What a difference a year makes.
One year. 365 days. 525,600 minutes. How do you measure a year?
One year ago I brought home my first ever dog. Yes he was Tim’s also but he was the first dog I’d ever had that was mine. I was so happy. I didn’t think my heart could contain my love for him. Which is why it hurt all the more less than two months later when it broke.
I will never in my lifetime forget that day. I sat on my knees at bedtime bawling because I couldn’t bring myself to move my duvet and take away the imprint he’d left in it just that morning before I left for work. Something about flattening that bedsheet made it seem final, he wasn’t coming to bed that night or ever again. Something in me broke when I pulled that duvet taut.
And it remained broken for quite some time. Not a few weeks later the Cheeto in chief was inaugurated and the world seemed dark and I was quite content to embrace that darkness. I was hurting, why shouldn’t the world?
But then I read the words that changed my year: be the person your dog thinks you are. The second I read those words I stopped what I was doing and I played a mental reel of my time with Kirby and I realized, he made me a better, happier person. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t let his passing change me for the worse.
So I changed. I posted positive messages on posts where people were angry or hurt at the world. I unfollowed people who only had negative things to say. I looked at photos of Kirby and learned to embrace the emotions. Not every tear shed was in sadness.
Then Loki came into our lives. He was a younger dog than we wanted, and he can be a handful at times, but there isn’t a pup in the world I’d switch him for. I struggled to open my heart up to him out of fear I would be hurt again but without even realizing it I had fallen for him and he’d carved a space out for himself.
I stayed in touch with his rescue, Forgotten Dogs Rescue and in the months since I’ve attended a bunch of their adoption days and photographed pups both there and at foster homes. Seeing dogs I’ve photographed and spent time with get adopted into loving homes has been very satisfying, and knowing I’m doing it in Kirby’s honor makes me feel good. I’ve also donated some photo shoots to their fundraising auctions and get to meet some lovely alumni pups and their parents.
Later this month I’ll be forcing Tim into his Christmas sweater and we’ll be taking our family Christmas photo again for the third year. We’ll have the same jumpers but Loki will have a jumper he hasn’t worn before but two very fine others have. First it was Zach’s and then Kirby got to wear it. Now Loki will carry on the tradition.
I knew this day was coming for a long time, the day Kirby’s face would pop up in my Facebook memories for the first time. I dreaded it, really dreaded it because I was worried it would send me into a downward spiral again. But I clicked on it, and while it was loading I looked away. I looked away from my phone and there was Loki sitting by my leg staring at me. Sitting staring at me with a look of such love and devotion. How did I get so lucky to get such a sweet dog again?
So with a deep breath and scratch of his ear for courage, I looked back at my phone. I didn’t fear the photo anymore. I thought back of all the things I’ve done the past year and all the good that has come out of that terrible day and though they don’t balance, and never can, I was happy with our accomplishments. Now I’m looking forward to seeing all the things we did with him. Will they still hurt? Absolutely. But I won’t shy away from that because to do so would dishonor him. It’s been a year since I brought Kirby home. It’ll be forever before I forget the lessons he taught me.
But for now I’ll sit and stare at this photo and remember that day with fondness.
Hello old friend, it’s so good to see you again.