Gone, But Not Forgotten

My house is quiet.  Too quiet.  Yeah, I know, the kids are back in school, I should be embracing the calm after the summer storm.  But I’m not talking about the peaceful bliss the return of the school bus brings.  I’m talking about a hollow, empty feeling that’s brought on by loss.

My faithful writing companion—my dog, Jetta—is gone.

            Not that she made all that much noise during the day.  Outside of the scratch of her nails on the hardwood floors, the harrumph of her laying her big body down somewhere, or the whimper or bark uttered during a bad dream, Jetta was the strong, silent type, letting her eyes and her tail do the talking.  But I always knew she was there.

She’d follow me from room to room, listening to my mumblings and musing, panting at my jokes.  Somehow, she could sense when I was struggling and frustrated, offering her head for a pat and a nudge when I most needed it.  Best of all, she was a fabulous alarm clock, reminding me with a head butt to the thigh when it was time to meet the bus or have dinner.  Seriously, she must have had a switch inside alerting her to dinner time because, like an alcoholic barfly, she NEVER missed five o’clock.

Now, it’s just me rattling around the house all day.

My heart still breaks each morning when I get up and don’t trip over her lying in wait in front of my bedroom door—and she’s been gone nearly two months.  When I sit down to write, I nearly suffocate under the heavy silence of my own company. And, don’t tell my family this, but I’m not really great company.  I’ve tried turning on music or the television, but both are too distracting.

I’m not putting this out there as an excuse for not meeting deadlines, because I will meet them.  I’m just surprised at how deep the ache is still.  When my daughter arrives home from school each day, we’re both a little flummoxed.  Her homecoming was always greeted with a big, furry hug–mostly because Jetta knew she was an hour away from dinner!  And now, without the fanfare, it’s anticlimactic.  Just crazy Mom waiting beside the door.

I don’t regret the decision we made regarding Jetta.  It was time.  The cancer had spread so that she was gargling her food and walking into walls.   The hard part was, she was still wagging her tail whenever anyone came near, happy to nuzzle her head under any hand willing to pet her.  That’s the way I wanted to remember her.  But now I’m left with silence.

Everyone says we should get another dog—if not a puppy, maybe a rescue.  But I don’t want another dog.  I want Jetta.  And she’s not coming back.  Yes, I know, she was only a dog.  It would be a lot harder to lose a child, a spouse or a parent.  But with the loss of a loved one, you expect a depth of pain.  I didn’t expect to feel the same staggering emotions about losing my pet.

For now, I’ll just have to content to myself with a photo or two.  And, maybe a few tumbleweeds of dog fur hiding behind the sofa amongst the pine needles of Christmas trees past.  If that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll get a fish.

Jetta 2000-2013


About Tracy Solheim

Best-selling author of the Out of Bounds series--sexy, contemporary sports romance novels. See what she's up to at www.tracysolheim.com.

Posted on August 23, 2013, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Susan Stringham

    Tearing on the way to work…I know the feeling, the emptiness. There are still times when I feel it over the loss of Rosie after 3 years without her (and I hate to admit vis a vis my lack of housekeeping skills, that I’ll still find an occasional fur remnant beneath an unmoved piece of furniture). However, over time I’ve found that the happy memories (and chuckles over finding a forgotten toddler toy with Rosie chew marks) are filling that emptiness. Hang in and in time please consider a new dog, not as Jetta’s replacement, but as a way for you to “pay it forward” and give a new family member the opportunity to revel in the joy of being a Solheim.

    • You’re too sweet, Susan. The dogs of Washingtonian Woods Sorority Dog Walkers are slowly leaving us now. I know it’s that “time” and they’re all enjoying being together again and that gives me comfort. 🙂

  2. Nobody loves you like a Lab, and our Molly has a 5 o’clock stomach too 🙂 Big hugs, my friend for reminding us how much the Jetta’s of the world make our lives better.

  3. margaret manos

    Such a beautiful piece. May Jetta’s memory be eternal.

  4. Oh, Tracy, I know your pain a little too well. It really hit hard once school started, didn’t it? There will never be a replacement for Jetta (or Sparx). Just don’t know what to do now:(

  5. Hugs to you, Tracy. Even though I don’t have any animals in my household, I understand how close people get to their family pets. So you still need to go through the grieving process, which it sounds like you’re doing. Jetta is up in doggy heaven, romping with the other dogs who have passed on, and even though all of her aches and cancer are gone, I know she’s missing you as much as you’re missing her. Take care of yourself.

  6. I wrote a long post and it said I can’t have it posted.

  7. Okay, so NOW it posts it. This site has been giving me trouble and I’m taking it personally because I’m a part of Women Unplugged. Geesh! What I had tried to post originally was that I totally “get you”, Tracy. I’ve had to put three pupsters to sleep and it never gets easier and is one of the most awful things I’ve ever had to do in my life. Because we always have two dogs, when one passes on we get another one to keep the one left alone company, so that eases the pain a bit. But nothing makes it go away. I’m so sorry.

  8. Dogs are incredible, and it sounds like Jetta was no exception. I’m so sorry, Tracy.

  9. I know you miss her and I understand your pain. She is now pain free and running wild in Heaven and keeping an eye on you as usual. Getting a new dog is not a replacement, but giving love to another animal who needs it. Hugs and prayers. Your next best friend is out there waiting…

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