Oliver the Wonderdog

So it’s been a really, really rough week. Physically, I’m exhausted. But that’s nothing compared to my mental and emotional exhaustion. This next month is going to be INSANE, next semester is shaping up to be even INSANE-er, and, the suckfest cherry on top –

Oliver died today.

For those of you who didn’t know Oliver, he was pretty much the best dog in the entire world – the dog my dad and sister brought home when I was in the seventh grade. The dog that let me hug him for an hour straight when I was fourteen and my anxiety wouldn’t let me go to school. The dog that snuck out of his designated sleeping space to curl up to me as I read by the fire on my vacations home from college. The dog that slept next to me when I’d seen a scary movie and didn’t want to sleep alone.

He was almost twelve and very sick, old and arthritic. But he still got up to greet me every time I walked in the door. It hurt him to move, but he still followed my sisters and I around the house.

I tip my hat to my sister, who knew he was in pain and had the courage to make the appointment with the vet.  I couldn’t do it.

The weird thing is, even though I now accept that releasing him from his painful, old body and letting him go back to God’s breath was the right thing to do, I cannot stop crying.

Spontaneous ugly cries. All day long. All week long. Especially today.

I walked up to my parent’s house. He walked up to the door, tail wagging, ball in his mouth.

I sat on the floor, and he curled up next to me. For an hour and a half, I held him and cried.

Then my mom and I walked him out to put him in the car. Rachel pulled up and did a U-turn at the end of the street, and he ran after her, limping. So excited to see her, even today. Even while he was in so much pain. We helped him into the car, and my mom and Rachel drove off.

It is so weird to experience something with a panicky, greedy need to commit it all to memory. As I looked him in the eyes as he rested his head on my lap, I knew it would be the last time I would get the chance.

I managed to stop crying until my mom and Rachel came back. They were crying, and Oliver wasn’t with them. Somehow, I part of me had convinced myself that the vet would tell them that Oliver was fine and they’d bring him back home. But he didn’t come back home. The tears came then, and they haven’t really stopped. Especially when I saw his collar lying on the table next to my car keys. And when I walked to my car and saw the tennis ball that he’d carried outside resting next to my tire.

I’ve never been kicked in the chest like this before. I’ve never felt this level of grief. And I don’t know what to do with myself. How do people recover from losing someone? I want to reach out and scratch his head, but I can’t. And as long as I’m flesh, I will never be able to again. Those thoughts go through my mind, and my chest hurts. I re-read the words “Oliver died”, and it feels like nothing makes sense.

How blessed am I that this is the first time I’ve felt this? I’m twenty-four and this is the first time I’ve known grief. I feel like the weird adult that goes roller-skating for the first time at a roller rink filled with kids and can’t manage to stay on their feet and everyone around is thinking What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be over this, already? 

It’s like – shouldn’t I know how to handle this by now?

But I don’t. I have no idea. I don’t know when I’ll stop crying, and I don’t know when I’ll feel like I can handle life again. I don’t want to go to New York. I don’t want to take on the world. I want to curl up with old pictures, press “play” on every mental recording from today, and cry.

Today, Kick Ass Fall won. Today, I’m not strong. No GIFs, no jokes, no motivational speeches. No adult perspective.

Just a tear-stained young rookie still reeling from a side of life I’ve never seen before.

 

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