Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Singular Experience



I've had a million boyfriends. OK, not a million. Let's just say I've had many romantic relationships. I've lived in cities, suburbs and small towns on the west coast, east coast and midwest of the U.S. I've had a career of careers, every hair color you can imagine (platinum blonde was a Really Bad Idea, aubergine purple looked surprisingly good). I've been a vegetarian, omnivore, carnivore. I've been Jewish, Pagan, Shaman, practiced Buddhism, studied Hinduism. Etc. But in my whole, pretty long life, I've had just one dog.

That accounts for the fact that, though I was very devoted, I was inept in my role as alpha. I was no dog whisperer, oh no. There were other ways I never quite fit in to the swing of dog ownership. For instance, I never could relate to the "mom" thing, a convention at least here in the U.S. In fact when people called me Jake's "mom" I was always slightly offended. I am not a dog and did not ever give birth to a dog. Ewww. In fact, the inter-species connection is what I found so fascinating about our relationship. The fact that I was not his mom is what worked for me. As you can imagine, I stopped trying to explain this a number of years ago.

The uniqueness of my relationship with Jake figures as one reason why I am still struggling so hard to let go. I'm OK; I'm functional, but I'm steeped in sadness and longing. To be honest, that feeling has not even begun to subside, though at least I'm not crying in public anymore. Thank God for that!

Today is the full moon; there will be a minor eclipse sometime today. I'm hoping that the peak of the moon will help shake me out of the pattern of mourning, at least a little bit. Also today is the one week anniversary of Jake's death. Maybe the passage through the seventh day will help me ease up, too. Do you think? I'm praying for a shift of some kind.

He was my best friend for fourteen years. I miss him terribly.

44 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I think letting Jake go will be a long process
it's not easy to love a lot and then pftt It vanishes
it doesn't
Jake will be hanging around for ever in one way or another
for ever
though missing him will be less acute it will still be triste

Hugs from up here
and hoping you are still coming up in August?

Merle Sneed said...

Best wishes from the dusty corner of the country. Jake was a lucky dog.

Expat From Hell said...

Your commentary is a tribute to your depth. The story of your dear Jake continues to live within all of us, thanks to you. This is a long process, made more so by the complexity and diversity of who YOU are. Thanks for being such a fine example to all of us readers.

EFH

Lynne said...

Hugs, Reya.
I still miss some of my dogs that have passed terribly. They are all in my heart and I bring them out to remember and smile (yes, cry too) whenever I feel like it.

larkspur said...

Bask in the glory of your love for your dog, and let the grief run its course. It will evolve as everything does.

I often go back to your post about 'Grandpa's Prayer' and follow those words of wisdom. They help so much when I am in darkness.....

You and Jake are in my thoughts daily, Reya.

Ptolemy said...

There is never a good day to lose a dog friend... Whether it be quickly, suddenly and unexpectedly or with time to get used to the idea... You just have to give yourself time to reach that point where you focus more on how grateful you are for the experience of sharing your life with him for so long... But the grief is important and speaks to the importance of the relationship... If he were "just a dog," this wouldn't hurt so much... I always like to think that the size of the grief equals the size of the love, and if you have had love THAT big, how lucky are you?

California Girl said...

I read and re-read this post and it sounds like you searched for something for a long time. Jake probably filled that need. It's odd to think an animal can do that but perfectly believable. They can love us and complete us (over-used but appropo here) in a way a human being cannot. I swear, my little cat does that for me. I know the need she fills; I no longer have babies to tend so she is my "baby". But I love her unconditionally and forgive her everything. Jake taught you so much and I guess you are working that out for yourself now. He blessed you, don't you think?

ellen abbott said...

It's going to take some time. You may not notice on a daily basis but weekly you will see progress and one day the intense sadness will be gone. I wish I had better words for you Reya.

steven said...

hi reya, i still think of the first dog in my life - a border collie - when we moved to canada he was too old to make the journey so he had to be put to sleep. so he flew away before we flew away. he was the first animal i loved. so now, decades later and many dogs later i hold in my heart the learnings i gained from him about patience and gentleness and suffering silently and yet when i think about him the thing i miss most especially are his incredible doggy smells!!!!
in much the same way, your experiencing of jake is braided in with who you are. have a peaceful day. steven

mum said...

