“Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.” – Glennon Doyle Melton
I was working in NYC full-time at a literary agency when my father died. I know in the months leading up to that winter I had tried writing stories about him, willing one to be good enough, for me or you or him, I’m not sure. I remember one of my first thoughts though, sitting on the subway about forty minutes after having received the call, being something about knowing my first set of certain things. He’ll never walk me down the aisle, we won’t have that dance, his name never again on my cell screen. I even – heartbreakingly – left him a voicemail on my birthday 24 days after he passed.
I was just a few months out of college – a time when life was endless in its what-ifs. Possibilities were everywhere, the sky the limit. But suddenly, these things. Written in stone beneath the shady canopy of a towering tree in my hometown, his name. My hand on his grave is every word I’d wished I’d said, every moment I’d wished he’d been there for.
The day after the funeral we crossed the George Washington bridge with my father’s dog seated on my lap. Our apartment didn’t allow for dogs. We called our landlord and said it’s all of us or none of us.
Chris and I don’t verbalize the way of our faith to one another. We live it, everyday. This past Saturday morning I stood in the laundry room at the cattle ranch where I work and prayed that He’d take our sweet, mischievous, large-hearted Murphy if he was ready to go. On Sunday morning He answered.
It’s been nearly four years since my heart hurt this deep, like not being able to swallow a rock lodged in your throat, your heart swollen with grief and drowning in tears. The grieving process is a black smoke that wafts about in the air, stopping your breath when it hits you, leaving bruises on your legs from your own raging fists. It is all the things that make this life seemingly unbearable.
Chris and I spent the night laughing at Murphy videos on our couch with our lab sprawled on the floor below us. We are the survivors of everyday life. And tonight, longing to kiss his furry head once more, we are certain of these things: The pearly gates to Heaven are indeed pee-stained. The sound of home is that of pitter-pattering paws. The volume of love is that of a running faucet.