My every-few-mornings routine for years was to pour a little bit of H20 from my night stand water glass into my tarantula’s water bowl.
She’d been a part of our family for sixteen years.
Half my life.
One morning, about to get dressed for work, wrapped in only a towel, I went to top her water off.
I hadn’t seen her in a few days, which wasn’t unusual because she liked to chill behind her log, or hide in her hidey-hole. I decided to check on her, and say hello, so I moved the log.
To my utter shock and terror, all her little legs were pulled in tight.
She was dead.
I blew on her gently, not ready to touch her yet.
More tears. Heart pounding. Hot flash.
My dear husband was in the shower, and I was in panic mode.
Isn’t it interesting how we go into a state of “IT’S AN EMERGENCY” when someone or something is already dead?
It’s not really an emergency at that point, but damn it if it doesn’t feel that way.
I paced a bit, crying, and tried to wait out my husband’s shower, but I just couldn’t take it.
I went and peeked my head behind the shower curtain.
His eyes were closed, rinsing shampoo from his hair. When he opened them, there I was, in his face.
I told him, through tears, and stayed close while he finished up. He got out and held me.
Us wrapped in towels, wrapping each other.
I was running short on time to get out the door for work, and knew I couldn’t drive there in my condition.
Can you imagine being my boss, getting this voicemail?
“He-He-Hey John it’s me. My t-t-tarantula died (sob) and I am a wreck right now. I promise I will be in as soon as I can see through the tears to drive. Just give me a little b-bit. She’s family.”
After calling work, I crawled into bed with my border-collie, letting the sobs come in waves.
Wondering, as many of us do in times like those, if it was somehow my fault.
Had I missed something?
If I’d have checked on her sooner would she still be alive?
All the guilt, regret, and terrible, messy grief-stuff rising to the surface.
Never mind that she was at least seventeen years old.
My husband asked if there was anything he could do.
“C-C-Can you hand her to me p-please?”
I hadn’t touched her, yet.
He lifted her out of her cage and handed her to me. Wahhhhh!! My baby.
I cried it out with her in my hands, knowing I needed to get to work, but also knowing I just couldn’t leave her alone. I held her to my heart space as I searched through my craft room drawers. I found a little gift box, and lined it with a cut of satin ribbon. I gingerly laid her in the box, pulled out an old sheer curtain, and shrouded her tank. I grabbed a picture frame with her photo, and an LED candle, got dressed, and off we went to work.
I brought her with me.
I couldn’t imagine leaving her home. I needed her close.
I held vigil for her all day at my desk, complete with my fake, flickering candle.
People passing by would catch my visibly red, puffy, cry-eyes asking, “what’s wrong?”
And so, I’d tell them.
My tarantula died.
I got silence.
I got confusion.
I got smirks.
I got “seriously?”
There were a few, “I’m so sorries,” but largely folks were trying to wrap their heads around how I could be so upset.
As if it mattered.
As if the reason for my tears made a difference in how they might show up for me.
“Why are you crying,” we ask.
What’s our intention?
Are we voyeurs?
Does WHY matter?
Are we inviting them to tell their story?
To speak their truth?
Or are we questioning the worthiness of their tears?
It’s JUST a car.
It’s JUST a vase.
It’s JUST a ring.
It’s JUST a “spider.”
It’s JUST a fish.
It’s JUST a rat.
It’s JUST a cat.
It’s JUST a dog.
My tears…your tears…their tears…they don’t need justifying.
Pain is pain.
Grief is grief.
It’s been three years today and I miss her still.