Charlie woke me up this morning while tendrils of dreams were still dangling just enough for me to recall them. Bits and pieces of what was conjured up during the night slowly crept back into that place where dreams go.

When I hear him attempting to walk down the bigger doggy steps from the bed, I have trained myself to wake up to make sure he doesn’t fall. The vet has cautioned me about this and I try my best not to let him stumble.

I get up and let him out, then go to the floor with my yoga mat and stretch the kinks out so I don’t feel so stiff.

Next I clean the kitty litter box, take medication, make the bed and feed the pets. I put Charlie’s meds in pill pockets he sometimes wolfs down. Other times, like today, he is nonchalant about them. He doesn’t want them right away.

I have learned to back off and not try to force him to eat the treats. But I really need to make sure he takes his heart medication. It is a difficult balancing act. If I try too hard to get him to eat the treat, the more he will back away.

After the pets have been tended to I fix my own breakfast and a cup of coffee.

And then after that, I settle down here with my laptop.

A person could certainly set their watch by my routines, for they are pretty much the same every day. Some days I go out, some days I don’t.

By five or six p.m. later in the day I am back to my yoga mat on the floor, stretching out the tension of the day. I prepare the pets’ supper and then my own. Give Charlie his evening meds.

Then I take a shower and head to the bedroom for the evening. I watch Netflix or read my Kindle.

Most people would probably feel constrained by this stringent routine, but it is a comfort to me.

I’ve lived a life where many times I never knew what was going to happen from minute to minute. As a child my life was shrouded in mystery and I wasn’t sure of anything. So now that I’m older, I cling to my routines like a lifeline.

On the day of the week that I clean my apartment I treat myself to supper in afterward. I sit at the table next to the patio door and savor my meal, watching the birds or the wind lifting the leaves in a mock wave of greeting.

For someone who really has no schedule to speak of, this strict of a routine might seem odd.

With Charlie’s complex medical problems, tending to his needs always come first. My routine must be woven in around them.

I see it is raining again. I can’t hear it, but the concrete is wet.

The light from the salt lamp is an orange reflection in one of the French door panes. I hear a clock ticking ever so softly. The tree limbs slow dancing are the only movement I see outside.

Charlie is tucked in beside me in my chair as I write. His warm body touches mine.

Since Friday I have been thinking about Abi a lot. She’s been gone now 16 months. When I think of her it’s like someone squeezes my heart. I keep thinking: if only I could see her and hold her one more time.

But then I’d want more. Of course I would.

abi

My unwavering grief is like a jolt at first, like the prick of a needle in my arm, which takes me back, back, to the days when she was slowly fading right in front of my eyes.

Still I took her to the vet each day for sustenance, hoping against hope that she would get better.

And when she didn’t, there was that unbearable and excruciating sight of that light in her eyes slowly receding until she was gone.

abi

Abi was the light of my life, and in that place there is darkness because nothing could possibly replace her.

I live with the loss as one does with any loss. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other.

But never will I stop missing her. That bundle of energy that brought me such laughter and delight.

I wonder if Charlie remembers Abi? If he misses her?

I don’t let him see the tears. There is no point in upsetting him. I force myself to rein the grief in because I must focus on his needs now.

“You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.”
― J.K. Rowling,

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19 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness how heartbreaking!! I teared up at the end. On a more positive note, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and how you approach routine. I saw myself in a lot of what you wrote. There is definitely a certain comfort in a daily routine. I also have to assist my dog at night on and off the bed, and make sure she takes her meds daily 🙂

    Thanks for including my blog in your boho blogs list, I appreciate the link ♥ I’m glad I found you and will be back to read more here. Take care!

  2. Lovely post, Brenda. Routine, ordinary days are the best to me…you are right, they are a comfort. I understand your grief with Abi. So often when I am holding, Sophie, I hold her a little closer thinking of our Bailey. Sophie is 12, and showing her age. Sometimes you just want time to stand still.

