It’s been 4 months and 1 day since I had to put down Bug and Sage. That’s a quarter of a year; roughly 16 weeks; 123 days (am I counting correctly? Probably not. I suck even at basic math). Up until now, I haven’t been able to get rid of their stuff — hay, litter, pellets, animal carrier, or pen. I did some initial clean-out purging the evening it all happened, but I haven’t been able to touch a thing since.
The world tells us that our health & happiness are the most important things we could cherish. But when we learn that this isn’t necessarily so — certainly not always so — we are left feeling like we have to traverse this peculiar desert of grief alone, with everyone else already enjoying the fruits of happiness on the other side. However, I am coming to understand more and more that when I place my own personal happiness aside (not discarding it, mind you) I am more able to fully perceive that vast and varied “importants” of my life. There is a release of pressure to be happy, to be healthy. Ironically, this release does bring some health back into my bones.
I’m house sitting for some friends right now. This morning I woke up to a rainy Saturday — finally! We’ve had such dry conditions up until now. It’s good to feel the earth taking in a long, lusty drink. Anyway as I laid in bed I thought that cleaning the car out might be a good idea today. It wouldn’t be too hot (I can’t stand exerting myself in the heat 🙂 ), I could park L’il Blue in my friend’s garage to stay out of the rain; and I could get rid of Bug and Sage’s stuff (understand that in my little basement suite rental, I don’t have a lot of storage so my car becomes a warehouse for a lot of things).
Up until now, I would have tossed the idea out of mind. It wasn’t time. I wasn’t ready. I’d lost my tiny family; in fact I was the one who had killed my tiny family! Who does that? Only a heartless dictator would willingly sacrifice her loved ones, right? Yeah, I know… don’t start with the platitudes. Grief speaks her own language and we all need space to voice it.
But this morning was different. This morning was liminal.
Richard Rohr writes:
“You see, the opposite of control is not non-control or giving up. The opposite of control is actually participation. Without our easy answers—and we have none now—we collapse into a deeper participation with the whole roller coaster of life and death. The suffered cycle of death and resurrection is itself the great teacher, and will in the long run produce the only wisdom that will get us through this dark time. Walter Wink would call it “the third way.” I would call it “the contemplative stance.” Jesus would just go into the daring desert.” – taken from “Grieving as Sacred Space”, Jan-Feb 2002, Sojourners
I was in the thinnest of thin places, where God and I — still in the desert — could participate together in cleansing and renewal. Rohr’s point is well taken when he talks about the opposite of control being participation, not non-control. God still wants me to engage in this world, still wants to me engage Her in the everyday, still desires me to dwell in sacred spaces.
So I hauled the big garbage can to the garage; I toted out gloves, garbage bags, extra car keys (trust me, I always need them) and began my participation.
I found my dressy boots.
From a year and half ago.
They had greeny-black-and-white mould on them.
How in the world do boots get mould on them, especially when they’ve lived through 2 Albertan winters? I’m stumped!
I thought about rescuing them, but in trying to take some of the mould off I soon realized that they were beyond hope. Seeing as I paid all of $10 for them at a thrift store, I didn’t feel too bad about tossing them. Obviously I hadn’t missed them over the past however many months.
I hadn’t cleaned
house (car) in quite some time.
Then came a big bag of rabbit litter.
After that, a massive bag of rabbit pellets.
And after that, Bug and Sage’s animal carrier.
I popped the trunk and found a bag of hay.
All were tossed into the garbage can.
I found my music binder containing all of my sheet music for church. For the past 8 months or so, I’ve been bumming off other members’ music; I found my favourite purple toque from 5 months ago; I found books I thought I’d lost; and I found sheaves of papers underneath the back seat, on the back seat, down beside the back seat, and in between my lost books.
And I found a Christmas parcel I was supposed to have mailed back in December. Since it never reached my intended friend, and he never knew it was coming I think our friendship is safe. (eeesh!)
How did this all become so cluttered?
I could answer that in a million different ways, but I know that after the bunnies died, I couldn’t touch a thing. Nothing moved or changed places. I stopped offering people rides because there was no room for passengers. Sure, clutter kept building up but overall the state of my little blue Ford Focus hatchback was frozen for 4 months and 1 day.
I didn’t experience any kind of delirious joy when the task was finished; but neither did I break down and weep. Not that there’s anything wrong with either; I was simply relieved. I could breathe a bit better. The trauma had healed to a point where I could take some other necessary steps — transitional steps, move in sacred space, participate in the liminal.
To have purged Li’l Blue before today would have caused damage; to have purged Li’l Blue after today? It probably wouldn’t have caused any further damage initially, but delaying it for too long would have perhaps aggravated a bleeding wound. Some people would have purged well before now, and others would have a need to wait.
And who knows?
Perhaps I’ll wake up tomorrow pleading with God that the garbage truck hasn’t come by and taken all my precious stuff away. Liminal is definitely not linear; but it is holy. All four months and 1 day of it (and counting).
The most common response I received after the rabbits died was: “You’re being prepared for a change in your life.”
Other than repressing a sincere desire to bop those people on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper, I truly did have to control my resentment. OF COURSE I am being prepared for a change! Life is change! I am not who I was yesterday, and neither are you. Having my family taken away wasn’t some divine prep for my days to come. After all, they were only 2 tiny bunnies. I’m pretty sure that whatever life path I’m on, there would have been plenty of room for 2 tinies like that.
But that’s not how it turned out.
The resentment’s melted and, 4 months and 1 day later, I purged my car. I participated in this sacred space of God, health or happiness notwithstanding, and found mouldy boots. If that isn’t a reason to keep participating in sacred, liminal space, I don’t know what is.
Who knows what else I’m going to find?