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Picking up Bob - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today...
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
guysterrules
guysterrules
Picking up Bob
billyandbob




It started with one of my patented public arguments with a woman and it ended in my car, me weeping a heaving weep that became hyperventilation. I pulled up in front of Friendship Hospital. A car was pulling from its parking spot in front of the building, surrounded by rush hour congestion, and I clicked on my blinker, threw the car into reverse, and waited for the space to be open. A Volvo rushed in behind me and grabbed the spot. I backed up, rolled down the passenger window, and calmly said, “You’re not going to park there unless you want to come out and find your car destroyed, are you?”

“My dog has a gash in his leg!” she fired back. Her voice had a familiar shake in it.

“I’m picking up my dead dog!” The second those words blurted from my mouth, I felt cheap, fucked, petty, ashamed.

“Okay, I’ll move.” Her eyes softened and she started to get back into her car.

“No. No. Go help your dog. I’m sorry.” I rolled up the window and pulled into a nearby spot. And sat there. I didn’t want to go in. I had no idea what to expect, what I was going to be given. I wanted my Bob, our Bob. My head danced with child like, simple, impossible thoughts.

All day long, I tiptoed around the office, attempting to glide through the day, and adopt an oh-yeah-by-the-way attitude. I had to pick up Bob after work. I’d been avoiding the task for a week. Going back to that hospital, visited two weeks ago in the middle of the night in cruel knots of pain and disbelief, was the final grim reminder of what had happened. Bob. Gone. Fucking gone.

I stuttered out the information, ridiculously giving the girl behind the desk Bob’s name, first and last, instead of my own. She pulled up the file on her computer and started to rise out of her chair.

“Wait.” I said. I looked at her for the first time, trying to keep my composure. “What am I going to receive? I mean, what will it look like?”

“It’s a nice mahogany box.” She had no discernable expression, turned on her heel, walked through the Employees Only door. Five minutes later, she emerged with a box smaller than I had anticipated with gentle, white lace tied around it in a bow. She handed it to me. I stood for a second feeling a pull backward. My head down, I started to cry although the only sign anyone could see were my shaking shoulders.

I left the building not taking my eyes off the box, got into the car, and beat my fists against the steering wheel until they were sore and bruised. Looking over at the box, Bob, I turned the key in the ignition, lit a cigarette, and pulled back onto Wisconsin Avenue, past the cathedral, down Massachusetts Avenue, on our way home. Bob and me.

I stood outside the elevator doors with the box in my hand, going over and over and over in my mind how Bob, virtually seconds ago, would eagerly anticipate which elevator would come first, and how, even if he was wrong, I'd let him know he was correct in his guess.

Thankfully, no one was in the elevator when I pressed the button to our floor.

Once inside, I knelt with the box clutched in my arms, and I cried and cried until it hurt. I looked over at the cabinet, one I had bought Billy as a gift years ago, the one in which he kept his socks, underwear, tank-tops, belts; the drawers still contain all of those things exactly how he left them, and on top of the cabinet is Billy’s flag framed in its triangle-shaped box with Bob’s leather collar and its baubles that clinked around the house for eight years draped around the pointed top of the flag frame, a piece of the Petrified Forest Billy took on our cross-country trip, Billy’s framed dog tag, and the globe. I lifted the little gold frame that holds the dog tag and put Bob underneath. Daddy and Bob.

I’ve said a prayer and lit a candle every night in front of that flag. I lean down and kiss the side of its frame just as I used to kiss the side of Billy’s nose. I thank God for all the gifts I’ve gotten from this life. I thank him for my friends, for the love that surrounds me, for the opportunities I’ve been given. I thank him for Bob. I thank him for Billy.

I look at the cabinet now and it’s crowded, jam packed with everything that mattered in my life, chocked full of the remnants that once was my family. I look at it and it doesn’t make sense. I know it’s there, I’m not denying it, but it doesn’t make any fucking sense. This isn’t the life I wanted; the one cheery-picked by me.

