The sight of her hairbrush nearly killed me.
I’d put all of her toys away before that final trip to the vet. Her ceramic dishes had been washed and packed in the garage. But I’d missed the brush that I’d used on her silky hair hours earlier. It lay on my nightstand, next to the eye drops she would never need again.
I crumpled and cried, as I have done many times since….once in a store aisle where dog toys and beds were displayed. Another time, as I admired a bolt of aqua fabric until I realized it was printed with tiny white dogs.
I loved her for 17 years – about the same age my children were when they left for college. But they came home for holidays.
She will not.
You might think the absence of a blind, deaf dog who rarely made a sound would not leave a large void in my life.
You would be wrong.
Dogs are the children who never leave us, who always are available to be loved.
That is quite a lot.
I’ve always sympathized with friends who had to euthanize their pets. (In fact, one still cannot speak of the occasion without bawling – though it happened several years ago.) My sweet friend Lynn suggested that I find the toys still bearing Dixie’s scent and breathe it in. Kind Beth confided that she carried a collar in her purse for years after her beloved pet died.
I slipped Dixie’s nametag on my bracelet and it jingles the way it once did on her collar. I take comfort in this, because it reminds me of the days when she still could run to the door and greet me.
The grief comes in waves, as I remind myself of the many blessings in my life. My children – who left long ago – are healthy, prosperous and living in faraway cities. For this, I am grateful.
But I wonder how long it will take me to heal from the loss of my youngest, four-legged one…