by Lorna Earl
I was sickened with grief.
My canine companion, a scruffy three-year-old Terrier mix I adopted, died suddenly when he slipped his collar and ran into traffic. He was thirteen years old. The last time I felt as lost, abandoned, and downright empty was when my husband left me. He’s still alive.
Phil, my fiancé, tried to keep me busy, but he was grieving, too. We were a sorry pair. He was worried that my chronic fatigue symptoms would flare from the stress. So was I. I thought about scientific articles correlating pet ownership to health. How ironic. I took extra medication to help me sleep.
Fearing depression and an inflamed immune system malaise, I woke knowing I had to pull myself back from the hole into which I was falling. The hole in my heart.
I laid in bed and asked myself, “How can a hole feel so damned heavy?” Irony was everywhere.
I reached over and poked Phil. He stirred.
“I’m going for a walk,” I said.
This was an act of courage because every morning I took Scrappy for a walk and this walk would be solo.
“Do you want me to come with you?”
“No, I have to do this alone.”
“Okay. Just be careful.” It was dark, raining, and windy. Phil worries about me.
“I will. I just need to do this.”
And I did. Armed with my rain gear and a handful of tissues, I headed off into the pre-dawn darkness. That’s when I started talking aloud to Scrappy. First, I told him how sorry I was for not protecting him from harm.
“I hope your soul left before you felt any pain, Buddy. After you rest a bit, I bet you’ll be running and exploring with the best of them wherever you are.”
Second, I talked about our journey together and how maybe he knew it was time that I travel alone. We met when we were both abandoned souls, teaching each other about trust.
“I’ll always love you, Scrap. Thank you so much for being right there with me through those tough days. Remember when it was just you and me?”
Finally, I told him about how I was strong enough to walk alone.
“You were my brave and perfect companion but you don’t need to protect me anymore. It’s your time to do what you want.”
When I said this last declaration to him three things happened simultaneously: The pelting rain stopped instantaneously; the wind that kept blowing the hood off my head died down to nothing; and the grief-grip on my heart released.
I smiled, knowing that my independent pal finally understood something I said. We spoke soul-to-soul and he got the message.
His sparkling love now fills my heart, effervescent and light. Do I miss him? Sure I do. But on our magical Goodbye Walk, something shifted and he was with me in a new way.
We still walk together every morning . . . in that new way.
Lorna was a sociology professor. Creative writing is her new path since her premature disability retirement due to Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome. She has written two self-published books: a memoir and a historical fiction novel. Lorna has been blogging since 2010 at Lorna’s Voice.