I guess this is where I should tell you to stop reading. This post breaks my heart. You probably don’t want to read this post. And if you continue to read this post, remember, I gave you fair warning.
I remember is was cold outside. And dark. An evening in early December of 1999. My dad got lost and had to pull over to a house and ask to use the resident’s phone. This was the age before cell phones. I was nine. I was excited. I wanted to cry out in happiness.
When we finally got to our destination, it was so black outside I couldn’t see. A lady took me and my family into a back room. The first thing I remember is the smell. They have a distinct smell. I called “Here puppy, puppy, puppy!” and he came to me. I like to think that he chose me. I was in love from that moment. I was in trouble.
I named him Bandit Zock Polanski. (his middle name was actually pronounced “Jacques” I thought I was French when I was nine.) But he was mostly my Bandy Boy. My baby.
He was crazy. He was full of life. He was odd. My family thought that we had the dumbest dog in the world when he couldn’t even learn how to ‘sit’. But we soon learned that we had the smartest dog in the world when he learned how to get food off of the kitchen counter. He played us. And we fell for him. When I think of Bandit I think of the word ‘love.’ He was a passionate dog when it came to our family. He loved to cuddle and kiss. He loved to feel the warmth of your body curled up next to his. He thought he was a person. He was our little fur person. The baby of the family.
This is the post I always knew I would write and yet prayed that I never would have to. No one lives forever. No matter how much you love them. It’s been eight days without Bandit. That’s how I measure my days.
Eight days without him.
I think what I miss most is his warmth. My legs are so cold when I sleep because he’s not sleeping on me.
He was sick. But we thought he would get better, because he always had. On the way to the vet I lifted him up so his head was sticking out of the backseat window. I wanted him to feel the wind.
I held him in my arms the entire time. I never let go. My mom stood by his head, looking into his eyes.
We didn’t want him to be scared.
I never saw my dad cry before.
He went so fast. They say that they go peacefully, but it was just fast. They say it doesn’t hurt them, but how do they know? It hurt me. It still does. A piece of my heart is missing. I can’t stop crying.
Bandit died in his favorite blanket. We wanted him to smell home. We wanted him to feel safe. I wrapped his body in his blanket afterwards. The vet put him on a stretcher and I walked besides him. I am proud of myself, because I never left him. Even when I wanted to run and hide, I didn’t leave my boy, not for a second.
I kept thinking how strange it was. It was so human. Bandit, dead. Bandit’s body, on a stretcher. The vet placed him in my arms as I sat in the backseat of the car. And this time, we were on our way to the pet funeral home.
I kept kissing his head. I kept petting him. His nose was still cold and wet. I told him how much I loved him. How he was such a good boy. He needed to know how much we all loved him. I hope he knew how much we all loved him.
At the funeral home, my mom said goodbye to Bandit in the car. She didn’t want to go in. So it was just me and my dad. The funeral director took Bandit from my arms and walked into a different room. It was surreal. I was finally on the other side. I signed paperwork. I picked out an urn. And then we saw him one last time. The funeral director escorted me and my dad into a little room. Bandit was in a little doggy bed, with a different blanket wrapped around him. He looked like he was sleeping. He looked just like my baby. I kissed him again. I told him to be a good boy and watch the house, and to remember that I love him. And I asked for him to wait for me up there.
I am grateful for so many things. I’m grateful for fourteen beautiful years with my dog. I’m grateful that he taught me how to love with all my heart. I’m grateful for all the smiles he brought to my family. And I’m grateful that I could be there with him when it was time to say goodbye.
But my heart still hurts. The house is so quiet. I get up and I look for him. When I get home from work I expect him to be sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for me.
Home doesn’t feel like home without Bandit.
I know in time my heart will heal. I know sooner, rather than later, I’ll be able to laugh at the memories rather than cry. But it’s fresh. It’s grief. I need to go through it.
I sleep with Bandit’s urn in my bed. Because that was his favorite spot. He can’t keep me warm anymore, but I can keep on loving him.
I miss you baby. I’ll see you at the Rainbow Bridge.