Brendan Quealy: Losing Luna, the love of my life
May 21—Dread is not an accurate or powerful enough word for how I feel as I write this. Her black urn with her gray and white ashes inside resting next to me as I try to find the words that I've been so terrified and paralyzed to actually type.
This is something I never wanted to write, and something I truly never could have prepared myself for in spite of death's resolute certainty.
How can I write the obituary of the love of my life? My soul mate, in the absolute truest sense of those two words. My partner — not only in crime but in happiness and sadness, love and heartbreak, passion and apathy, optimism and fear, care and anger, adventure and boredom. In life and now in death.
I'm not married. Never have been. I don't have children. Likely never will.
But I've had my dogs, and each one has gone over and above by being the spectacular in my otherwise ordinary life.
Luna was the spectacular one who rose above them all. Whose heart was intertwined with mine the moment she licked my hand through the bars of a rusted-out dog cage on Hancock Street in Pentwater on that unseasonably warm mid-October day in 2008.
For nearly 15 years, it was Brendan and Luna, Luna and Brendan.
She came to me at a dark time and a low point, but she was my light to see and my ladder to climb back up. I honestly have never loved anyone or anything the way I loved Luna. I've never needed anyone or anything the way I needed Luna. And I'll never dare love or need like that again. A gift like that only comes along once, if you're truly fortunate. And I was.
In Luna's final days as her mortal body succumbed to the passage of time, I felt this immense weight in my chest that I can only assume is the tortuous pain of one's heart slowly being ripped to shreds, its foundation shattered and crushed. As she neared her end, I felt the uncomfortable pull of death on me.
And when she breathed out her final breath shortly before 2 p.m. on April 6, I breathed it in. My nose touching her nose with her head resting peacefully in my hands.
I miss her. So much.
I haven't come to terms with her death, yet. I know that. I haven't grieved. Not enough.
In the name of survival, I've numbed myself and thrown life into autopilot just to make it through the day, the week, the month. Distracted myself to avoid a pain unknown to me until this very moment.
This grief is legitimately terrifying, and I'm scared of it. I'm scared of the ever-creeping sadness that threatens to drag me into a dark abyss. What if I start falling — and I never stop?
And because of that fear, I haven't talked much about Luna. I haven't written much about her either, except for a growing list of memories in my Notes app on my phone and a couple of Facebook posts.
In one of those posts, I said that strength doesn't come from not crying or not breaking down. Strength comes from loving so hard in the first place that losing that love causes those tears and breakdowns. Courage is opening your heart knowing that what you let in will break it when it's gone.
I had that strength and that courage. But I haven't had the strength or courage to face my grief and my sadness. I don't know when I will, but this seems to be a start.
The five stages of grief are far from cut and dry nor are they the same for anyone. Our grief is our own.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but I'm afraid I've become mired in the denial stage as I've denied myself the opportunity to grieve, to be sad. My anger is at the day for continuing on without her in my life, as all of the rest of my days will. I bargain with myself and lie that I'll let some of the sadness out. But I keep it in, afraid that bits of my love will sneak out with it. My depression? Well, that I have in excess. And acceptance is nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders knowing it will never come.
My therapist said there is a sixth stage. Finding a purpose.
And I know what mine is. The journey to get there leads far to the horizon, I just need to find the strength and the courage to get there. Step by step with Luna by my side.
Brendan and Luna. Forever and for always.
Reach Sports Editor Brendan Quealy at firstname.lastname@example.org.