It’s been a year now since Tigger (my dog) left me and went to the Great Dog Biscuit Factory in the sky. He would have been 16 now.
Looking back at that time, for a short time, it was crippling emotionally.
He was an extension of my personality. He was a part of me.
Today? Yeah. It still hurts on occasion. But it was an intense grief then. Now it is just a lingering occasional pain.
I guess it is natural. And in my own head I have resolved it wasn’t silly, crazy, or overly sentimental to feel so strongly at that time. He was a significant and constant part of life. He was a huge source of comfort and companionship, of unconditional love and acceptance, of fun and joy … if not maddening sometimes.
In his death I truly did learn how important he was to me.
And I did learn that people who don’t understand the pet/owner bond do not understand the pain.
I did learn that locking away grief doesn’t make it go away.
I did learn to not avoid grief by not thinking about him but instead I reminisced about the good times.
I also learned some things that I didn’t really pay attention to when Tigger was alive.
I learned that coming home was a major event … no matter how long I was away. I had become so used to anticipating Tigger’s welcome when I arrived that coming home was something to look forward to (even though I didn’t consciously think of it).
But now it is insanely silent.
I learned that coming home is no longer a major event.
I no longer experience that special sense of anticipation, heightened awareness and unbelievable greeting when I put the key in the lock and open the door.
All that said.
Suffice it to say the death of a beloved pet is traumatic. I certainly recognize Tigger’s death was.
He was family.
He was my best friend.
He filled a big space my life.
I would like to think wherever he is that he is young and rambunctious and tigger-bouncy and chasing sticks and endlessly running with other border collies.
I would also like to think one day he will hear a “tigga-boo” and he will stop whatever he is doing.
And there will be that one moment of stillness when the body is solidly motionless and head up alert and the brown eyes are unblinking and the tail wags once or twice as he spots me coming over the hill. And he will sprint as only border collies do and my good friend and I will finally meet again.
I know I am not done grieving for my old buddy.
It’s taken me awhile but I have learned to accept my feelings. It still feels a little odd because you would think a pet should be somehow insignificant or less important than the death of a loved one. And, yes, a dog cannot be compared in any way to a human. But it doesn’t make the deep grief and the profound sense of loss any less.
It is what it is. And certainly not trivial. And certainly not done in my head yet.
I do know I still look for him on occasion.
I do know I have had some troubled moments (just those random things that life throws at you at times) where the empty space beside me feels as big as the grand canyon.
I do know I haven’t said goodbye yet.
And even when I do reach that point … just a quick note to my buddy … “Tigger, look for me one day, I will come home and we can be together.”
and to close this.
just a short note written by someone that seemed appropriate today.
A POEM FOR THE GRIEVING
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.
NOTE: This is most commonly attributed to a Mary Frye (and believed to have been written around 1932); however, nothing is known of the author.