It’s been a month since you died. I haven’t written until now because losing you has been such a powerful and profound experience for me. Maybe people who haven’t been as lucky as I have, who’ve experienced more losses in their lives, maybe they would be better at this than I am. Maybe they could write this without the tears. And yet, even though I feel like I’ve done a tremendous amount of healing in this month of mourning, I have been also feeling like there’s more stuck inside me that I need to get out. So I don’t know if I’ll even publish this or if anyone will care enough to read it, but I gotta do it. So I write and I cry.
At first it was the shock. How could our strong, beautiful, young dog be gone so quickly? Sick for a few short days, and then dead. Fucking dead. What?
We brought your body home from the vet, wrapped up in a blanket in the back of the car. God, you were still warm. I let Jack sniff you so he’d understand. He didn’t. Wouldn’t follow me away from the car. So I let him see you again, and then he did.
The next morning we picked a spot on the mountain for you and I carried you to it. You were so heavy but I needed to do that for some reason. We laid you there with your favourite red ball. Sometimes that ball seemed to be the only thing in the world that mattered more to you than I did.
And so you were buried.
I kept thinking: how do parents survive a loss of their child? If this is what it feels like to lose your dog, I could never survive that.
Then, it was guilt and blame. Did we miss the signs? Could we have prevented this? What if, what if, what if. Still.
I was thankful that we had Jack to cuddle but more importantly to force us back to the forest and the beach. We each had a good howl with him 2 days after you died. Cathartic acts for all of us.
Next came the existential thoughts. Life is so short. What is the purpose of my life?
How much you tried to teach me. You whole-heartedly threw your self, body and soul into everything you did. There is only now. Time to run? Run like hell. Time to relax? Find the warmest spot and get yourself in the most comfortable position and let your jowls hang out. There is only now, and we should be doing something important like chasing balls or cuddling or enjoying whatever’s in the oven making those really good smells.
It was almost like you knew there was no time to waste. Life is so damn short! So I wondered: what am I doing that matters? What matters to me? Why do I procrastinate on this or that? How can I appreciate NOW and THIS more?
So I guess in writing this, I am trying to be more present to all the thoughts that have been milling around in my head. To acknowledge that even if I’m done crying every damn day, I still have some more tears to shed. I still miss you.
Thanks for the lessons and the memories.
“Dog Days” video by Joanne Probyn June 2009