I thought it would be enough. All the snuggling and cuddling we did those last few days. Sleeping with you on the floor. Holding your paws. Singing to you and whispering in your ear how amazing you’ve been for so long.
I thought if I spent as much time as possible telling you how much I loved you that it would be enough. That after you’d gone I wouldn’t feel that urgent need to wrap you in my arms one more time. To whisper into your sweet, soft face how much you mean to me, to us. How desperately you will be missed.
I was wrong. Because I know now it’s never enough. We’re human, and we will always want one more time. One more kiss. One more snuggle. One more everything.
We tried, those last few days to give you everything that would make you happy. Peanut butter Kong. Steak. Visits from special friends. Walks – which you decided suddenly you couldn’t get enough of. That made me completely second guess our decision on the whole matter. But I’m told these things happen before…suddenly there’s an uptick in energy. An easing of the burden of sickness and old age.
I believe you knew. And part of me also believes you were relieved. Ready to go.
The day before we said goodbye you wanted to be everywhere and sniff everything with a fervor you haven’t had in months, maybe years. The energy in the house had changed and you needed to take advantage of every moment you had left. And you did. At the park. At home, giving smooches to everyone who came to visit you. When we sat in a circle around you on the floor and you moved from one to the next to the next of us, like the hands of a clock slowly ticking round and round, you went four or five times around our circle, giving and receiving love.
That’s what you did best, Gooner. Always the consummate love bug.
When you left, the house was a foreign, painful place for me. Every room held the memory of you, signs of you everywhere, but no you anywhere.
Your beds, one in the living room, one in the bedroom, empty and waiting for you to come lie down. Your tiny squeaky duck – the favorite toy you never played with anymore, lying alone on the living room floor. Your dishes, empty, in the kitchen. Your bags and leash hanging by the door, ready. Your shampoo and conditioner, open, in the tub, like they might be used again soon. Your blanket folded up on the couch. All little pieces of you, but not you. Heartbreaking reminders of what we’re missing now.
I miss your sounds. The life in your noise. I miss the delicate snicking of your nails across the tile and wood floors. I miss the snoring, always snoring. At the very least, the heavy breathing. That breath held so much life. I miss the squeaking in dreams and running to catch those pesky squirrels. I miss the panting, which accompanied every little step you took these last few months. I miss the sound your paws made rubbing against the corduroy on your bed when you circled round and round and round…and round for ten minutes before you decided to lie down. I miss every little bit of you.
I used to think I didn’t mind being alone, spending time by myself. Thing was, I was never alone. Not for the last fifteen years. You were always there with me. Thank you for being there for so long, even through your own pain.
I still look for you around corners. Still watch for you at the top of the stairs when we come home. Still imagine I’ll see you lying on your bed, dreaming with your little tongue sticking out. You are so very much still here with us, Gooner Bug.
I can feel the soft peach fuzz of your head and ears under my hands. Smell the corn chip scent of your paws. I think about how delicately you opened presents at Christmas and how you didn’t care if that wasn’t your present to open. They were all your presents. The way you would just drop on top of me when I was lying on the floor. How we’d snuggle and you would lie there with your chin burrowed into my chest breathing into me, without moving, like you owned me. Which, of course, you did.
In the last few months, you would come to me in the morning, still tired from waking. You’d stand at the top of the stairs and I’d pet you and comfort you before I had to give you your morning pill. And most days as I massaged under your chin, you would lean closer and closer to me and soon you were falling asleep into me, letting me hold you, lift you up.
That’s what you did for me all these years, Gooner Bug. You lifted me up. You made me better. And you always made me feel like I was the best mother ever, even when I was failing miserably. That was your purpose. To love and be loved. And like I said before, you did good, kid.
When you sat at my feet that day so many years ago, staring up at me with all your crazy puppy energy and your itty bitty bits of wild neuroses, did you know? Did you know the adventure we were about to embark upon together?
I think you did. You knew how much I needed you. So thank you, my sweet, silly, beautiful puppy, for choosing me. For not letting me walk away from you without taking you home to turn my whole world upside down in the best possible way.
I remember so much right now because I don’t want to forget. I’m afraid if I start forgetting one thing it’ll avalanche into a complete failure to remember anything at all after a while and I cannot bear the idea of that. So I hold on to all the details. All the moments and memories of our life together because I need to keep you close right now.
Maybe someday I’ll have to let some of that go, because senility, but right now, you’re safe with me, Little Monkey. Like I was with you. And you’re not going anywhere.
Love you always, Gooner Bug.