I have dreaded writing this update. Whoever said it gets easier with time, must not have loved and lost a dachshund, because although it has been 6 long weeks and counting, it still hurts like it was just yesterday that we said goodbye to our best canine companion, Rufus.
I have been reluctant to share publicly, because when I share here with all of you, it makes it real for me. And to be real, I’m shattered by the loss of my loyal four-legged friend.
If I’m being completely honest with you all, I have cried more than I haven’t these last 44 days. A good run for me is probably a solid two days without the waterworks, but finding two consecutive dry days this last month and a half, is pretty rare.
Worse of all, I never know what will cause the tears; one moment I’ll be fine and then the next I’m an unrecognizable blubbering mess. Sometimes it’ll be a lyric in a song or seeing another dog in an adjacent vehicle with his head hanging out the window or someone saying his name, and without warning there it is again, my eyes swell with water and tears fall down my face. I always wondered if there was a physiological limit to how much one can cry, and if there’s a limit, I certainly haven’t found it yet.
Telling our neighbors on our walks one by one has been hard on me. I often try to defer to my spouse to do the talking, while I busy myself with the girls and avoid eye contact. Visiting my favorite eateries is another struggle, and having the waitress ask, “aren’t you the dachshund guy?! Where’s your dachshund?!” Those are particularly difficult moments for me.
In addition to the when and why, I also never know where I’ll cry. It’d be wonderful if I could do it in the comfort and convenience of my home, my bedroom or my bathroom. But instead, it happens in the car many times, as onlookers wonder what’s wrong with me. But, as I look over at the passenger seat; it feels so empty and lonely without my spirited sidekick riding shotgun. I finally got the Jeep cleaned a few weeks ago, a task that was overdue, and it was heartbreaking watching them vacuum up all the Rufus hair.
I inquired about seeing a grief counselor, but when I had to answer the initial questions one must do before being assigned a call back from a counselor, I felt silly and bad about myself. Here we are still fighting to survive a global pandemic, and I’m living a very privileged life mourning my posh and pampered pooch who lived an exceptionally good life. I know there’s no reason to be embarrassed, but when they asked me questions about being depressed and if I want to do harm to myself or others, I just felt fraudulent. Like I might be taking time, attention and resources from others who might have a greater need.
I do remain productive. Maybe not as productive as I would like to be right now, but I do continue to move forward. Some simple chores are harder than others. Doing laundry and making the bed are terribly tough for me these days. Taking out warm laundry from the dryer without my handsome hound to enjoy it, seems a lot less inviting. He lived for the sound of the dryer opening, and always met me in the bedroom to help me fold, or more accurately keep me from folding. The same is true with making the bed; doing so without Rufus feels pretty pointless many days. Rufus had impeccable timing, and right after I made the bed and was putting the final pillow on it, Rufus would come climbing up the stairs just in time to lay on our king bed, as though I had made the bed specifically and entirely for him. It made me smile most days, and today it just makes me sad. It looks unfinished, even when it’s completely made, with no dog lying on top of it.
Not to be all dome and gloom, I am happy to report that I am strengthening my bond with our sweet girls, and I am planning some fun future excursions with them. I think some new adventures and making new memories will be good for all of us, but I’m not in a hurry. I think the mourning process for me is going to be slow.
My spouse and I acknowledge that I’m simply sad. Not depressed. Not destructive. Not a danger to myself or others. I’m just really sad. I’m sad that my friend is gone. I feel him with me many days and I see the world through a very Rufus filter. I cling to my photos and videos, but it’s not the same, and I miss him terribly. Can you relate friends?! Does it get easier with time? How much time I wonder.
Two main life lessons Rufus taught me were 1) Be happy. and 2) Live in the moment. Rufus was one of the happiest dogs, I ever met. His tail was constantly wagging and whether we were staying home and cuddling or out and about on another adventure; Rufus was always happy no matter where we were or what we were doing — especially if we were together. He also never dwelled on the past or worried about the future, and lived for each day. Each day was a gift and a celebration. When Rufus was sick for 4 and a half years, his happiness never waned. He was such a wonderful mentor to me, and I will continue to do my best to embody these Rufus life lessons. Especially as his birthday approaches. This Saturday, August 21st would have been his 17th birthday, and I suspect the day will be filled with many emotions and tears for me.
Wish us luck friends. I look forward to a public return at a to-be-determined Rufus memorial meetup, just as soon as we’re up for it. Stay tuned friends, and thank you for the continued love and support. 🥰✌🏼
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