I chose Billy. I wanted him in my life because he was good and kind and happy and filled with joy for all of the simple things that had sped by me all my life. I chose him because his love for me was pure, not tainted by greed or position. The first time I wrapped my arms around him, felt his dimensions, how he fit into my arms, I knew.

When Billy and I walked into that pet store in 1995, the first time we saw Bob, we knew.

I’ll go home tonight, eat some left-over Chinese, watch Big Brother, and at the end of the evening, when it’s time to go to bed, I’ll say my prayers, thank God for keeping Billy safely wrapped in his arms, and look at the dresser top. When I walk into the bedroom, I’ll say, “Come on, Beez,” out of habit, light a candle by Billy’s picture, and say “Good night, honey bunny.” When my head hits the pillow, I’ll hop on the hamster wheel of all my mistakes, all the things I could have done right, and how the vast majority of my future I treasured with all my heart and soul will never, ever happen.
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Comments
ladycakes From: ladycakes Date: July 8th, 2004 11:29 am (UTC) (Link)
*hug*

I wish I had words to make you feel better.

In my experience the pain fades after a while. I never forget but the pain is not so close to the surface anymore.


*MORE HUGS*

mwittier From: mwittier Date: July 8th, 2004 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I am feeling for you, way over here, pointlessly, I know, but I am. If there was something I could do, I would. I'd start walking now, if when I got there, I could lift off even a small amount of that pain and make it less.

I understand that you feel like the remaining third. If it makes even the smallest difference at all, you are singularly significant, you, to all of us. And your sharing of all of this- of the love the three of you shared- is brave, and even hopeful-making in its way. I hope you understand what I mean by that; I don't mean at all to diminish your very real point, or very real pain.

M.
backawayslowly From: backawayslowly Date: July 8th, 2004 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm crying at work and I should probably be embarrassed and i just don't care.

keep lighting the candles, Terry.
From: inkprincess Date: July 8th, 2004 11:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I have no clue what to say, but not replying would seem like i don't care. and i DO. HUGS and kisses.
grrtigger From: grrtigger Date: July 8th, 2004 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

*moral support*

I'm sorry you're going through a tough time :(
creamycambot From: creamycambot Date: July 8th, 2004 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am sorry, Terry. I miss you and love you.

Creamy
ruralrob From: ruralrob Date: July 8th, 2004 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm so, so sorry!
quuf From: quuf Date: July 8th, 2004 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope that when my day of reckoning arrives, Terry, I'll have a fraction of your strength.

It's likely you'll help me through it, at the very least vicariously.
From: danman869 Date: July 8th, 2004 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you for sharing such a difficult time, Terry. I wish I could do more than offer a *HUG*. You have my admiration.
ubermunkey From: ubermunkey Date: July 8th, 2004 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
great post.
I like the gratitude in there,
yes it is fucked right now,
and yes it is hard as hell,
and yes your life is much better that you have had these beings in your life no matter how short of a time that feels,
than if you'd never of experienced Billy or Bob.


Lots of love bud,
grace and peace
mondragon From: mondragon Date: July 9th, 2004 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Everybody's different, but here's my experience for what it's worth:

After losing the only man I'd ever loved - and loved in a functional, committed relationship sort of way that gave my life meaning and structure and hope and a future and safety - I experienced pain I never thought I would be able to survive. But I did. I thought that the raw ache that remained when the pain lessened would never diminish, but it did. I thought that my future was to be alone because I could never experience love again. I was wrong. I made a fuckload of mistakes, I got involved with people for the wrong reasons and stayed with them for even worse ones. I moved all over the place, I lost money, I wasted money, but I got better. Very very slowly.

Now I cry easily at stories of loss, it connects too easily, but the rest of the time I mostly just cherish the time I had feeling that love. It was an incredible gift. Still is.

And 11 years later, it happened again, I met someone who I value and enjoy every day with. Nothing taken for granted. I don't know that I could survive losing him (actually, I know that I could, but who wants to?) But that would be tomorrow. I'm working with today.
raptusanxieux From: raptusanxieux Date: July 9th, 2004 09:41 am (UTC) (Link)
You're not alone. Bob and Billy are all around you, and the rest of us love you too.
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