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adventures of Manni the wonderdog

A letter to The Void

Do you start a letter like that with “Dear Void”? Obviously, Void, while you may be a part of me you will never be dear to me, ever. I hate almost all that you stand for so let’s just skip the “dear”.

Two years to the day is how long Manni has been gone. Two years to the day is also how long Manni was around after the day of his diagnosis and amputation. Two years that feel forever and yet feel like a heartbeat.

Void, I called you, didn’t I? Around six months ago I was reading one of my many books and in the story, someone said it was unfair to the ones we lost to keep hanging on to their memory, to want to make them stick around somehow and not leave them be. I don’t know why that resonated with my agnostic little mind but here we are, you and I.

For a year and a half, I almost marinated myself in memories of Manni, to keep him remembered but also to fall deeper into the hole of the day. And then I quit, cold turkey almost, and called upon you, Void, to take his place. We’ve worked out well, the two of us together, haven’t we? I give you space to be, and you return the favor and act as a little safety bubble between me and the hole of the day. I think of Manni daily, daily, but I let my thoughts bounce off that bubble and not let them drag me into the hole. So it’s been a decent deal I suppose. If it hasn’t worked out to perfection in the last couple of days you are not to blame, Void, I realize that.

Some things just made their way into my mind these last couple of days, but I firmly believe that they will leave again soon. -Did you know that my calling Manni “Baby” all the time wasn’t because I ever felt he was my surrogate child but rather originated from his very first months with us, when I would call him “baby-dog” because that’s what he was, a puppy, really? I mean, I never wanted children, I only ever wanted animals. After a couple of months during which Manni thought his name was “No!” “Baby” was one of the many names he responded to – not that I would have ever yelled that across a field, that’s what “Manfred” was for.

The amount of times he stole a pound of butter from the cupboard of my mother’s neighbors without once ending up with diarrhea, the countersurfing that no amount of training ever got under control (you just learn to move things behind cupboard doors), the ferocity with which he took on every job he could get his paws on, the cans that we put on top of the trashcan lid at the old office so he would get a scare if they tumbled off it when he was trying to dive into the bin (he didn’t scare, of course, but at least we were alerted to the fact…), all these memories try to worm their way back into my life, Void, but I am putting them away again right now. Behind a door in my mind so they don’t disappear but so that they also don’t make me want to visit them all the time.

By swapping them for you, the Void, I unknowingly opened up a door for Thilo. While there will always be room in my heart for all dogs I didn’t know that there are apparently also separate corners there full of love for the individual still. Thilo has turned into the most perfect little dog and best companion I could wish for and I have grown to love him so much. It is so ironic and somewhat typical, I guess, that I now end up with the absolute beginners’ dog that loves me unconditionally after having had the complete opposite before.  When Thilo’s little body gently presses against mine, I sometimes briefly think how different everything is now. For his sake I will not dwell on which life is better or worse than the other. It just is.

Until Manni was diagnosed I never knew to be thankful for him, but I learned. Today, I recognize that I must be thankful for Thilo and I tell him often, Manni taught me that.

So, Void, I guess it’s like the idea of marriage: it is now until death do us part that you will stay with me, through the good and the bad. Thank you for giving Manni’s memory a chance to roam free somewhere else and keeping me off of that hole. I will never thank you again because I really despise you but honesty goes a long way.

Yours,

Tina

And since this is the one day of the year I will let myself do this:

Ich lieb’ dich, Baby, mehr als alles auf der Welt.

 

7 Comments

  1. You are a very wise woman, my friend. And we are so much alike its scary! I’ve had similar thoughts, but more subconsciously. I’ve never gone so far as to purposely not think of Nitro, but I’m sure on some level I was. Whatever it takes for self-preservation, right?

    I’m so happy that Thilo came into your life! There were higher powers at work there, whether you believe that or not. He was the perfect little creature for you – as you are for him.
    Manni taught you some valuable life lessons…perhaps on some level preparing you for life after him. It brought a smile to my face picturing you screaming out “BABY, GET BACK HERE” across the field.

    I can’t wait to see you next August! Something to look forward to over the long, cold winter months. Take care of yourself, and the perfect little package that is Thilo. Love you, my friend!

    Paula and Warrior Angel Nitro (and the Terrorist Trio, too)

  2. WOW!!!!!!! 😎 For right now, just WOW!!!!!! Anf for right now, DITTO Paula😎

  3. Tina,
    You are amazing. You have such a deep perspective on things. “Void” shouldn’t take over you and you didn’t let it. You have always had room for more love. We have that heart dog who will always be apart of us in some way.

    Keep thinking of Manni you never know when he will show his presence again 😉 like in VA. Can’t wait to see you again.

    Give Thilo a hug and extra treats from me and my babies.

    xoxoxo
    Michelle & Angels Sassy & Bosch

  4. Well my friend you may hate the Void but it has served you well…it has allowed Manni to roam free and unfettered and you to go on with his memory still with you but not consuming you. It has allowed you to open your heart to Thilo and love again a little dog who mostly needed you way more than you thought you needed him. So yes feel free to hate the Void…but know the Void was exactly what you needed, when you needed it! So in honor of Our extrodinary Manni…I send up a toast to both Manni and you and say well done…& Bravo! Love you sweet Tina…see you in 8 months!

  5. Oh Tina,
    You so put into words how I feel. I sometimes feel guilty for loving Cooper so easily, but maybe it’s more that I’m thankful for him.
    Thilo came to you when you needed him the most. You helped each other to heal. Manni picked him out special, just for you <3
    Donna

  6. I keep coming back to read this and continue to say WOW!!!!! And now adding DITTO to all the heartfelt responses.

    I have to say though, as beautifully articulated every thought is, it’s taken me several reads to peel back the layers to really grasp your deeply personal experience from your perspective.

    As we say so often, every dog is different, every recovery is different, every journey is different, etc, etc. We each are different in our own individual capacity and individual way to make room in our hearts to love other dogs, while still keeping all previous ones nestled in their own special corner of our hearts.

    It was fun reading about all of Manni’s (Baby) shenanigans. The focus and determination he showed when he wanted whatever you didn’t want him to have, -too funny!! You understood Manni soooo well and you always let Manni be Manni…..as if you had a choice 😉

    That picture is absolutely priceless.😎 Such a handsome voy. I love how the light of the sun sort of dances around in the background behind the fur on his ear and head.

    And dear sweet Thilo….there could not have been a better fit! Even though you “tried” to give him back….and even though he “tried” to runaway that one time (well, okay, not exactly) You both needed each other to love, and to be loved back.

    Once you love a dog, that love NEVER goes away….it’s merely a solid foundation on which to build more love ❤ Each layer strengthens the bond of the other.

    I don’t lurk on facebooger as much anymore, , but I did see some great photos of Thilo awhile bac. And I do believe except for his size and short legs, he would be counter surfing too!

    Tina, your words of enlightenment were written so eloquently and with such heartfelt honesty. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. You touched us all❤

    With love
    Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

  7. The eloquent way in which you described your deal with the Void is perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone put it better. From how dwelling in memories so much that they drag us into a hole, to begrudingly makng bargain with that Devil known as “Void” so that we can continue to live and love again, you just described the late stages of grief so perfectly. Thank you.

    Manni is proud. That tough boy was sent to you as a gift, to show you a few things in life like coping with such great heartache. He succeeded. And Thilo benefits. It’s a win win my friend.

    On this day of his angelversary we are thinking of you and sending lots of love. Thank you for sharing your discoveries with us.

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