Archive | August, 2021

Texas Too Soon

30 Aug

By Terry Rachel as told by Terri Mason

Thoughts on Mitzi

Remember how we use to call it the She-Shed because I was always running out to get some tool, and you would always tell others when they called, She’s out in the shed. Well, this morning I sat in the she-shed and cried because, like always, I needed your help. Without you I am not that strong. If I could just hold off till you get back home it would all be better, but then I realized you’re not coming back, you’re never going to be here again to help me, to tell me there’s a better way. I choke up and cry when I talk about you. Even the funny stories are cut short by my heart thrusting into my throat, stopping the words in their tracks. I keep thinking I heard you call out, that I saw glimpses of you in misty forms moving quickly in front of me. I wondered if that dish that slid off the dish rack, after having been there all day with no movement, was you. I thought I felt your hand on my shoulder, on my cheek, and I convinced myself that your lips pressed against mine in one last kiss. I trudge on and get the work done, but I know it won’t look as pretty, but I hope that it will at least be level, because straight it will never be. Maybe later, we could go pick some clover and make jelly.


Some couples survive in their relationships, we thrived. In our twenty years together, Mitzi and I had less than six fights where we raised our voices. During the Chattanooga years, we often spent weekends at the nearby lake. We enjoyed pebble games, where I’d toss pebbles her way when she wasn’t looking; she’d toss the pebble closest to a forgotten can, or in the divot of a piece of inland driftwood. While fishing, she would sometimes fall asleep, but always kept her hand on her fishing pole in case a cantankerous catfish or bass pulled the line. When she was asleep, I’d tease her, tugging her line to signal an ensuing battle. “Stand up, you got one!” I announced, shaking her out of her sleep, She’d jump up and pull hard on her line, sure that she had a big fish on the other end, “now reel it in… hard!” I don’t know how many trophy fish she thought tempted her line, but every time she battled one, I’d cheer her on. The stories we shared are too many to tell, but you couldn’t help but laugh along with her, as her laughter was contagious. We were truly each other’s best friend.

Every morning before sunrise, Mitzi would get up and feed the neighborhoods strays. We were running an unofficial rescue center. She’d trap the cats and take them to the shelter not too far away. We fed birds, Mourning Doves, squirrels, and other visiting critters. A bird she named Broken Wing came within a few feet of her – and that was a couple of feet more than the week before, to feed from her hand. She had a way with animals. She also gained the trust of a cat she named Blackie. The fact that Blackie, one of the many stray cats in her fold, actually let her touch him was not only a miracle, because Blackie was feral, but she gained his trust in only a few short weeks! Meanwhile, we had a running order from Amazon for cat food – for cats we didn’t even own.


We left Tennessee and moved to Texas because Mitzi wanted to move closer to her family. I agreed for Mitzi’s sake. I wanted to make her happy. I remember joking, you’re not going die on me once we get to Texas, are you? Like a lot of people, we bought a modest home with some land, but the house needed some work. For starters, we had to get rid of the godawful orange walls in the kitchen and the nasty linoleum floor. After hours of prepping we were both tired, so I suggested she take a nap, and I stayed up all night getting the kitchen floor ready for the new flooring.

It’s day eighteen, or twenty-one, depending on the actual or official date, I can’t remember. All I do know is the anguish and pain I am feeling, and I can’t can. She never woke up from that nap, I can’t do anything about it. Three months living in Texas and I go and lose my perfect person. It’s easy to tell the facts, they never change. They just are. What’s hard is talking about this hole in me, the emptiness and the loneliness I feel, especially at night. What’s impossible right now is not being able to release the image of her while I frantically pumped her chest and screamed her name.

I clean, but continually find another footprint or smear from the dirty feet of the ambulance team, and I am reminded again of how she was laying on the floor with her clothes cut down the center so they could place the nitroglycerin patches on her chest. And then I move the bed to clean up the cat hair that always finds its way underneath, and I find the mouthpiece they used to push air into her lungs.

And people say call me anytime, but you know they don’t want your burden added to theirs. That’s why they don’t call you. They never know what to say, they think you’re going to turn around and be the person you were before. But you can’t, because you don’t know how. You’ve never known this pain before. It feels like a charley horse in your chest and throat, and the tears won’t dry up. And you tell yourself that you’re thankful for the fur babies that keep you going, because they are your sole responsibility. Only you will be taking out the trash, and watering the garden, cleaning the litter box, and feeding the chickens, and mowing the lawn, and painting the rooms, and laying the floors, and going to the grocery, and paying the bills, and figuring out how you’re ever going to sleep in that room again.

Five Months Later

At one point, just over a month ago, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I felt empty, and in agony, every waking moment of the day. My world has been so screwed up, that I have not been able to think much beyond the immediate. I haven’t been able to entertain future options or possibilities much past a week. Making big decisions has been foreign to me recently, and even decisions involving regularity has come with major difficulties. However, on Friday, I thought that I had lost the one thing that held me to the bond of what we had for the previous 10 years. I lost my wedding ring. I looked in the dirty clothes, in the trash, in the refrigerator and dishwasher. I looked in the crevasses of the car, and in the parking lot at the vet’s office, and at work. I asked around, but no one found it. I wondered if this was a sign that I needed to start thinking about moving forward, about getting out of the rut I’ve been living in.

I began thinking of my next adventure, either with or without a new relationship, and I felt a lightness in my spirit – a freeing of some sort. The thought of going forward without a companion was sad to me, and I decided that I would not become a person who lived a life of solitude. I pulled the blankets back to get into bed, and there was the ring. It was like it had been placed there. I don’t recall taking it off, and my finger hasn’t shrunk enough to have it slip off. It is however, how it will stay. I laid the ring besides hers in the jewelry box.