“Dear my love, my friend, my partner, my son, my dog, Tron.
“What can you say when you’ve lost someone that meant so much to you? When they were a part of you and they made you who you are? And that even though you only spent a short time with them, they were written into the fabric of your soul and were entwined with you from the beginning?
“There are no words to describe the feeling of being torn apart, of one half of you dying. There is no way to explain the incredible connection you once shared, and have someone else believe its depth. There are no words to describe the emptiness that grows when you realize you’ve heard their voice for the last time, walked with them for the last time, or felt their body against yours for the last time. A want, a need, grows to see them one last time, but there is way to bring them back. No way at all. And even though you said goodbye, all you want to do is say hello to them, just one more time.
“I love you so much and miss you with all of my soul.”
I wrote that letter the evening after Tron’s passing, signed the letter: To Tron, From Effie, folded it into a neat little package and hid it far from prying eyes. They were the words I wanted to say to all I knew. Words, I thought, that could help someone understand what I had gone through. Words to help me speak and heal about my loss.
For nearly a year that small piece of paper remained hidden. Never to be opened, never to be looked at, never to be spoken. Buried.
Buried just like everything else I had experienced then. Until now.
It had been a eulogy of sorts, but it was also my attempt to alleviate the stabbing pain of my loss. It hardly helped. As much as I tried to explain my loss, there was no way, nor words, to speak of it. And worse, there was no way to stop that wretched feeling of emptiness—of drowning, of falling. There was nothing there to catch me, no one to heed my cries. I tried to pray, tried to lean on God, but it seemed as if I was too weak to even reach for His help. And even with the peace of God, there are some things that we must feel. We can never know the price of love until we have lost it. So I was left, drowning in the darkness. A pit filling up inside of me, swallowing me whole.
That night was dark. Too dark. I didn’t want to go to bed. Didn’t want to sleep. I wanted to talk about what I had felt, the weight, the lasts, but I couldn’t open my mouth. Couldn’t speak of any of it. It was too much to handle. The tears didn’t come. Neither could the screams. There was only silence—an aching, sickening silence.
I was scared as I lay in bed. I had drawn the covers up all around me, but I was cold, exposed, judged. I jumped at every sound, thinking it would be Tron walking down the hall. I refused to sleep. Shadows loomed ominously and fear consumed me.
In the past, when animals close to me would pass, I would suffer from horrible night-terrors about them. Often in the nightmares the pet would have risen from the dead as horribly mangled, zombielike creature. And I was told that they had risen because I had wanted to see them again. I was being given a second chance. But the pets were rotten and evil, and they wanted to hurt me. And as I would scream and cry, wishing myself to wake up, I would have to fight them, wanting them to die.
I was scared I would be facing Tron in my nightmares this time, and it would be his death I would be pleading for.
Sweet Tron … so gentle, so kind, so majestic. Just … gone.
I couldn’t stop the cry that parted my lips. I need you! Tron, I need you so much. I sobbed. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.” My chest ached as if I had hit the bottom of my fall, all my ribs crushed, the air, the life, gone from my bone. This is all my fault. I couldn’t protect you. It felt as if my heart was going to stop, and I wanted it to. I couldn’t face this reality, this new version of hell. I will never again speak to you, or hear your voice or see your face, or touch you. Never again. Never again. Gone. Gone forever!
I moaned into my pillow, tears wetting the sheets. I sunk further into the bed, wanting to tear something apart, wanting to tear myself apart. But instead I lay still—still in perpetual horror. Nothing made sense. Everything was chaos. Nothing was worth anything. Everything was pointless. Nothing mattered.
I was scared because I knew if I slept, tomorrow would come. And I didn’t want to do tomorrow.
I didn’t want to wake up and keep moving on. I wanted everything to stop. I didn’t want to be left behind.
But the clock kept ticking and time kept moving. I was being left behind. And soon, the sun would rise again, and tomorrow would come.
Darkness. I just want the darkness to consume me.
And in the dark room, the too dark room, I cried myself to sleep, letting the night sooth my soul and wipe clean my thoughts in a dark, dreamless sleep.
