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The unmistakable hurt of loss

Tonight, nine nights after I had to bid farewell to the purest heart, and most trusted of friends, I felt a deep hurt. It wasn't my first night with this sensation-- I had it last Tuesday when I had to let go of my own sentimentality and my own desire, and put my dear, sweet dog down. His name was Jersey, my daughter had named him. In fact, she is always quick to point out that she chose him. Truth is, she didn't. He might have been all of eight weeks old, but he chose her.

I cried as the life left him. I cried because I loved him. I loved that he was the most gentle soul. Even as "his" kids grew into adulthood, he still went out to great neighborhood kids getting off the school bus. He seemed to adopt the little girl next door as a stand-in for my daughter. He met everyone with a warm glance and his cockeyed ears, one folded, one sticking out, inviting hugs and smiles. So, knowing that he was tired and that he ached, I let him go. Knowing it was the right thing only made it hurt a little less at the time. I was able to compartmentalize the pain, pushing it down with intellectualism. He had a good life. He had a family that loved him. He was never hungry, never cold. Not bad for a pound mutt.

But sometimes, like tonight, there is a little something. Just the slightest hint that a beautiful, sweet, loyal friend is gone. Tonight, it was a sound. Well, the lack of a sound, really. Jersey

used to come into the bedroom a few minutes after me. He would come into the bedroom

with the light jangle of the tags on his collar and the groan of old bones, took a position at the foot of the bed, and go to sleep. He never slept on the bed with his people, though he had always been welcome to-- invited to. He was too respectful for that. But that position on the floor, near the bed was nice and close to me. A place of honor. A place where he was able to keep an ear out for trouble, yet rely on his person, if need be.

I don't hear a lot of things. The tinnitus is pretty bad and I having ringing in my ears all the time. But I realize now that I heard Jersey come into the bedroom every night. Every night for years and years. Tonight, I didn't hear those familiar sounds. I'm not crying anymore, but the hurt is still there. It is the sting of lost love, lost friendship, lost companionship. It is a sting that I know will fade, Jersey is not the first dog I have lost and he won't be the last, but I hope it doesn't fade too much. I want to know he meant something. I take comfort knowing he meant something.

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