Article, photos, & videos by Melodie Yvonne Ramey
It’s Never Too Late To Teach An Old Human New Tricks: Learning Through Loss
I lost my dog the other day. Well, I didn’t lose her. I know where she’s at. But that’s just what we say when we can’t say the words. When we can’t face the truth just yet. I lost my dog the other day, and that part of me that thinks I’m gonna find her around every corner still hasn’t let go.
I woke up early again today to take her out… At dinner I threw a piece of chicken on the floor because I forgot she wasn’t there. It’s times like these that I don’t know how I can go on living. Time heals all wounds, but wounds ALWAYS leave a little bit of scar tissue, and this gash is still oozing and seeping. I didn’t pick that piece of chicken up right away. Five minutes passed. Then 10. It was like if my heart willed it enough to be so she would suddenly spring back into life. I guess that’s denial. It’s the nightmare you live before your mind wraps itself all the way around the truth. I think the only way to break the denial is to break the habits before I break my mind completely along with my already torn heart.
Now as the days pass, and I get further away from that horrifying moment, that dreaded phone call, my sadness turns into fear. I’m scared I’ll forget the way she looked at me, I’m scared I’ll never again feel that warm feeling of the weight of her body on mine as she rolled around itching for that belly scratch in the morning, but, most of all, I’m scared I’ll forget that I deserve that kind of love again because I was never really sure that I deserved it in the first place. So here I am writing for my sanity, which is writing for my life, and trying not to forget these memories. Writing them in black and white to go back and visit day after day. Documenting… so I can try to remember that magic is real and that every fairy tale has turmoil while the dragon is slain, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t eventually have a happy ending.
I found not quite a happy ending, but a little solace the evening after the chicken incident which caused my mind to snap a little like a primed rubber band on bare skin. I gotta be honest. I freaked a bit, and broadcasted my moment of distraught insanity in one of my friend groups online, and got way more than I bargained for. A motley crew of kind-hearted humans spread all over this earth who had never met me in person reached out within seconds with words that could have slain a dragon with the toughest of scales and the hottest of breath. One reply in particular did catch my eye more than normal, though, by a gentle beauty named Casey Marie. Part of my previous rant stated that I was sick of people just telling me to go get another dog from the pound. To this she wrote, “Dogs are special souls and aren’t necessarily replaceable… Grieve honey. Cry and tell her how much you love her. And when you’re ready, let it scab over and start to heal. In the meantime, tell us your favorite story about her. The funniest scrape she got herself into. Share your girl with us and make us smile with you through the tears.”
Casey’s words struck a chord with me. I’m not one to normally share a lot of personal stories or information. I’ve got some of that “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you” thing going on. Sometimes this saves heartache, but in this case I think I might have robbed the world of one of the most beautiful creatures that ever existed because I didn’t talk about Punkin enough. I didn’t share enough pictures. Well, I do believe it’s way past time to do it, but I also know it’s never too late so without further ado I’ll share with you a few lovely little snippets about my wonderful Punkin.
First off there were a couple very important facts that not many people knew about my baby. One was that her given full name on all her records was actually “Punkin Butt”. Not to be confused with my beautiful daughter’s nickname, “Pumpkin Butt”. That was super fun during the first few months when both the new puppy and my daughter answered my calls. It made dinner time super convenient.
The other bit of info was not as delightful. Punkin suffered from epilepsy, and so her life was at times a struggle. It hurts so much for me now, but I know her pains were epically worse than mine, and she is finally free of them. Maybe she knew her life would be cut way too short, and that was why she was such a double good doggy while she was here.
After Punkin’s first seizure many people told me to get rid of her. After the second, and then the third more and more suggested I do the same in manners that are too horrible to utter let alone type. I don’t regret a thing, though. I don’t regret a single time I cradled her during an episode and soothed her as she came back to me. I don’t regret the extra messes… even the time that “mess” just so happen to be butt liquid from hell shot all over my house’s air return vent. I’d do it all over again. Hell, I’d snorkel through the Bog of Eternal Stench if it meant nuzzling her softness just one more time. She changed my life in her short time on this mortal plane, and I often think without her at some of those crucial life moments I would have been lost. When I fought depression and rage, and got angry and yelled too much the fear and sadness I created in her eyes made me work harder to chill. I’d stare at my computer lost in photo editing for hours after coming home from a full-time day job, and with one nudge of her head at my thigh I’d remember to stop and enjoy the small things. I remember a visit from my dad once showed me how truly blessed with this fur baby I was. I hardly even blinked that day as I let her walk outside with us leash-less (which I don’t normally recommend), and my father watched in amazement as she stayed near me, not once venturing more than a couple of feet away.
“How do you keep her from running?!?!” he said in awe.
I remember I replied something like, “I don’t keep her from doing anything, Dad. I guess she stays because she loves me and she wants to.”
The weight of that statement didn’t hit me until later. She reminded me that love is real. True unconditional love exists. She was unconditional love personified, or canine-ified if you will. She was loyal to a fault, and stayed by my side no matter how uncomfortable that seat might have been. She gazed up at me with nothing but love in her big blue eyes, and I knew that although my eyes may be almost the exact same color they would never be as pure as the diamonds that shined in that beautiful puppy dog face. I read somewhere once on a sign, “Strive to be the person your pet sees you as,” and those are words I’ve built my life around. If I can be even half the person my Punkin saw me as then I’ll probably be doing better than pretty darn good. In this way she is still here with me, and always will be, and I will forever be a better person for having known her.
I want to close with another quote from the beautiful Casey Marie that inspired me to share my thoughts with everyone today. The last thing she wrote to me was “You know it’s a special love we have for our fur babies. We open our hearts to these beacons of light that we know we will live to see pass us by, but we do it anyway. I think it’s because we know we need that light, and welcome it’s warmth for as long we’re able. She must have burned bright for you.”
Well, burn bright I promise you she did. Forevermore when I look up at the stars at night or even the brightest sun on a summer’s day I’ll think of my Punkin Butt shining right along with them. She absolutely was my beacon of light on some of my darkest days, and I hope her flame will burn eternally through the eyes of the better person she has helped me to become.
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