That Florence and the Machine song snuck up on me: "Happiness hit her like a train on a track," specifically. Now I'm finding myself going through the days, counting the stages of grief. Anger, denial, acceptance, bargaining, and so forth. But in no particular order. The loudest voice is the one shouting down the peevish little one that wants to argue that "She was just a dog."
Forgive me if I go on here, but I'm guessing that it may take a few more days until I can keep these thoughts to myself. I want to be strong and serene. I have lost close friends and family members before. I should be better at this by now, if only because of the sheer repetition. Why am I complaining, after all? In dog years, she was more than one hundred and twelve years old. She lapped several of her doggie friends. She lived forever.
But not forever enough for me.
It's a pretty selfish feeling, ultimately. I wanted Maddie to stick around to keep me comfortable. This does not fit in well with what my older brother correctly diagnosed as an allergic reaction to change. The way I go through the house, still, looking for the dog. Or getting halfway through the impulse to fill her water bowl before I realize that it's not necessary. Missing the sound of her clicking nails as she wandered from room to room across our wooden floors. Year and years of my life spent letting her in the front door. Opening that same door minutes later because there was one more thing she needed to check on outside.
Last week when I came home from work, Maddie met me in the front yard. She gave me a playful growl and made a dive at the rag bone that sat in front of her. For five minutes, we had a pitched tug-of-war with her digging in her hind legs trying to wrest the big knot from my hands. Then, as suddenly as this fit of play came on, we were done. She dropped her end and went to the stairs. She, and by extension we, were through playing. It was time to go inside and rest.
In my grief-twisted mind, I started to feel sad, then angry that I hadn't made more of this tug-of-war. Maybe I could have coaxed her into one more lap around the block. If there had just been more time. But the reality is what it is, and I am reminded that every minute we got to spend together was lucky. I was lucky to have a dog like her. Lucky to have my patterns and rhythms determined by the connection and care for another living creature.
My wife is going to leave Maddie's beds out on the floor for a while. Just in case she would like to leave that sunny patch on the yard and come in and fluff up one of those cedar-smelling cushions. There's no rush. We've got all the time in the world now.