It’s been a year, Kyle, since I kissed you on the head for the last time and watched as you drifted into a peaceful death. I know that you’re finally free from pain but a year later, I’m definitely not. Our family isn’t the same without you, buddy, and I’d give anything to have you back. I know I can’t, though, so I have to deal with the pain and trudge on. You were the most wonderful companion and I hope I did right by you. I hope you knew I loved you right until your very last breath. I’m sorry I didn’t know how sick you were sooner. A year later, I realize that I was in denial. I refused to accept that my Kyle, my baby boy, my shadow for the past 13 years wasn’t doing well. In the end, I know that we couldn’t have stopped the cancer and that it was your time to leave me but it doesn’t make the hurting any less acute. I’ve shed many tears, and I’ll shed many more in the years to come because you’re gone.
I’m the first to admit that I’m a total stranger to grief. At 33 years old, I still have both my parents as well as all four of my grandparents. I’ve never even lost an aunt, uncle, or cousin. As a result, the grief I’ve experienced this week, after having put down my beloved dog, Kyle, on Tuesday, has been nearly unbearable. Today is the first day that I’ve felt even close to “normal” and even then, I’ll go from completely fine to sobbing in absolutely no time. My chest and stomach ache most of the time, like I’m worrying a hole right through both of them. I don’t feel well, I don’t know how to relax, and nothing seems to keep me occupied for longer than a few minutes.
I’m just… sad. I miss my companion and friend. I miss his bossy barking when he wanted outside or when he was hungry for a treat. I miss the insistent way he’d bump his hand against my palm when he wanted petted. I miss his inquisitive stare and his happy bounce. And most glaring of all is that his presence is missing. From where I’m sitting, I can see the wooden urn holding his ashes. That’s all that’s left of him, except for my memories.
The house feels so empty without him. Roxie, our younger dog, has spent her week getting her bearings now that she’s no longer submissive to the alpha dog. She’s testing her limits and testing my patience. There’s no back and forth banter barking now because she has no one to “talk” to. All is quiet. Well, all except my heart, that is. It’s a rough, choppy mess that feels like it’s been sliced into a million little slivers. Everyone tells me that I’ll feel whole again someday. Right now, I would prefer to not feel anything at all because this grieving thing? Pure hell.
You’ve been gone for 32 hours. I’m sorry that you got so sick and that I couldn’t save you, but I hope you knew, up until the very end, that I loved you and that I always will. I hope that, wherever you are now, you’ve got a big, squishy toy full of stuffing and a loud squeaker and that you’re just squeaking away, content, young again, happy, and finally free of pain. I miss you so much already. You took a chunk of my heart with you when you left.