This is exactly what it looks like right here, right now, in this moment. I took the photo Saturday night but we look like this every single night. The hotel has a bed, a little sitting area, and a kitchenette. We start and end the day here, and we always look just like this. We cling to one another for comfort.
It is getting to us all.
Yesterday I crashed. Before I was too numb, and in shock, and disbelief, and then in some kind of no man’s land just trying to survive, to walk 4 dogs 4 to 5 times a day in back of a hotel on a busy road terrified that any minute one of them would get out of a harness and be killed. I cannot sustain any more loss right now.
Let me rephrase that.
I would not like to sustain any more loss right now.
What I have discovered is that it doesn’t matter what you’d like to have happen or not happen, you do the best you can in life and life will happen to you in myriad ways and when it does you do the best you can. And the best you can doesn’t have to be rosy or mindful or brave it just means to keep moving forward, a hair’s breadth at a time if that’s all you can manage, maybe so slowly it cannot be seen with the naked eye but some part of you has to keep moving forward.
Delilah and I have been having a bad time of it and the only thing that has pulled me out of mine is my concern for her. Yesterday I got up at 6:30, threw on clothes, walked all 4 dogs, fed them, got Miss Scarlet up and fed her, and went down to the lobby for the free breakfast that they have that I bring back to the room. Most mornings. Some times I can’t do it. Yesterday I got it but didn’t eat it. I got grapefruit sections and scrambled eggs and juice and coffee. I couldn’t stomach the eggs. I had the juice and coffee while I wrote yesterday’s post, put it up, cried, and then slept all day long, getting up once more to take the dogs out and back to bed. I left one light on by Scarlet, kept the curtains closed, and my sweet babies snuggled close and we slept.
I have never been so tired in my life.
I slept because a combination of exhaustion and grief were like cement shoes and memories of the fire, of that night, of kissing my little birds, going in to feed the dogs, going out with them, and coming back in just as the kitchen exploded were sinking me in the tide of life … I never saw my little birds again.
I slept and slept and slept, got up and took the dogs out and slept and slept and slept, and somehow, at about 4:00, I woke up, really woke up, sat up with that, “Okay, this is enough,” sort of feeling, and I got up. I got dressed, walked the pugs, gave them treats, opened the curtains and turned on the lights. I sat here in this hotel room and I didn’t know what to do but I was up and that was something.
Last night poor little Delilah got down off the bed several times and I heard her whimpering and got up and got her. Through the day she was so restless and anxious she would cling to me, and then get down, and go from one spot to another and she would make a sound like a baby crying, a little high pitched whimper. During the night I found her once cringing between the bed and the nightstand in such a small space I don’t know how she got there. When I go to the bathroom she goes in with me and cringes down between the toilet and the tub or even tries to get in the space between the base of the toilet and the wall behind the toilet. It upset me so badly I didn’t know what to do. I talked to pug rescue terrified that something was physically wrong with her but then it became clear it is high anxiety. Delilah and I are cut from the same cloth. She is better this evening after taking her medication. We both need a little extra help through this. I will do whatever I need to do to see her through this. We will see each other through.
After Christmas I got rid of television. I had a Roku box and watched streaming movies and things but in this hotel room for 24 hours less than 3 weeks almost all I have done is watch television. I called and just ordered my internet and wifi hookups for this weekend when we move into our little rental house but tomorrow I am going to get cable too. Not all the bells and whistles or special channels but I have found that mindless t.v. can help one through unimaginable pain. I’m not sure what that all means but I can tell you this, in my darkest moments, and I’m laughing now, in the early days, I actually watched the Kardashians. For one week I was riveted. It was like a train wreck, didn’t want to watch it, couldn’t look away. I said to my daughter “I have sunk so low I have been watching the Kardashians.” She laughed. And I laughed. And those Kardashians saved me. I’m actually embarrassed to admit this here but the thing is you need to use whatever you can to get through the early days, to just.get.through.
Just now the thought flashed through my mind again as it has so many times since the fire on different days. Tonight it is, “Just three weeks ago the fire hadn’t happened yet. We had 17 more hours together as a family of 5 parrots and 4 pugs in my little Dragonfly Cottage filled with dreams and plans and a new business just started and gardens planted in all directions and…”
It’s kind of like that thing where you never know until you look back that that would be the last time you kissed someone, or made love to them, or told them you loved them. You never know. Every moment has become increasingly precious to me as the years have gone along, I teach about mindfulness because I know how important it is, how life-changing, life-saving, but not until you go through something like this can you really realize how quickly everything can be gone, how ephemeral it all is, and if we live to be 1oo with everything in our lives intact one day it will be gone. There is not one single moment that you can afford to waste, to toss away. Make every single moment count. Don’t wait to tell someone you love them. Tell them you love them a million times a day and risk looking the fool, I promise you you would rather have that than to let them walk out the door thinking you have all the time in the world and find out later it was the last chance you ever had. And that is just exactly the way I plan to live from now on.
