Got me on my knees, Layla

We were gathered around her. All five of us. The doctor held her front paw and injected her. I heard the words slip out of mom, who stood in dad’s arms a few feet away, “Her heart has stopped.”

Huge wails followed from all of us. For several hours later, we kept breaking down. I’m barely holding it together right now.

For many years, it was a recurring nightmare for me: I would wake up and she would be gone. But she fought everything that came her way – Paralysis. Weakening heart. Fungal infections. Tick infestations. Her will to live and eat was very strong. The last few months of her life were filled with visits to the doctor to ease her pain and give her a better life. One her giant heart was deserving of.

Her heart gave everyone love without any discrimination. Not a soul has anything else to say about her but that she enriched our lives. She changed several pre-conceived notions about dogs. She managed to envelop each of us in her never ending cycle of warmth and love.

I will miss her. Like I would miss a limb. She is a part of me and always will be. So that’s not it. Her calming demeanour that got me through several depressive spells will be missed. Sorely. I think she will haunt me for a long time to come. And I’m not sad about it. After all, she taught me how to love. She loved me unconditionally. She gave me reason to live when I felt lost and at brink of yet another abyss. She eased my worried mind with a few tail wags, licks and her reassuring presence. Her zen face, warm body and soft snores were home for me. 

How can I not miss her?

As we set her down in her grave, a part of me wanted to curl up with her there and tell her she made me a better person and I was eternally grateful. But chances are that she knew it all along. Chances are she’s still watching over me. Telling me I’m a fighter and I can beat anything life throws at me. Just like when she was with me.

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As I lay down beside you, I could hear a continuous breathing and a soft snore. It calmed me down; my body went limp on the bed next to you. Your breathing and mine don’t sync. I was not oblivious to your breathing, either. I was aware. Very aware.

You were already asleep for a long time before I lay down. I waited for the calm to sink and settle before I could effectively fall into deep sleep. It took a while but I do drift. Our bodies don’t touch; we don’t even lean towards the other. We just were. I don’t think it was love; I breathed in your smell when my eyes were shut. It was intoxicating and binding. The emotion felt all consuming. I just wanted to wake up every day and find you there. I was unwilling to deal with the mortality of your bones, of your flesh.

I was in denial as I saw you age. Quicker than me. But there was a grace to it. I stayed enveloped in your intoxication. I moved closer for a milli second and you pulled away. You hated proximity while you slept. I forced my insecurities on you as you travelled through several dream lands. You resisted; I yielded to your demands.

Truth be told, I was happy just falling asleep hearing the soft snore, the loud breathing and inhaling the familiar smell. Occasionally, my weak heart reached out for me. Only with you.