I lost my dog to cancer last week.
I cried for 2 days, from when he laid his big head on my hand and closed his eyes for the last time, until my tears ran out. Neither my vet nor his staff could hug me; my friends could not console. I cried for 2 days straight. On my own. I can confirm that it takes a body about a day and a half to replenish its stores.
It’s weird, this loss during lockdown…I’m feeling sorry for myself for feeling sad. I’m feeling sad for myself and for the state of the world right now. I’m feeling guilty for feeling loss (and lost) because maybe my loss isn’t as massive as it is for someone who has lost a spouse or a child or a family or a livelihood to this ravaging virus and its bloodthirsty tentacles. The sadnesses are commingling and the weight is like nothing I’ve felt before.
I haven’t left my flat in 2 days. I’ve showered and yoga’d and worked (too many hours) and eaten (too much sugar if I’m honest) and worked more and walked dozens of kilometres on the treadmill. But outside doesn’t seem so important this week.
It’s sunny out. Maybe today.
I’m realising it’s not only my own loss I’m mourning. It’s also a collective loss: of life, of freedom, of truth, of expectation, of achievement, of income, of security, of connection, of pleasure, of human touch, of hope… My niece has lost her senior year of high school. She’s lost a rite of passage. Friends have lost income and security and stability. One lost his son. His son!
The sun is shining brighter, outside, today. And inside, literally and figuratively, I’m feeling equally broken and grateful. My heart and spirit are broken. Yet I’m grateful for the outpouring of love for my community dog, the calls and messages, and the chocolate cake and artwork my neighbours made. I’m grateful for the nearly 16 years of dog adventures this animal has given me. For the lessons he’s taught me. And for the dozens and dozens of lives he’s touched in so many ways over the years.
I did yoga and tried to meditate this morning. And made brunch, as if the world were normal. I even got up the energy to vacuum today for the first time since he passed (don’t judge; getting out of bed has been a Herculean effort this week) and retrieved no fewer than 6 balls from under the furniture. A fleeting thought arose: maybe I’ll auction the 700 balls and dog toys I have and raise funds for the GSP rescue. Maybe next week.
If my yoga practice has taught me anything, it’s that these things are all lessons: in truth and integrity and self-care and non-attachment and necessity and simplicity. Satya, asteya, ahimsa, bramacharya, aparigraha. And that as we collectively peel back these layers of loss and grief and sadness and upheaval, I don’t feel so much like an “I” in the getting back to normal phase…for a given value of normal, whatever that means anymore.
I wanted to write something about the lessons I’ve learnt from a dog’s life lived to its fullest. But I don’t have that in me today. I’ll have to save that for another chapter.
I’ll close as I do, with a “bye, bud… see you later.” I’m sure I haven’t yet found all of the tennis balls you’ve left me.