I seem to be grieving, lately. I think about Gadget and cry a little bit, by myself. Or I sob on the phone for an hour to a friend about how I feel robbed of the writing career I could have had if I weren’t sick. I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to get organized and get out of my own way, and that everything is so damn hard.

I’m angry and frustrated and sad that I don’t have access to reference books because I can’t go to the library. And that, because of that, I don’t feel able to prepare a book proposal for one of the TEN books I want to write or edit or have already mostly written and which I feel I’m incapable of ever actually pitching.

I’m angry and sad and frustrated that I can’t walk my own damn dog. That other people get to walk my service-dog-in-training. That I don’t get to see him run. That I don’t get to see any of the world go by or say hello to casual strangers or acquaintances. That I can’t get to my van to try to train Barnum how to do a default sit upon exiting without me spinning around on a rock, afraid I’m going to run him over, because the clearance on my (indoor) powerchair is so low.

I’m sad about Gadget. I’m sad about Norm. I’m sad about my two former best friends. I’m sad about all the other people I never see because they were friends of the friends who don’t speak to me anymore. I’m sad that the people I do still have in my life, the people I care about and who care about me, are struggling so unbelievably hard, too — seem to have more than their fair share of the world’s crap dumped on them, and that I can’t do anything to help.

I miss having IRL friends. I miss having any holidays actually be fun, as opposed to something to just get through and try to ignore except that they make life more difficult because stores and services are closed, and I have to shuffle PCA coverage around.

I miss having neighbors who cared about me. I miss liking the way I looked. I miss so many things I can’t write about here. This isn’t the life that I wanted. I’ve been so willing, over and over, to adjust and lower my expectations and get creative and make it work, and I just want a break. I miss just having two major diseases instead of three.

But I can’t stay in a perpetually bad mood, because I have Barnum. He is my oxytocin pump. Almost every day, at least once a day, sometimes two or three times, we have training sessions. I engage my mind. I connect to his mind. I get to see him learn and think. I get to be the source of eager anticipation: food, clicks, a target to pounce on, a door to slam.

Sometimes he puts a little extra zazz into his work by adding a bouvie bounce. Today, I asked him to get off the bed, and he jumped off, and then he looked at my helper (whom he adores) and did a little bounce into the air, just ‘cuz. It was totally like he was putting a flourish on the end of the behavior. I said to my helper, “Tada!” We both laughed. He is really the silliest goofball of a dog I’ve ever had. The rest were all so dignified. Thank goodness for this goofball.

When we play, I laugh. I forget that I’m sad. Barnum gets his green squeaky ball — the one that squeaks REALLY LOUD, as if a baby or a small animal was shrieking in pain — of course, he loves that, and then he runs with it. He looks at me, his butt in the air, his front legs on the ground, squeaking the ball against the floor. “Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!”

I zoom over wiggling my fingers, saying, “I’m gonna get yooooo!” He JUMPS up, beside himself with joy, and scrambles, like a cartoon character, his legs spinning like windmills while he goes nowhere, getting no traction on the wood floors. He keeps just far enough away that I can’t reach him, but close enough that I almost can.

If I’m able to surprise him — get closer to him than he expected, goose his butt — he leaps, his body giggling. “Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!” He runs and pounces on this dog bed, then runs and pounces on the other dog bed: “Squeak! Squeak! Squeak!”

I hide in the bathroom when he thinks I’m in the bedroom. Then I call, “You can’t get meeeeee!” He comes running for me and stops in the bedroom, looking around. Where IS she? Tiptoe to the hall. . . . Tiptoes to the bathroom. . . . Doesn’t see me, goes looking in the living room again.

I called, “You can’t get me!” and he comes running back. Tiptoes into the bathroom, looks behind the door, and I pounce: “I’m gonna GET you!”

LEAP! Scramble scramble run squeak! Run run run squeak! Squeak! Squeak!

I still wish Gadget was here — to teach Barnum, to be the adult while Barnum still acts like a puppy. To open doors and carry messages and retrieve things I drop and show Barnum how to do it. To be calm and quiet and compliant. I love Barnum, and I still miss Gadget. I want them both. I want my Einstein and my clown. I want to see them running side by side, through the field and down to the pond.

I know so many people who are struggling, depressed, sad, in a funk, scared. I keep sending out this link to the Magic “Make Everything OK” Button. [I don’t know if that page is readable with a screen reader, so I’ve included a description under my signature.]

It continues to give me a giggle, but it’s not a furry dog with a squeaky toy. It’s not Gadget. I think, after all this time — almost two years after Gadget’s death and three years after Norm’s, after the deep, deep layers of loss in every aspect of my life — everything is OK enough that I can finally start to face all that I’ve lost, everything that isn’t OK.

I’ve been in survival mode for so long, when it wasn’t safe to grieve, or when I was too overwhelmed by too much loss to process it. I think I am finally starting to recover enough that the numbness is beginning to wear off. It hurts like hell, and then I numb over again, and then it hurts again.

As long as Barnum’s OK, I think I’ll get through this. Even though things are not OK, I think I’ll be OK. You know what I mean?

– Sharon, the muse of Gadget (who was my everything), and Barnum, SDiT, not my everything yet, but a hell of a lot

[Make everything OK page description: A large, raised button in the middle of the screen says, “Make Everything OK.” When you click on it, a window appears above it that says, “Making everything OK in progress,” above a bar that fills, the same way an upload or download bar fills from left to right. Then the window is replaced with a new box that says, “Everything is OK now.” And below that in smaller letters, “If everything is still not OK, try checking your settings of perception of objective reality.”]

