Our Dogs Are In Our Hearts Forever, Even After They’re Gone

 Kristina Paukshtite
Kristina Paukshtite

It’s been a year since I’ve seen your beautiful smiling face.

I wish I could tell you just how hard it has been without you this past year. I felt like my entire world had crashed and burned. After every bad day, bad breakup and bad test results you were always the first one I would turn to for comfort, to help me believe that things would get better, that I would be happy again.

You’re gone, so who was going to help me heal at the end of the day?

Not even hours after you were gone, I cried so hard I stupidly thought I would go blind. The weeks following my mouth hurt from constantly asking “why? Why did you have to go?”

You were supposed to live forever. You were supposed to be a part of my children’s’ lives one day, maybe even my grandchildren’s. We were going to be partners in crime, until the very end.

You weren’t supposed to leave. Not like this.

For the first three months, I couldn’t go near the blocks we used to walk together. Those six blocks were just a painful reminder that I now had to walk alone – in every sense of the word.

I stopped sleeping for a while because I couldn’t stop thinking of all the times I wasn’t the dog owner you deserved. Scolding you for barking at the wind. Choosing to go out with friends instead of taking you for a walk. Taking you for granted.

I had myself convinced for a long time that you didn’t love me.

Five months into the grieving period, I finally started to feel less anger and resentment towards other dog owners. I hated that they had their furry companion and mine was gone. Why couldn’t you stay a little while longer? What made these other dogs so special that their owners didn’t have to face the grief that’s been keeping me awake at night?

I’m sorry. I stopped being the doting and loving owner that raised you and became an empty hollow shell of a woman. I don’t feel much like my old self these days.

Sometimes I burst into tears for no apparent reason. I will just be driving down the road and a memory of you will suddenly come to mind and I’m overcome with the sad reality that this is all you are now – a memory of a much happier time in my life.

Some days it feels like I am losing you all over again.

We brought another puppy home, seven months after your unexpected passing. It took me a long time to love him. I was scared that if I opened up my heart to him that would mean that I would forget about you. Like somehow all the love I had built for you would be absolved.

It took me a long time to be affectionate with this little puppy. I didn’t want to let him get too close to my heart. I want to say that it is because I still loved and miss you too much. That is only half of the truth.

The truth is, I know that there will be a day when I will go through this unimaginable heartbreak all over again. I don’t know when it will happen, but it will happen again. I don’t want to feel broken like this again. Losing you was too much – going through it again will shatter my heart.

But even in death, you have still taught me more about life that I could never have learned from my human companions.

You taught me to love the ones in my life with great abandon, regardless of my fear that they will one day be gone. You taught me to hold this new puppy just a little tighter, and to give him a life that looks like the one you had: a happy one.

On the ten-month anniversary of your passing, I decided that I was going to stop looking for death in your life, but instead looking for life in your death.

I walk our old route everyday now. It doesn’t make me sad anymore. The memories of you walking by my side, rubbing your head on my leg and trying to chase squirrels are engrained in my memory forever. And they give the walks I take the new puppy on a whole new meaning.

This is your legacy.

It has been twelve months. This is me missing you – but letting you go.

It took me 365 days to understand that love is not bound by the death of the physical body. Rather, love is made of energy and energy cannot die.

You are inside my heart forever, buddy. TC mark

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