I've had several dogs in my life and never related to the 'mom' thing either. I agree with you - what makes it special is you are not the same but there's a powerful connection.

I'm not sure I undertand what you mean about being inept because not a dog whisperer (?). Every dog is different. Signals that work with one don't work with another, that doesn't mean you're inept.

The emptiness - circumstances forced me to live without a dog for several years. I found it way tougher than doing without a romantic connection.

After I lost one of my dogs to a hit-and-run driver, I adopted another a few months later. The relationship was different but there was the same sense of connection. Maybe, at some point down the line, you'll want to consider doing that.

For now, it's a question of dealing with the emptiness and waiting to find out what it's best for you to do with it. It's rough, I know, but something good will grow out of it.

Take care, Reya.

Peaches said...

Reya, channel and release this energy while doing some deep house cleaning. Take one room at a time and clean, purge, and rearrange. It will renew you; it will give you peace.

willow said...

Elizabeth's right. Ralphy has been hanging around here in one way or another and it will be two years this October. There isn't a day goes by without me thinking of him. Good memories. Hope the full moon will ease some pain. xo

JC said...

My Lilly Ann ... cat in my profile photo ... left me three years ago. I have finally stopped crying.

Give it more time

And, again I am so very sorry that you lost your friend ...

I know that it hurts ...

Joanne said...

What an amazing process. Not only from your post, but from the comments and support here for you as well. Much depth, much love surrounds you.

SafariB said...

You made me cry. Again.

Sometimes I long to be on the other side of the veil - to be with those I love... Not in a suicidal way - just to be there with them.

(Agree with your "mom" thing - feels somewhat warped if you ask me)

SafariB said...

And that first image is so powerful!

Steve said...

Reya, I wish I knew what to say, but of course the truth is nothing I say will ease your loss. It's just something to take day by day. It's better to feel the pain of loss than to have not had Jake and not felt anything at all, don't you think?

Cyndy said...

I still occasionally have moments where I just want my 18 year old cat Ted to be here right now so that I can give him a hug - and it's been nearly two years now. But the sadness and longing and grief have mostly been replaced by gratitude for having had him in my life. I'm sure you will get there too. It takes time.

Tessa said...

I think perhaps that if you accept that letting go of Jake will be a long and arduous journey, then maybe you'll be able to struggle with it less? I know that when my beloved 15 year old Sam died quite literally at my feet, it took a very long time for me to learn to live with the hole it made in my heart.

But most of all, dear Reya, don't forget to talk to him up there in the constellation.

Nancy said...

Grieving takes it's own path. We all grieve differently and trying to get over it doesn't work - we just have to get through it. One of my professors in my Death & Dying class once became furious when it was suggested it was time for someone to move on. She said it was an individual experience and there was no right way or wrong way, and certainly no time frame. From my own experience after losing our dogs, it takes much longer than you think. We fill the void, after a certain amount of time, with a new puppy, but that's us and we will probably always have a dog. We never forget our old friends, we are just busy, which takes our mind off our grief. Do whatever works for you, dear Reya. This is a really tough time.

k-brow said...

I knew someone in VA who would always ask me "How's your kid?" in reference to Ella. It used to weird me out so much, even though I knew he meant well.

I think this movement through grief will be a long process. Give yourself the slow to grow.

Poetikat said...

Reya, I am so sorry for your loss of Jake. I haven't been here for a while and I missed the post about his slipping away. I only noticed the title of your blog had changed.

It must be so hard to cope with losing your best friend and companion. I know what it's like to lose a beloved animal companion.

I am with you in spirit, as is Jake, I'm certain.

Blessings,

Kat

Bee said...

How interesting that Jake was your one and only dog. I don't know from experience, but my observation has been that people do not recover from the loss of beloved dogs. Not quickly or easily, anyway.

I have a dear friend who lost her own beloved, elderly dog recently. She found the dog, abandoned, in Athens, Greece -- and named her "Lucky." Lucky went all over the world with my friend, and lived to a ripe old age. After some months, Sue decided to get a new puppy because she missed having a dog in her life. I believe that the new puppy has brought lots of joy to her . . . but of course Jake has to be fully mourned first, just as Lucky did.