8 Responses to “Sad”

  1. 1 Karyn July 8, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I wish that I could fast forward you through this phase- get you through the grief from Gadget, from Norm, from all the friends you’ve lost, from the abilities that vanished before your eyes as Lyme and other co-infections took over your body.
    I am so sorry that I probably have added to your sadness, to your Gadget grief, to the friends in suffering segment of your sadness.
    Just as I know one day we will be OK, I hope that you find the ability to be Ok also.
    Have you considered reference materials in alternative formats or do you have to have them in print form or are they something impossible to get otherwise.
    Bookshare has a lot of reference materials when one knows titles especially. I bet you could qualify- its just a thought. Its not just for the blind but all print disabled folks.
    I pawsitively loved your silly play with Barnum. That just made me laugh so hard! I needed that laugh. Thane never does that kind of thing- he is way too sophisticated to be that silly! LOL Its incredible and funny and just takes all sadness away for the moment. Thankyou for giving me a glimpse of your clown!

  2. 2 Vivian July 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Take a deep breath… start to think of all of the things you can do. It’s ok to grieve about what you’ve lost, because it’s not just about what you’ve lost, but about the plans, the hopes, the dreams, your life’s aspirations. But once you’ve let yourself go there and grieve for the life you thought you would have, think of how lucky you truly are… because let’s face it, things can always be worse than they already are. If you need help editing, forward some things to me… I majored in English, taught English, and have revised enough papers to be pretty good. If you have trouble writing, what about getting one of those programs that write for you… you talk, it types. That should help you get things out of your head and onto the screen, it should save you a lot of energy so that you can continue to work on other aspects of your writing. Side effects from your illnesses can’t always be helped, but maybe trying some new medications, talking to a therapist (my neighbor has one that calls her twice a week on the phone… I never knew you could have therapy sessions over the phone)… basically, you’ve got to be creative and continue to do a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. Socializing won’t always be easy, but I’m willing to pay you a visit when you’re up for some company… just tell me what I’ll have to do to prepare… I’m sure neighbors, relatives, etc would be more willing to visit if they knew how to do it safely. As for the struggles of others… well, that’s something that can’t always be helped… you can only fight for so long… after a while you just have to step back and focus on yourself for a bit, and accept that it’s ok to focus on yourself… everyone needs that from time to time.

    Now as for Barnum’s crazy antics, I just have to say that Kodi acts exactly the same, including the extra pounce, the butt in the air (which I captured and we now call that a bow), and the wild laps where he runs from bed to bed around the living room and back again. I think it’s a puppy thing and it’s quite adorable. Having a puppy has many drawbacks, but these antics almost even it out… Enjoy it now, because one day he will become the reserved gentleman you’ve been hoping for.

    Lots of positive thoughts your way 🙂


  3. 3 Martha July 10, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Whether you’re feeling sad, angry, or needing time in your shell to just live day by day with your losses, it’s good that you’re able to share; sometimes that’s the scariest thing, letting people know you’re hurting, especially when those who are supposed to care and be supportive don’t want to hear it anymore. Doggy playing is adorable; all of my labs have done the bowing while playing, and it always makes me laugh too.

  4. 4 Sharon Wachsler July 10, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Thank you, Martha. Yes, it has helped me to be able to share here.

  5. 5 Sharon Wachsler July 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Hey Karyn, I’m so glad the description of Barnum playing gave you a laugh. Some day, I hope to get a video of it, because he really is hilarious, and I’d like to preserve a recording for when he gets old and crotchety and less playful.
    I looked into Bookshare, but there was a reason I thought it wouldn’t work for me. I can’t remember why. Maybe because of scanning? I don’t have a scanner. But, I doubt very much if there’s a current copy of Writer’s Market on there. If there is, maybe I’d join.
    Please don’t worry that you have contributed to my sadness. I am concerned about Thane, but it’s not part of the grief bundle, if you know what I mean.

  6. 6 Karyn July 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    It was hilarious to read about Barnum. I’m afraid Thane does not do much but play toys with me. He did zoomies a few times but again nothing fantastic.
    As a member of Bookshare you don’t have to do the scanning, I opt to volunteer to earn membership. Its not free otherwise. Volunteering can be either scanning or proofing scans though.
    They do have an older writer’s market but not the current one. Some publishers are beginning to work directly with bookshare though which has really increased quantity and quality of books (not everyone scans like I do) Now if they would improve the browse feature into better categorization, it would be so much better as when you don’t know a title you can sit forever trying to find what you need.
    As for Thane- we will be OK. I just am getting to that, I am so bored of letting the sun pass us by, phase.

  7. 7 rememberingniko July 18, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Hey Sharon… It seems like when it rains it pours, and grief is a ‘gift’ that keeps on giving. It can put a darkness over so many aspects of your life, and I feel like it can exasperate other bad or sad things you are facing. It made me smile to read about how Barnum can make you laugh and forget, even if just for short bursts. I see that as a good sign. I am glad you hold on to those moments.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too cheesy, but I’m proud of you for finding the courage to share so much raw emotion. I’m glad you are unearthing it (as you said in your other post) all. Sending much love to you as you continue your difficult journey. I may not know what to say at times (or maybe I think I do, but I say the wrong thing!) but I am a cheerleader for you. 🙂

  8. 8 Sharon Wachsler July 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I know you are, and I have appreciated all your support — for years now, too. Since Gadget was diagnosed and through after his death. You say the “right” things a lot of the time, but regardless, I always know your kind intention is there, your cheerleadering, as you say.

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