Meatballs from Heaven.

Losing Jake is hard in obvious ways and different in unexpected ways. It’s always different for each loss,  but as hard as it was to lose Melvin, losing Jake comes with a swell of other losses and disruptions.

There is the expected part where I am incredibly sad, I miss him so much and I still need to be taking care of him. This part…it’s the given. The price we pay for true love. I say ‘I love you, Jakey’ out loud, all day, because it’s everything that I feel.

Then there is this house. When I lost Max and Melvin, while taking up their things was hard, I still had water bowls and beds to leave out. Each time, there was still a dog. Jake has SO MUCH more stuff than just beds and bowls and toys. This home is set up for him. There are yoga mats running the width and length of this house. The mudroom is a makeshift vet treatment room. There are washable pee pads, diapers and diaper inserts, everywhere. And for one dog, there are more beds than I can count on two hands and just as many waterproof mattress covers.  I have slowly started gathering things up but with each thing I pick up there are emotions to work through. First, picking up the things that made his life easier feels like saying, ‘these things are in the way’. Jake was never in my way and those solutions brought us both so much joy. No one wants to have to clean-up joy! Secondly, picking up his things is a reminder that there are no dogs here.

There is no ‘our’ or ‘we’. It’s just me.

The moment Melvin died, I immediately felt him in a new way. I felt him become a part of me. I missed him and the ache was palpable but he wrapped himself around me and I carried him forward with me. I never I thought I’d say these words about anyone but…he imprinted on me.

I don’t feel Jake all that much (yet). I worry that his googly eyes got confused at the end and maybe he imprinted on the couch instead of me.

I think I know why Jake feels so far away.

While Jake most definitely knew I loved him and we felt love with no words…so much of Jake’s and my love was also through touch and action. He felt my love, literally by feeling me taking care of him. I channeled so much of my love through nurturing. My hands were on him caring for him. Love felt when lifting him, carrying him, holding him up. He’d look up at me with a single glance (and a single eye), and I’d reach down, knowing exactly what he needed, to help him maneuver. Now, my hands feel idle much of the day. I know that part of not feeling him is that, I literally can no longer reach out to help him. I don’t lean over or kneel down 50 times a day. My apple watch is probably worried I’m dead based on the drop in activity.

I never thought I’d miss meatballs.

The other thing is, and this one might not be one that everyone will understand and I may not do a great job of explaining it but even if you don’t get it, it’s the perfect example of how odd grief can be. When Max died, I could picture his old-dog body healed and him running again. I’d known Max his whole life.  When Melvin died (he’d only had cancer for 40 days), he looked exactly the same on earth as I thought of him at the Rainbow Bridge. The only difference was, he was cancer and allergy free, easy to see. Jake is different.  I was not Jake’s mom during his healthier years. The majority of time I knew Jake, he had progressive mobility issues.  I was wonky-legged-paralyzed-Jake’s mom. I saw those issues as challenges and together, we made a life where Jake lived his own version of normal and I thought we’d have many, many more years together so I had let go of ‘upright Jake’. I always wanted more for Jake, but I never wanted more than Jake. When someone says ‘Jake’s not suffering anymore’ or ‘Jake is running in heaven’…it is everything I always wanted for him, but I also feel…disconnected. I still see, my Jake. When I have visions of Jake now, he’s usually laying with Melvin or sitting next to him. Although he’s happy, I can’t (yet) bridge my mind to zooming Jake. I can easily see him with no diaper rash (yay), I can even see him with no hamburger eye (oh those gorgeous googly eyes).   I think this is just another reason why I don’t feel him as much yet (in the way I felt and saw Melvin). Grief has a way of making random shit more difficult than it needs to be and this is just a strange grief barrier I need to break through.

Maybe, maybe I’m just looking for him in the wrong places. I have faith it will work out.

This past week I have felt Melvin more than usual. I know he is letting me know he’s got our boy. It’s funny how roles can flip.  Now I’m the one who is somewhat paralyzed at moments. I’m the one with separation anxiety. I’m the one with wide-eyes, looking to be lifted up. The boys moved forward every day, no matter what.

That legacy will live on in me.

As for no dogs being here, well that will feel lame until there are dogs here again. I had to come to terms with Jake not wanting other dogs. I committed to that for him so it’s not easy to turn that switch and say ‘ok Jake’s gone, there can be other dogs now’. I am still the impassioned leader of Team Jake. This week, I’ve slowly started looking at rescue sites again. As always, there are dogs that make my heart thump. I know that rescue is my calling. I hear it.

I just wish Jake was still here. It’s only been two weeks.

