Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of losing Melvin. One time around the sun without him, which is poetic way of measuring it since he still shines so brightly in our lives.
I miss him. The all of me misses the all of him. It’s a permanent ache. There are moments that stop me in my tracks and the weight of the loss sits on me and I cry. But that does not happen every day anymore. Not even every week. It just happens now and then, as I’m sure it will for the remainder of my life.
Losing him was hard but I love him more today than I did a year ago. I love him more than yesterday. The journey of grief is so strange. Sometimes we forgot to applaud ourselves for the growth that occurs during it.
I have been working on a video, a chronological trip down photo lane of his life. The video was therapy for me. I started with the very fist photo I had of him and ended with the very last one taken of him (I’ll try to share it with you tomorrow if WordPress allows the large upload). I looked at every single photo and I reflected on our seven years together and a lot on the last year. A year where there are no photos of Melvin, an acceptance that there will be no more.
Here is what I have come to know…
- Grief has a terrible job. It shows up the moment you couldn’t need it less and it’s required to stay with you until you are ready to let it go, which sometimes is never. We blame grief for a lot, when the reality is, it’s not griefs fault. Life sends grief in to collect on the debt of love. Life can be a real jerk sometimes. Grief poured sadness down on me some days and I begged for mercy. Then it shined moments of happiness on me and made me feel more capable. Then sadness, then happiness. Grief gets stuck on a hurtful loop some days. Grief stayed and guided me and in some ways kept me company. It did its job and a few months ago I felt grief waving goodbye. It left a part of itself with me in the form of sadness I will forever feel for Melvin’s absence. That sadness will always be a part of me, but it no longer rules me. Grief taught me that, life will be a new version of ok if I let it be. And I did and it is.
- For the first time in my life, I did grief right. I let it guide me. I let it make me feel whatever it was that it was going to make me feel. I didn’t apologize for it, I just went with it. The only thing I wouldn’t let grief do was to drop anger off (trust me, it tried). From the moment Melvin got cancer to today, anger has not been a part of our journey. I know it’s not that way for everyone, grief is unique, you have to follow your own path. But for me, I cannot associate anger with anything regarding Melvin. It wasn’t always easy, but we won in life and I am a stronger, kinder, and more understanding of how life goes after losing him. I channel my inner Melvin.
- When you lose someone, even though they are gone, the relationship continues. After death, love lives on. I can say with absolute certainty that in this past year, my relationship with Melvin has grown. There is a spiritual bond, he is a part of me in the most beautiful ways.
- I missed spring last year, I must have been crying. But this year, warmth and blooms and longer days remind me of Melvin. This is the first spring he will be completely allergy free. That makes me really happy.
- I always wanted a bonded pair. I had no idea how connected they would end up being. In looking at the photos I realize now, that in the beginning, it was actually Melvin who would seek Jake out. It was Melvin who would inch closer to his brother, even at risk of Jake lunging at his face. It was Melvin who opened up the door for their beautiful love. Jake, having lived a life before of us of having very little love, took a leap of faith with Melvin, and hit jackpot. Years prior, Melvin took the same leap with me.
- There are very few photos of Melvin and I together. That doesn’t upset me. As I was going through the photos I realized that in 99.9% of them, I’m the photographer. That look on his face, is him looking at me. And that look is what I remember and that look is everything.
- Jake and I are so alike, it took this year for me to realize it. Jake and I suffered the same great loss, and in our grief, the only thing we wanted was Melvin back. For a while, that meant that each of us needed space from the other, to be alone. But there came a time that we realized we needed each other more. Our love is forever cemented in the year we traveled together, learning to live without our best friend.
- A year can feel like it passed in the blink of an eye at the same time it feels like infinite time and space.
- You can never predict what will break you.
- I get why people say ‘I will never get another dog’. I say it now, just thinking about losing Jake and going through this all over again. But the truth is, the love is always worth the grief. Always. Love is strong and wild and soul changing. Grief can’t erase it. And I know, eventually, there will be other dogs and I know that Max and Melvin and even Jake expect nothing less of me.
- Love is why we are here.
Thank you, all of you, for standing with us this past year. For following along and holding space for us. I love this blog, I love coming here to put my thoughts together, I love that I can share just about anything here and I love the love you give us.
A year later, we are good. We are happy, we are joy seekers! Melvin is a part of every day and he does now what he has always done, he guides us forward and fills us with love.
We are blessed.