I was going to pretend to write a post about naps. Riveting, I know. (It still might happen, don’t you worry nap enthusiasts.) But the nap content was just going to be a guise to somehow segue into talking about Har, again. Because I’m still just… well missing him so much.
It’s obviously not as raw as it was the first week, but I won’t deny I can’t shake the homesick feeling. You know that feeling you get when you’ve been away from home too long and you just can’t wait to get back to your own bed, and your routines, and all of the little things that make you feel safe and happy and content? Well, I can’t seem to get back to that feeling. It’s like I’m in a constant state of searching, a constant state of teetering on the edge of always feeling anxious and like something is missing.
I joked that Har was never a therapy dog (I only took him places where all dogs were allowed, he had no special badge.) I mean, he was known to throw tantrums in public places for God’s sake, a therapy dog he was not. Except… except he was. Har was always who I turned to when things felt overwhelming. When the emails were too much, or the DMs turned mean, I’d take off the wigs, put my phone away, and look for Har.
“I can’t right now,” I’d tell him.
“Me neither,” he’d respond. “Perhaps we just lay on the couch together and watch bad TV?”
It was the best.
And this is where I sigh and remind myself to live in the moment and not let the thoughts get the best of me. Because I do really okay when I just live and *try* to accept what is. It’s the damn thoughts that get the best of me. “You know you never get to see him again, right?” YES I DO, THANK YOU, MIND. Your boy, never, ever, again.
So I get out and take Birdie on a walk. And right now we’re trying to find new paths that don’t remind of us Har. We go to a park and she loves the slide and it’s the best watching her face light up. See, we have good moments. I’m not just walking around depressed all day. Joy and grief can and do coexist, I remind myself. Even though it can sometimes feel like grief shames joy for coming along, I know it’s important to let it in. It’s crucial, really.
The moments with Birdie are good ones. (Except when she doesn’t do naps. Or when she pulls my hair. Sticks her fingers up my nose, scratches my chin… etc, etc.)
When we get home from the park I take off my jacket, reach in my pockets for Birdie’s millions of toys that might be inside, and I find a receipt. Don’t do it, I tell myself. It doesn’t matter. Don’t do it. But I do it.
I look for the date on the receipt. It’s this weird thing I’ve started doing. I’m trying to find out if the version of me who had the receipt still had Har or not. This one is from the Ace Hardware by our house, it’s from late April. I still had Har. I remember it was a hot day for April and once we got inside he sprawled out in an aisle, his belly cooling on the cold floor.
I don’t know why I do this. Why I look for a timestamp to the past, as if I’m trying to live in a little window that has already come and gone via a tiny piece of fading receipt paper. But then again of course I know why. It’s because the person who casually slipped that receipt in their pocket still got to run errands with their boy and not feel his nagging absence every single day.
So that’s where I am right now. I’m also at the point where I know this is post number four about Harlow, he’s been gone almost six weeks now, and at what point do I stop writing about missing him? At what point do I take a deep breath and move on? I guess I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’ve learned there is no “other side” to grief. There’s no “pushing through,” to another place where you are magically better. I know this thanks to a pet loss support group I’m in (don’t act surprised.) I also know that writing and sharing seems to help, so I’m selfishly going to keep doing it until I stop trying to time travel via garbage found in old jean jackets…
I’ve been asked a lot if we’ll get another dog. And of course we will. We are dog people. Our home is so lonely without the pitter patter of paws. Without the droplets of water everywhere. Without the wagging tail and toy-in-mouth greeting us upon our arrival.
But when I think about getting another dog my muscles tighten and the space between my heart and throat fills with something I can’t explain. Something I have to exhale as soon as it arrives or it makes me feel a little claustrophobic. Because I don’t want another dog, I think. I just want Harlow.
And here comes another sigh.
You know, I tried really hard to not make this a downer post. Or I thought about trying. I half-assed it, let’s be honest. I knew I should have written about naps. Next time. Hopefully.