I hid in bed for big chunks of yesterday. Also yesterday, I changed my profile picture on Facebook back to one of you and me together from last year, and people have been “liking” it and commenting about your passing. Paul and Giles, Paul and Giles. It used to be a Paul and Giles thing. Now it’s just Paul.
I find myself veering into the territory of high stress, high anger all the time again. I’m sure part of it is that I don’t have you with me every day to talk me off the ledge. You’re not here to listen to my rants and provide a counterbalancing force of calm and support. Every little thing seems insurmountable, and all I want is for things to work the way they are supposed to work without my having to fight every step of the way. It makes me angry to see otherwise like-minded coworkers express such resignation or complacency with the way things are, but I also get it. This struggle is too much, too constant, and genuinely unnecessary if we truly were to be valued in the institution.
I was lying in bed earlier this morning, and I liked listening to the rain drops on the roof when a little bit of rain passed through town. Then there was a dusting of snow mid-morning, but it’s still fairly warm, so the snow won’t really stick around.
This past week at work, a couple more people noticed and commented on the button I’m wearing with your adorable image. I like having you next to my heart, and I like it when people bring you up because of that picture so I can tell them a little about how wonderful you were.
Yesterday, I came across this video about weird things couples do with their dogs, and I’ve watched it a handful of times now because it is so very accurate and captures the silliness and joy of having a dog as part of our pack at home.
Remember how we asked each other about your poops? Remember how we asked you to make decisions for us? Remember how we fought each other for your love? Remember how we Skyped when I was in California? Remember how Mr. Frog sang songs about you? Remember how you used to steal the bed space like the corgi does at the end of the video?
Yesterday was hard. Today was better, although I seem to have switched from sad mode to a kind of manic mode today and ended up cornering a manager (not mine) for an hour and ranting at him about the sorry state of things at work.
I’m still not sure what I’m doing with work. I wish I had you to talk to about it and to cuddle with and just be with. You were always a sympathetic ear, whatever I needed to talk about.
I lay in the bed this morning listening to Kevin Hearne’s Staked, read by Luke Daniels, and watched the snow falling outside. It’s a light snow, alternating between small flakes and heavier, wetter flakes that fall quickly. There is so far just a coating of snow on the ground, and I think it’ll be a fairly small amount of accumulation.
This would’ve been the perfect kind of snowfall to take a walk in with you. There isn’t much wind, and it wouldn’t be too cold nor would there be too many snowflakes flying into our faces. You were always happier to walk in snowfall than rainfall, and I liked seeing us leave behind us our matching sets of paw prints and boot prints. When there was more snow on the ground, you would have fun leaping through the snow banks.
In our two previous homes, we would watch the snow falling together from the warmth of the apartments. I know I took at least a handful of pictures of us staring out the window together. At our new house, our couch doesn’t have quite the view it did in those apartments. But you still liked to stand on one end and look out the window that abuts the screened-in front porch and out the far window. If we had more time together in this house, it would’ve been nice to spend more time upstairs, where the windows extend lower to your level so that you could more easily look outside. I always liked seeing your little head in the upstairs back window when I left the house for work and other places. I would lock the back door, cross the yard, and then look up and wave goodbye to you as I went out the gate to my car.
It was hard to get out of bed this morning. As Mr. Frog said last week, “Who will make me put on pants?” Without you to take care of, it is easy to stay in pjs all day when we don’t have work to drag us out of the house. It is easy to sit on the couch and do nothing productive, only feeling sad while depressing Law and Order: SVU episodes roll by inexorably and make us feel like the world is full of horror and horribleness.
We want to paint some pictures of you, finally. It’s something I’ve wanted to do all these last 12 years we spent together, but I never got around to it.
I checked out a 2CELLOS cd from the library and had it playing this morning as I got ready to go out. Their version of Sting’s “Shape of My Heart” came on, and I was transported back to when I was a teenager listening to Sting’s Soul Cages and marveling over the depth of grief captured in that album that he wrote while mourning the loss of his father. (Note: “Shape of My Heart” is from a later album by Sting, Ten Summoner’s Tales. These two albums are connected strongly in my memories since I discovered Soul Cages after backtracking from Ten Summoner’s Tales.)
It was only a few weeks ago that Mr. Frog finished painting the front room of the house and set up my electric piano. I want to bring music back into my life, and I hope that it reaches your ears, too.
How quickly things change. The picture below was from April 22, 2015, not even a year ago. We visited Maplewood Library, where I was finally a bona fide librarian, having just a month earlier secured a permanent, part-time position at 11.5 hours a pay period as an every-other-weekend librarian. I’d been a substitute librarian in the system for just over a year as well as in the another library system in the area, and I was able to teach as an adjunct information literacy instructor at a local community college, but this was it. This was the first job where I was considered a permanent-staff librarian. I was excited to have you see my workplace, and we did a photo shoot outside on the sidewalk since you could not go inside.
