This is what I tell people to try to get them to understand: When Jamie and I broke up, I cried for a day. We cried together, actually, and maybe that’s what made it different. We cried on the way home from our counselor’s office, we cried through the lunch we told ourselves we needed to go eat, we cried in our bed, our backs turned toward each other.
We cried for a day, and then we were fine.
But ever since Cody died, I feel as though I may never stop crying.
That’s as far as I get in trying to describe how it feels to lose him, his quick-beating heart, his impossibly small head, his chest that was warmer on one side than the other, his neck soft and folded like a flower. Then I just tell people, “It was terrible,” because it was, and it still is.
It had been a year almost to the day that Cody had been experiencing pain. The kind of pain that made him not want to get out of bed, that made him hold up his paws in the middle of a walk, that forced me to carry him to more vet appointments than I could keep track of, cradled in the same bed that he eventually would die in. You think a year is enough. Even in the last few weeks, I thought it was enough. I thought I had had enough. I thought Cody had had enough. I thought his little body—hopped up on so many pain meds he slept most of the day and only got up to beg for a walk—had definitely had enough.
But it wasn’t, because when I pressed my forehead to his forehead and felt his fluttering heart finally stop beating, the only thing I could think was that I wanted him back.
When my relationship with Jamie ended, I turned to metaphors to make sense of it. The plant and the house and the crumbling wall. They were all signs. They made sense of the mess we had made of each other’s lives, and there was comfort in the sense-making.
But there are no metaphors to make sense of this: I still expect to hear his nails on the tiles when I open up a bag of cheese. When I throw something heavy onto my bed, I still worry mid-fall that it is about to land on his head. I still flinch when the doorbell rings. When I’ve been away from home for longer than eight hours, it still feels wrong, like it is time for his walk and time for his meds and time to walk into my apartment and see his small head resting on the edge of his bed, waiting for me to open the gate and set him free.
I can’t think of a metaphor for that kind of missing. The kind that is so close, I can’t even keep up with it.