The Morning After
I don't know how I made it through the first night without Bow. I just managed to do it. The many messages of support from so many quarters helped. Most were virtual messages not phone calls which helped. I needed to be alone, feel the emptiness. Having lived with illness for over a year, that emptiness was both agonizing and a relief. Bow was gone, but so was her suffering.
My sleep was calm, and I rose before 6:30, amazed by how okay I felt. My instincts told me that I needed to keep to our routines. Twisted as it may sound, I readied like any morning, but her collar in my pocket and began to walk our usual two mile route. Immediately I felt comforted to know that while her physical presence was not there but all the familiar things were. Life does go on. I felt that I was going to be fine, agonizing as it might be.
At the end of the second block, the little girl that greets us every morning must have seen the top of my head from her window and called out "Good morning, Bow. I love you Bow." For the first time since it happened I wept. I am not sure they were tears of grief. Having lived with her cancer for over a year, I feel that much of that time was filled with grief and dread of the eventual passing of my beloved.
As I walked further, I passed many familiar neighbors and their dogs, not able to make eye contact. Many had commented on how concerned they were about Bow and me in the previous weeks, and it had been more than a month since she could make it past the first few blocks. In that moment, as I could feel people sensing my sadness as I walked I felt her with me, felt the way she touched so many lives in this neighborhood. Someday I will walk this same route with another basenji, and as it pulls on the leash and I know what to do, I will feel Bow with me. I will know what to do because of her, and in that moment I will know that she is there living within me.