Nausea. It was the first thing that welcomed me Saturday morning of December 27th, 2019.
Tron was gone. It hadn’t just been a bad dream. I thought I would cry, but the tears refused to come. There was simply … nothing.
I lay in bed, thinking if I didn’t get up, the day wouldn’t continue on. Sure enough, tomorrow had come, and sure enough I didn’t have it in me to go through it.
My mom poked her head through the door, smiling sadly, asking if I was awake. I said yes. She reminded me that our friends had proposed we go to see the new Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker today. Everything in me revolted. I didn’t want to go. But perhaps if I went, it would get my mind off everything that had happened.
I forced my heart to bend to logic.
Finally, I could bear the nausea no longer. I rolled out of bed and trudged to the bathroom, thinking I was going to throw up. I sat on the floor, draped a cold wash cloth over my forehead and waited. But nothing happened. I felt no reprieve. The sickness lingered.
I trudged back to my room. I wanted to cry and screamed, throw something, break something, be hugged, to be asked what I felt. But there was nothing. There was simply nothing. I hadn’t known what emptiness truly felt like until then.
I wrapped my new soft, black robe around me. Since I had gotten it only a few days ago for Christmas, it hadn’t ceased to make me feel like some sort of medieval dark lord and brighten my spirits, but there was simply nothing. Everything was so cold …
Our friends arrived. I dragged my feet to the living room to greet them. One wrapped me in a hug. I needed it more than I thought. I could feel the tears coming again, I wanted them to come. But he pulled away and I was cold again … and alone. They asked me if I was okay. I said no, but that I would be fine.
“I’m fine.”—it’s such a dreaded phrase. We've all heard it, and have said it many times. Almost always it means the person is not fine, but not many of us want to dig deeper; we never want to tread on someone else’s feelings—wanting to respect boundaries. I never understood the true meaning behind that phrase until then. All it really means is:
It doesn’t mean that things are fine, or okay, or well, or even sad. It means “My world has collapsed, everything is chaos, something is wrong, but I can’t deal with it; I have no words; I have no strength; I am only existing.” I learned that instead of asking, “How are you doing?” one should ask, “How are you in this moment?” or “What are you feeling?” or best of all, “Do you want to talk about it?” But when I realized all this in that moment, I couldn’t raise my voice to make my needs known. I was unable to help others help me. I was too hurt—too deep in the pit.
So, instead, I was silent, and smiled. Smiled. And smiled.
I went to go get ready, expecting my best friend to come back and ask me about everything that had happened. I took off my PJs, and waited. Put on my clothes, and waited. Put on my makeup and brushed my hair, and waited. She came, finally, sat down on my bed and asked me how I was. I wasn't okay. Of course that was obvious. But I didn't know how to tell her what I wanted. So I only said "I'm fine." and she left.
Why am I not crying? Why do I feel nothing? Why does it feel as if I never had Tron? As if I didn’t love as deeply as I did? Is this shock? Why do I feel so sick?
I hugged myself, wishing I could stop the roiling in my stomach.
I murdered him. I killed him. It’s all my fault. And he’s gone. And I can do nothing but stand here in dumb belief. With not a single tear to shed. I’m a monster.
I pulled myself out to the living room. My best friend was talking non stop about how excited she was about the movie and how if we didn’t leave soon, we were going to be late.
I smiled, tried to act fine, tried to act as if I were excited as well.
But I was angry.
Rage rose inside of me. Here I had gone through hell, and the best they could do was ask if I was okay ( of course I’m not okay! ) and be more worried about getting to the movie on time. I wanted to scream and cry, to tell them what I had lost, to tell them the horrible lasts, the weight of Tron in my arms as he died. I wanted to stay home, to curl up under my covers and try to call up some sort of emotions from the dark abyss of nothing I found myself in.
But instead I lied. Not only to them, but to myself, and I smiled.
