Some people are built for grief. Others are not. Some people, in some way, suck it up and go on despite the pain. Others are so devastated over the loss of a loved one that they are unable to move forward.
I always put myself decidedly in the former camp. I've lost friends, fellow Marines, parents and other relatives, and four fellow cops - two by murder on duty, two by suicide. Certainly, these made me sad. Sometimes extremely sad. But there was always the sense that there was light at the end of the tunnel, although sometimes the tunnel seemed very long.
And then I lost Zeke. It's a loss so profound that I don't know how to describe it.
Zeke and I were one. He would often just watch me from across the room, and I him. There was comfort and peace in having him there. I've read that, when a dog looks at his owner, both the dog and the owner experience the release of oxytocin - the so-called "love hormone". I believe it. But more than that, I believe we each knew what the other was thinking. I could get Zeke to come to me, or go to the door to go outside, or go to the kitchen for food, just by the way I motioned with my head. And I knew what he wanted from me just by the way he stood and looked. When we went on our regular long walks in the park or in the woods or by the river, I talked to him like he was a toddler about where we were going, what we were doing, and what we were seeing and hearing. I knew he understood. I never imagined a day when he would be gone.
Now, that day has come. I think of him every minute of every day. I've cried myself hoarse. I remember places we went and things we did so vividly sometimes, it's almost like reliving them. I see him running and playing when I drive by the places we used to go together. His spirit seems to dwell there. I occasionally catch sight of one of our other dogs out of the corner of my eye, and for a moment I think it's him. It's not. I dream about him.
I've learned that one life can make a person, and its loss can break him. I am forever changed. The world is a different place without Zeke. There are places to go and people to see and things to do, but I don't really care. Real happiness and fun are a memory. There are just days ahead.
I learned I am not built for grief.
I love you, buddy!