Little did we know that just a month and a half later, I’d be offered a full-time job in a different library system in a different county. And that a month after that when I started, in fact at the end of my first week on the job, we’d receive the terrible news that you had an inoperable bladder tumor. The vet offered an anti-inflammatory medication as the only useful treatment, so we started you on it right away, and perhaps it helped keep the tumor in check for another six months so that we could move into our new house with you, and you would at last have your own fenced-in yard to protect from squirrels.
I’m thinking of this picture in particular because in a few hours, I’m heading over to Maplewood Library for the first time since I stopped working there last summer. I’m dropping off some boxes of federal tax forms for the library system to provide for patrons–boxes I received at my new job where we are not providing these forms any more. I’m also going to eat lunch at Cafe’ine, the wonderful Thai cafe in the building with tasty food, coffee, and bubble tea.
One of the things I miss most is napping with you.
Yesterday, we had Chinese food take-out for dinner, which came with three fortune cookies. It’s like they knew one would be for you even though we only ordered two entrees. We put the third cookie on the memorial table for you. But I still had no one to eat half of my cookie. We always split my fortune cookies.
It’s the week-iversary of your passing. The vet’s office called this afternoon to say that your cremated remains are ready for us to pick up. Everything I do at home still reminds me of your absence because you’re simply not there. It is a stark change from living with you, when everything I did at home had you as a captive audience and sometimes-participant (as with snack time and walks). Now, I look up or turn around, and you’re never there.
I went for a jog yesterday morning because it was almost 40 degrees outside. I visited the pond by our house for the first time in months. The last time I was out there was when you could still make it more than a couple of blocks on our walks.
How did you exude so much joy and cuteness from such a small body? How did you have such a big presence in our home when you took up so little physical space? We feel the emptiness in every room.
People at work and elsewhere have been expressing their condolences about your passing. You were greatly loved even by people who only knew you through your online pictures.
We had an omelette dance party last night for dinner. It was not the same without you. Mr. Frog said that you’re supposed to be there to look at him judgingly as he dances and cooks. You’re supposed to be there to join him in dancing, begrudgingly.
We’re doing ok, but we miss you terribly. We’re learning how to live without your constant presence. We’re moving around the rooms of the house without the dance we always did around you. We’re starting to think of our days without considering how long you’d be home alone without us. We’re trying to imagine days not revolving around our walks and your meals and your furry exuberance. We’re getting used to not being able to reach out just an arm’s length at any time to pet you. We’re still talking to you as we go about our day, and we hope you can still hear us.
I woke up in the dark from a nightmare, but you were not there with your reassuring soft warmth and weight against my leg.
We put up a memorial table for you in the house. We’re lighting a candle for you each night this first month so that you can know that we still think of you every day. The candle also gives us something to do with you every day like we used to be able to do with your walks and your meals and your treats and your belly rubs and your hide and seek. The candle is only a light, only a gesture, but it is what we can do.
I miss your jingling dog tags. I miss your barks. I miss your sighs. I miss the sound of your paws and nails on the hardwood floor. I miss hearing you run to the door when I come home. I miss seeing your little head in the window when I leave the house. I miss feeling the weight of your body against my legs when we cuddle on the couch and when you steal my feet space in bed. I miss your panting face and your give-me-food stares. I miss the way you curled up next to us or on top of us. I miss your curly tail and its various rates of wag–from twitchy to motored to full-on snakey writhings. I miss your hops and jumps and zooms. I miss your constant presence at home, no matter what time of day or where I am–you were always next to me.
Who’s going to come running when I open food packages? Who’s going to watch me eat every meal and snack? Who’s going to keep me company while I read and nap on the couch? Who’s going to follow me from room to room? Who’s going to steal my spot when I get up? Who’s going to take me for walks every day? Who’s going to remind me that it’s time to get out of bed and that it’s 5 o’clock dinner time? Who’s going to tell me the mailman has dropped off some letters? Who’s going to bark when the doorbell rings? Who’s going to raise the alarm and bark when I’m taking a shower? Who’s going to lean against me on car rides? Who’s going to defend us from the squirrels? Who’s going to enjoy pizza with us? Who’s going to help us find your Kong? Who’s going to shake my hand now?
We said goodbye to Mr. Giles yesterday at the vet’s office. He was diagnosed with an inoperable bladder tumor last July, and his health has declined steady in the past half year. We were able to enjoy time in our new house together before letting him go.
Picture from June 30, 2013.