This morning I was standing in the kitchen, cleaning up after Jared went to school and I started to look around for you. When my eyes reached the back door, and my brain realized you weren't there, that you'd never be there, it was like losing you all over again.
Saying goodbye to you was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. After 8 1/2 years of loving you, parenting you, waking up without you next to me the last two mornings felt like having my heart ripped out.
A tiny little thing that fit in my palm, you stood out among all the other little ones that fateful spring day. It was you that captured my heart and soul from day one. Even before you could open those beautiful brown eyes or hold up that impossibly soft head. It was always supposed to be you.
You bounded into my life when I needed you most. And I think you knew that somehow. You were there when I became a wife. (You were a wedding gift to Kiddo. Did you know that?) You were by my side during the ups and downs of parenting. You saw me put on my cap and gown. (I'm sure I carried a bit of you with me across that stage, you furry boy.) You saw me at my best and my very very worst, and you loved me either way. I never, not once, felt judged by you. You were my safe person, the one who had my back even when I didn't deserve it. I was so safe under your watch.
You stood vigil when my human baby was sick and made sure he was never without a playmate. Remember that time he fell and you came back up to the house and barked until I knew he needed help? Or when you guys built that snow fort together? All of Jared's most beloved childhood memories have you in them. You were the best, most loving friend a little boy could ever hope for.
Oh, and how your dad loved you! You always made sure he knew how much he was missed when he went away, and reminded him daily how important he is to us. You made him feel as special as he is and never let him forget it.
Your one and only goal in life was to love us. That's all. You lived to greet us first thing in the morning and to lie next to us as we rested our heads at night. When we felt overwhelmed or sad or lost, you sat by our side until we got through it. All you wanted was for us to be happy.
There is nothing to know about love, unconditional love, that I haven't already learned from you.
The last two days I've cried until all the tears dried up, then I cried some more. I've cried at the kitchen sink, in the car, in the shower. There is not a single place that doesn't remind me of you. Your leash in the basket by the door, ready to connect us on our evening walks. Your stuffed animals with the ears nibbled off.
Your soft black fur in the carpet that I can't bring myself to vacuum up. You are everywhere.
I want so desperately for the vise to relax its grip on my chest; for my throat to unclench. It hurts too much. But I'm also desperately afraid of the inevitable day when the pain subsides. Because that means you're really, truly gone. It means I have come to terms with the fact that I'll never see you again. And I can't accept that. I don't ever want to accept this loss.
Those moments we sat with you, before you went to sleep, were precious. The kisses, the tears, the telling of stories. Stories of how you loved to watch fireworks, that silly orange ball you ran around with, and the time Dad and I left you in the car for a minute and you drank both our lattes.
There are not enough hours in a day to express all the ways in which I loved you.
I'm not whole without you.
I still can't understand how you're gone. How you could get so sick. We took you to the doctor Monday morning thinking you had a touch of arthritis, and just a few short hours later, you were gone. I'm so mad I couldn't fix you. Nothing could.
More than anything, I'm so proud of you. How you hung in there, laying on my lap, while Daddy drove as fast as he could to get you to back to Kiddo. You knew he needed to say goodbye, to hold you one last time, so you hung in there. You were hurting, but you never let him see it. Just your crooked little smile.
You were selfless until the very end.
As we held you in our arms, and told you over and over and over again how much we loved you, what a good boy you are, you took your last breath. And in that moment, the most miraculous thing happened: the room filled with light. Those gray clouds that had covered the sky like a blanket faded away in that instant. For the first time that day, the sun shone brilliantly.
It was you. Somehow, it was you. I know it. I don't know much about what happens after we leave this world, but I know you parted the skies for us.
I knew I was going to have to say goodbye to you one day. We all have to say goodbye eventually. But I thought we had another 8 years. When the salt and pepper had extended past your eyebrows and whiskers. When you were good and old and we felt like we'd had enough time. You were supposed to see Kiddo go off to college and keep Dad and I company so our empty nest would feel less empty. We have so many unfinished walks and car rides and trips to the lake. I don't want to do them without you. But since I don't have a choice, know that you will never be far from my mind.
You are a part of what makes me me. A part of all of us.
People have been telling us how lucky you were to have us. Isn't that a silly thing to say? Because we both know we were the lucky ones. You made our family whole. We are better people for having loved you. We can say that we have experienced the purest, most unadulterated form of love. Not many can. I owe you a world of gratitude, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to pass it on.
It was an honor, Mr. Sparrow.
I'll eat you up I love you so.
May 8, 2006 - November 10, 2014