Friday, September 14, 2012

Missing Sirius

We brought Sirius home as a little pup in 1998. I wish I had a picture, but that was before we had a camera, or at least a digital camera and the snap-happy-ness that came with it.

That first night, I put a cozy box for him next to our bed, with a warm fuzzy blanket and some kind of rhythmic white noise to help him relax. He barked and whined, loudly and persistently, but I expected that and waited patiently. Until four hours later, with no pauses and no sign of him slowing down, when I finally gave up. I picked up his frantic, furry body and nestled him to my chest. He immediately became still and we all fell asleep, exhausted.

Thankfully, he did eventually begin to settle in. He learned to sleep on the floor of our bedroom, and even learned after a few years not to eat furnishings and stray socks while we slept. He enjoyed staying at the doggie daycare when we traveled, and even stayed a few hours at a time with friends and family.

But for much of the past fourteen years, he has been nearby whenever I've been home, watching me anytime I've moved and following me when I stepped away to do laundry or other brief task. Even when I've tiptoed quietly out of our room as he continued snoring deeply in the wee hours of the morning, it's rarely been more than about fifteen minutes until the characteristic jangle of dog tags, followed by him ambling down the hall to the living room. It seems like his nature has been to rise from deep sleep at regular intervals to count his people, and to search for the one who'd gone missing.

And throughout these fourteen years, he's trained me, too. I've become accustomed to his constant presence and aware of those rare times when he hasn't been underfoot. I've awakened at night when his breathing changed or when he meandered to the garage for water.

We said goodbye to Sirius yesterday. We were with him when he died. I held his body as the vet made a paw print in clay. I helped her lift him onto the stretcher, cover him with a blanket, and carry him to the van. I kissed him on the head one last time.

Today feels different. I find myself wandering, feeling like I've forgotten something, realizing anew that Sirius isn't getting a snack when Mark goes to work, that there isn't a need anymore to go outside periodically throughout the day. I find myself listening attentively to an unidentified noise, and realizing anew that it's just the unfamiliar sound of quietness without the dog snoring or chewing on his feet nearby.

I knew this was coming, this change in everyday experience and the ebb and flow of grief that comes with it. I knew about the sadness, the weariness, the body aches, the loss of appetite, the restlessness, the struggle to focus. Ignoring that reality doesn't "fix" it, so in the meantime I'm drinking more water and allocating more time to accomplish tasks. I am allowing myself a little extra time and space while still being intentional about re-engaging in the work I'm called to, re-engaging with people I love.

I know that I will adjust gradually to this new reality. The weary, restless muddledness begins to lift. My mind and body will begin to function more normally again. It won't all happen today, certainly, but it will happen, and I rest in hope.

And I'd like to put a finishing paragraph on this post, something to tie it together, to bring it to completion. But it feels more like a "to be continued," and I'm okay with that.

07/31/1998 - 09/13/2012


Kathleen Allison said...

Debi...I am so sincerely sorry for you loss. Losing a furry-four-legged family member is so hard ans so sad. My heart hurts for you and Mark.

Debi said...

Thank you, Kathleen.

Pat said...

So sorry to read about Sirius. I do remember him as a little pup. I am sorry for your hurting heart. Please know that I care that you lost someone you really care about.

Unknown said...

I remember some of those Sirius puppy days. He was so excited about all of life all the time and he always wanted to be with his people. I'm sorry you've lost such a faithful friend.