And so we went. I sang along to the radio when one of my favorite songs came on, ‘Senorita’ by Camila Cabello. And I argued that we needed the biggest popcorn option would could get. And I helped pick out the best seats. And I did my best to enjoy the movie, despite not even being a Star Wars fan. And I laughed with my friends, and I listened to their excited tittering. And when some characters died on the screen, I resisted the urge to burst into tears, run out of the theater and mourn my own loss.
For two and a half hours I wanted to just get up and leave, to go sit in the chairs in the lobby, alone, but I stayed. I forced myself to stay because logically I thought it would be best for me. I pushed my heart lower, deeper, choked it out, silenced it.
And in doing so, I killed myself.
The week following was dark, never ending. I wasn’t living. I was surviving. I took my mental health upon myself. I researched the five stages of grief and tried to force myself to grieve properly.
I stopped crying. I stopped caring. I stopped feeling. Soon, I couldn’t even remember Tron. It seemed like I had never lived with him, as if he were just a faint dream. I convinced myself that my emotions were invalid, unnecessary. That if I began to cry alone it was just a show, and I cut it off.
Each day was spent waiting for the day to end and each night was spent awake, praying tomorrow wouldn’t come.
I forced myself into work. I did my school work (I was homeschooled) robotically. I took care of my animals perfectly, but with little more than a look to them, as if they were just another task to check off.
I figured time would heal me.
That if I focused on the physical things around me, the emotional, mental, spiritual things wouldn’t hurt as much or would just go away. And they did.
There were times when that pain would surface though. Like when I would be walking outside and my other big white dog (Raven) would walk around the house and for a second, just a moment, I would begin to call for Tron, believing somehow, that he had come back to me. Or when I would hear the sound of nails clicking down our hallway and my heart would skip, hoping beyond belief that it would be Tron’s head popping around the doorway. Or when I would call our dogs home for super and his name would slip from my lips.
And then reality, that everything was over, that it would never be him, was like a cold knife between my ribs.
I made a playlist for Tron on Spotify and named it “Everything Dies Eventually.” I added these songs:
-Memories by Maroon Five
-One Call Away by Charlie Puth
-You by A Great Big World
-You’ve Got a Friend in Me by Sleeping At Last
-Learn to be Lonely from Phantom of the Opera
-My Heart Will Go On—Love Theme from Titanic
-Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again from Phantom of the Opera
The songs on the playlist were all ones that reminded me of Tron or my loss.
“Help me say goodbye.” “Wishing I could hear your voice again, knowing that I never will.” “When the road looks rough ahead and you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed … you’ve got a friend in me.” “Learn to find your way in darkness.” “Learn to be your one companion.” “Life can be lived, live can be loved, alone.” “I’m only one call away. I’ll be there to save the day.” “Call me baby if you need a friend.” “No matter where you go, know you’re not alone.” “And when you’re weak, I’ll be strong. I’m going to keep holding on.” “Way beyond the stars was a dream there waiting for a dreamer, to dream her.” “I never could imagine how my life would change the day you came. And how all my fears and worries would just wash away.” “I don’t have to live without you anymore.” “In my dreams I see you and feel you.” “Near, far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on.” “Once more, you open the door and you’re here in my heart.” “Love can touch us one time and last for a life time.” “Drinks bring back memories, of everything we’ve been through.” “Toast to the ones who we lost on the way.” “There’s a time that I remember when I did not know no pain … now my heart feel like December when somebody say your name. Cause I can’t reach out to call you.”
Every song was a testament to my love, happiness, loss, and depression over Tron. We were happy together once, and I didn’t want to forget that.
“I don’t have to live without you anymore.”
Was the most ironic line of all those songs, but it hit the hardest. When Tron and I had been invincible, I had never thought there would be a time I wouldn’t have to live without him. But everything dies eventually.
Thank you so much for reading the fifth installment of my writing advice series "On Writing Grief!" I hope it helps you, whether its for research purposes or for healing in your own life.
We are nearing the end of this series with only a few more posts to go!
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If you're new to this series, make sure you read part 1, 2, 3, and 4 to get the full story!
May the suns smile upon your presence.