There have been so many beautiful people; my family, my friends, you…who have been there, here, wherever you are…sharing stories of how Jake inspired you, that you miss him also, reminders that we made a difference. To say I am blessed, is to say love lives on.

I have been re-reading my post that talks about how ‘the one love’ should move forward (click here to read).  Trying to remind myself of who I am. Up until this moment right now, I have never lost a dog and not had a dog and faced how to go about moving forward with a new dog. I have always gotten a dog before losing a dog. There has always been a dog! So that post about ‘the one love’ was written by the old me. It’s still me, but since writing it there has been a lot of loss and there has been a wonky-legged-googly-eyed-I-hate-any-dogs-that-are-not-Melvin dog. So when I read that post now, I tend to laugh because up until Jake, all the dogs I have had wanted me to love again. Melvin and Max loved love. They wanted me to always be paying our love forward. Jake…well Jake loved being loved. But sharing was not his thing. Some with Melvin but definitely after Melvin, he did not share his neighborhood, his yard, his toys, his food, me or his Melvin’s our home. Something tells me Jake is in heaven being reminded that the F-word is absolutely not permitted…

‘Uh, F no mom. Step away from the rescue sites. We did fine without dogs when I was there and you can totally do this no dog thing without me. If you see someone with a F-ing dog, look away, you do not want what they have. We talked about this, NO DOGS IN MY HOUSE!                                That one-love crap, that ended with me!

Of course that is all said in his Barry White bark voice while he continues to flip and flail long after he’s done saying it and there are probably heavenly meatballs (made of glitter). Jake behaving exactly like he did every time I tried to bring a dog home to him. And in true form, Melvin is just laying next to him, calm as can be, rolling his eyes over the idea that Jake uses up so much energy on such silly things. And Max is thinking…there is no way we are related.

I sorta like the vision of spirited Heavenly Jake. It allows the hashtag #lifewithJake to live on, just like the love does.

I pity the fool that gets another dog. IMG_0835

16 thoughts on “Meatballs from Heaven.

  1. In all of this, I love that you maintain your keen sense of humor alongside your grief. I for one (and I feel certain everyone following your story agrees) am so glad to read each new post and hear how you are doing. You share it all so eloquently.

    • Thank you, Wendy! I think so many of us feel bad if we laugh or make light of dark moments after a loss. In grief, I say, do what you have to do (within the limit of the law) to make it forward. Jake was living laughter, the love AND the humor must live on.

  2. I always think about how you’d describe Jake as sitting and waiting. Obviously I’ve never met him but that’s how I picture him at the Bridge. Sitting next to his Melvin, waiting and just Being.

    • Yes, this exactly! I think the ‘running in Heaven’ part is such a common thing to share when we lose old dogs or dogs that were sick at the end.

      It’s sorta like you probably won’t see Eeyore running at the Rainbow Bridge!

  3. I totally agree with Deb! Jake is doing what makes him happiest, just being with Melvin, because that was/is Heaven to him!!

    Keep looking at those rescue sites! You will know the right one when it’s time! Continued thoughts, prayers and hugs to you.

  4. This part was so incredibly insightful: “It’s funny how roles can flip. Now I’m the one who is somewhat paralyzed at moments. I’m the one with separation anxiety. I’m the one with wide-eyes, looking to be lifted up. The boys moved forward every day, no matter what.”

  5. Lisa shared your post and it’s got me tearing up!!! Beautifully written. All of your boys have been so lucky to have you and I know each of them is still with you.

    Thank you for sharing this and for letting us at GFAH be part of your extended family!! Keeping you in my thoughts, Tracey!❤️

  6. Tracey, Your posts are always so insightful about life, love and loss. Like you I have always added a new dog to my family when my others grew old because I couldn’t bear the thought of not having a fur kid around. When you are ready, I bet Jake will release you from your one dog promise and open his heart to let a new dog share your life. Please take care of yourself.

  7. Jake was such a big dog in spirit, so much personality in a not so big body! I can see him flipping out at the idea of a new dog in HIS house. 🙂

    I was also looking at rescue sites right away, even though we weren’t ready; Maggie just left too big of a space. It’s been 3 months since Maggie left, and she definitely left echos through the house that Relic seems to pick up on. He and Duke now wrestle & shark face the same way Maggie & Duke did, the first time they played chase it nearly made me cry. He peels tennis balls & picks at rope toys, shreds soft beds, frog legs with his tail wagging and lays in the same spot in the bathroom or behind my desk chair. (Also has similar intolerance to chicken – aagh) It’s weird how a 2 year old male purebred border collie has so many traits in common with an 8 year old female Sato mix. 🙂

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