Only time is the cure, I guess. Lots of heartfelt sympathy for the meantime. xx, Bee

Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Wow, when you put in into that perspective...it is both awe inspiring and totally understandable about the enormity of Jake's loss for you.

I think I mentioned I still have the pink tub chair that was my first cat's favorite spot and I lost her to cancer in 1987. It sorely needs recovering but it will always be Cascais's chair and be with me to keep her in my thoughts...

That cloud looks like a panting puppy to me...big and burly like Jake.

Verily I go. said...

I miss him too.....but purple hair has me rolling on the floor. Cry all you want sweetheart. Jake had the best beautiful person. btw...orange(me) WOO HOO, fool moon! kisses, Reya.

Tom said...

we've just had Toby for a month, but he is my buddy, my dependent, my -sigh- obligation...he is many things, but at this point still only a dog...i wonder at what point he becomes integral? And that cloud...it looks like some huge leaping animal to me.

lakeviewer said...

You do need to write a letter, a prayer, a tribute to Jake, listing how you feell, how you miss him, how your life has changed, how you are struggling. Hang it prominently somewhere where you see it often and can cry as you read it over and over again.

Death of a good friend/companion deserves our attention and grief.

It's o.k to feel.

Reya Mellicker said...

Larkspur thank you for reminding me of Grandpa's prayer. I'm going to start doing that today. Wow.

And California Girl? What an incredible insight. I was searching for something. Wow. That's amazing, thank you.

Thanks, too, for all the other loving advice and suggestions. My room is so clean you could eat off the floor (it's ordinarily clean, but in this last week I've also cleaned out drawers, dusted where I usually don't, etc.) My room is antibacterial, it's so clean.

Lakeviewer, thanks. I have written five letters to Jake. They are all on the shrine where his photo, his last bone, and his dog collar are arranged.

I apologize for going on and on about this, and so appreciate your patience and honest affection for the process. Thank you!

Reya Mellicker said...

Tom, the cloud looked like a hobby horse to me.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

reconciling the loss of a best friend after 14 years of living together is going to take a while to pass through.... in my way of thinking, at least a month for every year! and even then there will always be a time when a certain sadness will overcomes all the sweet memories.

I have had many animals over my lifetime - two of my animal companions - jean-paul and bubba (both cats) were very special friends. and even though they have been gone 19 and 4 years respectively (after living with me for 14 and 15 years) I still miss each of them and the joy our our shared interspecies friendship. but my life is richer after sharing my life for those years.

thank you for sharing with us your journey through this passage.

the cloud pic - amazing!

I agree with merle jake was lucky to have found you - you may have had isuses with adopting that 'dog person' persona (the dog mom bit) but I bet you were the best friend he could have ever had.

soak in some of that moon energy - the full moon is healing -- and in july the moon is sometimes referred to as buck moon or blood moon and sometimes thunder moon.... all forces that heal

hugs...

Ronda Laveen said...

Jake has been in my thoughts all day. It has been a week since he left this planet. In my mind, I've memoralized him along with MJ's ceremony today. Maybe Michael needed a good, faithful and non-judgemental friend to accompany him on the journey home.

I liked that you touched on inter-species relationships. It doesn't always have to be a homo sapien who becomes a lover or a friend. The world has so much to offer. I have had many dogs. Many of them come to me as spirit guides. Especially Troubles. She leads me to many discoveries and realizations. The Animal Kingdom is full of many blessings and wonders.

Ralph Suarez said...

Dear Reya, I am so sad today. I learned that Jake died. I haven't really been on the internet much lately...just a lot going on and I am embarrassed to say that I have not been keeping up with your most wonderful blog. I missed it. So, today, in the middle of a personal holiday, I came here to discover a life without the famous gold puppy. I wish that I had the words that could soothe your heart, your mind and soul but unfortunately a life filled with a most powerful life like Jake's, will tear your own life inside out and only time will help you to get used to the loss, to the concept of living without him. I wish you peace and comfort Reya and a great big hug.
Ralph

John Hayes said...