  3. Brenda,
    I’m am truly sorry for your loss. Your post resonated with me on so many levels. I grew up in a family where never knowing when the other shoe would drop, was a way of life and thus spent most of my life, thriving on chaos and not doing so well during those smooth sailing times. It’s took me almost 40 years to learn how to relax (although I use that term loosely:)). Over the past 16 years, I’ve become someone who lives by routines and I relish in it. Those routines give me comfort that soothes the soul.
    I am the mother of a large, goofy and soulful Golden named Chauncey. He’s hitting his twilight time now. My husband has had some health issues that have slowed him down and Chauncey has been my constant companion, confidante and best friend for 11 years. Chauncey is my 3rd Golden. Each one of these boys came to me at different points in my life and I now see that their similar, but different personalities were all part of Karma’s plan. They’ve each taught me so much. Chauncey’s aging in light years now and we spend more time just sitting under the tree and watching the world go by. I think he’s teaching me how to let go and that’s how it happens. They grace us for a short period and gift us with insights to life.
    Your post was just beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Just a few hours ago, riding back with my daughter from picking up the kids from their weekend visit to their sperm donor…she and I were remembering our dogs…and how much that last one (Ebony) was special and there surely is no other just like her. I have loved all my dogs…but this one was like no other and way smarter. THOSE kind we simply cannot get over I think. Ebony will be gone already 9 years this December…and we have yet to get another dog. A lot depends in our lives as to whether we ever would too…but we talk of it and dream. But if we never do, we know we already have had the best dog ever….and that will simply have to do. But yes, we still grieve her loss…and I am sure you will always feel so about yours too!!

  5. Brenda, I cried with you, I had to put my Teddy (Shih tzu) on his path to the Rainbow Bridge, 13 years ago on Thanksgiving. I still to this day miss him like a child, he was to me. Also over the years I’ve had to send off Maggie,a cat, Poo,a cat, and Piggy,a cat all 4 of them within a 6 month time fram, and another dog Tia (beagle) just last fall. We have a 3-year-old Shih Tzu who we saved froma dog fighting jerk( I would use stronger words but I’m a lady). I’m sorry I’m going on but that pain never goes away.

    As far as routine goes I am the same way, some people call me boring( my adult children) I like to say my hubby and I are organized. I’ll take boring any day.

  6. I am another person who loves routines. However I am living with a handicapped child who never lets me do the same thing twice. I am on duty and have to deal with someone else’s idea of what we should do. I would love to live on your house with predictability and peace. I also grew up with a bit of chaos. My father was military and we moved around a lot. Partly because of the military and partly because of them. Enjoy your life, I would enjoy it myself if I had it.

  7. I’m a creature of habit and love my daily routine, too. I think this becomes more part of us as we grow older.

    My Zippo has been gone for 10 months now. I still miss him terribly and my heart hurts when I think about him. Me, my husband and son still talk about him all the time and all wish he were still here with us. Tim even got a tattoo of Zippo’s paw print on his chest, near his heart where Zippo always cuddled with him.

  8. I think it is essentially human that we remember and mourn the memories of the loved people and loved pets who have passed on. My beloved Spencer died in 1999 and I still mourn his loss, 20 years later. I lost two more dogs after Spencer – Jocques died in 2001 and Tasha in 2004. I did not have the heart to get another pet after that. I stick to feeding the wildlife. Just like we get attached to our loved ones (people and animals), we get attached to our routines. I can’t imagine NOT living with at least some modicum of regularity and discipline, taking care of what needs to be taken care of every day. I think it is a sign of stability and maturity, and a sign of rationality to not live one’s life constantly putting out fires caused by the dread disease I’ll-do-it-tomorrowitis.

  9. I understand your heartache when you think of Abi. They just burrow so deeply into our being that life without them is so difficult. I just got a renewal notice for our lab Ella
    we rescued from the pound here when she was five. We had to put her down this spring. Her health was failing so and she could hardly walk. We had seven years with her. She will always hold a special place in my heart.

