3.15 PM: So many ways to say Goodbye
The Muse Letter No. 103
Take your time. She says.
Take your time. She repeats. And I wish I could take your time. I wish I could take it and make it last forever. If I could I would take all the time in the world and lay it out in front of you.
But you’re a dog. And your life expectancy like a best-before date is attached to you since I brought you home that day four years ago when I put a lead around your head and you followed me home: I’m your owner now.
I didn’t need to say it. A dog figures it out.
3.15 PM I repeat. Yes, exactly she says. Take your time. Crying in the parking lot. Holding each other tight. Shut up world. Shut the fuck up. It feels like he was just sleeping. The mess of grief that intertwines time and mixes it up and now you’re there and now you’re not. And I look up hearing a sound and in the corner is a plant now.
I wash the dishes and your head is falling into my hand, heavy. Your still warm body lying in your mustard coloured bed. Do you want this to be cremated, too? The nurse asked. Cushions covered in stains and bits of vomit and blood. We just wanted to get rid of the bed, the dog was just an excuse. A horrible joke. We’re laughing in the vet’s office because we’re horrible, too.
I get messages of condolences and sometimes I reply and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I can cry and everything feels really heavy and sometimes it feels like I am acting it all out for someone else.
3.15 PM I repeat. Yes, exactly she says. Take your time. I know I am going to write about this. 3.15 PM I tell myself is going to be the title and it’s going to be about losing a dog and how you cannot understand, how I think you cannot understand the grief one has when losing a dog when you never lost one, your dog. If you never had that, then this will feel shallow or worse overly dramatic because you don’t know my dog. He didn’t follow you around the house every time you entered it, like a shadow. He didn’t wake you up in the morning busting the door open headfirst, excited to start the day. He didn’t jump on the bed for you, and then later tried and missed and hurt himself, so you had to lift him up, and even later, very close to now, he wouldn’t get up at all.
Grief is intangible, I thought I had left it in Edinburgh, I thought that is where the grief would stay until I come back. I thought the plant would cover it up. The monstera. The monster plant. The grief-monster. It falls into my lap as I am sitting around the table with my family in my hometown. Like your head falls into my hand throughout the day. Your heavy not-sleeping head in your mustard coloured bed. It doesn’t feel real, does it?
We stand in front of my grandmother’s house. There I see her waving on the stairs. There she is not standing, not waving. Just the yellow roses wafting a scent my way. The house is empty, we walk through it. There she is sitting at the table playing Kniffel with me. There I wake up in the morning, slowly walking down the steep steps from the attic, it’s still dark outside but there is a cold Kakao with little lumps that I love to spoon up waiting for me on the table and old German Schlagers from the radio filling the little kitchen. There we are in the car with the steering wheel covered in sheepskin and the wooden bead seat covers driving to the local swimming pool even though my Mum says: She really could have walked. It was only ten minutes away from her house but she always took the car. There is the photo of me and her in the living room, the 60-year-old photo wallpaper of an autumn forest in the background. I trace it with my eyes, the lamp ghostly hovering above the floor where the dining table used to be.
14.11.1935 – 22.11.2021. Every letter is individually priced. Every little thing has a price, even the brass screws holding the plaque, covering the urne in the wall: dying is a costly thing. I had not seen her grave till now. I wasn’t there when she died. I was in Edinburgh and no flight fast enough: dying is a timing thing. I would say Goodbye later.
I would say Goodbye now.
I would say Goodbye tomorrow.
I will say Goodbye again and again. Grief is an intangible thing, it does not compare. It does not matter who died when. It hides in many objects, shapeshifts. It flees into my memories.
It falls into my hands like manicured red nails, fingers with golden rings on, holding mine tight.
Like a furry grey head, not-sleeping.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED LAST WEEK’S MUSE LETTER
Guest Muse Series | On Losing and Finding my Words: Reflections on Autobiographic Writing
“When my mother and I lived at her boyfriend’s house – it had been his house and it very much felt like it living there – I imagined myself returning back to that house once again as an adult. I pictured myself returning
by car, parking in front of that dark mansion, leaning against the car, and just – breaking into tears. I was a very dramatic teenager. This scene has not been realized so far. But the notion of ‘returning to that house’ has continued to fascinate me, much like autobiographic writing. When my mother and I finally agreed to move out, we had to ride our bikes over to our new apartment. It was our last act, our last time at the old house. And my mother told me, as she has often would: “Don’t look back.” We got on our bikes and didn’t.”
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