Maybe I should have started this blog while Lily and I were on this journey together. I guess a big part of me felt the time was better spent having fun with her. And I believe I was right! But now she’s gone and the desire to chronicle her too-short life is overwhelming. Talking about her, writing about her makes me feel closer to her. The sense of loss is overwhelming at times.
The hurt is everywhere and oftentimes in places where you would least expect it. A look in the rearview mirror for a Dane perched on the backseat. A glance at an empty couch. A listen for the distinctive sound of her hopping through the house or sighing contentedly. A laugh when she hears herself or one of her brothers fart and she runs away, only to turn and look at all of us accusingly. Used green Pawz boots found on the floor of the car. A nightly ritual of helping a tripawd get into bed. A drive by Smashburger brings memories of peanut butter shakes for joyful ampuversary celebrations.
But more often the hurt is exactly where I guessed it would be. At night, when my toes peek out of the covers and I feel the chill of the air I find myself reaching to the middle of the bed to pull her blanket over her, knowing she will have rolled out of it and will be cold. I wake up in the morning and there is no “Morning Dane” laying right next to me with a big slurp for my face, a wag of the tail and some Dane-speak, presumably about how happy she is to see us and start the day. When I go to the kitchen in the morning to start breakfast for the dogs I listen for the sound of her hopping eagerly up to me when she hears me open the jar of Dasuquin chews. My feet no longer hang off the couch I have shared with a Great Dane for 9 years. My husband and I no longer playfully argue about whether Lily is “DG” (Daddy’s Girl) or “MG” (Mommy’s Girl) as Lily was prone to sometimes favor one of us with more kisses and affection over the other. We hug and there is no Lily trying to insert herself in the center of it all, our Lily Sandwich. There is no one to bark at the dogs and animals on the television and her squirrel DVD sits unwatched by her TV. The guest room bed, her “office” as we call it, sits empty with no one to watch out the window barking at neighbors who have the audacity to walk their dogs near our house. Her ball sits in the garage with no one to fetch it at the field next door. Squirrels wander around with no Lily, our inept little hunter, to chase them into trees and attempt to climb up after them. Elliott, our 14 year-old blind and deaf Standard Poodle has no guide and protector. The last cinnamon roll is right now sitting on the kitchen counter and Lily isn’t out there with her chin on the counter top talking to it, trying to coax it into her mouth. Who will graze on the lemongrass and lemon balm in the garden when spring arrives? Evening comes and the Kong’s sit in the toy basket with no one to bring them to us, sit properly, and begin insisting that one of us fill it with the most delightful treat of all, peanut butter. Oh, how many times we argued over who’s turn it was to fill the Kong! I’d take all the turns if I could just have her back with me now.
So much joy and unrestrained love and loyalty from one little Dane. When I see other people I alternate between feelings of extreme jealousy and intense sorrow….jealousy that they aren’t right now experiencing this feeling of agonizing loss. Sorrow for those same people who have never been touched by Lily and her vast capacity to love.
How long until I stop looking for her? Stop crying every day, many times per day? How long until I stop looking at Elliott and our elderly Lab, Bogart, without tinges of disappointment that it’s just them? How do we find new joy in a home where she has delivered throw-your-head-back-and-laugh-out-loud fun every single day for 9 years? As my husband has said: what did we do before Lily?