Grief moves on its own time table-- the loss of such a good friend will take time to subside into the flow of events. But I think everyone who stops by here is sending you best wishes!

Natalie said...

I agree totally with Rosaria. Feel the feelings, Reya, they won't dissipate until they are done. This may not be at an convenient time schedule,unfortunately.
If someone's human life companion died, or left after 14 years, everybody would expect them to grieve for at least two years (according to books on grieving).Give yourself space to grieve, and be gentle with you.

I can't help being reminded that the Universe abhors a vacuum.
IN TIME,and when you are ready, your grieving heart might meet another beautiful soul to walk a way with you on your journey.....be it man or an animal friend. Until then, just go easy on yourself, and cry if you need to.
Love to you.xx♥

Kerry said...

Take your time Reya. I feel sorry for people who never feel the true love of an animal. That, you have.

Reya Mellicker said...

I definitely truly and absolutely loved that dog. Wow.

Thanks again and again for all your compassion and patience as I get through this. Some of you say there's nothing you can do, but the truth is, every one of these comments helps me heal. I'm not just saying it; it's true.

I am in awe of all your kindess. Thank you.

Andrea said...

That's pretty amazing that you've only had one dog in your life. Its seems fitting to me then, that getting over his being gone may take a little time.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Elizabeth has said it so well. True love does not just go pftt! It will take time for you to heal and for the feelings to become less raw. Thinking of you...
Lizzy

Just me said...

I've been thinking about you a lot this week. I don't even know what statement to give. I think that when it is B's time, I'd almost rather hold on to my grief than be healed. I want her with me forever. Is that weird?

I hope that you find solace in whatever way is best for you and that your love with Jake leaves you a fuller person.

Mary Ellen said...

Reya, I'm amazed at the depth and variety of people's responses. That variety of suggestions means - choose for yourself what makes sense, and find your own pathway. When my last dog died, we still had his companion. When Rufus is finally too tired to keep going on, having a house empty of dog paws clicking, dog breath stinking, dog toy litter - that will be harder. Don't rush - stay faithful to the process of grief that is your own.

Reya Mellicker said...

Just me - It feels like loyalty, wanting to grieve forever. But when grief arrives it is so uncomfortable, that healing suddenly becomes more attractive.

I agree Mary Ellen, that the comments here have everything I could ever want or need. It's like a first aid kit of help. I am completely grateful!

thefamilyjulz said...

Oh. Jake. You were such the lucky dog. I loved you, your picture drew me into this blog, where I've found countless hours of fantastic ponderings of life.

Thank you, both. My heart and love are always with you!

Barbara Martin said...

Jake was an immediate member of your family, Reya. There is no need to 'let him go' per se. There is an adjustment to make with his passing and this takes time. A week only scratches at the surface. The memories will linger forever.

There are many dogs in my past: some were pets, and others were show dogs. They all hold a special place in my heart.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Reya,

I think that to explain the "mom" thing is to say that people call you that, not to say that you were his mom, but that when you take on the responsibility for an animal that you take on all the responsibilities that a "Mom" takes on when taking care of a child. I'm not sure why or when this trend started or who began this, but sometimes I think it started with the show Green Acres.

As a "Mom" you feed them, nurture them, when they are ill you comfort them, you take care of them in every way that you possibly can. You love unconditionally and are in return loved unconditionally. I think you totally fit the criteria to be considered Jake's mom in this way, but if you never identify yourself as Jakes "Mom", then that is great too. I have loved my animals in this way, but only call myself "Mom" when being playful about them when writing in the third party.

When people say this to you they are possibly complimenting you in a way that lets you know that they realize you have given your all to love and protect the animal in the same way that a Mom would do for their real child.

For me I rarely use this saying, for not every animal owner does this for the animal they own. And yes it is a little strange when they act like they gave birth to the animal or tell everyone they are the Mommy.

I would say that you fit the category of one of the best owners that Jake could have ever known, and the level of your grief tells anyone who reads your posts how well you loved and took care of Jake. He was blessed to have you in his life as your were to have him in yours.

Grandpa does give great advice.

God bless.