Laugh with me, then listen

The way you get sideswiped is by going back.
When you get sideswiped and stay there too long, you forget to do some very important things, like have fun or pluck facial hair.
Seven weeks and counting.
My apologies to anyone out there in the world who was standing face-to-face with me and noticed the long, crooked, grey eyebrow hair growing from the space between my eyes and the tufts of black ones shooting out from the sides of my temples like cactus thorns.
The long hairy strand growing out of my chin, and clearly visible to the naked eye of someone standing at the other end of the grocery store, could have been entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for length.
All those monstrosities are now gone.
And I used to believe that “Millie” the cat was using the feline prerogative best described by Pam Brown of working out “mathematically the exact place to sit that will cause the most inconvenience.” But instead I think she was trying to tell me something.
Each morning at 6 a.m., and increasingly so in the last three weeks, “Millie” has been rubbing her whiskers against the side of my mouth in what I thought was a wake-up call.
Turns out she was grooming my moustache, which also had begun to sprout out like an alfalfa garden.
It, too, has been plucked.
Joan Didion was right. “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant.”
I drove into the yard and life as I knew it ended. But it is not the end of my life; it is just the beginning of a different one, as I am slowly learning. . . .
But I must breathe some fun, too, or I quite simply will fade away into the nothing. Of course, the Universe hears me think that and, “poof,” sets me up.
I had parked the car in the garage and the dogs were in there with me in their usual excited state to greet the Alpha. I closed the big door while still inside and was about to exit out to side door when I figured out I was not the one the dogs were barking at.
In that microsecond, as the long-tailed rodent sprung from the shelving unit onto the top of my car, did I comprehend that I was blocking the escape route of a cornered squirrel that the dogs had flushed out of my storage space and no doubt the nest it created in my sleeping bag.
His beady and wild eyes met mine and in a move straight out of the “Matrix” movie, my upper body leaned back as the squirrel flew by me and out the open door—followed in leaps and bounds by the canine capers.
I just had to laugh. Some things never change.
Some things need to change, however, including the contents of my fridge, which currently rivals that of Mother Hubbard. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was living on pumpkin seeds and raisins of late, as I have no appetite, but sadly the size of my butt has not been reduced by this hen-pecking diet.
Time to go shopping.
And when I return home with all my groceries, I can be sure that two dogs will expect the bags to contain a beef bone or two, and they will pay attention while I talk to them about it.
There are six little words I learned online from Dr. Bill Webster, a grief counsellor, that have become very important in my world these days.
I am human. I hurt. I hurt a lot. So when you see me or someone else you know who is suffering a loss, and we want to talk about it, let us—let me.
It’s really all that I need and you are off the hook from having to do anything more than give me the gift of six words:
“Mouth closed, ears open, presence available.

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