The Hard Hits

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It is so very hard to believe that at this very moment one week ago, I was saying goodbye to my beautiful Obi.  It has been a very difficult week for me emotionally. There are still many people who don’t understand.  I can’t blame them.  After all, to them he was just a dog.  But you see, he wasn’t just a dog to me.  He was a major part of my life.  For 9 years he was my morning routine, my evening routine, my snuggle buddy.  He loved me like no other creature could, and I loved him just as much in return.  An unconditional love.  Love like that is truly rare.

The first day was excruciating.  The second day unbearable.  By the third day, I had talked about it to so many people so much and it started to get a little easier to deal with.  Over the course of the week, the pain has lightened, but it hasn’t been without its moments of hard hits.

  • The silence each and every time I walk through the door.
  • Getting up in the morning to let Obi outside, only to realize I don’t have to get up.
  • Turning to feed him my leftovers, only to realize he’s not there.
  • Wanting to ask for a doggie bag so I can take my leftovers home to him.
  • The habit of returning home from a long day to ask if anyone has given Obi his medicine.
  • Shutting my bedroom door, and briefly thinking I better leave it open so he can get in…but he won’t be coming in.
  • Realizing, that even when I’m feeling ok, my daughter has had her share of moments and we break down in tears together.

There were many more moments that brought me to tears throughout the week.  I am quite thankful for the many people in my life who let me cry when the moment would hit me out of the blue.  I did receive a new source of affection, however.  My daughter’s cat, Baya, who didn’t want me to love on her very much before, has stepped in to help fill a void.  One day when I walked in from work to a silent house, I was about to break down crying, and she ran to me and provided me with some much-needed affection.  Aware of my morning routines to let Obi out while getting my coffee, she now runs to the backdoor as I make my coffee, and she and I go outside together.  We repeat the same thing in the evening.  She has started showing me a great deal of affection whenever I am sitting still.  She has even kneaded my head as I lay in bed.  I believe she knows my grief, and I am pretty sure she knows her love is greatly appreciated right now. God has truly provided humans with a gift…the gift of animals.  Only they truly have a pure and unconditional love void of any expectations or judgement.  He knew what he was doing when he offered us pets.  Sadly there are many people who won’t ever know that feeling.  Perhaps they are lucky in some way, because their hearts won’t be torn to shreds when they lose that love.  I, however, believe they are missing out on the greatest gift life has given us….unconditional love.

I will love you forever Obi. I know you are with me, but I look forward to the day I can hold you again.

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The Pain Lingers…

Grieving is a tremendously hard process.  I know the stages of grief – I took many psychology classes.  But does that help a person through it?  Nope.  I also know bringing the subject up again and again will only spark beautiful comments from people who care, and those comments will bring me to a waterfall of tears once again.  But still, I write.  I have to write.  I have found that writing is my therapy.  It’s my way to say, “Hey I Love You”.  It’s my way to say I’m hurting more than I ever dreamed.  It’s my way to keep from breaking down, even though I will anyway.  But it is what I feel I have to do for me.  My baby.  My pup.  My love.  My Obi is gone.

As if the trip to the vet yesterday wasn’t hard enough, the pain continues.

First it was arriving home.  Before even getting out of the car, I had to take his dog bowl (the one that held all those ice cubes just hours before) and his leash out of the car with me.  One of the girls already had his collar.  Just the act of picking it up off the floor sent me into another round of tears.  I sat in the heat of the car for a while, not feeling the temperature at all.  But it’s what came next that was even harder.

Whenever I would walk in the door, my baby would be right there to greet me with his “dancing feet”, claws tapping on the floor, spinning circles.  The biggest sign of affection one could ever experience.  As he got sicker and sicker, his “dancing feet” quieted down, but he never failed to greet me at the door.  If I managed to sneak in without him knowing, it would only be a matter of seconds before he would come running down the stairs in anything but a graceful manner.  He was simply the most loving, most adorable creature I have ever had in my life.  And yesterday…yesterday I walked in that door to silence.  I now believe that the most heartbreaking sound anyone could ever hear is complete silence.

When I learned of his illness, I made myself a promise that I would plant a tree in his honor when he left us.  So we went out and bought a tree.  When I returned home, there was that dreadful silence yet again.  I tried to be productive, so I went into the office and sat on the floor to take a measurement of a picture frame I was working on, but it only reminded me that he would normally follow me and be laying on the floor beside me.  I just rolled over onto my back and lay there sobbing yet again.  Can a person ever run out of tears?

Everything I did the rest of the day reminded me of him.  Why do I feel like I am obsessing?  The tears would dry up for a little while.  Then something would spark them all over again.  I was almost relieved when it was time for bed.  I was exhausted.  I needed to sleep.  But sleep would be difficult.  My love was no longer in bed with me.  The weight of him at my feet was gone.  I didn’t have to shift my legs around his body to get comfortable.  There was only emptiness.

