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.