A couple of friends and readers have lost their dogs recently. The most asked question in my inbox is along the lines of:
How I got through losing Melvin or how I get through without him. And/or, how did I survive losing Melvin and Jake, back to back.
I don’t cry everyday anymore. Every so often, something will pop into my mind and the joy I feel for that memory will overwhelm me and I’ll have to stop what I’m doing and let some tears flow. I still stay goodnight to Melvin and Jake every night, but long gone are the days when I cry myself to sleep. Everyday, there is a beautiful reminder of them. Sometimes its Doug doing something one of them would totally of done. Sometimes its Doug being terrible and I remember how Jake used to leap off the couch onto Melvin’s head. Sometimes, the blanket at the foot of the bed feels a little heavier over my feet, and I pretend it’s Melvin. Sometimes the reminders are obvious, sometimes I have to look a little harder to find the joy. No one said joy is always easy.
I had a moment on New Years day when I realized I can no longer say that Jake died ‘last year’. Time is both an enemy and a friend.
The answer to how I got through, starts at Melvin.
Melvin was the one thing that was supposed to happen to me in this life. The one thing that would drive who I was to become. It’s not to say my life before him wasn’t spectacular or without meaning. My life before him was wonderful preparation. For all the joy that was about to explode in my heart.
Melvin made me a better person. He pointed me in the right direction. He taught me to choose joy, to have patience, to make kindness reign supreme. He taught me love. The type of love that requires that we take action, to make life easier for others. To love, even when it requires forgiveness. To choose joy, over all other things.
At some point, Melvin became Melvin and Jake. Jake became Melvin’s plus one. Eventually, there was no, just Melvin. At that point, it was impossible to have one without the other. Especially, when Melvin died.
Melvin’s love lived on in both Jake and I. Jake became my beautiful link to Melvin. We had to learn to reach for joy through our grief. As for Jake dying a year after Melvin, well that was pretty much the universe sucking and being as hurtful as possible and there were some dark moments and I screamed and threw my fists (and a lot of karate kicks) at joy. Then Doug’s face showed up on Facebook, and he disrupted the sadness. Sometimes joy shows up in disguise and you must have faith it will work out. Even when it’s trying to eat your feet.
I carry Melvin and Jake in my heart. Melvin is still with me, guiding me. Reminding me that joy is what I make of it. Reminding me of how much patience he had with Jake, at the exact moment Doug is driving me nuts. And Jake is the reason that when Doug had back to back surgeries, I didn’t stay in a ‘poor Doug’ state. I was thankful we had what we needed to make it through. And we did. Jake moves me forward.
I got through losing Melvin, because of Melvin and Jake. I got through losing Jake, because of Melvin and Jake. I love them more today than I did yesterday. I feel closer to both of them (Melvin especially), right now than I ever have. Life put them into my life when it just as easily could have put them somewhere else. We found each other and that is where our story starts. As for where it ends, well it doesn’t.
Love lives on.