When I decided to get another dog it didn't come easily. Most decisions with an illness that leaves you unpredictable and searching for energy don't come easily. When deciding what rang most through my mind is how many people would comment that Sophie only wanted to be with me; Sophie didn't really like anyone but me; Sophie was indifferent to anyone but me. I heard that as a bad thing. I internalized that subconsciously as if I ever get another dog I want to make sure she loves everyone. Daisy loves everyone. What I hadn't factored in was where did that leave me? In an illness that many can begin to understand the effects of isolation has one one’s self worth. I knew how vital Sophie was to my well being; I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to replace this void.
Living in a body that refuses to cooperate; where you are dependent on others all the time to do for you is a humbling experience. This illness in particular does not reward pushing past ones limits. What I hadn't realized until recently is that Sophie was the only "being" I never felt that I didn’t constantly let down. She needed only one thing, me. I needed only one thing, her. Even as through the years as I would need to have others take her to the vet or grooming appointments I had made a promise that it would be me that was with her when it was time to let her go. I fulfilled that promise where I have had to break so many others. It is an act in my former pre illness life wouldn’t have been a concern; showing up was something ingrained in my personal moral code. Showing up now looks very different as many can now acutely understand being forced to show up at a distance.
So now that her absence has grown longer and my illness post covid has taken a challenging turn the void is palpable. She was the last thing that was just mine. I had one little being that depended on me and I her and now that is gone, what is left that is just mine? There is a pride and purpose of a having something that is just yours. I have always been inclusive and what is mine is yours way of living. But then you may have your career or a hobby or a garden to tend. I share nearly everything, even if I don't want to because I can't function alone. And now the vacancy of that connection that was mine alone is gone. And without it a daily sense of purpose and accomplishment missing. I knew everyday that one little being needed nothing from me except my presence. I struggle to feel that anymore.
Daisy is everything I had put out into the universe. She is joyful and happy and loves everyone and everything. However, she needs more than I can give. She has become one more mirror of my inabilities. I didn't see that coming. But how could we see some things coming? A few people thought it wasn't a good idea I get another dog; that it could take too much energy from me. But that needed to be factored in what an animal gives. When I had Sophie I often felt lonely, but never alone. Daisy has bounded in and her joy ripples like a stone thrown into a pond. But it is in the ripple I feel a longing of the distance waves. I berate myself wondering why I didn’t get the same breed ? But my health had also been improving and wondered would it be odd to look at another little white fluff ball that wasn’t her.
Daisy currently doesn't even live with me full time. She lives with my parents now during COVID and my mom brings her in the morning after their walk, mostly my mom takes her to play in the backyard with my sister's dog or throw the ball 100 times. She takes her for her afternoon walk. And I have once again become a witness to rather than a participating in the life of something. I feel like the outsider as I do so often, the observer. Why didn't I say thank god Sophie only wants to be with me, only likes me, she was the only thing I hold on to from life before this illness and after that didn't change. It wasn't because I got this disease that she became that way, she was always that way and just became more fierce in her loyalty as so many others dispersed. I'm realizing she was the only relationship or aspect of my life that was unaffected and perhaps enhanced by my illness. Why didn't I want that for myself again? But perhaps like human relationships some are just never going to be duplicated; wouldn’t that in fact diminish the inexplicable bond. Similar to friends or partners we meet and feel like we’ve known a life time in an instant. And yet there are enduring relationships that start as mere casual acquaintances and grow deep roots out of the initial surface connection.
But then dinner comes which I mainly eat in my bedroom. Daisy by this time like a toddler that has had her fill and crashes on my bed as I eat. It's been my inner mantra in the last few months to get to dinner. When I wake up feeling worse than when I went to bed; I tell myself just get to dinner. After dinner I have some independence. I normally feel a bit better and can take solace in a few hours that I can pretend I truly live by myself, not the reality that I live in my own home where nearly 12 hours of the day someone is here or coming or going from here to help me with meals.
This is when the little brown eyed girl though decides to remind me perhaps I have this all wrong and I am hers and she is mine no matter the circumstances. Daisy has gotten into the habit as soon as she hears my mom come towards my room currently with winter boots on from wherever she is on my bed she huddles right beside me. She often will lay down and completely ignore my mom's presence. The first few times she did this we laughed and my mom went to pick her up and she gave a little Sophie snap. Daisy is the most gentle dog I have encountered and yet this little “get away” from me is straight from the Sophie handbook. So then I will try and pick her up and once again like a toddler's silent tantrum she will go limp. I now take my plate into the kitchens she will follow me and give her a little treat. Then I pick her up and thank her for being so amenable. Sometimes I think hmm, you are a lot like the person I use to know and crave to be that person again: adaptable, amiable, never in one place. So it is Daisy not me currently flitting from person to person house to house happy to be free. But she has given me a little non verbal sign; don’t worry I still am still yours. It may look different and feel different but I’m yours and you’re mine.