  10. I was just thinking this morning about my daily routine, and how comforting it is to me. I do have social things about 3 times a week, and I try to attend a sit and fit exercise 3 times a week, but it is a struggle for me to do so and sometimes I skip a day here and there. I also think of my dear Romeo who has been gone for 3 years now, and I still have times where my heart aches with missing him so I totally understand you missing Abi like you do.
    I have become accustomed to living alone and really enjoy my solitude. My home is my sanctuary, my secure and safe place and I like being alone now. I recently adopted two cats and they are plenty of company for me and keep me entertained and give me some purpose to my days in caring for them. I am glad you have Ivy, hearing you stories about her is why I adopted these two cats for myself. I don’t think you or I will ever quit grieving for our lost babies, they were such a huge part of our lives and their passing left such a large hole in our hearts. We can love other pets, but none ever take the place of the one who crossed the rainbow bridge, and I really look forward to seeing my Romeo again someday.

    1. Hi Patrice.
      I remember when I was going through my divorce back in 2005 and how devastating it felt to be losing my family home. My children were both young teenagers back then. My son came to live with me full time and my daughter alternated weeks between her mother and myself. Routine had always been important to me as that was the only predictable thing in my life; getting my children ready for school, going to work- running my business. As the years went on our family dog passed away. “Bosley” was a mini fox terrier and such great company to me. When my son left home for University Bosley was still with me for a couple of years before he passed away. My son and daughter surprised me with a kitten for my birthday a few years after Bosley’s passing away. “Matilda”, as I named this beautiful ginger/ white and tan kitten has kept me sane and in a routine for the last five years. Now as a single “Grandfather” I am more than grateful for the years Matilda has been with me. I know she won’t be with me forever but I guess the best thing about being an animal lover is that we always have room in our hearts for these beautiful creatures that love us unconditionally and are a constant reminder why we need to get up in the mornings and tend to their needs. Have a wonderful day.

      1. Hello Adam:
        Thank you for the lovely response. And yes, I think one of the biggest reasons I got the cats is because they make me feel “needed”, and gives me a bit of responsibility. After working almost all my adult life, retiring was something I looked forward to. I did not know I would be spending my golden years alone, and at first it was hard, and if I had not had my toy poodle Romeo, I would have been very lost and depressed. When he finally passed, the apartment felt so empty, and I felt so alone. A lot has happened since then, and now I am finally accepting that I will never own a home, and never have a yard, and living in a third floor apartment down a very long hallway is not conducive to having a dog, (I tried that, and had to face it was not fair to either myself or the dog.) So after
        re-homing him with a good friend, I resigned myself to being alone, until the opportunity came to rescue these two cats, and I am so glad I did.

  11. Dear Brenda. we never really get over those loved ones whom we have lost. The memories come flooding back at moments when we least expect or when some little detail triggers a memory. We do get on with our lives, but we grieve for the rest of our time, and that’s acceptable. I don’t want anyone telling me to “get over it” or “move on”. So grieve whenever you need to. Abi earned that love.

    We have been having beautiful fall days in the Northeast, unlike last year, and my plants are getting their second wind. I particularly love my Sedum Autumn Joy and my butterfly plant (I don’t know what the name of it is) is attracting so many beautiful butterflies.

    I agree. I love my routines. They give me a sense of order and control in my life. I traveled a lot when my husband was alive, but am now very content to be home and puttering around.

    Have a peaceful Sunday afternoon.

  12. Hi Brenda,
    Routine is good for so many of us. Like you said you grew up with something different everyday and so now having routine gives you harmony. That is a good thing. The waves of feelings that come over you about Abi are so normal. Cooper has been gone almost 2 years and I still have moments where he pops in to my mind and I have intense sadness come over me. My thought is if I could only have one more day with him. I think grief never leaves it just is more tolerable some days than others.
    Happy Sunday.

  13. I do love my routines . I feel I get lost if things are not done and I have a certain way they are done I think some people think I am boring but I love my routines

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