It’s difficult to believe that a year has passed already. Even though I can still feel your gentle presence– *constantly* in my heart as I go about my busy days– it has been one year since I’ve nuzzled my face into your soft fur;
one year since I’ve lounged beside you on the floor in a sunbeam, stroking your ears and listening to you breathe;
one year since we’ve gone exploring some boulder-strewn trail together;
one year since you’ve dragged our asses down some grassy hillside, bounding ahead of us and then looking back up to make sure that we were still hot on your tail;
one year since you’ve greeted us excitedly at your door, smiling and fetching us your stuffed bear or squirrel to play with;
one year since you’ve pulled all the stuffing out of one toy or another;
one year since we’ve seen your snout on the windowsill, watching us drive away until our next visit;
one year since you’ve woken me up with the soft jingle of your collar;
one year since you’ve tried to get away with sleeping on the couch;
one year since we’ve fed you your favourite vegetables with dinner– yams and broccoli;
one year since you’ve propped your exhausted head up in our van after a hike– so tired but never wanting to close your eyes in our company if you could help it;
one year since we’ve offered you a peanut butter-flavoured dog biscuit, even though we still find them in our jacket pockets to this day;
one year since we’ve played together on the beach– with you running back and forth, back and forth, back and forth between Marty and I;
one year since you’ve chased squirrels and chipmunks in Uplands Park;
one year since you’ve kept Marty company on the sunny deck while he worked on drawings or paintings;
one year since we’ve caught you eavesdropping on our conversations about you– you would just avert your guilty eyes and pretend to be concentrating on something else;
one year since we’ve been together as a big, extended family: you, your ‘real’ owner, me, and Marty (your eternal man crush).
I miss you dearly, Robertina. Losing you last year brought a sharp sting into my heart, but it was an incredible honour to be allowed in your presence when you crossed over to the other side. I am still eternally grateful for that. Saying goodbye to you was an amazingly, unfathomably difficult thing to do. I didn’t even think I would be able to do it, because you– more so than anybody, in a different way than everybody– were a great friend to me. Never before had I lost somebody so close and special to me.
Marty and I cried together for what felt like hours… weeks… months after your death without stopping. We couldn’t imagine our lives without your unconditional friendship and companionship. We didn’t want to move on without you, and we actively resisted the cliched efforts of time to “heal our wounds”. (Time can be such a jerk!) Naturally, we hadn’t wanted you to suffer with your cancers and arthritis at all, yet we still wept greedily and wished that we would have had more time with you. Life seemed unfair without you in it.
The first few hikes without you after your death brought back pangs of sadness. Gradually, though, those painful shards were tempered with the gentle waves of happy memories with you. We’d remember the time you dragged me through the mud and brought me crashing into a tree while you were chasing a squirrel at high speed, and we couldn’t help but smile at your silliness. We’d recall you rolling in seal crap or something equally foul on the beaches, trying to disguise your dog scent, and soon we’d be sharing animated stories about you together.
It has been a while since I have openly cried at the thought or mention of you. That said, this First Anniversary brings me right back into the realm of missing you, missing your friendship, missing your personality, and missing your love. Yes, I am misty-eyed right now (if by ‘misty-eyed’ we mean that I am weeping uncontrollably like a schoolgirl.) I just miss you, dear pup, but I cherish the time we did have together deeply. Words feel awkward and stilted in my mouth and heart right now, so I’ll end this letter with a simple thank you: Thank you for your love and friendship, Robertina. I love you and I miss you.