• Murderers weep in their cell over the death of a dog.
  • Dogs stop eating when their person dies.
  • You can’t protect yourself from grief. There is no preparation that prepares.
  • There is no border wall you can build to keep it in or out. No one escapes it, not the very wealthy, not the very bad.
  • You won’t know when it will come, from what quarter it will make an entrance. But you can wonder.
  • Will it come from stage right or stage left? In a letter? By boat over the sea?
  • You will be in the middle of something when it arrives. I once got it with my fingers on a garlic press.
  • It will surprise you. You think you know what it is, but when it comes, you don’t.
  • It’s a horse no one can ride.
  • Nothing said to you will make it better. Not when you most need kindness anyway.
  • People are at their best when you’re grieving.
  • Their best isn’t good enough.
  • Self-repair? Do tell.
  • Let’s talk about the aftermath.
  • There is no aftermath.
  • You think it will end, that one day you will wake and it will be gone.
  • Or if not gone, less heavy. And that’s true.
  • Hummingbirds will come.
  • But on a day when their green pirouettes tantalize at the fuchsia, it will return. The smile that you were smiling and the delight will disappear.
  • The next time you see the metallic blue of iridescent gorget, you will be okay—but a bit afraid
  • That it will be his leash still when the leash rends.
  • That dots don’t end …

Marcia Aldrich is the author of the free memoir Girl Rearing, published by W.W. Norton.  She has been the editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. Companion to an Untold Story won the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction. She is the editor of Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women published by The University of Georgia Press. Her email is [email protected].

Artwork by John Gallaher