A week ago at this time I was sobbing on my bed, curled into a ball, hugging my stuffed Casey, after hearing from my mom that the real Casey, my corgi, was gone forever. This afternoon, football is on the TV and my boyfriend is laying on the bed while I type, his presence alone an immense comfort this past weekend.
The first couple of days of this past week were rough. But little by little, day by day, it became easier to continue on with life, as it always does. I went to a farewell happy hour for a colleague, and laughed and enjoyed bar food and beer. I talked to my dad night after night on the phone, reliving memories of Casey, sharing pictures we had collected over the years. I talked to my mom, assuring her that her trip to Miraval was the right thing to have done, that it will help her in the end, no matter how hard it was to leave my dad and Harrison at home again so soon. Friends and family had many words of kindness for me, as well as people I don’t know so well, and people I hadn’t seen in years. I went to another colleague’s farewell dinner, and laughed and bonded and ate some more, enjoying every moment of being with my team, loving what we do while at our desks during the day and knowing that any of us would do anything for the each other. And then on Friday, my boyfriend arrived for the weekend, the last bit of comfort I needed to make me realize that even with this loss, there is still life to live.
I know still that when I go home at Thanksgiving, I probably will be sad again, when I don’t hear Casey’s bark in the laundry room or his nails skidding across the floor to greet me. I know we will all be taking turns holding Harrison in our laps, because it will be one dog to three people instead of two to three.
But – I know as well that my parents and I will be closer than ever before, and we are already pretty damn close. And I know that all I can do is give Harrison all the love that I have and he will give it in return. And I know that I have friends and family and a boyfriend who are there for me, through good and bad, happiness and grief, success, failure, all of it.
Because of some of the struggles I’ve had with my biological father and other family in my life before, I’ve always found it hard to trust that those around me truly love me, need me, want to be around me. And over the last six months, I’ve felt that feeling diminishing thanks to the support of those exact people, and the support of a therapist who has helped me realize that even though this one person wasn’t there for me, I’ve got all of these other people who are there, have been there, will always be there.
With Casey’s death, I know this now more than ever. I know that my friends and colleagues are looking out for me, and appreciate me. I know that my boyfriend is there in a second if I needed him. And most of all, my parents are there in more ways than I can explain. Since I left for college in 2003 and the moved to DC in 2007, my mom and I have talked almost every day on the phone, or at least online. It may be five minutes some days, or half an hour when we have a lot going on. I’ve always loved that, and now, I appreciate it even more. My dad and I haven’t had the same history – he’s not a big phone person, which I respect, so when we do talk by phone, it’s maybe once every few weeks, but we get a lot covered in that one phone call. But this past week, talking to my dad every night for half hour or an hour, about Casey, about work, about our lives, it has done more for me – and I think for him – than I would have expected. We owe that to Casey – our dogs have always brought our family such happiness – and Casey continues to, even in death.
It’s one week later, and life goes on. Football games, dinners with friends, and my daily workouts, which I had dropped over the last few days. Life may not have Casey in it anymore, but I know that because of him, all of life’s little peaceful moments and the relationships I have mean that much more.