I slept for a little while, and I vaguely remember dreaming of him.  Oh how I wish I could remember that dream.  Instead what I remember are the dreams that took place in the hours that followed. Hours of on-again, off-again sleep.  These dreams were filled with animals of all sorts, but none of them were him.  I would pet an animal here or there, and I would say, but it’s not Obi.  Where is Obi?  And I kept looking for him in those dreams.  But he was gone.

Three a.m. came.  It was very normal for Obi to wake me around 3 a.m. to go outside.  I still woke up.  I lay there in the silence.  Eventually I think I slept.  Unfortunately I was met with more restless dreams.  I almost looked forward to morning.  But the morning held its own challenges. You see, my morning routine for years has been to wake up, let Obi out, feed him and then have some coffee.  More recently it included actually cooking breakfast for my baby.  Today was drastically different.  My alarm went off, and again I just lay there.  I didn’t have to get out of bed for 30 more minutes.  I didn’t have to go downstairs to care for any other living soul.  The only thing that would require me to get up would be to make myself some coffee.  So I did.

As I made my coffee, Virginia’s kitty, Baya, stood by the back door.  She knew Obi’s routine.  In her brief few months with us, she learned it and she joined us each morning.  Today she sat at the back door.  Waiting?  I don’t know, so I picked her up and took her outside for a minute.  And just for a moment, a very brief moment, I could imagine Obi standing there beside us looking out across the yard.  I wanted to say, come on Obi when I turned to go back inside.  I think I just may have. Maybe he was there beside me.  I hope so.

Now it’s back to work.  A slight distraction from the reality that is heartbreaking.  But only slight.  For I can’t help but reflect on some of the other times I have written about him here.  Funny times, silly times, even gross times.  But all gloriously wonderful times I would take back in a heartbeat (even the gross ones) just to have him by my side.

I am sure one day I will have another pup.  I can only hope and pray he/she will be as wonderful as my Obi was.  They will have some big paws to fill, but I don’t think they will ever be able to fill this hole in my heart.  There is only one Obi, and he waits for me on the other side. Only then will my heart be complete once again.

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When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

One of my dear friends, shared something she heard with me: Forgiveness is giving up the hope that you will have a different past.

She has had a rough month, to say the least, and the timing of this statement couldn’t have been more appropriate for her. She has given me permission to blog about her. After two recent deaths in her family, her grandmother went to pickup a copy of the local newspaper to see if one of the obituaries was still being posted. When she turned to the obituary page, she discovered that my friend’s “real” father had an obituary posted that day as well. Now my friend has always known that her “Dad” wasn’t her real father, but she had a very happy life and did not wish to hurt her dad by asking about her real father. Still, she always dreamed of the day she would meet her father for the first time; what he would look like, how his voice sounded, what they had in common, and most importantly…his story.

So just as most people go about their lives, she did not aggressively pursue the search for her father, as she figured she had plenty of time to find him, and she would when the time was right. She was wrong. Her mother called and broke the news to her. The man she never had a chance to meet was now forever lost to her. She was confused. She was grieving…she didn’t understand why it hurt so much. She never knew the man. She was grieving for what was lost; grieving for something she can never get back. Now she is more curious to know about her father than ever. Should she contact his family? There is a fear of them rejecting her. There is a fear that they will get the wrong impression and think she is contacting them for an inheritance. There is also the fear that her Dad’s (the man who raised her) feelings will be hurt.

The story gets even more interesting (and complicated) as she finds out pieces, but I will not go into the details. She said something to me about how the tragedy of how one can go about planning out their whole life, and then in a split second it can all come crashing down. Such a true statement. She has really had me pondering this statement for a few days now. What is it that makes people put off experiences or opportunities in their life? Is it fear of the unknown? Or is just a sense of immortality that we all feel we have. I think it’s a little of both. As teenagers we have a larger sense of immortality and less fear. So in her case she may not have been afraid to meet her real father, but she figured she had “all the time in the world.” As we grow older, our common sense may tend to reduce our feelings of immortality, yet help our sense of fear grow – in her case, she now knows there wasn’t all the time in the world, but now there may be more things to consider; more fear of the unknown.

While I may not have experienced the heart break that my friend has had to suddently face, her story has made me contemplate my fears. What are they and what can I do to get beyond them? This will take some time for me to ponder for my own life, but for now, I hope I am able to help her through her difficult time. I pray that she is able to find what she needs and is able to move beyond the past and not knowing and look to a bright future, perhaps a future where she knows her father’s family and can seek solace from them.