I want to get back to recipes ASAP, but to be honest, food feels boring and meaningless to me right now. I haven’t had much of an appetite since we lost Neil.
My boyfriend (now husband) and I adopted Neil seven years ago when he was three months old. He was a stray found on the streets of Chicago, and we were determined to give him the best life possible.
From that day onward, Neily was by my side through it all. During grad school exams. Our wedding (he was the ring bearer, obviously—see photo above). The move to Colorado. Our first house…Just so many milestones.
Of course, he was there for all the less happy moments, too. Those were the times he helped me more than anyone could ever know.
After his death (I still hate that word but I can’t deny what happened), I had an overwhelming urge to share on social media like I’ve never felt before.
But even still, for a brief second, I paused before hitting publish on the post.
“People are going to think I’m crazy for feeling this distraught over a dog.”
But (for what is maybe the first time ever in my life), I didn’t care what other people thought. I refused to feel shame over the depth of my love. Lesson number one.
Sharing my raw, unfiltered emotions felt like I was saying, “here, please take some of this grief from me. I cannot bear all of the weight on my own.”
When the messages started coming in, I knew right away you understood.
I can’t tell you how much your thoughts mean to me.
Vulnerability helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. Lesson number two.
So I gratefully accepted everyone’s prayers for comfort—even though I wasn’t really sure if anything would come of them beyond the sense of togetherness I felt from the words.
Okay, if I’m really being honest, at one point, I got angry.
“Where the f**k is my COMFORT, universe? Aren’t enough people trying to send it my way?”
But it’s here.
There is comfort in last night’s cotton candy sunset, the fluttery aspen leaves, my husband’s kindness, and the way our younger dog, Levon, rests his head on my arm.
It’s been 24 hours since the shock of learning about Neil’s tumor and the few painful minutes we had together afterward.
24 hours since I held my boy and told him how much he was loved before he slipped away.
The sadness is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
I break down into tears constantly, but then I come back to the present moment and find comfort there waiting for me. Lesson number three.
When it comes to the past, I’m striving to remember the good times.
How Neil played with his bff, Kaya, for 8 hours straight (and then crashed harder than anyone you’ve ever seen) when he was a puppy. The way he ran like no tomorrow whenever we took him to the beach. How he smiled when he was outside in the sun and just generally enjoying life.
I’m still raw and wounded, so these memories are sources of both solace and grief for me. They are bittersweet.
So this is me right now.
I don’t know if these words matter to anyone other than me. I don’t really care. Writing about and remembering Neil is the only thing that feels okay right now.
I think it’s easy to feel misunderstood over the loss of an animal (especially from friends who don’t have fur babes of their own).
I’d love if my words could help someone who’s going through the same thing.
If that’s you, I want you to know I see you.
Your feelings are real and they are valid.
As a kind friend shared with me earlier today, “our dogs are more than family, they are our heart and soul.”