Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: sorrow

Creating a New Normal

king of all he surveys
Raven on top, Summer of 2011

The best two seconds of my day are when I first wake up, before I remember that Raven is dead. In those two seconds, life is as it was before. Me and my two boys, living a cozy life together, forming our own little family. Before I open my eyes, I can pretend Raven is still with me, and then the grief floods me once again. To the outside eye, I probably appear as if I’m handling it well. I rarely cry about it, and I don’t talk about it except with my closest friends. Even then, I don’t mention it much, but it’s because it hurts too much. I still feel it all the way to my core, even if I don’t show it. It’s the little things that jar me the most. Reaching up to pet Raven who loved to perch on the couch above my head and patting the empty air. Going to the bathroom and not having to turn on the faucet for Raven to drink from it. Feeding only Shadow and not having to guard Raven’s food for him because he’s a slower eater and Shadow is highly food-driven. Listening to Raven growl at me and growling back because I found it amusing. We used to do this for several minutes, though only if no one else was present.

My mother asked me if I’ve accepted that he’s gone. Of course I have. I knew it the minute I looked into his glassy eyes right after he died. My dear, sweet Raven was gone, and he was never coming back. I was never in denial about that. By the way, the boys’ foster mom sent me an article on grief after I told her Raven died. We’ve all heard of Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross and her five stages of grief, but what we’ve gotten wrong (I learned from the article) is that she was studying terminally-ill people when she came up with her theory. The stages are what terminally-ill people go through after learning their diagnosis, and suddenly, it made much more sense to me than applying it to the general population. I couldn’t make the five stages fit what I was going through concerning the loss of my Raven, and after reading the article, I was relieved that I wasn’t a freak for not going through the stages. My mom then said she hoped I would get over the loss soon, and that seemed like an anathema to me. I don’t think there’s a ‘getting over’ a loss–only finding a new normal. When Raven first died, Shadow would cry for a long time after eating his breakfast as he wandered around the house. I knew he was looking for his brother, even though I had explained to him that Raven was gone and wouldn’t be coming back. I didn’t know why he did it at that specific time, but I decided it was because that’s one thing they always did together–eat. So, it made sense that Shadow would feel the loss most strongly then. It broke my heart to hear his mournful howl as he tried to find his brother, and it was frustrating to know that there was nothing I could do to help him.

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