Kinnon and I took a prophetic walk out to Diablo Lake on the last night of our Newfoundland trip. He had suffered from an undefined digestive problem before we left and we spent a great deal of time in two countries finding food that he’d eat.
Sitting at the dining room table, looking down, there’s no small red dog warming my feet and ankles. My heart sinks.
Kinnon was always a special boy. Reactive at times, and afraid of new things in his life, he could also be snuggly, especially at meal times and when sleeping in the motorhome. We enrolled him with many behaviorist over the course of his life and his response was marvelous. His last trainer was able to instill much more self-esteem, to the point of almost allowing us to groom his feet and nails.
The backyard is now empty. I count red dogs and now there are only two. I toss the ball for only one Toller. I shake my head in sadness and remember that Jamie needs an enthusiastic human.
The other word for Kinnon as refractory. Just as he would not let himself be groomed without much difficulty, he would not allow the administration of his meds. His ulcer and inflammatory bowel disease required an empty stomach, and giving pills and liquids without food was impossible from the start. He turned his nose up at the low-fat diet he needed. We did the best we could with meds and calories.
The last few days he stopped eating and then drinking water. He stopped coming up on the bed. On his last day we gathered him up, and I held him in my arms while we drove to the vet. We held him as he passed, along everyone at the clinic. I kept saying “go free” as he slipped away.
I miss him every day. The grief comes uninvited. I see him when the light is low in the morning, and then realize it’s Jamie. I look down at Kinnon’s red fur on my feet at the dining room table and recognize it’s Allie.
I want Grief to leave.
But then I realize that he hasn’t come here uninvited to do me damage. He’s come here to surprise me with a gift that I hadn’t asked for, wouldn’t say I wanted, but so desperately need.
The gift he gives me is this terrible, painful bittersweetness that reminds me just how well loved to be feeling such sadness now. This heartbreak is a monument, these tears a tribute.
That’s why Grief is here. He is the tax on loving, and the fact that I am feeling such a deficit in his presence is a celebration of how blessed I’ve been, to have someone to grieve so fully over.
– Adapted from John Pavlovitz