Warning… I know Christmas is all about happy sentiments and feeling good, so you may want to come back tomorrow and read this after Christmas is over.
Last night, Christmas Eve, I fell asleep on the couch, and when I woke up it was around 2 AM. I took Shaggy outside so he could do his business. After we came back in, I sat down and thought about how much it doesn’t feel like Christmas this year without Collen. If he were still here, he would have been sleeping on the ottoman, waiting for me to go to bed. No matter how late it was, he’d always wait… well almost always. He’d probably go check out the presents under the tree now and then, always zeroing in on the ones that had dog treats in them. He always knew which ones were for him. And he would wear his Christmas bells, collar covers, or whatever holiday apparel we made him wear. No antlers or hats or anything like that. He was an easy-going dog, but I think even he might have drawn the line at antlers.
I finally went to bed around 3 AM, and that’s when I had the dream. I was sitting on the carpet in front of a desk. Collen walked over to me to see what I was doing, so I said “Hey, Collen” and reached out to scratch his head. That’s when I thought to myself that he shouldn’t be here, that he’s gone. I’m not sure if it was a case of being aware that you’re dreaming inside your dream or if it was simply part of the dream itself, but I told myself not to think about it or he might go away, to just let it be.
So I did. I had a chance to hold my puppy again, and tell him how much I missed him. Was able to feel that super thick and soft fur around his neck, the same fur I remember crying into as I said good-bye to him a few months ago. It was nice.
And then I woke up. It was 3:29 AM. And he was gone again.
Some relationships grow to occupy such a large part of your heart, that when they’re gone, that void is so wide and so deep, it takes a while to be filled again. And sometimes there’s more than one place that feels empty, and you wonder if you can ever fill any of them.
I know there are people who will say he was just a dog, but I loved him for the 10 years he was with us, and I know he loved me too, in whatever way that works for dogs. He’s been gone for three months, and sometimes it just hits me, and I realize it might take a little longer than I thought.
It just isn’t Christmas this year.