It has been almost nine months since we lost Speedy. Nine months that seem to have dragged on for a lifetime, and to have passed in the blink of an eye.
Yesterday I was sitting with Bandit on the futon, running my fingers through the fur on the back of his neck, which is starting to get quite long. It struck me that it has been a very, very long time now since I had experienced that feeling. Speedy was my only really long coated dog. And then, it felt strange - like I remembered something I had forgotten that I shouldn't have forgotten!!
Things like that happen a lot. Little things remind me of Speedy - when Bandit's ears first stood up, sometimes an expression on Bandit's face, walking in the woods with Tessa, being at the beach, catching a glimpse of his picture, hearing one of his Freestyle songs . . .
Nine months out from losing him, things are much, much better. Most of the time during most days, life is going on just as it used to. Things are very much back to normal with Dean and Tessa and we hang out and we play and we train, and things are just . . . good and ordinary. I rarely think of the fact that I had thought, for such a long time, that Speedy, Dean, Tessa, and I would still have several good years together after Sammie, who was getting so old and clearly near the end, had passed on.
And Bandit has truly been a blessing sent from God who has made everything better in countless ways. Watching him grow was a daily miracle. He has brought joy and fun and a sense of adventure back into our household. At first he provided more of a distraction than anything, but over the months I have truly come to love him for himself and we have already had such good experiences together and I am genuinely excited for what is to come with him.
Life really does go on and a time really did come when I would smile more at Speedy's memory than cry.
But . . . there are still those moments. More than I ever thought there would be. More than there were for Maddie, or have been for Sammie (although I miss both of them in their own right!). Speedy was different. I wouldn't say I loved him more, but there was a unique connection with him. Every dog is an individual, but Speedy was exceptional. He wasn't a perfect dog, but there was such a depth to the bond and the experience that he and I shared and there really has never been anything quite like it with any of my other dogs. And he was so beautiful - inside and out. I always said that the world was a better place just because he was in it. He had a way of connecting with your heart - unspoken, subtle, but unmistakeable.
And sometimes it just hits me that he's gone. And he always will be. His time to bring blessing to my life and to this world has passed. And his memory can still inspire so much, but I will never see him curled up on his bed (now Dean's) or hunkered under the futon (where Bandit goes) or running in huge circles around Dean with his eyes blazing with fun. And I will never move with him at my side, gliding along as if he wasn't even touching the ground, in time to music, with our eyes locked together . . .
And when those moments happen, it still hurts - a lot. Not like it did back in January or February or March. Not like it did after we lost Sammie, too. Not like it did before Bandit came. But it is definitely still there.
I find that I want to make sense of the the whole thing, but it doesn't make sense. On an objective level I know he lived the life he was intended to live and his time had come, even though I was not expecting it right then. I know that if Speedy hadn't gone, Bandit wouldn't be here, and I know 100% that Bandit was meant to be here and that everything worked out exactly the way it was supposed to. I know that Speedy is no longer suffering from those horrible allergies, nor from the arthritis that he had in so much of his body, and that he will never have to grow really old like Sammie did.
I know all of that and on some level it still doesn't make sense.
But . . . most of the time that's not where I am. Most of the time I am grateful for the experience that Speedy and I had together and I am excited to build on it with my new boy. Most of the time I am glad that Tessa and Dean are still here and I am set on enjoying the time that I have with them because they are a delight. And all of the time I am grateful to have such a new boy, full of life and promise, in our lives.
It gets better . . . and it doesn't . . . and it does . . . and it doesn't . . . and . . . it does.