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adventures of Manni the wonderdog

Tag: grief

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I now only ever seem to write on December 10 and that makes it three years now. Three years or a lifetime. I feel like a completely different person with a whole other life – but then again the world around me has changed just as much.

I sometimes feel older than my years and when I imagine you, Manni, it feels like I am looking out of my Granny armchair, with a checkered woolen blanket over my knees, remembering the way the world was then, in Technicolor almost. That’s because it does not feel like the two of us together would ever fit into the world right now so it’s more like revelling in the memories of my youth.

Today, I look out from my armchair and in my mind’s eye I see the first gently falling snow of three years ago, I hear in my mind your quiet whimper early in the morning telling me that the pain is getting too much even for you to bear, I see the painful way I try to make smalltalk with the vet through my held-back tears, I see you hopping into your yard to feel the first snow and I see you, or what once was you, lying peacefully, head slightly sideways on your one front paw, having taken with you everything that defined me.

I let my mind wander back another two years, the two years that broke so much of me and all of you. I see you being taken in for an MRI, after a horrible night of morphine, to find out what was wrong with you and thinking that maybe you just had a thorn in your paw, like the little lion that you were. Two years back to when I had to make the decision in 15 minutes of whether or not to take the leg of an animal that was born to run;  to the nail-biting five days you spent at the clinic with me wondering how in the world I was to know what the right decision was for you and not for me. Getting you back in the sterile surroundings, out of your head on meds and missing a leg. Hearing you scream, loudly, for the first time when I try to get you in the car and then crying my eyes out.

My younger self is shaking a little, eyes getting moist. I tell my mind’s eye to get back to the present and shake off lingering ghosts and horrors. I open my eyes and I see Thilo, in whose eyes I can do no wrong and I am glad he doesn’t know. I see the latest addition to the household, little Erna, who is just so ridiculously cute that it’s almost absurd. I see our new house and am briefly reminded that I purposely left your dissolvable urn in the old yard because it was your yard, really, and you would have wanted to stay.

Scrooge slowly turned into a better person by being visited by his ghosts. What made me a better person, Manni, was you – whatever that makes me now.  And so I once more welcome both your front paws on my knees with the checkered blanket. I hold your head and bury my nose into the silken fur behind your ears and take in your scent. And then I let you go. Again.

Until next year, Baby,

Ich lieb’ dich.

everywhere you go.

 

Alone at last.

Thank you everybody for the numerous comments, condolences and your kindness. I can’t even begin to express how much it means.

A new year has begun and right now I don’t even care what it brings.

Manni made it to exactly two years after his amputation. Maybe one day I will be able to celebrate this huge achievement of having shown both cancer and statistics my middle fingers but right now I just can’t.

Manni was my constant companion. And I mean that very literally. If at all possible I took him along. During his life he was in different countries (he had his own pet passport), used all methods of transportation you can imagine (boats, public transport, cars, trains, RVs, elevators, ferries…), he was an office dog, he went to all restaurants with me, he was at Christmas markets, in hotels, in vacation rentals, at all my friends’ houses, in barns, on horse pastures, he played with goats and cats, he went to nose-work classes (lost people searches) and excelled in them and he even participated whole-heartedly in the dog-Paralympixx. You name it, he was there.

In short: wherever I went, he did. He was never afraid of anything, he took everything in stride even though some of the things I made him do must have been a challenge.

The problem with having your dog with you everywhere is that once your dog is gone there is not a single place you can go where you don’t miss your dog. That’s where I’m at now. I feel like I am the one missing a limb now. All my friends would always say that Manni and I were so symbiotic it was unreal. Now, this is exactly what’s come back to haunt me. Now, I am alone at last, as I expected to be for exactly the last two years.

Manni was not a perfect dog, in fact he was very far from being a perfect dog. He chased after every moving object if you weren’t careful, he didn’t like strangers, he didn’t like cuddles, he counter-surfed no matter where we were, he stole food off colleagues’ desks, he got stuck in a waste basket once trying to reach food, and he was the most strong-willed creature you could find. I can’t even count the number of times he left me absolutely exasperated and at my wit’s end. My mother would always say: well, you get what you deserve…

However, let me show you what it meant to me to have him around. Look at my face. Can you see the absolute bliss?

 

Time is my friend, they tell me. I’m sure they’re right. We’ll see.

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