Journey.

Grief is an interesting journey. I don’t handle change well.

After a few “good” weeks in which the pain I felt over losing Penny has been manageable with few tears – it all came crashing down Tuesday night. I started sobbing and couldn’t stop it.

I’m grieivng more profoundly for the loss of my dog than I have humans that I’ve loved. The first person that I had a relationship with that died was my great aunt Helen when I was 11. I remember feeling that sick sweaty going to pass out feeling when we went to view her body. I spent what felt like an eternity in that room with my mom staring at her body convinced she was breathing.

I lost my great grandmother, whom I was very attached to a couple of years later. The loss of my dad’s mother whom I didn’t have much a relationship followed the next year. A man I knew in college who spent about 6 months asking me out shot himself while his girlfriend was 7 months pregnant. It was a tragedy and very hard to comprehend. We ended up being good friends despite my refusals. I was dating someone at the time or I might have considered it.

There have been losses in between but the most earth shattering was the loss of my grandfather in 2007.

Growing up I was incredibly close to him. At times we lived with them or very near them so he played a huge role in my life. I respected him and loved him. At times due to his alcoholism I hated him. He was a good man. He had dealt with cancer off and on but the last time when I saw him in September I just knew. His doctors had told my family 6 months to a year. But I knew. I found out I was pregnant with Katelyn 8 days before he died. I was so happy he knew about her and told my mom several times the day before he passed that he was going to be a great grandfather again. Sam is the only guy I’ve ever dated that he really liked and that always meant a lot to me too.

I feel like I had delayed grief when he died. Around the time of his funeral my hyperemesis morning sickness kicked in and I spent most of my days (and nights!) throwing up. I lost almost 30 pounds in my first trimester and I ended up so focused on trying to have a healthy baby that the sadness I felt at his passing was put on the back burner. In retrospect it was a good thing. I wish he would have had the chance to meet Katelyn. She would have had him wrapped around her finger and would have easily earned the title of “greatest” great grand baby  He joked with the rest of them at different times that they were the “greatest” and I know she would have been the favorite – because of course I’m the favorite grandchild…

The loss of Penny is different. I suppose it is harder to let go of someone that is with you every second you are home versus a family member that you love from a distance. It’s really shown me how profound her role was in my life. She and Miles saw me through some very rough patches and at one point probably saved my life. That’s a story I’ll save for another day. I’m appreciating Miles more. Although I had him before Penny I feel like I was bonded more to her. Perhaps it was because she was more of a snuggler and more in tune with my feelings and he’s always been my rough and tumble boy dog. But lately, he needs to snuggle as much as I need to snuggle. He will be 9 on October 15th. I am dreading it. It’s his first birthday without Penny.

I’m dreading the first snow too. She loved to run around like crazy in fresh snow and would sneak out on the deck to eat it. I’m dreading Christmas and pulling out her stocking. In many ways, I feel like I’ve lost a child. I was able to take her ashes out of that horribly offensive gift bag and they are sitting on the mantle now. The box she came in is cherry wood and actually really beautiful. I had shopped for urns before she was returned and found a few I liked but for now I feel at peace with what she’s in. We hadn’t planned on showing Katelyn her ashes because I wasn’t sure she could really grasp what it meant but she begged one night. I decided it was better for us to share them with her than her sneak in and open the box herself. I have never seen cremation ashes so my heart was in my throat when we all sat down to open the box.

They were beautiful. I don’t know if it’s true of all ashes, but hers almost have a rusty tint like her fur. I was just so glad to have my girl home no matter how she came home. Some day I think I’ll take them to our favorite spot in Lubbock and let her be totally free.

Lately I’ve found myself looking more at dogs available for adoption and not feeling revolted at the thought of bringing one home. Some day I know we’ll have another dog. No dog will ever replace Penny but I know she would be happy we saved a life like we saved hers.

And Miles needs a friend.

The past two days have been better and I’m thankful. This grief journey is exhausting. And enlightening. The one thing I do know is that when Penny found us, she took a big piece of my heart. And now that she’s gone, she’s left me with a big piece of hers and I am forever grateful for that.

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