Thanks to all of you who commented or emailed condolences about Bear (see previous post). I really appreciate it.
It's been harder than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be hard. I miss my Booboo! Sometimes it's just a sad ache. Sometimes its a big empty hole as if something has been ripped out of my flesh, and it hurts intensely, and there's nothing that will make it better but time.
He was so much a part of my life. When I get up in the morning, I no longer need to check the floor to be sure I don't step on him. And as I get out of bed I realize that no dog is going to come jauntily in to say good morning, and that no matter how thoroughly I search the house, I will not find him.
Yesterday it was finding his stuffed raccoon and hedgehog in one of his many beds that set the tears flowing. And later, finding his doggy coat lying on the washing machine. Today I opened the cabinet and stumbled across his pill box, emptied up to the point he didn't need his pills any more. I wept as I threw them down the toilet. And wept again later, when I had to vaccuum and there was nobody to look out for, no dog to have to stand back and let escape from the corner into which he'd gotten himself in his effort to avoid the thing...
Twelve years of close living makes for a lot of connections and memories. It's hard when that relationship is cut off. I don't think it's a lot different from losing a person, depending on the degree of intimacy and the length of time involved. Hard. Painful.
But not lasting. I know that. And I've seen how much the pain depends on the thoughts I have and how much I indulge them. I can't avoid the things that set them off -- like the raccoon, or the pillbox, or going outside to hang up laundry and he's not there trotting along with me -- but those memories and thoughts can lead to others and to others and I could spend a long time wallowing.
I haven't been. Because I always come back to the fact that he was a gift from God. And while I may have lost the gift, I still have the Giver. In fact, yesterday I was reminded that Bear was something I had prayed for twelve and a half years ago. Several years before that, my husband had brought home a really horrible dog, a German short-haired pointer with serious personality problems. Of course, my husband didn't know that when he got him, but we discovered it soon enough. The dog didn't like women and would growl and snarl at me for no apparent reason. He scared me to death and actually trapped me in the backyard once, snarling and baring his teeth at me. I threw a Tonka truck at him and escaped, then didn't want to go into the backyard again. We finally got rid of him, and I was ready to have no dog ever again. But my husband couldn't imagine life without a dog, and brought home a Walker hound puppy, destined to weigh 100 pounds as an adult who ended up at six months old having no hip sockets. We had to put him to sleep, but just before that he also had begun to be aggressive with me.
After his death, I started praying that the Lord would send us the right dog. The perfect dog. And when Stu heard about a litter of redbone coonhounds and went up to Phoenix to see them, I prayed earnestly that God would lead him to bring home the one we were to have, or none of them if none were right. He came home with Bear.
I'd forgotten that until the last couple of days when I was going through all the things I loved about Bear and seeing how perfect he was for me. For both of us. Realizing he was an answer to my request -- an answer that exceeded my wildest imagination -- made him even more special. More than that, it made me realize that the one who gave him to us, who chose him specifically for us, could easily do it again. The blessing was immense, but all blessings have their season. There is a time to rejoice and a time to mourn. We mourn now, but I have no doubt that the time to rejoice is waiting up ahead.
Not surprisingly, I lost a day and half's worth of writing because of Bear's death, and have been (obviously!) distracted from time to time ever since. Even so I've managed to reach chapter 23 of Maddie's sequence (I was previously doing just Abramm's). I'm two days behind on my scheduled assignments which means I have six chapters to edit/fix today to bring me up to date. That's not likely to happen. I'm hoping to finish 4 chapters, though I'll be happy with 3 -- which would at least not put me any further behind. Word count actually dropped below 190k yesterday, but added development of some pretty sparse scenes since has brought it back up to 191,337.