|Callie on the morning we took her to the vet for the last time|
The former is obvious--we miss our dog. The latter is more subtle. Opening up a cookie container or cereal box, I protectively do so far back on the counter, not up in the air where I might spill anything. I still expect Callie to come running. That was her m.o. -- at the sound of a container opening she'd come running so fast that anything in her reach or leap could be in danger of being stolen right from your hands. She still did when she first got sick, but not at the end. (See more about our life and love of Callie at :" First, The Sad and Bad News").
Now, I have to sweep up any morsels I drop and there's no imploring fuzzy black face watching from inches away, hoping I'll drop something. And now I know just how slobby my own kids are as they drop food and there's nobody there to lick it right up. I wonder how long it will be before I stop expecting Callie to run up when I open the cookies. It used to annoy me to no end, and now I wish for it.
Then there were the mornings. Until the last week of her life, she'd be waiting, tail wagging, at the bottom of the stairs for the first human to come down to feed her. Saturday and Sunday mornings, she waited for me, especially. We'd take our long walks, to wherever she wanted, and take our time coming back to the house where chaos was sure to be unfolding as my two kids woke up and demanded to be fed. I find I miss that time nearly as much as I miss Callie.
Then there were the evenings. Especially Friday evenings. I try to pick the kids up a little earlier than usual and we head to the local pizza place where the owner waits on us and my daughter runs across the small restaurant to give her a hug. It's our tradition. But before we could go get our pizza, we'd have to walk Callie.
This past Friday night, I was halfway home from getting the first kid when I realized we didn't have to go home to walk Callie. So you'd think that I would realize that she wasn't there anymore when, later, I packed up our remaining slices of pizza at the restaurant and threw in the crusts, like always. Nobody in the family likes the crusts, except for my son. But even he saved his crusts for Callie, who liked almost nothing better than pizza crusts or cheese.
When I got home and opened the box, I felt such a real sense of loss, not just for Callie but for the way we do things at my house. "Now what do I do with my pizza crusts," I asked myself out loud, with nobody in particular to hear me.
We've put away Callie's toys and her comfy dog bed and her dog bowls. But as I've learned, you can put stuff away and you can get on with your daily life, but the comforts of routine fade a lot more slowly when any loss is involved. The day after Callie passed away, our neighbor asked my son if we were going to get a new dog. His reply: Not until we stop missing Callie.
I thought of that as I stared at the pizza crusts and started to scold myself for getting upset about something as silly as unwanted dough. We'll probably miss Callie for a long while. Not with the same severity every day, but always there somewhere. And that's okay.
My one regret: Not buying Callie her very own pizza slice before we took her to the vet for the last time... crust, cheese, sauce and all. I hope she's getting all the pizza she wants out there somewhere!