I have a strange ability to forget things. It's a blessing and a curse. I also don't write dates down, like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I'm not sure why, but there's probably some weird deep secret from my past that causes me to forget large chunks of my life.
The writing group I'm in has a challenge once a month that allows us one hour to hear a topic, write about it and then publish. Our topic tonight was to write about a great challenged faced.
Typically when I get my topic, my fingers take over immediately and ideas flood my page. Tonight I looked at my assignment and couldn't think of anything. Nothing. Have I had challenges? Of course, hasn't everyone? But I can't remember any of the details. I can't remember how I overcame anything. Weird.
I wandered over to Facebook and thought about failing the challenge. I then saw a few pictures accompanied by a sad story of my friend having to put her dog to sleep. Not only did I feel for her immensely, but I got that huge pit in my stomach and started to remember.
I remembered living in California just after getting married and walking around the animal rescue shelter. I did that quite often. I'm not sure why, I guess I thought the dogs were happy to have me risk sneaking my fingers through the wire fence to pet their heads. One day an all-black puppy spoke to me. He looked up and I knew instantly I had to have him.
I ran to the adoption clerk and said I need to have #37. "Sure, but it's cash only." I pleaded with them to save him until I could get the cash. "Nope - he's a looker, he's gonna go." I have no idea why I needed that dog, but I looked at the cold receptionist and begged. It was starting to fill up with people and I was making a scene. Strangers saw my desperation and started giving me money. It was crazy. We finally convinced them to hold him with my charity deposit. Two hours and an ATM later, that dog was mine.
Did I mention I was pregnant? I wanted to name our first child Bailey if it was a boy and my husband just cringed - so when I called him at work I said, "I have good news and great news. The good news is, we have a new puppy! The great news is we don't have to name the baby Bailey - that could be the new dog's name!"
From that day on, I held that dog and loved him as if he was my first child. Fast forward eight amazing years, and I was holding him again, but this time his head was in my lap, and he was dying. I didn't know it at the time, I just thought he was acting strange and was feeling sick.
I laid with him for hours and we thought first thing in the morning we'd take him in to see what was going on. I'll never forget sitting in bed and my husband rushing in the room saying, "I think Bailey died or is dying. I'm leaving now."
I sat there paralyzed. He left. I walked slowly down the stairs and saw a pool of blood on the carpet. That's when I lost it. I started scrubbing the blood with a towel and repeating over and over again how sorry I was and to please make him better. I knew instantly when my husband came home alone, it was over.
I never quite understood what people went through when they lost a pet. Growing up, my dog was a strange little guy and not really loving to me, so although it was sad, I don't remember it being catastrophic.
Losing my Bailey was tragic. I cried every day for weeks, even months. To the point that I thought I might be crazy. I called two counselors and begged them not to laugh at me. I really thought the loss of my dog catapulted me into a depression. I was fine on the outside, but incredibly fragile on the inside. I had a number of people say, "It's just a dog."
I hated those people. I went through long spells of just being so sad.
I know this story should be telling you the magical formula for how to emerge from this major challenge, but what I learned from all of this is there isn't any one thing that is a cure. More than anything it was just time, and taking a daily step toward life and away from the sadness.
Remembering how painful that time was, it amazes me that I haven't cried for years about Bailey and now think about him with a smile on my face and wonder how annoying he would find the two dogs we have now. It doesn't mean I miss him any less, it just means I have a deeper understanding of the people I surround myself with and can give great empathy where as before this happened, maybe I could have very well been one of those jackasses that said, "It's just a dog."
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