A Bittersweet Day

Today was a tough day. It was Atlas’s birthday. He would have been 9. Last night I dreamed of him multiple times. In one I could even feel his heartbeat and breathing. In two others I was in the house I grew up in along with a bunch of family. I got to see Atlas at two different stages of his life, when he was about 4 months old and then the juvenile Atlas. It was so fun to see him at those ages again. I remembered every detail about how he looked and moved then. And he kept moving around the house. I couldn’t touch him or get too close in those dreams. He kept going away from me whenever I tried. So I decided to just watch – I watched my beautiful Atlas for what seemed like hours. And that made me both happy and sad.

Eventually I had to wake up to reality. I thought I was ok even, but emotions erupted throughout the day. They were fresh. They were raw. They reminded me that all of it-memories both good and bad are intact. They simply lay below the surface most of the time.

I’ve never been a fan of roller coasters, but I’ve been on an emotional one today. I’m trying to just accept it as part of the human journey- and sometimes I think I might even be getting better at that acceptance. I’m trying to understand and accept death. Hell, I’ve been trying to do that since I was about 7 – which is why I couldn’t sleep as a kid.

It’s hardest when I focus too hard on that split second difference between when a heart is beating and when it’s not. Between when there’s breath and when there’s not. The second between life and death. There and not there. Sometimes I sense a cold panic building that threatens to tear me apart. It’s both about Atlas… because I was there for that second. I started to experience that cold panic in between the second of having him and not having him, and it took every bit of my strength to tamp it down, because there was nothing to be done about the reality. I was determined to be there for him. But it’s about more than that too.  It’s about the life and death of every living thing, every living person.  I still struggle with this.

Tomorrow, Alaya and I are planning on going to Dog Mountain in Vermont. There’s a temple there where people can leave a tribute to their dogs. Before I leave the area, which I may or may not be doing soon, I wanted to visit there at least once.

Well, I guess I’ll wrap this up. A big thunderstorm just passed. I couldn’t help but think of what a lousy birthday that would have made it for Atlas. He hated them. I know right where he’d be. At our old place it was at the bottom of the landing, but here it was the top of the stairs. And I would have been right next to him, keeping him company until the storm passed.

I love you, Atlas. As long as my heart beats and I draw breath, I’ll be forever grateful you were born.


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