I miss you.
I’ve traveled halfway around the sun without you by my side. I won’t lie, it’s been tough, there were moments I wasn’t sure what direction I was even going in. It wasn’t forwards or backwards, it was more like sideways. If you were watching, I’m sure you had many ‘what the hell is she doing’ moments! This journey has felt long and short, at the same time. Long, because you aren’t here and your absence in my day is palpable. Short, because it’s only been six months, I have an infinite amount of journeys to take without you. I’m learning that, it will all be okay.
Perseverance is sometimes two steps forward, one step back.
Looking back on the days I got through is easier than looking forward to some of the days I have yet to face. I got through your gotcha day anniversary, the one month, the fourth month, that random Tuesday when sadness weighed me down and I didn’t leave the house. I’m getting through this letter. But I do dread some of the other first year milestones. Like Christmas. Those ornaments with your name on them and your stocking, they haunt me. At the same time, I know there will still be joy. This week, when the first frost hits here, Jake and I will go out and dance, in honor of you and your crazy allergies! In the same moment that time can feel hurtful, it often triggers a beautiful memory to see me through.
Even on our worst days, there was love.
People often ask me about that time post diagnosis, when you were here but I knew our time was short. What was that like? Sadly, a few of our friends are in a similar situation. In looking back, I can so immediately be transported to the unbearable anxiety I felt. The overwhelming fear of losing you at any moment was the hardest thing I have ever faced. I have never felt such fear, I hope to never face such fear again. But as my words explain that painful part of our journey with cancer, I’m always saved, surprised and proud of the love that washes over me to guide folks through that time with you. While it was the most terror I have ever felt, it was also by far the greatest love I have known. It was a month of true love. I got to love you and hug you and tell you every single thing that my heart had ever and could ever feel for you. As much as I will never let cancer define us, that month represents the very best of our love. And you handled that month like you handled your entire life – with exuberance and soulfulness and bravery.
It’s all about perspective.
I say it in almost every conversation about you…’he was the best dog’. I could write this blog for a million years and I would never be able to fully explain how perfect your existence in my life was. You grounded me, even when you refused to sit still. Your gravitational pull on me was strong and lovely and I’m honored that I was chosen for you. I’m so happy that your first family gave you up. Without them, we would never have been! We overcame every single thing that got thrown our way. In the end, I was disappointed that life gave you a cancer that had no treatment options for us, that there was nothing for us to try. For a duo that was used to staring down health issues, we were left spinning, out of our element. But on the flip side, you suffered very little. I’d do it all again with you, and I wouldn’t change a single decision. Your life was short, but sweet for certain.
I’m so proud of you.
I’m proud of so many things about you. That you went from a dog that leapt off the back of my couch into a closed glass door the day you came to live with me to a dog that was in every way, my zen master. That you were somehow the loudest and quietest moments of my day. That you could love so hard, with a single glance. Your exuberance reminded me to dance through this crazy life and your soulful, loving side taught me how deep a love for a dog could go. There is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t have done for you and I know that you felt the same for me. But I’m probably most proud of, and still profoundly sad to have lost, your support of all things Jake. It’s one thing to love me, bud! Jake didn’t make it easy on you. You never once lashed out at him, even when he was jumping up (remember when he could jump!) trying to bite your face. You just held your head up higher, offering him a tolerance I never expected. You were amazing. When he’d leap onto you from the couch, you’d just get up and move (closer to me/safety). You offered him the same understanding that I offered you. And through your understanding and patience, Jake found a home. Jake found a place to take shelter, curled up next to you. Jake found something to love, probably for the first time ever. And you guided him and loved him back and your beautiful brotherhood lit up my life like nothing else ever has. And as your body started failing you, Jake knew first. And he stood by you (literally) until I found out. Our little family got it right, bud.
You will inspire me to spread joy, until my very last day on earth. Just the thought of you makes me want to do more. Melvin’s Project Joy, that little idea I had during a dark night with you, well it saves me and it has brought people together and we are celebrating dogs that have all kinds of unique traits, but are all ‘normal’ to us. Oh bud, the people who reach out to us and share what an impact you have had on them! I mean I get it, but I never expected it. It’s lovely, just like you. And in the spirit of love living on, it’s time for Jake and I to find our next family member. The thought of that has not been easy for me but that pull I spoke of earlier, the one that connects you and me, well I feel you pulling me out the door, the way you always did. Forward. We have been meeting dogs and to my surprise, Jake is doing pretty great. Do you have something to do with that? While there have been a few dogs that I thought he’d do ‘ok’ with, we haven’t met the right dog for us both yet. But we will! We need to harnesses up all this Melvin love, and pay it forward in the next beautiful way. I know it’s what you want for us. It’s what I want for us too.
Stay with me, my love.
I feel you with me all the time. I see you in Jake’s mannerisms, ones he learned from you. I hear you in music. I have conversations about you with a five-year-old that make me smile – in her world, you and Jesus make the sun come up everyday. I tend to agree with her. I see you when I close my eyes. Thank you for that, for leaving your heart with mine. I carry it with me everywhere I go. And thank you for being the most awesome dog, the most generous soul, the truest of all the loves. In this life, we won. You are my North Star, my beautiful purpose and the place where I park my gratitude. You are at the top of the best that this life has given to me and I’m forever thankful, grateful and blessed.
I love you, always.
Photo credit: Kate Juliet Photography