March 1, 2020
My sweet boy,
I miss you. I miss you more than I thought I would. I mean, I knew I’d be sad without you. But honestly, I didn’t have the capacity for understanding what this type of true loss would actually feel like. While I’ve experienced the death of my grandparents, a beloved uncle, and the parents of a few dear friends, I’ve never gone through losing someone that I was so deeply connected to on a daily basis. I really had no clue what was going to be coming my way.
Your pops was telling me the other day that he cried for you on his walk with Charley. He was saying how he pictured you pulling and tugging on your leash in your excitable and anxious way. He imagined you getting loose and running from him, but then bounding back to him all happy and proud, like you’d done something honorable. He desperately misses your companionship, I know. He was so connected to you.
I too, have had many of these moments since you left. A couple of weeks ago we had a really sunny afternoon, and when I came home I LEGIT expected to see you napping on the stoop of the back steps where you loved hanging out in the sunshine. I frequently picture you sitting in the kitchen with you adorable head cocked to the side curiously waiting for me to acknowledge you with a treat. I hear your loud and proud bark when the neighbor dogs are outside. I feel your velvety fur and ears as you lay your head gently on the edge of the couch or in my lap. I cannot even believe that you’re gone.
They say that time heals all wounds. I do believe that as time goes by this experience of dealing with losing you will continue to get easier. It’s been 3 months since you’ve been gone, yet it still feels raw, and newly painful–like those floor burns I used to get from diving on the court in volleyball. They would take forever to heal, and every time I took a shower they would always hurt and burn like crazy! This healing process I’m going through after losing you feels akin to the floor burn. Sometimes, I just feel so mad about the whole thing! Not even like “this is unfair”, or “what did we do wrong”–but just straight up ANGRY!! I really want you back. I want the floor burns to heal…not because of time making them go away, but because I want you right here with us. I want you here with me.
I miss you bringing your big stuffed bear to me. Running to the back door with it in your mouth, as we come home. And if the bear wasn’t available to you, you’d grab the nearest ball, rope, bone, or toy that was within the reach of your mouth. This anguish that I feel at times is a new feeling to me. A visceral ache in the base of my chest and at the top of my belly—it gives true meaning to the term “heartache”. The tightening in my throat that arises instantaneously when I sometimes look at photos or videos of you also feels like a literal suffocation giving yet another truer insight to the term “choked up”. When I took Charley to run on the golf course this winter during the snowstorms I was shocked at how much I yearned to see you running with her. Those physical feelings of grief were very present as I watched her jog around the course joyfully. Yet, it just didn’t feel quite right without you chasing after her with your athletic and wild abandonment style of running. She was having so much fun, yet I still knew she missed you too.
After you left us, I think Charley felt “free”. We spoiled her with more attention than she’d ever gotten. I took her on more trips to the store, the dog park, and on errands than she had gone on in a long time (remember, you did not like car rides!!) But after about a week, that newness wore off for her. I’m sure she began to sense “oh wait…he’s ACTUALLY gone?!” Did she think, “where is that little shit? And why isn’t he laying all over me and touching me 24/7?” “Why isn’t he stealing my bones?” “I have no one to play and wrestle with…” Her walks got slower, her head hung down, and she seemed to sleep even more. Shockingly—NOT—she never lost her appetite, but she still stayed very hesitant to take certain treats that she had grown accustomed to you snatching from her. She even acted as if she was literally in physical pain. Your dad thought I should take her to the vet to get her checked out. Sadly, I knew that this was still another true life example of the term “heart-broken”….her best friend was gone, and she was “sick” with grief. You’ll be glad to know she’s doing much better now. Or, actually, you’d probably be irritated to know that she’s now getting all of the butt scratches, hugs, and attention that the two of you used to share. Well…that the two of you TRIED to share, but your little jealous and eager self always managed to nudge in for extra. I miss that part of you, too.
In a nostalgic way I’m still holding onto my many items (mostly from the kitchen) that you managed to leave your “mark” on. I remember being soooooo angry at you for ruining things like: my BRAND new Kitchen shears (2 pairs to be exact!); countless kitchen utensils, Tupperware lids, bowls, and a plethora of other various plastic items we left on our counters or in the sink. But now, when I get these items out of the kitchen cabinets and drawers (because YES-I still use them. Enter my dad and Grandma’s voices saying to my sub-conscious, “well, they work perfectly fine still! No sense in throwing them out!” ) I think of you fondly, and I am weirdly happy to have these reminders of you daily. My favorite popcorn bowl has your teeth marks embedded in it. The ends of all three of my nice rubber spatulas have been chewed off and left jagged and rough by your bite. All of those hours I spent trying to train you, and keep you from counter surfing seem wasted now. But I’m oddly happy that you never quite got it. I have little snippets of you with me still because of your relentless (and now endearing to me) stubbornness.
I feel as if I have more patience and tolerance with so many more things in my life now. It seems as if daily we are bombarded with tragic news of death, devastation, and loss in the world. Losing you really did give new and personal meaning to the phrase “live each day as if it were your last.” This is still challenging work for me. But I’m trying harder than ever to tell my boys every day that I’m blessed to be their mom—that I love them with all of my heart and soul. I’m working on forgiveness, self-compassion, and present moment practices. I’m intentionally working at saying “yes” to more things that scare me, or that feel out of my comfort zone.
It’s amazing, Chance, that you’re still teaching me about love. Because of you I desire to share more love with others, and to receive more love, too. I want to keep reminding myself that everyone (including me) is worthy of being loved. I want so badly to hug you, and to look into your warm, dark, sensitive eyes. Picturing you beside me as I write this feels both heart-wrenching and soothing at the exact same time. I’m not sure how those two emotions can even be present in the same breath, yet they are. You are missed. You are still loved deeply. And you are still with us every single day.
I can’t stand, or even manage the thought, of letting you go…saying goodbye. I’m afraid to get a new playmate for Charley. I don’t think I could love another pup the way that I loved you. I know she needs a baby sister or brother to play with and to nurture, just like she did with you. She deserves that. I know that you will NEVER be replaced. You were so unique. So special. The absolute sweetest and tender little soul of a being that there ever was. When, and if, we get another sibling for sis, remember that no matter what you were my baby boy. You were a bright and vibrant light in our family. You were so loved, Chance. And you still are. You will stay in our hearts, baby boy. Beloved memories of you will be with us, and keep our family connected. You will not be forgotten. Always and forever your mama I’ll be…