I was quite sad this afternoon and wondered where all this emotion was coming from. I recalled a poem that I read probably 30 years ago, but it called to me so clearly, that I have never forgotten.
I know you thought I cried too long.
It’s just that sometimes
When I cry
I go back and loose everything
I ever lost … again.
I cry for all my dead dogs
It isn’t you.
It’s just my beginnings
Crashing into my endings.
From “Split Ends” by Merrit Malloy in My Song for Him Who Never Sang to Me
As I swallowed yet another disappointment in a valued relationship today, I realized that I was crying not just for this one, but for all the others that had taken place. The poem describes this type of grief, which seems cumulative. At this time of year, I occasionally get triggered by the fear that it will be like the many Christmases where I made sure that everyone got something they wanted and felt loved- but no one thought that I might want that too. I try hard not to expect anything so that the holidays won’t be so disappointing. There have been so many years when my needs weren’t met, but it always seemed like everyone else got what they needed.
I wondered if this is why my husband is sometimes so remote during the holidays. Perhaps it’s his past crashing into this reality, whispering that past disappointments will be his future, too. In those moments, he may be unable to recall all the good years that scoffed in the face of his childhood. Because when we are crying for all our dead dogs, we are immersed in loss and cannot touch the loyal dogs beside us.