…something of what people mean, when they lose someone they love and say “They still live… their love, their memory, lives inside me.”
I’ve never lost someone really close to me, so you’ll hopefully forgive me for talking this way about a dog. To make it to age 28 without losing a parent or sibling or close friend, either to age or tragedy, ranks in the category of miracles, but I have. And the mere thought of losing the few people very close to me—I’ve always kept the bulk of my social life to family and a few close friends—makes up my saddest moments. I will not compare losing an animal, even Peaches, to the loss of a human life’s presence on this earth.
Someone might say, as if in agreement, “It’s just a dog.” But I know better than that.
When I was sick, she curled up beside me on the couch. When I came home after YD trips, she crawled up in my arms and sat there so I wouldn’t go away again. When the man I loved left Washington to marry another woman and an unrelated experience left me with panic attacks and I didn’t know if I could ever trust God fully again, she was among the loyal ones whose love got me through—the one who followed me around like a little shadow and slept in the crook of my elbow.
And I can’t seem to make myself believe that she won’t come running and barking next time I visit my parents, wanting to be picked up, frenzied with welcome.
Or howl with my sister, or ride around on her shoulder. Or that Sweet Pea, Mom’s dog, won’t butt in for her share of the attention, or sit on the couch and bark at mocking cats. When Peaches got sick, Mom took the aged, frail and practically toothless Sweet Pea in too, knowing that Sweet Pea would have had a short and sad life without Peaches there. The dogs hadn’t been separated for more than a few hours in eleven years, and Sweet Pea couldn’t even handle hours well. My poor mother. Those dogs were a part of almost everything she does.
As humans, we live with loss, but we don’t forget being loved. Not completely. Not if we’re in our right minds.
Now, I’ve cried until 1:15 AM, when I know I have to go to work in the morning. And I’ll have to post this halfway through the day, so my sister doesn’t read it and wind up crying when she’s trying to answer telephones. Peaches was her dog first.
We had eleven years. And no, to the insatiable human heart, it was not enough. But it was good. And I’m still inclined to hope that dogs really do go to heaven. I can’t help myself. Love never dies.