How do you let go?

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I settled down for bed tonight with an Ativan, dim lights, and some quiet surfing on Facebook until I was drowsy. Then I snuggled into bed with BunBun, one of the kittens, and some quiet music; hoping this time I’d drift off peacefully. It’s been a busy day filled with grocery shopping, swimming, taking the kittens for a walk, writing, and phone calls… by all rights I should be tired. My eyes fluttered shut and I thought, “L never found out about the kittens and now he’ll never know. I won’t ever be able to tell him how sweet Jeremy is with Lara… how Smudge tries to nurse off my stuffed animals as she goes to sleep.”

No one ever taught me how to go on living around the empty space in my heart. No one ever explained how to encourage it to close. There’s surgery for physical holes, what do you do for the emotional ones?

L and I talked every day… all day… for years. Every time messenger chimes, I think it’s him. We talked about everything from meals to philosophy to his hopes and fears about transitioning to my hopes and fears about writing. And we weren’t scared to get downright weird with each other. We were each other’s soul dragons… and then we weren’t. And it hurts so much.

Dear L,

It’s been almost two months since we talked. It seems like almost a lifetime. I’ve bought new (to us) living room furniture and two adorable kittens. You’d love the kittens. Not so much the furniture but, then again, they aren’t really my style either. They are comfy though.

I’ve worked on my novel, scrapbooked, camped, and organized a trip to Niagara Falls for Jeremy and myself. Just 18 more days until we leave. It’s a trip you would love, complete with a tour behind the falls and a trip to a butterfly conservatory. I remember how you talked about your trip to Ontario. If we were still talking, I’d buy you a surprise from the Hershey’s chocolate store. I still have stamps left over for all the cards I knew I’d write to you.

Jeremy’s furious with you but they’re the one who got to see the aftermath of us breaking up and me being blocked. I don’t know what they did with the stuffed cat you gave me. I’m pretty sure they simply hid it but I haven’t asked. They’ve changed pronouns too, which makes a kind of sense since they were your pronouns first. You were the first man they’d trusted in a long time so I guess their anger is understandable. I know you were happy when they put you down as stepfather on Facebook. It was a huge step for them. You were mad at me in June. Did you think of them? I guess they were probably just collateral damage in a war none of us wanted.

It’s so hot these days here. You’d hate it. Forty degrees with the humidex and 30 degrees before that. It’s humid enough that I was carrying cold drinks home in a plastic bag and condensation was forming on the outside of the bag to drip on the ground. Kind of like my own personal rain cloud but smaller and less pretty. Everything feels sticky and uncomfortable. I have to peel myself off chairs and I’m pretty sure falling outside on the pavement would result in 3rd degree burns.

Jeremy’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which explains their rages and depressions. Their medication is helping so much. Jeremy bought me the laptop I’m typing on and we’ve both applied for subsidized one bedroom apartments. It will take a few years before we each move and they’re hoping we move into the same building so we can hang out regularly. They talk about it every day.

I don’t know how you could promise to love me forever and change your mind. I don’t know how you could promise to be my friend then block me for asking for the friendship back. I guess I’ll never know and that’s one of the hard things. There’s no closure, no way to say goodbye.

I wish our friendship could have gone on forever. That I could be there to listen to your voice deepen and watch as you grow your first beard. That we could joke about trash pandas and dream about a trip under the northern lights. That we were still swapping good night pictures and counting down for a visit this October. I found the perfect birthday card for you too. The reminder’s off my phone to get you a double chocolate doughnut before I leave.

I hope you’re doing well and have finally gotten reimbursed for your travel expenses. I hope your kitties are treating you kindly and your back is doing better. I hope you’re happy.

Love always, me

p.s. How do I learn how to let go, especially since you’ve already walked away

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Saying goodbye…

“Mom! Mom! Something’s wrong with Ben!” Jeremy wailed. “Please, can you help me clean his cage? He needs to have a clean cage to die in!”

It was 2 o’clock on Saturday morning and the quickest I’d woke in years.

“Jeremy, give me your guinea pig and I’ll cuddle him in bed,” I said as reassuringly as I could. Zie handed me a freshly washed, sopping wet piggy and I tucked him under the covers and cradled him beside me. Ben snuffled my hair and started chewing. I’m his food lady but today I arrived empty handed. I guess he figured my hair would be good enough.

“Can you give me something to feed Ben?” I asked and Jeremy promptly handed me a carrot.

“Ben’s front leg isn’t working,” zie cried as Ben happily chewed on his favourite food. “And there’s something wrong with his left eye.” I could only see his right which looked fine to me.

I cuddled with Ben for about ten minutes then changed into a dry nightie and went back to sleep. Luckily Jeremy went to sleep as well. I snuck into the living room yesterday morning fully expecting to find a body. Instead I found a bright eyed piggy happily gnawing on his pepper; his full weight on both front legs. He’d eaten well the night before and looked perfectly fine now. I assured Jeremy all was well and zir geriatric piggy was on the mend. Then we went out for the day. Ben still looked fine when we got home.

I woke this morning and decided to start my day off with a morning hike. I had to pass the guinea pig cage to get my shoes. No squeaks greeted me. Anyone who’s ever had a piggy knows how unusual that is. Ben was curled oddly under some hay in the back corner of his cage and he bit me when I reached in. I grabbed him by the waist instead and lifted while Ben flailed… both right legs hung uselessly. His waist was tiny and his anus protruded alarmingly.

I cradled him in my arm and gently fed him a carrot, which he took eagerly, whimpering for more. Then he stopped wanting the carrot but continued to whimper helplessly. I called the local vet clinic only to find out they were closed. One more day… one last day with Ben.

Of course I needed to tell Jeremy and woke zir as gently as I could. This is zir very own pet, one we’ve had since zie was 10 years old, I knew it wouldn’t go well. I handed the piggy over and headed out for apple sauce and baby asprin. I wasn’t going to have his last day full of pain.

Thankfully I bought a mortar and pestle from Dollarama last month so I was able to grind the tablet down to a fine powder to mix with apple sauce. I found orange flavoured ones too so the bitter taste wouldn’t deter him and managed to spoon feed him the whole pill (after checking weight and dosage for cavies). Twenty minutes later he was groggy and ready to lie down. So was I.

“Mom! Mom! Ben’s doing so much better! His legs are working again and he can walk… see!” Jeremy announced eagerly.

I blinked and rolled over in time to see Jeremy place Ben on the ground. The piggy stood trembling for a second then attempted to take a step with legs that no longer worked properly. He collapsed onto his side, legs twitching frantically in his panic to get back up.

“Hon, pick him up now. Please!” I implored. Jeremy immediately complied.

“See, he’s doing even better than before,” Jeremy said happily. “Once he gets more food in him he’ll be even stronger.”

Zir words felt like a blow. Ben’s unable to walk and can no longer lap water from his water bottle. Instead I’m feeding him water from a dropper. He can’t walk and he’s having massive issues with pooping. And he’s eight years old! His brother and cage mate died on my birthday almost a full year ago. He’s an elderly pig and it’s his time to go.

After dinner I’m bundling Ben up in a dish towel and taking him out for a walk in the woods. He’s enjoying being held and, while in our arms, he can feel the wind and smell the grass, trees, and flowers. Then I’ll dose him up with more pain medication so he can have a pain free night before we say goodbye to him tomorrow.

Hopefully Jeremy will be able to forgive me for letting Ben go.

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