gratitude-a-thon day 2066: grief

Grief is a magician. You will think you have your feelings of loss under control and then up they will pop up, like the groundhog on his day of seasonal reckoning. Be prebared to be caught unaware. The waterworks will begin no matter where you are. You can be talking to the funny guy in the meat department at Whole Foods, or driving your car, or in the middle of a work meeting and suddenly you will be in a puddle of your own making. With absolutely no notice you can be diminshed by tears, engulged in the deepest emotion, brought to your very knees to the ground. And there’s no telling how long this can go on. Nope, don’t go do any betting on grief’s timeline because you’re going to walk away a loser.

Riley as a puppy with his lifelong companion, Tige (14 years without a wash).

And do not think that the loss of a dog cannot put you into this elusive state of pain. Because I am here to tell you that they very well can. In fact, because they become implicit in your everyday life, like say, an arm or a leg, they can throw you down faster than Ali could master his opponent in the ring. Down. For. The. Count.

I miss my dog. We said goodbye to him last week and I miss him as if he was part of my living, breathing body and now that part is MIA. I am dazed and confused by the world without his constant presence. I cry so much I look like a monster from a Hulu original series.

The sense of loss seems senseless to those who aren’t “dog people.” “You must feel better today, right?” they say. They don’t understand. They have no comprehension of the love, the fun, the simpatico an owner and a dog can feel for one another. They can’t contemplate the closeness or the bond. Life without a dog cuts out a giant portion of some of the happiest feelings a human is capable of. Talk about grief, I feel it for those poor people who miss out on the good love, the pure love, the devoted and loyal love of a dog.

Every noise I hear, I think it’s him. Every day as I go through my mental checklist, there he is, until I remember that he is no longer here, but now resides in the land of endless green grass, and long stretches of beach, where steak grows on trees and days and nights are filled with shenanigans.

But for me, there are crying jags and the constant nagging pain of thinking I’m missing something. I am, I am missing my 14 year old relationship with my guy Riley, with the Andy Rooney eyebrows, the penchant for sleeping on laundry, clean or dirty, the single-minded adoration of eating and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade welcome he would greet us with whether we were out for a minute or a week. I miss that love. Damn, I miss that love. And I am oh so fucking grateful for it. That dog gave me everything and I think I returned the favor. He made me better. There is no question in my mind that he made me a better person. And although I was convinced he would one day, he did it without talking! I will carry Riley with me for the rest of life, which would be a little easier if I could just stop crying.

4 thoughts on “gratitude-a-thon day 2066: grief

  1. Toni I am so sorry about Riley. Just from your posts I could tell how much you loved that dog. All of your crying means you have all of that love for him, and that’s a good thing!. I hope as the days go by, it will get a little easier for you. No one can ever take away the joy of you and Riley for 14 years….as you say, he’s probably running around on green acres with steak in the trees. Deb xo

  2. Dogs are our escape valve from human artifices of planning and worry. No spoken words are required to communicate. Everything is okay and/or forgivable/forgettable. They let us be our best animal selves. Okay, having said all that, I have to admit that Daisy would have reduced Tige to smithereens within 15 minutes, never mind 14 years. I think Riley was a better match for you, Toni. And he would forgive you for getting a new buddy, as long as he remains First Dog in your heart.

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