The New Normal

I don’t know that I’ll ever feel normal normal, but I’ve reached a sort of new equilibrium. It’s very sad doing the basics of life without Grace. For 15 years she’s been an intrinsic part of our lives, and for something like the last 7 or 8 she has received pills at 12 hourly intervals that marked the rhythm of our lives. Last night we went out to dinner straight from work, and farted around until almost 10 PM. Normally whatever our Friday night plans were, they always involved getting home to give a pill at 7 PM and let the dingo out into the yard. Staying out so late without returning home felt vaguely like a betrayal. It feels the same when I sleep past 7 AM, like I have let her down and been a bad doggie daddy. The past two weekends, when I wake up it is always with a jolt like I have slept past an obligation.

A week ago, I set myself into a crying jag when I was cooking and dropped a piece of diced tomato on the floor. I waited for her to come and snatch it up, and then remembered I’d have to pick it up myself and got sad all over again. There is this kind of ambient ache in my tear ducts from being used so much, and being triggered for so many different reasons. It’s hard to look at a picture, think about her, be in a situation where she was usually there (which is almost everything one might do), or look at the backyard where she is buried and not want to cry.

All that said, I think the pain has been isolated into a numbed pocket in which it will stay. Like arthritis or bursitis or any sort of chronic pain, it will never go away but I will be able to live around it.

Several people have suggested that we get another dog. That would be reasonable advice for most, but we aren’t going to do it. We’ve known for 10 years or more that whenever we lost Grace that would be it. She was the first and only dog we’ve ever had, we got her right near the beginning of our marriage and have had her almost our entire adult lives. Despite some rough puppy times, she was so sweet and so good for so long that we can’t imagine another dog living up to that nor would it be fair to bring in another with such baggage in the relationship from day one. We’ll have to deal with our loneliness and sadness all on our own. It will never be good, but it’s getting less bad.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.