I wanted to wait before I wrote this. I wanted to wait until I could offer words of comfort or wisdom or at least feelings of love to people when they come to face this dark place. I wanted to write a beautiful tribute with photos and memories and love.
But I’m not sure exactly when that time will come, and I’ve been working hard to get there, and it’s clearly not happening anytime soon, so I’m not going to wait any longer. I know there are others out there who are going through this same thing right now, so here it is.
If you follow my Instagram account, you will know that I lost Lola almost six weeks ago. Her death was entirely unexpected, and she was surrounded by an excellent medical team at the time. Exactly what happened remains a mystery, and I can’t help but think that perhaps, given Lola’s confounding medical issues during her life, her death was also, maybe, supposed to be a little bit mysterious.
But I still can’t really even fathom that she was supposed to die at all.
I know. Listen. I’m a mostly-rational, intelligent human being. I have lived and lost, and I know death intimately well. I know all too well how it works, and that none of us are getting out of this alive, least of all little pugs. But Lola P was my heart and soul. I loved her from before we met, and the depth of that love grew exponentially over the years. I built my minutes and days around her, and in return, I found a level of happiness and contentment that I never even knew I had been looking for.
I keep saying this “isn’t what I signed up for”, knowing full well that this is exactly what we all sign up for when we give our hearts and souls to a beloved animal.
Lola was my home and my love and my life, and I’m not going to pretend that everything is okay and that I’m all right.
Through minimal effort, or even desire, on my part, I am obviously still alive and able to write this, although this continues to amaze me. How did my heart keep beating when hers stopped? How can I still be breathing when her ashes are sitting in a box beside my bed? My brain is clear enough right now that I can sit down and write this, but I am working hard to not spend my days lost in grief and despair.
Just to be clear, I’m not all doom and gloom to the outside world. I can present as functional when I need to. But I am not pretending I’m okay. I’m not pretending that this is easy, and I’m not hiding how hard this is. I can laugh at jokes. I can empathise and have conversations with my friends and neighbours about their lives. I can eat food, although I truthfully don’t care about it or taste much of it. It’s just there to keep me going, and I have to keep going, because that’s apparently what is happening, anyway.
How am I supposed to explain what this is like? Sleep is fitful, if even at all. Waking up is a continual reliving of the nightmare of the phone call, and of not having her here. Memories are everywhere. Guilt pops up when you least expect it. Anger randomly creeps in, just for balance. The panic comes in massive, unexpected waves. Inertia constantly threatens to consume everything. The tears might stop for a while, but they only return again as sobs, and often in public places. I simply don’t care what people might think anymore.
Every effort to go out into the world and behave like a normally functioning human being is good and positive, but it is usually, eventually met by an equal force of grief that throws me back down the dark well of despair and isolation.
Yes. This is what happens. Welcome to the club. It’s awful here.
I loved Lola fiercely and out loud to the world, and I will grieve her with that same love, equally and unapologetically.
Lola taught me to be present with her in the world – how to stop and listen and experience life through her perspective. She leaves a legacy that has changed me at my core.
I will not stop loving her, and she will always be my little Queen.
I know, from people who are loving and supportive, and who understand, that these feelings will likely temper with time, that I will learn how to better live with the loss of my girl, and that this isn’t a permanent state, it is a painful shift to an unrequested, new state of being.
And when I’m closer to that place, I will write again, hopefully with supportive words of calm and wisdom so that others who are grieving such a loss will know there actually might be a light in this hellishly dark tunnel.
But I’m not there yet.
I love you, Bean. I miss you.