Many of you have emailed and messaged, asking how things are going (thank you!). While I have always shared an honest view of our life, and even though the last month of sadness was unforeseeable, I don’t want to spend much time writing about grief. We all grieve deeply and differently and there is a part of it that is so sacred. But I DO want to update you on where my head is (this post) and then I want to move on to what’s going on with Jake (Monday’s post) and his new life learning words. I don’t want to make people cry, most of all myself!! I am ready to get back to the (still honest) look at how wacky our dog days are! Our posts will still include memories of Melvin, there is a ton I’ve never even told you about him, but it will also take a focus on Jake. And one day…on the next rescue.
The day the oncologist told me that Melvin was terminal, I asked how I was supposed to manage a cancer that could take him at any time. Her answer: If you want to control it, you’d have to let him go now. I asked, how do you put a a dog that is (seemingly) healthy and happy down? She said: it’s one of the things that makes this cancer so hard. But then she said… There is a window, and it opened with his diagnosis. That window is going to close, but there is a chance that it won’t slam shut, that you will sense the closing. That may come with his physical behavior, with minor internal bleeds and him not feeling well. Or it might be something else. But if there is no rupture (and she wholeheartedly felt there would be), you will feel the window closing.
I felt the window closing.
I knew with absolute certainty that this part of our journey was coming to an end. I knew it in my heart, I saw it in his eyes, I felt it in every part of who we were. If there is one thing in life that I know, it’s Melvin. After all the years of getting him healthy, I couldn’t let a sudden, quick decline take his mind or body back to those early days of his life. So for Melvin, there was no rupture, no suffering, just love. His window is forever left open, to let the beautiful breeze blow through. Melvin was happy and full of joy up to his very last moment. He ate food he never knew existed, he went for a delightful car ride with his body hanging out the window, he was wrapped in love by his favorite people and his brother. We felt his love for us, in every moment.
I miss Melvin as much as I love him; infinitely. The nights are hard. I allowed Jake to sleep in the bed one night to see if it would help. He poop’d. It’s OK, you can laugh. I did.
During the day, I’m less heavy-hearted. During the day, Melvin’s love wraps around me. It gives me so much strength. I can’t explain it. I wake up and his love fills me up. Even though throughout the day he would be at my feet (as all good velcro dogs are), I don’t look for him there because I feel him so deeply in my heart. I stare at his photo in my office and I feel tremendous joy that he was mine. I have so much gratitude for all things him.
I had Melvin for seven years. Seven magnificent years. When tears show up, I just breathe. I try to keep my eye on the joy. He was meant to be mine. I was meant to be his. He could have been put down at three, but we found each other. The force that brought us together…powerful and true. We had the best life together.
Here is the reality, Melvin had cancer. He was always going to have this cancer, he was always going to die at ten. His cancer was genetic, it was a part of his code.
It’s heartbreaking but that is how life goes sometimes. So I have stopped saying ‘he was supposed to live to 14’ (and I have no clue why I always thought he’d live to be 14) and have started accepting, he was only supposed to live to ten. And I was supposed to get him to ten and even though he died at his most healthy (minus the cancer), I’m so proud that we healed all of his crazy ailments. He left this life knowing what healing felt like, his skin was healthy, his fur was soft and thick, his seizures were minimal, his colitis didn’t rule our every day and his joy was at an all time high (as proudly shown by his wagging nubbin). We went to the vet fewer times in his last six months than at any time before. We’d won! We didn’t need more time to do it right. While extra years would have been my every hope and dream, more time wouldn’t have changed our story. When I’m sad that I didn’t get his golden years (PEOPLE, OLD DOGS ARE LITERALLY THE BEST DOGS), I realize that his golden years WERE spent with me, we just didn’t know it at the time. I was there when his forever life began and I was there at his end, and in between…well in between was beyond anything I could have ever wished for. If someone had asked me seven years ago if I wanted to know how long he’d live, I’d give a resounding ‘no’. I was his forever, no matter how long that was. This path is ours and lovely and this grief is part of that beautiful journey. When they say love lives on, they don’t always point out that learning to carry it in a new way can take some time, some tears, some perspective.
He left this earth having known the truest love imaginable. He changed me forever. He left knowing his work here was beautifully complete. He made me a better person. Melvin expanded my capacity for love and it’s a wild love that needs to keep growing and giving. He loved me genuinely and delightfully and unconditionally. He gave Jake a brother to love and the patience Jake needed to learn to become a most awesome sidekick. He taught people how deep love can grow, how joy always wins, how perseverance reigns supreme and how choosing peace heals the soul. And together, our love made a difference. There is no greater feeling than saying that out loud.
Our love made a difference.
Melvin is a part of me. He didn’t take my heart with him when he left, instead, he left his with mine. Our hearts are bound together, forever. This past week, I’ve truly felt what one of my favorite poems means. In our new journey, Jake and I carry Melvin in our hearts. Forward, as he would have wanted.
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
(poem by E.E. Cummings)
(love by Tracey, Melvin and Jake)
(Monday’s post is funny, trust me)