My old, faithful, loving, cheerful golden retriever did not return home last night. It was the first time in fourteen years. He is M.I.A. We are unsure whether or not he wandered away to die, or if someone snatched him. Both seem incomprehensible. He didn’t seem ready to rejoin The Creator just yet, and who would steal an old dog on his last legs? I don’t know. That’s the hardest part: not knowing. I would rather see him huff his last breath, than not know where he is, or if he’s actually still alive. It is painful. That’s the only way to describe it. My heart hurts.
Wandering up and down the hillsides and surrounding neighborhood in the dead of night was eery. It felt like a dream. Whistles and hollers echoed down the river. No reply. No smiling face emerging from the bushes. No, “Here I am. Got any treats?” No tousled fur. No wagging tail. No muppet paws. No Loki. Part of me hopes he is okay, and the other part of me hopes that he laid down for the last time somewhere peaceful. I just want to know. I want to know if he’s alive or dead. I want to know if he’s living out his last days or at rest for eternity. The unknown is much more painful and much scarier than closure.
The unknown allows hope to linger. You see an outline of him everywhere. You see his favorite spots and expect him to emerge. You wait for him to show up on the porch. You expect to open the door and see him struggle to stand and then bury his face in your lap. Having closure would at least force you to swallow the pill. Gulp it down and accept the effects of death: the hurt, the pain, the loss, the suffering, the denial, the bereavement, and the final acceptance.
How long do we wait before we move on? Will we ever truly stop waiting? He deserved a proper goodbye and burial at the very least. Thinking of someone else getting to spend time with him when he has so little left, makes me so angry. He’s probably so confused. So out of his comfort zone. He has to be depressed. That makes me more upset than picturing him on his side in a mossy thicket, contentedly sleeping the eternal sleep.
He was a good pup. At times he was the only form of consolation and comfort that I needed. He was a family member and a good friend rolled into a furry ball. I’ve never seen a happier dog. He was my house’s mascot. One of the few consistencies that remained as my family aged and separated. He was always there to come home to. It is already so bizarre to not be greeted when I walk around or to see him napping in the shade or sunshine. So fucking sad. Loki, if you’re reading this, come home, buddy. I’ll be waiting. I hope you’re okay. I miss you so much already.