As I write this, it is just after 10PM on April 28th. Exactly a year ago, this moment, I was lying on my living room, next to my sweet dog, stroking his head and crying, witnessing the last hours of his life. I fell asleep a few feet away from him, and when I woke the next morning, he was gone.
I have missed him terribly in the 12 months since then. But I have also felt him with me, so strongly. And as the anniversary of his death approached, I became more and more aware of his presence.
A month ago, on my daily walk, clouds blew in and covered the sun. The wind blew through the trees that were just beginning to blossom, and I was suddenly transported back in time, to the all the walks I took my dog on back in our old neighborhood. It was such a strong memory, that I felt he was there, walking beside me. When I remembered my spot in time and space, and realized he was no longer with me, I was momentarily saddened.
Just then, I looked up to see a stuffed animal that had been abandoned on the sidewalk. It was a fox (my symbol for my dog). I almost cried, knowing it was a message from him that he was still with me.
Tonight, though I was painfully aware of the anniversary of his death, I didn’t expect to experience a particularly strong emotional disturbance. Once 9PM hit, however, I started crying in bursts – it would come on suddenly, a few sobs, and then disappear. And then it would happen again. And again. I didn’t know what was going on, until I realized the pain of that night, my last night with him, was surfacing.
As I sat down to journal about it, I found an entry from that very night, though written earlier in the day, before I realized how close he was to leaving me. I had written about the pain I was in, so fresh from the separation from my ex, and how I couldn’t bear any of it. Not that loss, and not the loss I knew was eventually coming in the form of my dog’s death. “I don’t think I can survive this,” I wrote. “I don’t think there’s a way to get to the other side, because I don’t think there IS an other side.”
When I read that, I felt so much compassion for myself. I had such a long way to go back then. And seeing it from here – well, it just proves that there was, indeed, an “other side.” And I made it there.
However, that’s not what really threw me tonight.
In the journal, I wrote about how I had felt extremely sick that day, a year ago, and how I had bundled myself up on the couch, watching Community. One of the characters had said something that struck me so deeply that I wrote the quote in the margin of my journal:
“When we release pain, we become visible to each other.”
I got the chills, and I got them again as I typed this.
In this moment, on this night, so much pain has surfaced and poured out. And I have worked through so much of it over the past year. And all that time ago, I was working on visibility and I didn’t even know it.
To know that this lesson of visibility is something my little fox guide has been working through me makes it all the more profound to me.
Thank you for the lessons, little fox.