I had errands to run today and work waiting, but I've set it all aside. My heart is very heavy from the loss of a dog, Darby, the beloved companion of friend Moira. I thought that news of the loss of Darby would be a little bird who dropped in then went along it's way, but this bird has come to spend the day with me. I decided to give up on trying to accomplish much of anything, and to dedicate the day to Moira and Darby.
The loss of Darby has enabled me to feel again that deep gash in the heart that one experiences at the loss of a dog. I know exactly what Moira is feeling right now. I can see Darby, hear the little pitter patter of her toenails, her breathing, her sighing. I know those companions of deep loss and grief:
To know that you will never hear those sounds again.
The hole in the chest when you encounter the empty bowl no longer needed, or dog hair under the sofa pillows, the smudges on the car window. How you never want to clean those things that remain as evidence of her life.
Moments of forgetting that your close companion is gone and expecting some part of your everyday routine to be on schedule, then remembering that it's no longer necessary.
The acknowledgement that an era in your life is over- the Darby era: the era of youthfulness, working for Kevin Costner, changing jobs, moving, starting a dog art blog, living the rural life, going on countless adventures.
The feeling that this pain will never go away.
Dogs become markers for our lives, and we grieve for the absence of the living/breathing being that shared so much with us. We also grieve for the end of those years, fully over and now marked by the dog's departure. Dogs don't let us maintain the illusion that things won't change, that life is a continuum without endings. Dogs force us to experience that gigantic truth- that everything changes, and we will eventually lose all that we hold dear including finally, our own lives. It's a harsh truth, we spend most of our lives avoiding it, protecting against it, or even closing our hearts so that the loss won't be so severe. Dogs make us look this truth right in the face and open our hearts to loving without restraint. They continue to give to us even after they are gone. It truly is no wonder that Dog is God spelled backwards. I consider them one of the greatest gifts of all.
Rest in peace Darby. Experience peace Moira.
To read Moira's writing about the loss of Darby, go to her blog, Dog Art Today.