The fact that Lenny's passing wasn't a surprise didn't make it hurt any less. On the contrary, I started feeling his passing about a month before it actually happened. I thought the pain would ease a little because he wasn't suffering anymore, but it just made the pain worse.
I figured that having so many people I care about in my life would give me comfort, but apparently it's rare for someone like me to feel this way about just-a-dog. Not many people deal well with grief, and probably fewer even understand this kind of grief over a dog. Maybe big men aren't normally vulnerable, but yeah, I could've done with a hug or two.
At least in my grief I've seen a few things clearly. In my darkest hour, after losing my health, my job, my house, and my dog, most of the people in my immediate life seemed more concerned with what I was going to do with my possessions than my well-being.
...and then the pity party ended. I'm still very sad, but I accept my sadness, and it's OK that I'm sad. Now I'm focused. Discovering that my relationship with Lenny was more important than most of my human relationships made me twice as sad at first, but now it gives me a little comfort. It's OK that I loved him that much, and I'm no longer looking externally to justify that fact.
It felt a little shameful at first to do a gut-check and discover that I cared so much about a dog. But now it's kind of liberating. He was an awesome fucking dog, and I think that it's a testament to his awesomeness that he lived every day to the fullest and ate every meal like his last. He showed me qualities every day that I rarely see in humans.
So as my journey through life continues, I'm using a few of my hard-won lessons:
1. It's OK for a big man to cry and be sad for as long as I want.
2. I can love a dog as much as I want--no permission, acceptance or validation is needed.
3. I can still keep the offspring of Lenny safe. Any relationships I lose because of this were superfluous anyway.
4. Somewhere out there are people who feel the same as I do.
5. I want to eventually work with and rescue little dogs.
At least now I'm starting to feel a little of the relief I hoped I would feel over him not suffering, and I'm looking forward to the life changes I'm not sure I would have the courage to make otherwise. I'm going to keep the sons and daughters of Lenny safe, and when they are safe and happy, then I'm going to gradually widen that circle, until other little dogs are safe and happy.
And I'm going to blog more about little dogs, not less.
|In the sun with his son|
|Always a ham|
|Lenny and his proud sons Ty and Bear|
|It was probably fitting that he had something special with Ty, who hasn't had an easy life|
|Never far from someplace warm to burrow into|
|They were bitter enemies at the end, but for a long time they were the best of friends|