My mom told me that I am afraid to love.
I am afraid she is right.
I put my dog to sleep this morning. I should say we, my family, though it was only three of us because my oldest son chose not to go. I don’t blame him. If my husband and other son hadn’t needed me, I would not have been there, either.
I hear people say things all the time about how it was peaceful. Quiet. They knew it was time. That it just looks like their pet went to sleep.
And I suppose for people who live on the surface, all those things are true. Yes. It was peaceful. It was quiet. But it was also awful. Horrible. Traumatic. Sickening. Death. It rips at you from the inside out and never stops. Never.
It’s never stopped since my sister died 20 years ago.
I can’t believe I just wrote that. I actually had to do the math. Twenty years. TWENTY years ago my 11-year-old sister was taken off of life support.
It was peaceful. It was quiet. Horrible. Traumatic. Sickening. Death. It still rips and tears at me from the inside out. Every. Single. Day.
The day each of my children were born. I remember them both. My first thoughts as a mother, in those first few seconds when you hear your child cry and your maternal hormones explode. My first thought was of my own mother. It was “One day I might have to taste what it feels like to be a mother who’s lost a child.” That thought made me so sick that I vomited. Both times.
I emailed my Momma this morning and told her that I will never have another pet. Because I will never go through that again. That no amount of happiness is worth that ripping and tearing. None.
And she wrote “I wish there was some way I could help you deal with stuff like this so you wouldn't feel so devastated when it happens. And then maybe you wouldn't feel so afraid to love.....”
Instead of whatever gene humans have that helps them embrace love without the paralyzing fear of death, I was gifted with the MAOA gene.
I’d much rather be angry. Pissed off. Burning and pillaging. The monster who scares away anyone who might come too close. No flight. Just fight. Rip and tear and stab and scream.
Except when my 6-foot-tall 16-year-old boy lays his head in my lap and sobs for a dog he’s had since he was so young that he has no memories of being without her. There is no fight in me then. Just love. As I stroke his hair and feel so immeasurably grateful for every one of his tears that soak into my jeans.