Bracken became seriously ill suddenly. What I thought was an age-related limp and then maybe an injury turned out to be rapidly growing cancer with an excruciating autoimmune component.
Through large amounts steroids and pain medication, she worsened. Then, when her pain moved beyond both control and hope, I did what no one wants to do, I kept her loving company as my veterinarian helped her gently leave this world. Knowing it is the right thing and being grateful I could spare her what was to come, doesn’t make the loss of my companion any easier.
You know when the power goes out in your house? You were there when the lights went out and you are fully aware that there is no power but you still flip the switch when you enter a dark room?
That’s where I am.
I pull out five food bowls instead of four, I look toward her bed as I climb into my own, I start to speak her name as I head out for a walk–until I catch myself. It’s that daily jarring of hard reality against more than a decade of tender habit that defines these first few days.
Having walked this road before, I know what to expect. I know I won’t be able to concentrate, that my usually creative mind will paddle in lazy circles, that deadlines will have none of their usual power to focus or motivate me until grief has run its course.
As I move through my day I find myself waiting for Bracken. Expecting her to be there – ball in her mouth, tail in the air. And the tears come again because I will have entered the dark room and flipped the switch, expecting her light to come on – even though I was there when it went out, even though intellectually, I know better but intellect has nothing to do with this.
Bracken, my fine dog, I thank you, I miss you. Go in peace.