Gratitude is a word you hear bandied about quite a bit, and for good reason, I suppose. I mean, I get that it would be good to be grateful for all you have instead of bitter about all you don't; grateful for the things that have gone well in your life instead of upset over those that haven't; grateful that you have a walk-in closet that you share with your husband (you get 5/6 of it, he gets 1/6) instead of annoyed that when you went to pull the chain to turn on the light earlier today the entire metal chain ripped out of the socket, and now you can't turn on the bulb much less find anything in the eternal blackness that is the closet.
I get that it's better to be focused on the positive than the negative. That seems both true and obvious.
But in dealing with the death of my dog — he was attacked by an off-leash malamute while my husband and I were on our honeymoon, and instead of recovering as hoped, he hung in there for a couple of days and then went into kidney failure. We returned home to see him suffering before being advised the only humane decision was to put him to sleep — I am trying to cultivate some sort of feeling of gratitude, and I'm struggling. Well that's not entirely true. I am grateful for the short time I had with him. For him in general. For the way he made us a family. For the nights he fell asleep on my lap. For the way he'd come tearing down the hall when I got home and instantly flop over onto his side on the floor, tail making a "whomp whomp whomp" sound against the carpet, staring up at me with big eyes, waiting for a belly rub or to be picked up. For the way he sometimes got so excited when he'd walk it was as if he wiggled, hence the nickname "Wiggle butt." For the love which was pure and sweet and innocent and unrelenting. For all the positives that he brought to my life. I am grateful for all of that.
But there's another feeling that threatens to envelop the gratitude and that's anger. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach — acidic and chaotic, destructive and despairing.
I am just so, so angry. At my parent's neighbors whose dog was off leash and attacked my Oliver. At people in general who let their giant dogs off leash. At giant dogs. At the vets who couldn't save him. At vets in general.
And I'm angry at myself. For leaving Oliver in the care of others and trusting he would be OK since, and this is what I've learned even though I don't think it's the lesson I'm supposed to take away, those you love are only safe in your own care.
And I'm angry at the universe that gave me profound love and profound joy and then yanked it away, like a chain out of a socket. I am like that light in my closet; my chain has been yanked and removed and now I'm in darkness.
Hear more from Alison Rosen on her podcast, "Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend" or on the immensely popular "Adam Carolla Show" podcast. Follow her on Twitter @alisonrosen or visit her website at www.alisonrosen.com