The Jumping Off Point

A brief rant on loss, grief, and struggling to refind a sense of joy

May 2021 is a shit show so far. What can I say? I decided not to edit out what’s going on although I know I have some friends with a bad dose of toxic positivity who tell me that it’s going to be fine, it might take a few years but one day I’ll look back at this and see how it was meant to be…blah fucking blah. Don’t. I don’t believe in predetermined lives, god, or pretending that life happens for a bloody ‘reason’. 

Loss, yeah, it happens. We all go through it. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t act as if life’s fine. Allow me to grieve. To be angry and lost and uncertain. Sit with me. If you can’t stop from blurting out platitudes, then fuck off. I don’t want to hear it. 

Loss. The biggest but not the only one. Harold. The last week he’s had seizures, it’s messed with his brain. He can’t get around properly, he stumbles. Mostly he’s smiling at me, small wags, big appetite. After 13 years together, it’s almost time to say goodbye to my boy. I can tell. And the phrases heart-broken, devastated, etc don’t grab the screams that I fold me to my knees, sobbing, eyes puffed, stomach clenched. 

For a sense of what we’ve done together, have a look at some of our trips together over the years, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Vermont, Maine, Cape Cod, and all over New Mexico. With and without other dogs and Stevie the cat. Harold has been by my side as I grieved for my mum, my aunty Viv, Mary and my other friends, two legged and four. Harold has been with me as I lived in a school bus to build a broken down adobe garage with three walls into the home we loved. 

The one we just moved out of. 

The loss of our home. I have tried to adjust, bend, accept and protect myself and my pets from the fuck up next door, the meth and heroin dealers with dogs who have killed. And despite all the calls, evidence, numerous court cases, the Santa Fe sheriffs, the animal control officers, courts or community have NOT stopped him from having more dogs. After killing Rosie. After 15 months in the courts. Nope. NO help. And so, I leave. A home I built from scratch, on a budget, doing without new shoes, clothes, dependable vehicles, etc. The home where I wrote eight books, began drawing cartoons, building a career, studying for my Masters, and then beginning a PhD program. The creative home that became an academic stepping stone. I love learning, researching, studying, reading, writing up all I find. 

The loss of this too. After doing all I could before applying, I’d secured USA govt loans to cover the university program for the doctoral studies. I checked eligibility, confirmed all, signed up. Then in spring, the college told me the loans had been denied. I owe them $24,000. I can’t pay. I had done all to make sure it was good and clear. But no. I am losing the PhD too. The place I’d felt strong in myself, my passions, the validity of the project. Nope. Gone. After the panel review on Friday, I’m done. I’m calling it a sabbatical but how will I be able to continue? No. At this point, don’t ask, don’t tell. I have been struggling with the bureaucracy for the last five months. I’m losing the program I love. Another loss. 

What next then? 

I live in my van and my little caravan with Harold, Billie, and Stevie at my friend’s place. A bird sings in the peach trees outside. I took the dogs on a day trip to Taos yesterday, stopped at Pilar for the river. Harold sniffed around for about ten minutes then was exhausted and wobbly so slept in the truck for the rest of the day. It was my birthday. I broke down, crying, calling for my brother, my family, missing missing missing…

And today. Another day. What next? Fuck if I know. 

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