Omg, you guys...I am actually teary-eyed here! I know it's silly, but my blog was Cooper's place, you know? This house, this neighborhood...they were Cooper's.
I am so shocked by my emotions about this. I barely even liked dogs before this summer (Did I?), and all of the sudden I am bawling?
[insert tissue-and-hug break]
I grew up with at least four dogs (in succession--not all at once) and a number of other pets that seemed to just "disappear" when they got sick (Vet bills weren't in the budget, and as one of the younger kids, I suppose it was thought best to save me the grief.). I don't remember ever having the opportunity to say good-bye to a dog, and so I think I put up an emotional boundary where pets are concerned.
Lately, though, I've felt my heart unfolding. I've been puppy nesting, shopping enthusiastically at Petco, researching dog food, for crying out loud! I'm suddenly not only open to another dog, but I'm excited about it. I keep saying to Mr.4444, "Who is this girl? What has gotten into me?" [He just smiles in reply.] At first, I thought it was about choosing a puppy for the first time in my life, but now I realize it's more than that; for some reason, I have opened up my heart to the little furball about to join our family. I've just now realized that, in opening up my heart this way, I've also opened it to the loss of Cooper.
When Cooper passed away, I cried, because it was sad--my husband was a mess (of course) and that broke my heart. I was also sad because of what Cooper meant to our family, to our identity. We basically lost a family member who had one of the biggest hearts and best personalities we'd ever seen in a dog. I hadn't realized that he had found his way into my heart, too. I hadn't cried for my own loss. I guess it's time.
My regular blog readers certainly knew Cooper, but just now (talking to Mr.4444) I realized that this emotion tonight is also about taking a new puppy for a walk in our neighborhood, where Cooper was a fixture, a mascot of sorts. Just this morning, a puzzled neighbor walking past the house asked Mr.4444, "Where's Cooper?!" We get that about once a week, because Cooper passed away in February, and we haven't walked in the neighborhood but once or twice since then. Now that the weather is nice and we're getting out more again, people are just now learning about Cooper. He was a neighbor, too, and people miss his sweet, funny, loving spirit. He was the dog that every dog got along with and whose affection no one ever escaped. He is going to be missed.
Oh, jeez...I'm crying again. This time, though, it's because I'm thinking about how Cooper would feel about Milo joining our family--He would have welcomed him with a lick and an affectionate nuzzle. He might even have smiled, as he always did when greeting those he liked. He loved our family so much, and I know he would wholeheartedly support our getting another new family member, a new neighbor, a new friend.
So call me dog-crazy, call me a sap, but I finally "get it." My heart is open now, and I owe that to a beautiful little puppy named Milo and the big heart of our beloved Cooper.
Love you, Coop. Thanks.