In grief my senses become heightened. In still moments, I am acutely aware of everything around me – the hard bench underneath me, the bright sun above, the cold wind fanning my hair around my face. I am sitting next to the place where we buried our dog Toby earlier that morning, and for once, I am truly present in the moment. It is an overwhelming moment of grief, and it is everything.
The details of Toby’s death are important only to us. We talk about the things we could have done differently, if we had paid closer attention, acted faster, been able to access the clairvoyant powers we should have had. We know this is fruitless, and we fall back into silence.
We all fought hard, Toby by far the hardest, but heart disease is a losing battle.
We bury him under one of the peach trees. My husband points out that the flower buds are already beginning to grow. We cry. I think about how Toby won’t be around to see them when they bloom. We cry harder.
We carry sandstones from one end of the yard to the other, carefully setting them over the place my husband just filled in with dirt under which Toby is resting peacefully. I think of him being cold and lonely in that dark place and I begin sobbing. My husband in his grief can barely speak. I continue carrying stones because I don’t know what else to do.
Later, sitting next to that pile of stones, Haley jumps into my lap. She has never been without Toby. I know this loss will be hard for her. I scratch her ears while we look out into the bright sunshine and listen to the birds chirp. Toby would have loved this day.
The previous day was beautiful, much like this one. Toby struggled to walk and even stand, so we all sat with him in the warm grass. My husband, our dogs Haley and Cora, and I each sat with Toby, feeling the peaceful energy of life flowing around us and being so incredibly thankful for it. Toby did not want to go back inside. I wonder if he knew those were his last moments in the sun.
I am beyond grateful to have that image of Toby in my mind, the sun so bright in his eyes and his fur blowing in the breeze. He was truly happy. I think of so many moments I had with him and vow to remember all the things he showed me in his canine wisdom.
He was accepting of everyone, always eager to share his love and friendship. He was always indulging in the best things in life – treats and naps, both of which he indulged in as much as possible. He tolerated Haley’s bossiness and Cora’s infatuation, carefully picking only the battles that truly mattered. He was always happy to help with chores, keeping the lawnmower in line and sitting on the swept up dirt piles so they couldn’t get away before I vacuumed them up.
Toby appreciated and reveled in the quiet moments. He often snuck outside alone in the early mornings or late evenings to watch the rise or decent of the sun and simply enjoy the world around him.
He was sweet and silly and oh so charming, and home was his absolute favorite place to be.
He had such a strong presence in our household, only I didn’t realize it until he was gone. It feels emptier now. I know that Haley and Cora feel the emptiness, too. My husband and I have vowed to spend more quality time with them, to engage more with them and be even better dog parents.
We vow to take less for granted, to love harder and to show that love more often, to indulge in the good things, and to spend more time in the sun. I know that Toby would approve.