The gift of connection is fraught with the grief of separation.
Simply put, we outlive our dogs, and it’s just not fair.
When I met my dog for the first time and knew she would become my companion, there was an element of loss in the joyful mix; I did not feel it, could not have identified it at the time. But there was a wiggly layer of sadness inside our first meeting, and that niggling thread would follow us through the five years I had her.
The grief would grow more insistent the day the vet told me my girl had Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, a condition which would cause some pain and possible paralysis in her hindquarters.
The sting of losing her this way, in slow dribbles, tracked us like a cold shadow. Our walks became shorter. She accepted my help getting into the car, out of the car, up the steps, into the apartment.
Many things were the same, but even the familiar rituals felt short-lived, more precious.
Brief walks along the lakeshore, lurching along like a couple of mellowed oldsters, just sniffing the breeze and hoping for polished beach glass along the way.
Lots of treats. More than necessary.
Head pats, ear scratches, belly rubs. Little luxuries to ease the pain.
Small affirmations whispered into a world of
gifts and goodbyes,
homecomings and heartaches,
rescuing and relinquishing,
mending and mourning.
I lost her in February.
In March, the world shut down.
The emptiness in my apartment became a thundering silence; a constant reminder of she’s-not-here-anymore.
The sequester was deeply solitary for me.
It’s been good to return to the office. The place is far from “normal days”, but still there are ripples of laughter. There is kindness. A sense of endurance, of pulling together.
It’s been a strange journey this year. I’m doubly sorry I’ve had to traverse it without my sweet girl, Reina.