I have been exchanging emails with a lady who wrote me that she lost her Golden Retriever to cancer 16 months ago and feels that a part of her died with her dog. She is thinking about getting another dog, but seems so guilty and torn at the thought. I shared my experiences and thoughts with her and that spurred me on to have a good cry.
Next month will mark 3 years since I had to put my best friend Winger to sleep. Surf followed, just two months later. In a way I can’t believe it’s been 3 years and in other ways it feels like they are like a distant memory.
I think about them every day – usually Monty (their nephew) will trigger a memory through his actions and antics. But I don’t cry much anymore. Once in awhile I have to stop recalling a story about one of them because I’ll choke up. Looking back, I’m sure I cried every day for that first year. After I marked getting through that first year without them, I realized that if I kept trying to remember every single little thing about them, then I would never be able to shake the grief. I had to let go a little bit. I had to do it to be fair to Monty, I had to do it if I was going to have a future with Jeff, and most importantly, I had to do it for myself.
And now it’s almost 3 years later, and every few months I have to scratch open those emotional scars to feel the pain again. I’m not sure if I do it because I feel they deserve some sort of acknowledgement, or if I’m afraid I’m going to forget them completely, or if it is just healthy to cry a couple times a year. Luckily these times often co-insides with Jeff being out of town so he doesn’t have to witness the tear festival going on in here. (he’s in Sydney this week)
I usually start by reading the memory stories I wrote for each of them after they died. Winger’s is here, and Surf’s is here. Then I dig right in and load up a few videos I have of them – so I can see them swimming and I can hear them breathing. They were always so happy.
Even reading their memory stories tonight, I realized how many things I’ve forgotten about them already. I forgot about Winger’s love for all food except celery. I can see him right now gobbling celery, giving it a chew, and then flicking it back off his tongue onto the kitchen floor. He hated celery. And I forgot that. But that is okay. It has to be okay.