The past few days I've shied away from this place. It's too honest and open and honestly- I just wanted to be closed. Talking about what had happened would have made me relive it and that wasn't something I was ready to do. It's okay to hide for a while. Just not forever. Or even too long. And so, I'm back. Writing, the way I should be. Ready to be honest and open once again.
On Thursday my sister's dog Spike was put down. Now I'm sure that doesn't sound so terrible to most but for me it was a rough thing. Our dogs are family members. They are not people, but they are family members. And Spike has been in our family for 15 years. A long time. So long that I actually don't remember many days without him. So I feel like I've been bulldozed over. Just completely flattened. And I'm sure it will take a while for me to get my legs fully back under me.
My relationship with my sister is difficult to say the least. We just don't like each other much. We never really did get along. When we don't have to live together we do pretty well as friends. Only having to deal with each other in increments is helpful. Living together is hell- always a disaster. But when she called me Thursday morning in tears to let me know she was finally bringing Spike in there was no question. I headed right over.
The love we experience with animals is divine really. Because it's uncomplicated and pure. It's unconditional. That's probably why the grief of loosing them hits so fast and so hard. No blockages exist to stop the flow of emotion. Every step we took that day was another step in the grieving process. Each step I thought was going to get easier. Nope. Never got easier. I remember saying it to myself in my head,
"okay, the worst is over now",
but then something else came up forcing us to take another painful step.
Grief is a process. It doesn't come and go like some emotions. It's a series of emotions leading you to other stage in your life. It's CHANGE. I know my sister's life has changed forever and a part of me is happy, excited, for all the newness she will get to experience. But in general, change is difficult and walking into her apartment yesterday without Spike being there was not a pleasant experience. It was a reminder that something dear was gone for good. And his presence was missed. He was mean as hell. But his presence was missed. And now my dog, Shelby, whose importance in my life is beyond question (and well documented) isn't behaving right and I'm thinking scary things. Since last night something struck her (figuratively) and she hasn't been the same. She's been mopey and always looks like she's suffering something. All my family guesses it's grief. Because she knows that Spike is gone. This could very well be. He was her constant. Her species connection in the family and honestly, he loved her like crazy. I'm sure this could be it. But I'm afraid it's more. Over of the summer I was scared I would loose her. She had gotten into a fight with another dog and I rushed her to an emergency vet with really bad symptoms. It turns out she has a racquet ball sized tumor in her abdomen that bleed out during the fight. It was horrible. The clinic prepared me for the worst. Of course, they have the terrible reputation of trying to sell the shit out of every client and telling me the worst certainly included about $4000 worth of solutions they wanted to offer me. I took Shelby home. I decided that if she was going to die she was going to die with me and Douglas at home, in our arms. She survived. Her system healed itself. But I know that the tumor is still there. And because of her age, it's really only a matter of time.
Shelby is 12. Spike was 3 when I brought her home. It's an endearing memory that's making me cry as I type. Because they are special members of our family and have affected us permanently. In all good ways. And how many people can you say have affected your life in ALL good ways, ONLY good ways? Yeah. That's why tears come so easily. Dogs (and other animals I'm sure) don't have an ego. They have intelligence, even wisdom and bucket loads of heart and soul, but they don't have egos. So they love us completely with no expectations. And it's impossible to not return the sentiment. So, whenever I see a photo of Spike, whenever I remember one of the many moments he affected, emotions will be clear and clean and flow easily. Whether happiness or sadness, melancholy or joy they will flow freely and unadulterated following the example of the amazing creature that put them there. And I know as well as everyone that "All Dogs Go to Heaven". God has enough room for them all. And they add to the peace I'm sure. Because there is no more restful place on earth then curled up with my dog. She brings me peace with a simple cuddle. Just her presence slows my breathing down. She's a miracle worker. She's a healer. All dogs are. And if the only way to not miss them (or to miss them less) is to remember all they've taught us then we should listen. For their sake and our own. Because that way, they'll keep making our lives better. And they'll never be very far away.
Spikey (he loved being hand feed- and yes, we'd use the same fork- LOL)
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