I think about it. The ultimate betrayal. The day that I took him in the car for the very last time.
It was a car ride that shouldn’t have ended the way it did; with him not getting back in the car with me when we left. I think about how happy he was to just be with me. And how I betrayed him.
These feelings tend to creep up on me in the middle of the night, if I wake up to pee or if I have a bad dream and I’m startled awake. I’ll lay back down and my mind will just replay that last car ride. I can’t stop thinking about the last day of his life, no matter how many good days we had over the course of our four years together. It’s just the last couple of hours of his life that plague me. Nonstop.
Grief is a strange thing.
I live my life constantly trying to escape that reality. What actually happened to him. To us. I want to constantly be busy so that those mid-night feelings don’t start creeping into my day. Because I can’t afford to be sidelined. Not now. Please, not now.
They say that time heals all wounds, but my cuts are fresh at the thought of him. I can’t stop thinking about how much he trusted me. And lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been having a hard time with it.
I’ve been having a hard time with a lot of things, really. I think about how my life used to be and struggle with the realization that it won’t ever be the same. No matter how many years go by, things won’t get better. Things will just be different. Some people will try to convince you that you have to be okay with different. That you will grow and change and that you will be okay.
But will I?
I know. Enough already about losing my dog.
But that unconditional love was something I’d never felt before and it changed me. It made me different. And I was okay with being different. I was more than okay, actually. Because he made me happy.
It’s hard to listen to people talk about their pets. Maybe that sounds stupid. But it actually hurts. The deep kind of hurt.
I know. Get over it.
I’m getting there.
I used to fit in with the crowd of mom dogs and proud pet parents. I used to have a little fur family. And I don’t even know why I’m thinking about it now. Tonight. Why here? What for?
As the days go by, I forget more and more. But nothing is more clear than that last car ride.
One thing I can’t tell you about, however, is the car ride home. I couldn’t tell you what time I left or what I was thinking. I don’t know what streets I drove on or how fast I went. I don’t know if the radio was on. I don’t know what temperature it was outside. I couldn’t tell you anything about the hours that followed because it’s the darkest hole I’ve ever been in.
Sometimes I think a part of me is still in it.
And then I think of all the things that I could have done differently. I think of all the things that I wish I did differently. Of all the things that I wish were different.
But most of all, I wonder what being okay truly feels like.
And maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s losing a dog or a person. If it’s saying goodbye too soon or being just a few minutes too late. When you lose something you love, it changes you.
And I’m still not okay with that change. 887 days later.
And that? Is more than okay.