Some things never change: love, loss and the gift of mourning Charlie.

“I am here. I am here. I love you. I’m so sorry it hurts. I love you. I am here.”

I lost my dog, Charlie on Friday.

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If you’ve somehow missed my grief-filled, over sharing posts on the interwebz, this will be news to you. If not, settle in. I’ve got even more to say about this loss.

I wasn’t supposed to be home on Friday. I had only just decided to operate within the confines of a four day work week because healing from trauma and working with trauma while writing about trauma can be…well, traumatic.

I don’t mean to make light of it. I suppose that’s exactly my point. It’s not light as air. It’s heavy as a rock and carrying it makes me stumble after a round of solid steps forward.

I had also decided that Fridays would be my day to write. I was all set to take full advantage of my new goals for the new year. I had pulled photos of myself visiting the Strasbourg Cathedral in France and printed off what I’d written thus far. I had coffee and friends on their way over when Charlie became very, very ill.

Within an hour, my beautiful boy was in shock and dying at our veterinary office.

I was home. I shouldn’t have been but I was. What a gift.

I was able to lament how much I loved him to his face and how life would be easier if I loved him a little less. When he was struggling to get on the couch, I was able to sit next to him on the floor and write while I waited to leave for his appointment. I was able to gently carry him through those doors with tears streaming down my face. I was able to lie down on the linoleum floor of the exam room while his body began to shut down and tell him, whisper to him how much I loved him.

“It’s okay boy. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. I love you. I’m here.”

And I was there. Completely and gratefully.

I also attended my father’s funeral. I stood there with no ache in my throat, no heartbreak words of parting. I wasn’t forlorn. I was lost, confused, empty. Later, I felt guilty for feeling so little.

When I was told that Charlie had died, I sobbed. The little vet clinic was filled with the sound. I’m sure of it. I wasn’t embarrassed. I didn’t hold back. I let the whole place feel it with me. I was shattered.

Like I said, it would have been easier if I didn’t love that damn dog so much.
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He had cancer. While I played with him, walked him, cuddled him over the past few months it was growing into his lungs, his liver, his stomach and his intestines. Cancer coated him on the inside while we took trips to the cottage and bought him special treats every week. He led a dogsled for the first time with Levi and Lucy in the sled and Paul at the helm.

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When I let him out he warned all neighboring dogs to stay away and when I let him in, I called him beautiful boy.

We have another dog now. We never planned to. Lucy was found on the street and offered Charlie more silly playtime than any other dog he’d ever met. Frankly, he never met a dog he liked until Lucy. We didn’t think it would be possible for us to become a two dog home.
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They just fit. The little to our big.

His unintended hospice care was good. My grief – our grief, is bittersweet and simple. It is here because loving him was honest and easy. His big paws filled my hands and when the kids had finally gone to bed, he would lay all 50 lbs. of his body on my lap. He loved me true.

When I said my final goodbye, I grabbed a full handful of his beautiful fox-like fur and whispered into his ear again that I would miss him very much.

He’s gone but I’m here. I’m not going anywhere and I love him.

Some things never change.

PS – Although I am a big fan of a well placed f-bomb in real life, I rarely write them here. Today will be the exception. Fuck you, cancer. I have never meant anything more.

2 thoughts on “Some things never change: love, loss and the gift of mourning Charlie.

  1. We lost our sweet JoJo last April to cancer. It was fast and sudden, and a grief I carry still. Being there with him as he took his last breath was one of the most profound moments of my adult life. I didn’t know how deep our love for him went, until it was clear he’d be leaving us. Prayers to you and your boys, and a hope that your Lucy is a healing balm to all of you.

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