October 5th 2010 7:35 pm
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It's hard losing someone close. It's even harder when he's your best friend. Chance crossed the bridge almost a year ago today. It will be exactly a year the 26th of this month. It seems like just yesterday I was feeding him in the morning, patting him on the head, telling him what a good boy he was. But tomorrow morning, I'll wake up again and he won't be there. Even after almost three hundred and sixty five days it seems hard to accept the fact that my childhood friend is gone. I take it with strides, I suppose. I know that he wouldn't want me to be sad, but in the beginning, it was so hard not to be sad. He was an old dog, but eleven years just didn't seem enough. They never do seem to live long enough, do they?
I've always been told to allow myself a grieving period. I've been constantly reminded that most people go through such a period, even if they do so in different ways. I think back to when Chance passed and realize that I did, indeed, go through one myself. To be honest, I think I'm only just finishing it. The day it happened, I was in denial. I saw him, I helped bury him, I put his favorite toy in his grave with him- and yet, that entire day, I was in denial. I didn't want to believe he was gone. Through that entire week I would even get his food ready, get half way to the door, and remember that he wasn't there. I think the denial is the worst part. You don't want to believe it's true, but every day you're faced with the fact that it is. Yet, you still deny it, still choose not to believe it. I'd passed all his old things down instantly, not wanting to see them alone. I couldn't bare the thought of seeing his rope toys laying around with no dog to chew on them. I couldn't stand the thought of his blankets going unused.
A hollowing sorrow followed the denial. Once I realized he truly was gone, I was sad. I'm not even going to lie about it. Chance had grabbed a tight hold on my heart, and had squeezed even tighter in his old age. Chance and I weren't always close. I went through my adolescent phase like everyone else and I'll admit, it took me a while to mature. When I started taking care of the dogs... feeding them, walking them, bathing them, cleaning their houses and crates... Chance and I bonded once more. I remembered why we'd been best friends when I was just a child. He cared so deeply for us- his family- that he seemed willing to do anything if it meant keeping us safe. There was something wise about his deep brown eyes. Even when he was but a pup, barely one year old, there had been some wisdom in those handsome eyes. Knowing I'd never look into his eyes again was painful. I wouldn't cry in front of anyone. I wouldn't allow myself to. Looking back now, I don't know why. We were all going through it. All of us. Even my rebellious little brother made a makeshift cross for his grave the day he passed and wandered off for a while, looking just as sad as I was sure the rest of us felt. But I wouldn't cry in front of anyone. Except Sandy. Sandy comforted me through this stage of grief. She loved him, too, after all. I remember clinging to her, crying into her fur. The sorrow passed slowly. It usually does.
Months went by and then came the anger. I'm not even sure what I was angry at. We're usually not sure when we reach this point. A part of me felt like he was too young. I know how silly that seems. He was eleven. In American pit bull and bulldog years, that's pretty old. Whatever the case, I became intolerable for a couple weeks. But when the anger calmed, that sorrow returned. But it, too, calmed.
I haven't forgotten him, of course. You never do forget. But I think, I might've finally ran the course of my grieving period. I hadn't braved viewing his page for a few months, not wanting to see the wings that the kind Riley made me or the nice picture the nice Snow Angel made me. Nor did I want to hear the playlist of sad songs I'd put together. It was all too much. Finally, though, I ventured there. This time, when I looked at his pictures, it wasn't tears of sorrow I let out. It was tears of joy. Tears of joy because I was glad that he had such a wonderful life here with us. Instead of thinking about losing him, I thought about having him. I remembered all the good things. I remembered walking him down the street, watching him lay down, and having to carry him the rest of the way home. I remember watching and laughing as Sandy and him played back and fourth through the fence, tails wagging at lightning speed. I remember how happy he'd always been when he got a new blanket, how easy it had been to make him happy period. I remember him when he was just a puppy, coming out of his dog house for the first time, tail wagging, waiting for his food. I remember how he was always the dog who never stood a chance. Yet, eleven years later, he'd pulled through all his chances. The only thing Chance couldn't fight away was old age.
The sorrow is still there. I still miss him, I still long to pet his head, and I still want to give him a kiss on the nose like I used to after feeding him every afternoon. You never do forget losing a loved one. Why would you want to, though? It doesn't matter if they're flesh, furry, scaled, feathered, or otherwise, if you love someone they grab a hold of your heart, and when they pass on they don't let go. They're still there with you, still in your memory, still in your heart. You never forget them, but it does get easier. It takes longer for some of us, for me it took almost a year, but it does get easier. I'm glad I got to have Chance in my life. Never forget to give your dog a kiss good night and tell him how much you love him, because they never have enough time with us and you don't want to waste a single second. That isn't to say that you should worry about him passing. No, quite the contrary, don't think about it. Be the dog old, young, sick, or healthy... never take a single day with him for granted. Enjoy it, make the best of each moment. And when he does pass on and cross the bridge, allow yourself time to grief and then, look back on the good ol' days. When you held your best friend for the first time, when you walked him through his favorite places, when he'd cuddle close to you at night, his quirks, his kisses... and when you do remember them, I guarantee you those will be happy tears streaking your face.
In Loving Memory of Chance,
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I feel everything you are feeling. The amount of sadness I've felt since he is gone could fill a football field. I would do anything to turn back the hands of time and have him with me again if even for a day.
I know what you mean, Brutus. Even now, more than a year later, I think about him sometimes. What blessings dogs are in our lives.
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