Right now, you are a perfect and round ball of fur. Everything is new and fascinating. Your favorite toys in the world are the dead leaves on the ground and the most expensive shoes in our hallway closet. As mischievous as you are, you have a heart of gold, and you have so much love in your little body already. You’re just starting to figure out that I am your family, a member of your pack.
I want to feel whole. I want to be excited that you are a new member of the family, I want us to be workout and cuddle buddies. But the truth is, a dominant part of me feels guilty loving you, even at all.
You see little pup, before you, there was another dog.
Your big brother. He had once been the glue that held your family together. When he passed, we all came undone. I tried putting myself back together, but there was a hole left in the shape of the brother I so badly wish you could meet.
I grieve the loss of your big brother everyday. I cry knowing that he is now just a memory, stuck forever in a picture frame. Sometimes I walk the route we regularly walked, in the hopes that I will find him somewhere along those quiet side streets, heartbroken all over again when I don’t find him.
You have come bouncing into our lives after his unexpected passing. We have filled the void of losing a precious family member. So why isn’t that enough?
I want to have both of you. I know I can’t. I’m fighting a battle that isn’t fair to you. I’m trying to keep him alive, while training you to be a ghost.
Forgive me in advance.
There will be times when I miss your brother so much it physically kills me to be around you. Sometimes, you look at me with those big innocent eyes of yours and they make me think of how your brother used to look at me when I would come home at the end of a long day. The way you tilt your head to the side gives me déjà vu to when I would talk to your big brother and he would try to piece together my gibberish. I can’t talk about what it’s like walking you – most of the time I feel like I’m betraying the bond I shared with your brother.
Of course, you’re both two different dogs – and that is the problem. You do things that I wish you wouldn’t do – pulling away whenever I pick you up, not liking to sleep on my bed, doing everything the dog before you never would have done.
No one told me that this is what happens when you bring another dog in to the family – you grieve the first dog’s loss all over again. And it robs you of the experience of being excited about the new puppy coming home.
I am sorry that I am being this way. I’m sorry that at times I will resent that you aren’t more like your brother. I will be comparing you to a ghost, resisting the urge to shake you and scream, “Why can’t you be him?”
Don’t listen to me. I’m trying not to listen to me. Please be yourself, little love. I am still learning that moving on does not mean amnesia. I can love both of you. You are a million and one things and in different ways – and I love you for each.
There are so many odd quirks about you that I have fallen in love with. I love how you are so enamored with the world when we go on our walks, how fearless you are and how you demand to be heard with your measly bark.
Maybe this is what it feels like for second-time mothers – they don’t spend their time wishing that their second baby is just like their first kid; they make room in their heart for both.
Little pup, I am making room in my heart for you. A space of your own.
I can’t promise I won’t have bad days where it hurts too much to be around you. But I promise that when I will remember that – like your brother before you – you are a special part of this family, looking to be loved and understood.