The routines are hard. Routines are what bring me comfort and stability in an unpredictable world, but now my routines are broken, and that in itself brings fear and pain. Even the routines that I wasn’t often part of.
- The house is too quiet in the early mornings, even when my husband is moving around. No little dog barking, or dancing around, asking for his walk, or for his food. I thought I slept through it most of the time, but the silence now wakes me with a feeling of emptiness. There was comfort in the routine that helped me to sleep.
- When my husband opens the door to leave for work, there is no dog running down the hallway, jumping up on the bed to see me as I begin to get up (there is no point to getting up, so I get dressed, brush my teeth, go back to bed – and notice his absence.)
- The dogs barking outside are not mine. I don’t need to check on him, or call him in. I wish it was my dog barking, disturbing the neighbours. But he never will again. Not this dog. Even that hurts.
- When I walk into my bedroom multiple times a day, there is no little face peering up at me from my pillow, where he used to pull back the blankets to sleep during the day. I keep expecting him to be there.
- We have a clock that has different bird sounds to mark each hour. The 5pm birds sing, and my heart jumps, but there is no dog dancing around, asking to be fed. The 5pm birds were his. They mark his absence now.
- While I am making supper, there is no dog asking to be let out so he can “watch for daddy.”
- No dog to beg for cheese whenever someone takes it from the fridge.
- When my husband asks me after supper if I want tea, it is like an arrow is being shot through my heart. The word hurts, and when I drink it, the tears start to fall. There is no dog trying so hard to wait patiently for his walk.
- There is no dog sneezing – I have allergies, and very early on in our time with him, he learned to sneeze to ask for something (“Do you want to go for an… achoo, achoo, achoo… walk?”) I miss his sneezing.
- When my tea is done, I fall apart, and go to bed in tears – though it is only 7:30pm. I should be walking, but there is no dog. No point. The pain is deep, and hard to shake.
- Just around 9pm, my husband opens the door to check for any cats that might be outside. That is when my dog would come running down the hallway to find me. There is no dog to run to me now.
- And when he came, I would brush his teeth (and give him his medicine for the last month or so) and he would try so hard to please me, though he hated it. Horrible cherry flavoured medicine, yet he would come, and he would sit, and he would open his mouth – then pull away, because it was so bad, then try so hard to stay just to please me. Just to please me. And he would lick the toothbrush after his teeth were done, because that tasted good, even if the brushing was hard.
- And then he would get a bone, and he loved the days when he got a new bone, and would run to the kitchen at the words, and sit ‘nice’ waiting for it.
- And he loved the game I played with him once he had the bone, where I would try and get it from him, and hide it – then kiss him on the nose when he growled lightly (the only time he did) when he was done with the game, to let him chew.
- I have no dog to kiss. No dog to feed. No dog to walk. No dog to love.
- During the night when I got up to use the bathroom, he would always sit up worried that I would trip on him, though I never did. I would rub his head on the way there and back, and tell him I loved him. There is no dog to trip on, and now I worry, because I can’t see him. I always could before. I miss him so much.
With the routines that brought me comfort, each one now fills me with an ache so strong I don’t want to live. I know this pain. I have been here before. I know this will be my life for many days, weeks, months even – and when I find it getting easier, that will bring a pain of its own.