It has been, now, 5 days since Jessie died. It has been a very bad week for me; self-recriminations, the sadness of loss, forced new routines, and the need to redefine my purpose. I am wondering this morning if the depth of my struggle might have something to do with my hyper-vigilance in trying to keep Jessie well, comfortable, and as happy as possible. I believe a core wish in all of that was to keep her alive for as long as I could. If so, her death last Monday was a failure. I let her down (in that story).
I can’t really go back and rewrite the stories that informed my actions and beliefs while I was Jessie’s caregiver, but I can edit those stories going forward. On examination I think the story closest to the truth is that I did the very best I could with whatever gifts and limitations I brought to the practice of caring for Jessie. Within reason I always gave more weight to her quality of life, over quantity of life.
Even so, with a host troubles and (likely) bad genes, she lived to a ripe, old doggy age of 13 years, and some measure over that. 12-and-a-half of those years were spent in the loving care of Dee and myself.
Considering the prospects of the thoroughly untrained, unsocialized, baggage-laden, broken, stray puppy picked up by the Charlottesville/Albemarle SPCA all those years ago, she did pretty well for herself.
There will undoubtedly be moments ahead when I look for her, and find heartache instead. I am certain I’ll find myself thinking of her, and long for her company. I don’t believe I will ever stop thinking of her as “the best dog in the whole world.” But I think it’s time I let her go, holding only her memory and the love in my heart.