Last weekend, the ticking time bomb that has lingered over me for the last few years has finally gone off. My 15-year-old dog, Willow, lost her life to severe pain and paralysis. After months of helping her meet her special needs, and fighting the degradation of her body, it was finally too much for her to continue. The only choice left was to let go of any selfish attachments and provide her with one final act of selfless love: to release her from her suffering.
Most people assume that death is hard the hard part of life, but they assume wrong. In fact, death is the easiest thing in the world. With a quick prick of the needle, death came for my Willow, and it was over in one heartbreaking instant. That’s when the hard part begins, after death, when all you can do is try to carry on with the emptiness it has left you with. A beacon of light and joy has been removed from my world forever. And for now, I will wander my way through the darkness the best I can.
When you experience a loss like this, your friends will tell you that you’ll get over it eventually, but that’s not true. You’ll never really get over it. You’ll only learn to live with it. The pain becomes another part of who you are, and it will inevitably change you, in one way or another. Even as a heathen, with a natural understanding and acceptance of death, loss is like anything else in life. It will never be a simple process.
Both the heart and the mind will struggle to process these changes. It will likely be weeks, or months, before my brain stops projecting her image onto her favorite spots. Or convincing me that I heard the noises that accompany her presence. After over a decade, it is the empty spaces that are the loudest reminders of everything she meant to us. It is the deafening absence of her loving energy that is the most painful.
The world is filled with treacherous assholes and simple-minded fools. I’d gladly trade them all to get her back.
Someday this loss will be easier to live with and who I am will have been altered by the lessons that await me during this process. But for now, the pain is something that I must experience. Because this pain is a sign that it all meant something. That it had value. That all of the good things that come with animal companionship are well worth the long-term costs of those commitments. This is the wolven instinct and she was my wolf.
Finally, I’d like to extend my gratitude to those who have reached out to me and shown kindness during these tough times. It is true that I find it difficult to have any positive feelings towards most people in this modern world. But it is those few people, that hold tightly to the ways and values of our ancestors, who inspire me to fight for our continued existence. Those are the people who have my utmost respect, and they are welcome at my dinner table, anytime.