There have been many nights since Beauford’s diagnosis that I find myself unable to sleep. After what I can only call ‘the collapse’ on diagnosis day I have tried my very best not to cry in front of him. I have choked back tears, cried in the shower, or quietly wept while he slept.
I’ve listened to him breathe, snore, and my most favourite – taking in the sights and sounds while he dreams. The paws shaking, tail wagging, and little woofs he lets out as he dreams are things that are now permanently etched in my memory.
I’ve never been a great sleeper, actually I am a downright rotten one. It seems that as I lay down to sleep my mind wanders, and takes me on journeys that sometimes I have no interest in taking. My mind was polluted with thoughts of how can I possibly pack up all this things? The thought of that, akin to being poisoned by grief. I thought about all his guys, his beds, his bowls, his special ties, and bow ties, his leashes, bandannas, costumes, coats, collars, shampoos, coat conditioners, brushes, and all the other things I’ve acquired over his 6 years to make his life the best it possibly could be.
My home is Beauford. You walk in my door and he’s everywhere; he has his hooks (shaped like dog bums) and his cubby (filled with all his things). A dog lives here. There’s no denying it. As you enter the living room there’s toy bins that quite honest vomit stuffed animals, balls, bones and tug toys.
Thinking about packing that all away is absolutely agonizing. The more I thought about it, the deeper I felt myself drowning in grief and he is not even gone yet. Here’s the thing when you’re facing a loss, any loss, you don’t want to think about these things, and you do your very best not to. But it’s difficult. You’re only human, and it’s so hard to not think about the stabbing pain that’s to come.
But in these many, many, lost hours of sleep I’ve realized there are things you HAVE TO push into the back of your mind, because if you think about them too much the grief will cripple you, leaving you unable to make new memories, and you’ll fail in making each day special.
The one thing I have allowed myself to do, and I would encourage everyone to take a moment to do this, is plan what you can for the day that you have to say your final goodbye. I have loved and lost before, and I know that on that very last day it’s a whirlwind of emotion. There are things that you might forget, things you wish you didn’t.
I have selected Beauford’s final things. Without question he will be privately cremated, and his ashes will rest in an urn I have selected, with a paw print to accompany it. The instructions, along with my credit card number, have been placed in an envelope for safe keeping. I have picked the blanket he will be wrapped in, and I have picked a few of his favorite guys and an entire bag of his favourite treats that will forever rest with him.
All these decisions were made as I listened to him breathe, snore, and woof in his sleep. I chose a guy given to him by my father, by his best friend Dexter, and one that has become his security blanket from me. All of these guys are his favourites, and it gives me great comfort to know that something from everyone he loves will be with him forever.
I wanted to be certain that on Beauford’s last day, whenever that is (hopefully not for a LONG time), that my mind wasn’t bogged down by choices, and I could truly just love him right to his very last breath without fear of forgetting.