I Miss Autumn

February 9, 2006: I had a dream about her two nights ago. In most of my dreams about her, she is fat and healthy, the way she looked before the disease took over. But in this dream, she was skinny and frail, skeletal and weak. There was a little girl in the dream who was scared of her. She wasn’t scary; she was pathetic. It pains me to remember her this way.

I went to acupuncture again yesterday, and realized that all my physical manifestations lately are of grief: the wretched cough I suffered over a week, the boils, the pimple face, the areas of muscle spasm. I almost cried as I was needled.

I ask myself why this grief can return so fresh eight months after her death. Then I realize that if she had been human, no one would begrudge my feeling this way, and I’m questioning the depth of my feelings because she was a dog.

I sat on the floor last evening near the couch and thought of her and realized again that she will never be here. Ever. I hate the finality of that. I hate missing her so much. I hate the way it makes my heart hurt. I hate that I’m not allowed to feel this much pain because she is a dog and not a human. I loved her so much. I loved her more than any human until Milla was born. She was my first child. Of course I grieve. And I should not question that it has been eight months.

Maybe I should be glad that I get many weeks of feeling no pain of loss. But I realize that when I’m not feeling that loss, if I don’t experience it, I won’t feel much of anything else either. Maybe that’s my lesson. If you don’t let yourself feel the emotions that need to be felt, you won’t be free to feel anything else either.

Near the end, she was almost completely blind, but she was lively. I would take her to the dog park and throw frisbees and sticks for her. I would set her up and touch her muzzle with whatever I was throwing, then guide her head in that direction and toss. She would head out and look until she found what I’d thrown. Her sense of smell must still have been intact because she would find anything, no matter how far I had thrown it, as long as I pointed her in the right direction.

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