I’m Sorry For All The Times I Ignored You (and other thoughts on grief)

On May 20th, 2016, my best friend of eight years passed away suddenly. We were on our way to the doctor because she had some unusual blood spots popping up under her nose. Unsure of why this was happening, we walked to the office together. Usually she was totally down for the four block stroll, especially on such a beautiful day, and at first she practically dragged me along. After a few blocks, however, she began to lag behind and I became increasingly concerned.

Arriving at the doctor’s, she became more and more lethargic, not at all interested in visiting all our buds at the office like always. I started to panic, telling the tech I was really worried, and they pulled back her lips to examine her gums. Bone white. Her eyes drooped and I cradled her head in my lap, crying but trying to remain calm.

“You’re going to be okay,” I told her. The doctor came in and he had the techs put her on a stretcher and carry her into the back room. My husband was with me and tried to keep me calm as we waited what seemed forever but couldn’t have been five minutes.

The doctor re-emerged, somber. “I’m so sorry. Eevee passed away.”

It’s over two years later and writing this still makes me cry profusely. Even if it wasn’t the day before my birthday, even if it wasn’t three days before the Holiday Inn Express & Suites opened, I would still remember this day. As much as I didn’t even want to write it, I know obscuring the truth of what happened would be a disservice to Eevee, to anyone who’s felt the deep pain of loss. Eevee was a dog, sure, but I loved her more than almost any human.

The comparison I used to use to judge how much I loved someone was, “if I had Eevee in one hand and so-and-so in the other, and I had to let go of one to save the other, I’d save Eevee.” Like that scene from The Good Son (spoiler alert). Almost every time, Eevee won. Fuck the mentality that humans are somehow more important than dogs. Because she couldn’t speak English? I understood her better than most people. Because she didn’t earn income? She worked harder than most, making me happy and protecting my family. The truth is though, if you don’t understand the depth of connection between a woman and her German Shepherd however there’s no words that will explain it to you.

Grief is funny. Losing Eevee was more painful than anything I experienced as the result of my negligent father, more cutting than any abuse hurled at me by judgmental peers, more intense than any breakup or friendship ending. To this day, nothing has made me feel more fucking out of my mind with sadness than her death. She saved my life so many times. She knew more secrets than any friend. She loved me more than I could ever love her back.

Although I know it’s pointless to think things like, “I should have walked her more,” I still think it. I’ve been pretty good about not beating myself up with “what ifs” but that doesn’t mean they don’t cross my mind. What if I hadn’t gone on vacation that week? What if I wouldn’t have assumed it was her acne (yes, the dog got acne, it was comical IMO), that I spotted before we left for Colorado and took her to the vet sooner? What if we had taken the car to the vet? What if? What if? What if?

I’m grateful for a lot of things, which is where I try to keep my focus. I’m grateful that I got to raise her from a tiny, floppy eared six week old puppy. I’m grateful that we got eight years together. I’m grateful that her last day was beautiful, taking a walk to one of her favorite places (she very strangely loved the vet’s office). I’m grateful I was there for her in her final moments, that she was surrounded by people who had cared for her throughout her entire life, that she felt safe around. I’m grateful her passing was quick and hopefully relatively painless. She never cried at the end. She just drifted off, as if to sleep. I’ll never forget sobbing over her body in the back of the vet’s office, whispering, “I’m so sorry. I love you. Thank you so much for everything.”

Eevee changed my life. She taught me more than anyone other than my mother and Nicholas. She taught me to be patient, to be present. To never stop being curious. How to love so much your heart feels like it’ll burst. About how to be appreciative for every moment with someone you love. With how much I loved her, the only downside is how much I miss her every single fucking day. I think about her all the time, how much she would love the hotel we’re living in. How she’d love the long car rides to and from home. How I never took her camping because I wanted to be able to get fucked up and not worry about my dog.

Even in her absence, the memory of her continues to teach me. How to forgive myself for being selfish. How to love unabashedly. How to be so fucking appreciative for life.

Merlin, my beautiful cat who is only one month older than my marriage, crawled on my chest tonight as I was scrolling endlessly. And I remembered Eevee, how much I wish I could take back all the times I was “too busy” to pay attention to her. I put my phone down and pet him for at least twenty minutes, until he pounced off my chest and into the darkness. Because he won’t be here forever. Neither will I. And loving him is so much more important than the trash on my newsfeed.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get another dog. Maybe eventually. They truly are too good for this world. But even if I don’t, I’m so fucking glad I had Eevee. Thank you, Eevee Hammond Tuesday. Good girl.

Nicholas brushes the big furry baby. She looks onto Mom as if to say, “Why? Why me?”

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