In life, there is loss. It is painful and it is at times, grossly unfair as some experience great loss while others experience very little. It’s just the way it is.
And if I’m to be honest, thoughts of unfairness hijack my thoughts as of late, there has been many losses, in many forms.
But please understand I’m not writing this from a ‘poor me’ or self-absorbed perspective, quite the contrary. I’m writing this because I find writing to be therapeutic and consoling. I guess in some ways it’s my own personal therapy session. Tapping words onto a screen seems to somehow ease my grief as I discovered the hard way that internalising pain is not conducive to the healing process.
Many years ago I experienced immense loss and rather than express my grief, I internalised it. I wept in private, I didn’t speak of my grief, rather, I spoke of Meg’s death in clinical phrases. I could explain in detail the intricacies of her heart defects and the consequential operations. If you asked, I would tell you. Yet if you asked how I felt, the wall would immediately build. Feelings were off limits.
After keeping my true grief private for 16 years, a small issue sent me spiralling into a breakdown, which thankfully forced formal counselling. From that, I now know internalising grief or pain is detrimental and if you can find a way to unburden if you will, only good things can result.
So I write. And now, I write about the despair and all consuming grief at having lost again, and this time he was one of my best friends and my soulmate.
There are many who may baulk at that last sentence, for my best friend and soulmate was a dog. But to me Oscar aka Bear Dog was my best friend and my soulmate, and his loss is immeasurable for me. And this grief I feel is real, it is intense and at times, it hurts so much, and is comparable to the loss of Meg. That may be hard for some to understand, but that’s okay. Views differ and always will.
But Oscar’s loss has truly broken me.
The following words were written a few days after Oscar’s spinal surgery. I believe a part of me knew I was losing my friend. I tried to fight the negative feelings. I tried to tell myself that he would not be in that 5% who would succumb to myelomalacia, following Grade 5 IVDD, but like Meg, I somehow knew. I knew goodbye was looming on the horizon. I didn’t want to say goodbye, but in my heart, I knew goodbye was coming. And it did.
For Bear Dog
Your morning ritual of waking, shuffling over to the carpet, having a big shake which made your collar jingle, then you’d roll for ages and make your bear sounds: ah kar kar, before leaping onto the bed, and onto me and showering me with your unique ‘chin chews’.
At breakfast you’d always come into the kitchen and make more Bear noises, voicing your impatience at the time it took for me to make your breakfast. They were unique and so you. Arhharhhh
After eating you’d walk around and check the other bowls, then often you’d go onto the verandah and look at what was happening on the street.
You’d shuffle over to the bean bag and make a leap, it would take a few shuffles before you got your spot. Then you’d sit like a human and look sideways at me with those beautiful, brown eyes.
The moment I sat down on the couch with my coffee, you’d rush over and ask for help to get on the couch. You would sometimes do little half jumps and your front paws would tap, tap tap on the floor. Once up, you’d often snort at me if I’m in your way, or if I am in the ‘best’ spot. Yet you always, always would sit directly beside me. I could always feel your gentle breath against my leg.
You would come into the bathroom, peer around the door, see me in the bath/shower and give a short, loud snort before leaving. As if you’re saying pffff, guess I’ll go out here.
You would sit like a human in the front seat of the car, and the joy you’d get from having the window down was pure bliss. If I put it up, you’d shuffle and the turn your head to look at me and give me the white eye, downward look.
The soccer fields was one of your favourite places, besides the car. All I’d have to say is run and run and run and run… and you’d run, then you’d find the best place to roll. The cricket pitch with its fake grass was a favourite. But if you’d find bird or kangaroo poo, that was the best place for a roll.
You’d always want me to share my breakfast, that was a given. None of the others do, just you.
Down in the backyard you’d always help Stanley search for lizards, then if you got bored with that, you’d find a good digging spot for eating dirt. If I pulled out the piece of shade cloth, you’d run over, step on it and try to bite it as I pulled you along. When I stopped pulling, you’d roll and roll; the look of joy on your beautiful face was priceless. It was one of your favourite games.
If I mentioned the car, your ears would prick up and you’d start your Bear noises, and if I put my runners on, well that that was pure bliss and signalled more intensive Bear noises.
You are the one who loved cuddles the most, and I loved running my fingers through your shoulder hair, it was so full and fluffy. And you loved your head being scratched and if you wanted more, you’d raise your front paw, look at me with those eyes and head cast downward and demand more pats.
You had a funny way of eating. You would curl your neck, so your ears flopped forward, then you’d sniff, walk around the other side, sniff again, then begin eating. Your way of drinking was unique, I always knew it was you drinking even if I couldn’t see. There was a rhythm, lop lop, – lop lop lop, – lop lop.
You were and still are one of my greatest loves Bear Dog. You are my bubba, my Bear, my best friend.
Oh Bear, I’m broken, truly broken.
My Bear Bear, I love you so much and I will miss you forever…