Flash has been gone 90 days now.
The past 90 days haven’t gotten easier. I think the word is familiar. The grief has gotten more familiar.
I was involved in something the other day and forgot to turn on the radio. As I was walking from my office back to the kitchen the silence hit me like a hammer.
I stopped in my tracks and felt it surround me.
I find it more difficult to deal with the silence than almost anything else. At night I’ll have the TV on in the living room and the bedroom. I’ll go exercise again. I’ll dictate. I’ll have Alexa read me a book. I’ll do something.
I look toward Flash’s spot on the floor every night when I go to bed and always close the door to my closet so he can sleep against it. He had a habit of rolling on his back to air out his nether regions.
Occasionally, I will catch myself saying something like, “So, what do you think about that, Flash?” He won’t come trotting up to me and giving me that chocolate eyed meditative look. He won’t lay his nose on my knee and make that sighing sound. I can say the word cookie aloud. I can crinkle plastic without him glancing at me in hope.
I’ve started exercising twice a day again. One of the paintings of Flash is propped up against the wall in the gym next to his treadmill. Sometimes, I even turn the treadmill on and in my mind’s eye I can see him walking beside me.
I never expected my grief for Flash to be this sharply painful. I knew I would miss him. I didn’t know it would feel like this.
Looking back on that horrible time between June 1 and July 14 I am stunned by how awful it all was. I’m a little amazed, if the truth be told, by my courage, too. I had to do what was right for Flash and it was one of the hardest damn things I’ve ever done in my entire life. Most of you know some of what I’ve gone through, so that’s a big honkin’ statement.
I’m pretty cheap, all in all. I save like a madman. Whenever I decide to do something, like get the house painted or put in a new toilet, I agonize over the expense. I pull from my savings like a miser. Yet I spent over $10,000 trying to save Flash and I didn’t bat an eyelash.
Last week I went through the nearly 1500 emails I hadn’t handled since July. I saw the chronology of my life. I had emailed myself articles that I thought might help. I went from people writing about the horrors of hermangiosarcoma to the last minute quackery that promised to keep a dog alive (and I bought some of those “cures”) to the discussions about how to know euthanasia was necessary, to treatises on how to handle guilt and grief.
It was just a horrible, horrible time.
In the past 90 days I’ve changed a bunch. Every single one of my daily habits has been altered. Maybe these changes have made a difference. I don’t know. There are times – like the silence – when his loss hits me hard.
In an attempt to focus on the present and the future, I’ve been making a list of all the things that NOT having a dog enables me to do, from being free to go anywhere at the drop of a hat to not having to worry about eating a grape or macadamia nuts or chocolate. The list is pretty long, but it doesn’t matter. I’d still trade it for Flash.
I wrote out all the things that Flash taught me. That list was shorter, but meant more. He taught me that I was capable of love for more than John, even though I thought my heart was guarded. He taught me to laugh more, to see things from another perspective, to value companionship – however it’s achieved. I liked who I was around him, loving, generous, and happy.
Those lessons have stayed with me and that’s a pretty great legacy to have left, but then Flash was a Wonder Pooch.