Yesterday was a doozie.
I think I cried off and on for at least 10 hours before falling asleep. So far today has been a little bit better, as I have only teared up a couple of times. Of course, it helped that my husband got up and fed the dogs -- staring at 5 bowls and only 4 dogs would've killed me, and then opening the cupboard to find a whole container full of Summer's prescription diet dog food staring me in the face would've done me in for sure. He wanted to throw it out, but man, that stuff is EXPENSIVE, and Minnie Pearl sure looks like she could stand to go on a diet for a while, so we're going to use it all up eventually. The other 4 used to fight over her food all the time while she would try and eat their food instead -- no one was happy with what was in their own bowl -- so maybe now I will give them all a little every day until it is used up.
Today is already too quiet. Not that she was a loud dog -- she wasn't -- but I consistently heard the thump-thump-thumping of her happy tail on the floor. And she had recently taken to following me into every single room I would go into around the house. A big orange shadow of sorts, one that I keep looking for today.
And Mazi, poor Mazi. I can tell she is upset. I can't hardly stand to look into her eyes, but I am trying to love on her every second I can.
We talked a lot last night about it, my husband and I, and I think I know why this hit me so hard. Out of the 5 dogs, Summer was the sweetest, nicest, and most unconditionally loving of them all, not a malicious bone in her body. For me, that just makes it all the harder that she is gone. And while she was 11 years old, we had just taken her last month for her annual exam and the vet had told us that she was in excellent health, which she was. Even yesterday morning there were absolutely no indications of anything being amiss. The stroke came completely out of the blue -- while very much a blessing in how quickly she was gone, it just was too quickly for us to even hardly process. Not to mention this was my first experience firsthand with the death of an animal. Throughout my childhood we lost several pets, but my parents were the ones to actually be with the animals while they passed. Yesterday I had just come home, found her, laid with her for 10-15 minutes, and then my husband was with her for the end (probably only 5-10 minutes later) while I had to go and pick our son up from school. So I was with her while she was dying. A tiny part of me is glad for that, glad that I had the chance to be there for her and say goodbye, but talk about ripping your heart out. Being an adult sucks sometimes. :)
And what has been "normal" for us ever since we got married has now shifted. Since our marriage was a "yours, mine and ours" type operation -- he came with 2 dogs, I came with 1, and then we added the last 2 within the first 6 months -- we've been a 5-dog family for almost our entire marriage. Through the ups and downs of life, the 5-dog thing has been a constant for me.
We did chuckle last night about the fact that we had gotten into a minor "tiff" about the Christmas card picture last year. I had changed my mind at the last minute and wanted to take a picture of the 8 of us, and I told my husband it was because I thought we should while we could. We had had 5 dogs for 6 years at that point, and I didn't know how many more we would have with all of them. He got a bit ticked off at my comment, saying that I was being pessimistic about thinking any of them wouldn't be around for another year or 2 or 3, which, of course, ticked me off in return since I am typically a very positive person and wasn't meaning it in a pessimistic way at all. (Gotta love miscommunication!) Boy, am I glad I won that argument. We did, in fact, get a picture of all of us...
My husband said we are supposed to get her ashes today from the vet. At first I thought it was kind of odd, but now I am really glad he requested that. I'm going to go pick out a vessel of some sort today, I guess some sort of urn with a lid, to keep up on the built-in shelves and mantel in our bedroom. Maybe having them there will actually bring us a little extra comfort, kind of like my dad's wedding ring that I wear. Sorry if that creeps any of you out -- to each his own, I guess.
I am confident that this will be my last gloomy post for a while. It's just that it is quite a bit harder than I expected (not that I thought it would be a bed of roses, mind you), and typing my feelings out makes me feel a smidge better. But I've learned that time truly does heal, and each day will get easier than the last, thank goodness for that. Lord have mercy, though, I sure as heck don't know how we will go through this 4 more times in the future. I guess with great love comes great heartache at some point, but it's worth it to be loved, especially by some pretty great pooches.