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Deer Mr. Jones

It has been one week without you. Since you left the world as we knew it has completely come undone. The blisters on my hands from digging your grave have begun to heal. My jeans still carry the earth your body lies below. My eyes still puffy. I sleep with the towel I had you wrapped in, but the smell is starting to fade. I wake up every morning to my own cries, your absence the first thing I realize. I am a ghost of the girl I was with you. How long will that last? All around me there is chaos and I am very aware of it, but truly I just feel numb. My legs take steps but constantly feel like they could give out at any moment. My heart is so sick I wouldn’t even know if I had a virus. I think about going out there and crawling underground with you, although I know that you are not there.

I look back on that day and have no idea how I did that. No idea who that person was. Some kind of superhero took over my body and did what had to be done, because I certainly could never have performed such a feat. Your little cry woke me up that morning and I knew. This had to end. Your pain had to end. I gave you your last little bath with you crying and fighting me the whole time which was usual. I swaddled you one last time singing you into surrender. I put you in your bed in your towel and your eyes said it all. You were ready. I changed four times. I made the phone call. I put you in my passenger seat one last time and we drove the 27 minutes in a dull rain to a place we both didn’t know, and didn’t know us. Kind of our thing. My left hand was steady on the wheel while my right never, not once that entire morning left your body. You are usually so nervous in the car, but you were calm, drifting in and out. We listened to Bob Dylan and Beirut, your favorite. I wasn’t crying, I was out of body. The superhero had the wheel.

The place wasn’t too nice but the people were. The woman at the front kept calling you a cat until I couldn’t take it anymore as I commanded you were a Pomeranian louder than necessary causing people to look. I filled out the paper work with my left hand, my right still holding you, I never put you down. You were so still. Even at the vet’s office with craziness all around you were so still.

They took us to a room and explained the process. This would be my first time. They gave you the first shot to sedate and left us alone while it kicked in. Your body relaxed even more, your eyes closing. I kept repeating “no more pain." My quiet tears began. They came back in and shaved a piece of your front leg for the final shot, but when they went for it you snapped out of your slumber to try and bite them, and we all laughed. They tried again but again you fought it, so they gave us more time. My baby didn’t want to leave his mama, I felt that. I know that you never would have left on your own, you were alive for me, enduring the pain and sickness. My little champion…. After another failed attempt they informed me that they would have to give you a stronger shot of sedation you little five pound savage, but that you would most likely yelp and they didn’t want me to witness that and encouraged me to leave during that part. I wanted nothing of it. You would never leave my arms. You didn’t make a sound my sweet angel, and deeper you sank, ready now for the final dose.

The two women performing the act of setting you free were lovely by the way, I was so grateful they were women. They struggled to find your tiny little vein, but were able, and I cried and cried how much I loved you as your earthly body began to let go. It was so fast. She took your heartbeat and declared it had ceased beating and they gave us some time. I never wanted to put you down, I wanted to feel your tiny body in my arms for the rest of my life. I wanted to bury my head in your fur forever. How would I ever let you go?

They came back in and I had to. With snot running down my face I let her put you in your bed in the bag that I would take you in. They offered cremation but again I couldn’t leave you even if you weren’t there anymore. They ushered me out the back door and the doctor placed your body in my passenger seat, she hugged me in the rain, and confirmed that I had done the right thing, that it was time - something she could tell by looking at you, and that you were now in a better place. She told me to drive carefully and my ghost body got into the car with your ghost body and I attempted to go on.

Shock. My being was performing tasks minus my will. Auto-pilot. I drove around in the rain not knowing what to do. I know I needed to bury you. The rain fell harder. I took you into town. I somehow ordered a coffee. I accepted a delivery at my shop and even greeted customers behind my fake glasses my red puffy eyes slightly disguised. How? I left as soon as I could and drove out to our compound. I located the shovel. I walked around the back of our lodge until I’d found the spot and dug. The bag containing your body the only witness. The rain stopped. Blue sky opened up to sunshine, and I knew. That was you. I dug and I dug, its not as easy as it looks. The blisters formed then broke open but I felt nothing, the pain of losing you taking up all nerve endings. I cried. I wailed. Wailing woman in the woods, sounds left my body that I’d never heard before. I fell to my knees and balled my eyes out. It was the hardest I’ve ever cried. All the while sob talking to you, pleading for you to know how much I felt, how deeply I loved, how grateful I was for our 16 years together. We were quite a pair. The greatest love story.

When I had dug deeply enough I knelt to the ground and took your body out of its tiny casket and held you one more time. I cradled your already stiffening little shell and put my head to yours. I smelled your fur one last time. Even lifeless, Mr. Jones, you were so beautiful. I hope when I die I look like that. So peaceful. I wrapped you in my dirty sweatpants and placed you in your tomb. Covering you was hard. It was the final release. I could never have prepared myself for that. How would I go on without your little body walking around me, trying to find where I was?

When it was done, I gathered some flowers. It was the most beautiful day. I played our song, Mr. Jones, by the Counting Crows. Endless tears. I stayed out there with you for hours. I was so dehydrated my head pounding, but I couldn’t leave. How could I leave you? Even though I knew. You were not there. You were everywhere.

Do you know how loved you were, Mr.? Not just by me? I have friends all over the world writing me telling me how amazing you were. What a legend. My little rockstar. I could never thank you enough for all that you were to me. Because of you I have known the purest unconditional love of a lifetime. Not everyone gets that, Jonesy. My silent witness. How we spoke, though. How you drew from me our own little language. How we both understood. Our bond like no other. No one will ever know me the way you did. No one will ever love me the way you did. The greatest gift. I could go on for days, and perhaps I will when I write your memoir…

At your ceremony I asked you for a sign. I wanted you to somehow let me know that you could hear my heart, that you were somewhere good, that you were happy, that I had done the right thing, that you knew that I would never stop loving you. The next day I got myself to my shop. It had been four weeks of my trying to get our store’s sign mounted, but the weather was preventing it. That morning’s rain subsided and out came the sun. And up, went our sign. Talk about a literal — sign.

Thank you for that too my Pup-pah.

It has been one week without you. I am still lost, weightless without your anchoring me to this world. Still a shell. But I feel you around, on the wind, in the birdsong, when the sun shines or the rain falls. I know your spirit will always be. I know that with each passing day, a little piece of my heart gets put back together.

And when they ask, I will tell them, that you were the love of my life.

You mustn't live so lightly,

Spin your stories, tell your tales,

Let them dance across the oceans

And set the wind upon your sails.

For every truth found on your travels

And in the pits of your despair,

Is a shout into forever

Of "I existed, and I cared."

~ Erin Hanson

Los Angeles, CA

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