold and rain to the Human Society of North Texas. She whimpered and shivered the whole way there, even though it was warm in the car. When I opened her crate, she didn’t want to get out. When I opened the door to the building, she didn’t want to go in. I filled out the relevant paperwork in something of a mental and emotional fog, but it wasn’t until I was back in the car, quiet and alone, that the sadness finally washed over me. An hour later, I had to pick my daughter up from school and tell her the horrible news. She sobbed all the way home.
Addie was such a sweet girl, and I know she’s probably with another family now. She was young and cute and gentle and well-tempered, so she almost certainly got adopted by another family right away. My wife haunted the Human Society website to keep an eye on her posting until it disappeared again a short while later, and then we finally felt a little bit of closure. But I’ve been so sad about her lately, hoping she’s okay, hoping she’s having a good life wherever she is.
A year and a half ago, my wife’s sister, Anna, committed suicide. We were visiting my parents at the time, and my wife’s parents called my mom and asked to speak to my wife. There was so much grief on both ends of the phone line that the conversation was almost unintelligible. And then we left immediately to drive late into the night to get home to be near her family. The whole car trip was spent in alternating weeping and silence.
Anna’s birthday was earlier this week, and her death has weighed especially heavy on my wife’s mind for the past several days. She says that the sadness and anger and sense of loss are still as fresh as they were when it happened.
Anna was a good person who fell on hard times in adulthood. Her marriage was rocky. She suffered from substance abuse and addiction. She had what seemed like a handful of mental health problems, though she was probably never officially diagnosed. Fortunately, I knew her for a few years before things got bad. But it’s still so desperately sad that such a good person could feel that life was so horrible that it would be better not to be alive.
And today marks two years to the day since The Shit™ happened. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about all of the people that were hurt through it, and of all of the ways things might’ve been different. I still have dreams a few nights a week about those people. Sometimes, the dreams are sad or scary; sometimes, they’re images of what might have been had things not gotten turned upside down, or (most often) they’re fantasies of what it might look like for my mistakes — real or imagined — to be forgiven and forgotten. I still have notes from certain people pinned where I can see them daily. But there’s also a gaping, ragged hole where there’s not communication from people with whom I used to talk regularly.
It sometimes feels like grief has hardly left our family’s side for the last two years. Undoubtedly, there have been good times amidst the bad. But this week, all of the regret and despair and anger and bitterness and loneliness and sadness and loss have just been almost too much for me. So, I’m writing this partially to get it out of my system, but I’m also writing it because I want to remember. Anna deserves remembrance. My choices about Addie and The Shit and all of the people affected by The Shit deserve remembrance.
So, I remember.