by JM Stuckrath
The feeling one gets when a loved one passes
| Death only separates us, physically; you’re still with me, however. You’re with me with each step I take. Each breath. Every dream I have. And no matter where life takes me, you’re closer to me now than you ever were. I can feel your presence.
Death is merely a condition; a state of being. And although I can no longer feel the heat of your breath on the back of my hand, I know you’re close beside me, watching me lie in bed at night. I feel your eyes upon me. I know you’re protecting me like you always have and always will.
Sometimes I feel Death mocking me. It plays mind games with me. I hate it and love it because it reminds me of what once was but no longer is. Often I feel your tail thump against my leg or your head placed in my lap. Instinctively, my hand goes to pet you only to find myself brushing it through the air. I imagine somewhere a dark figure laughing manically at my pain.
Other times Death plays other games while I dream. I dream of you barking at me or playing games with me. And I’m so content; so happy. It’s as if you weren't ever taken from me. We're often at the river. You're standing at the edge of the river bank, waiting for the tennis ball to fall into the river as if it falls from the sky just like you always used to do. Then I awake and am suddenly struck with the realization that Death is again laughing, only this time he laughs maliciously because it knows that dreamland makes everything feel real.
It’s very difficult to escape Death. Not in the sense of escaping Death’s grasp but in the sense of escaping its little pranks; its reminders of what used to be. I've tried to elude its delusions of you only to get hit harder than before. It reminds me of our gallivanting off into the sunset every night. I want so badly to walk with you just before dark while there’s still light outside but not too hot.I race home from work, excitement races through my heart. I push open the front door and suddenly realize your absence.
Death knows. It knows and it loves to use the pain against me. Someday I’ll be used to the idea of you not being physically near me and Death won’t be so malevolent. Part of me doesn't want Death’s tricks to end because that’s how I feel close to you anymore; the little reminders are clues that you were here. But it won’t change the fact that you’re gone and it won’t hurt any less.
But I know you’re in my heart and memories. Death can’t take any of those away from me. It can’t break our spiritual bond. You’re always wherever I am. You protect me. You walk with me. You’re with me at the river or in the car, neck stretched out of the window, enjoying the wind in your face and the flapping of your soft ears, smiling with your tongue flailing beside your cheek. Oh, you’re there. You're always there.