Yesterday marked two weeks.
Two weeks since we said goodbye to our beloved beagle, Toby. He was 13 years old and the BEST dog I have ever known. I never had a bond with him like I feel with Charlie, or like I felt with Max, a dog that died when I was eight. But there was something about Toby. I blame it on him being a beagle. Just the right amount of ornery and sweet mixed together in one adorable package.
We’ve all been adjusting to his absence. I don’t think we realized just how much our lives orbited around him. Late night barking sessions outside, needing to go in and out and in and out over and over again, baking pumpkin muffins to hide medicine in, setting our plates down to be licked clean, all of it – our schedules worked around him, just to make sure he received his medicine at the right times.
I ate an entire box of mashed potatoes by myself in just two days after he died and Charlie has helped me to eat my feelings, a little too enthusiastically, these last two weeks.
The day it happened, the day he died, I didn’t know. I knew it would be sometime soon, but I hadn’t realized it would be that day. As I was lacing up my boots to go to work only one phrase kept running through my head. “Es muss sein. Es muss sein. Es muss sein.” German for “It must be.” All I could think about was how ordinary everything was. Lacing my boots, turning the key in the car, driving the same route to work that I drive everyday. Going about my day. It was a rainy day and there was a double rainbow outside of work. The only thing out of the norm that day. It just felt wrong that the day wasn’t marked by something extraordinary, something earth shattering. Instead, at least from my point of view, the world just kept spinning.
There was no pause in the universe, no weeping, wailing, or great gnashing of teeth, none of it. It was just a quiet, cool, rainy day at work. I’d gone to my volunteer session at church and when I came back he was gone and I didn’t even realize it until Gramma told me. It felt wrong that I hadn’t known the moment it happened.
I came home that night and was greeted by Charlie, and I waited for Toby to show up at the top of the stairs like normal to investigate, but he didn’t. So I ate the mashed potatoes I’d picked up on my way home, watched Star Trek, and went to sleep. I woke up a few hours later and went down to let him out, assuming that was why I’d woken, and then I realized he wasn’t there. I went and cried myself back to sleep. In the morning I thought I saw him in the chair in the corner of my room, it was only a blanket. He wasn’t there. I started to call his name, even though I’ve known for a long time that he was all but deaf. And I remembered he was gone.
Just a few days ago I realized that we were out of pumpkin muffins and was about to ask if we needed more, got half the words out and said nevermind. When Grandpa asked me what I was going to say, I told him, and then tried not to cry again. Every once in a while I start looking for him, trying to remember where he is – and every time it hits like a knife to the gut. I’m sure my grandparents and my aunt feel the same way, I don’t know for sure, but I can’t believe that I’m the only one.
For the first few days I kept catching myself talking like he was still here, about to walk into the kitchen and demand his biscuit and Cheerios. I forced myself to start thinking in the past tense and every time I hated myself for it. I never wanted to write in past tense again – yet here I am, writing in past tense and present.
It’s been an adjustment, and it’s still something I’m working on. I think we all are.
There’s something about beagles, just the right mixture of ornery and sweet.