Charles, my sweet companion terrier mix, died… and the Babdook was alive again.
“Wait for me on the other side,” was the last thing I got to whisper in Charles ear before he took his last breathe. It was 5:08am (PST). I held him wrapped in a Mexican serape blanket, rocking him and holding him close. I told him how much I loved him, and how he was the best sweetest boy anyone could have ever asked for. I had one hand on his chest and felt his last two heart beats. Then I sat there in shock. Still holding him close, still crying my eyes out. How did this happen?
“I will tell you how this happened…” the Babadook whispered in my ear… “you didn’t pay attention. You let this happen. This is on you.” (Obviously not literally hearing a voice but the anxiety and self-doubt that overcame me.)
Did I miss the signs? I was so busy working. So tired with a toddler. So exhausted with excuses – letting myself be a half-assed fur-mom.
I am riddled with guilt, covered in pain, drowning in sadness. And this is when the Babadook knows he can return. Babadook, of course, being the name I gave my crippling anxiety. So here I go again, battling to keep him at bay.
(And remember, it is always okay to say you are not okay. To seek help. To share your feelings. As I am doing with you. If we share our feelings we let them out and set them free – we set ourselves free, but when we bottle them in they become toxic to our mind body and soul.)
I miss Charlie in a way that is so profound, and I have no idea what to do with that sadness. I will be strong, for Peanut and for Walter. But I am struggling.
Charles was different in a way that I had never known a pet to be. He was a mommas boy. He gazed lovingly at me, cuddled with me, let me dance around with him, gave me kisses, and loved me unconditionally. Not for treats, not for what I could offer him. Just for being me. He couldn’t sleep without knowing where I was, he couldn’t eat if I wasn’t nearby. We had a bond deep enough that I can easily say it was the closest to being my child after Peanut. I didn’t save him, he saved me. And I am scared and sad to be without that love and comfort we had in each other. Walter loves me, of course… well, he likes me most days. Some days not so much. Charles was different. He was my sweet potato. My companion and spirit guide. My little boy.
I know some of you are saying, “he was just a dog.” I get it. I’ve said that in the past. I’m guilty of that dismissiveness. But in the age of covid when my entire in-person world mainly consists of my dogs and my Peanut baby girl, my tiny world just got smaller and sadder.
I was so focused on work, parenthood and other life priorities, that I took him for granted, and in what felt like a blink of an eye, a moment of weakness from being overwhelmed, I lost my boy. That’s all it takes, a single seemingly non-important moment of looking away, and just like that… your life changes.
I’m sorry for every time I failed you. Especially this one.