I have always looked and acted foolish, I’m pretty sure almost everyone who knows me can agree on that. And I am not afraid to be odd. And I will always have a hard time being around people, I will always struggle with that, but this agoraphobic woman has been ripped out of her safe world and has had to do things she never imagined she would do and she is surviving.
I go down shyly to get breakfast, as late as possible when almost no one is there. I have actually missed it a few times because I waited too long. So I’ve gone a little earlier and I’ve gotten to know the people who work at the front desk in the lobby and I even like to stop and say a few words. A number of times the phone has rung and someone would say, “Ms. Libellule, they are about to take dinner up, can we bring you a plate?” One morning Natalie, a very sweet woman who works mornings, called and said she was bringing me a tray. She was worried about me. The whole hotel knows me. I think I kind of stick out like a sore thumb. I’m the lady whose house burned down and who has a room full of pugs and a parrot. They are tickled all to pieces by the pugs.
When Natalie brought my tray she smiled and said to just call any time I needed anything, they would be glad to bring my meals to me. I edged in the door, as I always do, pushing pugs back and hoping they don’t escape (Sometimes they do. I chased Delilah all the way down to the lobby once and was simply mortified when I caught her and scooped her up but everyone in the lobby thought she was just charming!) and as I turned into the room with the tray I noticed a little post-it note with a smily face on it that said, “Have a nice day Maitre.” Tears ran down my cheeks as I smiled at my misspelled name. Somehow I loved that it was misspelled. It touched me. This woman who barely knew me brought me breakfast with a little note to cheer me up. I stuck the note on the lamp shade here next to my bed.
The most amazing thing about this experience to me is the unbelievable kindness of people. I so deeply appreciate my family and dear friends who have helped me, I will always carry their love and help during this time in my heart, but the thing that blows me away are the countless things that have been done for me by people I barely know, some who don’t know me at all have sent things, and when I spoke to the dear woman at pug rescue this evening about Delilah she said she has big boxes of things to send to me from people in the rescue when I get in my house and can finally get mail and have a place to put things next week. I am simply in awe.
It makes me think of how often I have heard of someone going through something and wanted to do something and didn’t. By God now I’m going to do it. You simply have no idea what it means until you are the one on the receiving end after a tragedy.
I have gone from not being able to write to, in this moment, feeling like I can’t stop, but I have to, and I am very tired, and wee Delilah is snuggled in again after restless forays around the bed. I will give her a little more medicine, just a little bit, in the night if she is having a hard time. If I am disoriented I can’t imagine what it is like for her. She was a puppy mill girl, rescued from being used as a breeder, and she came to me very afraid. We like the routine and the familiar, she and I, and we are about to move again. I have to make this as easy for her as I can, and I will. We will get through this, she and the boys and Scarlet and I. We will make it through.
My head hurts. I don’t sleep well here. I had a huge old floor fan, a monster of a thing, in my house that is now gone. It was from the 1950’s, it was in the house I grew up in, and everyone wanted to buy it. I always had it on. I needed to hear my fan to sleep and the dead quiet when I turn out the light here is something that I can’t take. Luckily I came up with a solution that is pretty wonderful. I downloaded an app on my phone and tablet some time back that I thought was cool but it soon went the way of all of those apps we download and never use, but now I am using it and cling to the sound of it at night like Linus to his blanket.
The app is called “Relax M.P.” and is an amazing assortment of sounds that you can put together anyway you want, using as many or as few as you like, to create soft background “music.” There are binaural sounds too. I use the combination of “Dreams” and “Slow Waves” and it is like very soft bell-like tones and slow ocean waves. It plays all night just loud enough that I can hear it and I am able to go to sleep, but I am so sad about my fan, it was the last remnant of my childhood. I just thought of that. Truly, the very last thing I had from my childhood.
I guess that is the message tonight, or one of them. Like Ram Dass said, “Be Here Now.” And I want to add that you need to feel what you feel, all of what you feel, and accept it, and love yourself gently, and do what you need to do to get by, and don’t judge, and don’t let anyone else judge you either. (This is a huge lesson in what to allow or not allow in your life and that is people too, life is too short to let people stay in it that cast a dark cloud over your bright spirit. You’ve got to let that spirit shine.)
One final thing for tonight. Since the night of the fire I have been told countless times that it was amazing that I made it out of the fire, the firemen said that from the beginning, but this I know, it was not my time, I am meant to be here still, I have work to do and by God I’m going to do it. I am at the beginning of a long journey but I am here, I am here, I am here, and on I go…