I have been in this place before. Life has been slower, heavier. I have been in a fog. Things necessary to continue living have gone on; a lot has been left undone. The sadness is still here, and I know it will stay for a while. I also know that the sharp pain of loss will come back at random moments. Seemingly innocuous things will trigger it, like anything with peanut butter.
Finding my new normal I know will take time. When a being is part of your everyday life, the absence is very obvious. Trying to comfort others while in pain yourself is also difficult. Shared grief is a little easier in one sense, because you know that others understand since they too are hurting, but it is easy to repress your own feelings when you are trying to help soothe others’ pain, which can sometimes make the process longer. Even Maggie, our other dog, is out of sorts.
I put the collar away that day. The bowl went into the dishwasher where I found it later. Fortunately, over time, Maggie has commandeered most of the toys, so there is little else that was considered exclusively Zeke’s. My everyday triggers have been more routine behaviors: the morning ritual of standing guard so each dog would eat only his or her own food, the confusion and tangle of two leashes and 10 legs (counting mine). Things are simpler now, and much quieter. The puddles at the water bowl are gone; my feet stay dry. We need to start regular walks again, get back into some sort of routine, though I am not yet ready for the inevitable question on the street. I want to stay inside and hide. I need to get back out there again.
Life still happens. There are still chores to complete, holidays barreling at us, preparations to be made. As I have said to some family members, yes, this is sad, but it is an expected part of life. We don’t get to spend forever with all of our loved ones, especially those of the canine variety. The only way to avoid this pain is to not have them in our lives to begin with, a choice I am not willing to make.
Each day is a little easier. The fog lifts a little. The undone chores are being tackled. Future plans are being made. Together, we all will get through it. As much as it hurts, it was definitely worth it.