As I held Bandit in my arms on the way to the pet funeral home, I told my parents through tears that I never wanted another dog again because I could never go through the pain of losing him again.
I cried more over Bandit than I did my own grandparents. Now that may sound terrible, but if you’ve read past posts on my blog you would be able to see how much I miss them, especially my grandpa. So you can just imagine how much my heart hurt over Bandit.
The thing about pets, is that they’re not pets.
They’re members of your own family. Not only was Bandit my baby, he was the baby of the family. He belonged to my mom, dad and brother just as much as he belonged to me. It’s because he found a way into all of our hearts, and he snuggled right up in them. Pets have their own personalities which also contributes to their place in families. If you showed me ten photographs of just eyes, I could tell you what ones belonged to Bandit, without a doubt. His eyes spoke to you. If I was crying he saw my pain. If I was laughing he saw my joy, and he joined me with these emotions. He was right by my side.
Monday, March 31, 2014 I felt my heart break. I didn’t get out of bed, stop crying or eat for three days. In those raw moments you think that nothing will ever get better; you really can’t think anything else because you’re consumed by so much raw emotion. But even in those three days, the funeral director creeped her way into my head and told me that it will get better. Deep down, I knew it would.
On the fourth day I stopped crying. But I was miserable. This is what I called my ‘bitch mode’. For about five days I didn’t smile. I didn’t care. I didn’t really want to help anyone. A part of me was numb. And I was okay with it. I needed that time because after crying so much I couldn’t just go straight back to being a caring and helpful person. I needed time now, more than ever, to be selfish.
I think I smiled for the first time on the ninth day. And it became a little easier to laugh. But I’m nowhere near over Bandit. Two days ago, Josiah took me for ice cream for the first time this season, and I started crying as I looked over and saw this little white dog eating ice cream from his owners hands. It reminded me of Bandit, and how he would inhale his ice cream. It was an unexpected breakdown in a public place, but for me, it’s better to get your emotions out. It was the ‘first’ of my ‘firsts’. You know, the ‘first birthday’ without him and ‘first Christmas’ without him. The thing that surprised me was I didn’t think I would lose it over the first ice cream without him.
Pictures really help me. I get to see his goofy face and it makes me smile.
But there are certain things that I can’t lose right now. His water and food bowl still hold their place, fully filled in our kitchen. His chain to let him outside still is connected to our front porch. I need these things. They’re silent reminders that Bandit was here and that we haven’t forgotten about him. When I sit down and think if it’s healthy to look at them everyday I find myself saying, “who cares!?” When a spouse dies does the survivor clean out their closet right away? Maybe. Maybe not. Each person does what they need to do to help them come to terms with their grief.
Fifteen days later I still miss my boy more than words can say. But I’m also in a better place than I was fifteen days ago. And in another fifteen days I’ll be that much more ahead. And in time, I’ll let another furball take a piece of my heart. Because as I look back, those fourteen years of unconditional love are something that I would never give up. Even if you told me how much pain it would cause me to lose him, I’d still choose Bandit.