The sound of silence

Wally in the front seat

Silence has a sound: the thump-thump of my heartbeat as I strain to hear the jingle of tags on a collar or clicks of dog nails clattering along the hardwood floor. But, the noises don’t come.

I’m left alone with the sound of my heartbeat, and the Walnut won’t be causing mischief anymore.

I thought I’d face this day with a small sigh of relief. I’d savor peace and quiet without endless hours of nose whistling for no apparent reason. We’d be able to relax about having people with children over for dinner without kenneling the dog and listening to him for bark for hours because he was separated from us. We could move ahead with the adoption process without worrying about what to do with the dog. Hooray for small bits sanity of regained.

But, no. There’s not actual relief.

My heart feels ripped out. Our home feels empty. I dread walking in the door knowing no tail will be wagging in excitement for my entry. I resent the silence. The silence feels menacing, not peaceful.

How did this dog, who so often made me insanely bananas, wind his way so deep into my heart?

I found myself in tears yet again as I did laundry yesterday. No Wally to trip over while I’m lugging laundry baskets down flights of stairs. No Wally trying to sneak into the bedroom in pursuit of dirty clothes to munch (Seriously, he did that.). No Wally eagerly following me downstairs and cocking his head at me while he waited for me to join him.

No Wally waiting outside the bedroom door for me when I wake. Instead, our cat happily waits for J in the morning. Thrilled with newfound freedom, Clyde winds between J’s legs while he shaves. And disappears by the time I get moving. Having seen J, Clyde’s gotten his social interaction and is happy to hide from me for fear I might clean his ears. It’s a legitimate fear on his part, but the lack of morning greeting saddens me.

What is this mysterious part of grief that makes home feel less home-like? Home feels less like the haven it once was for this homebody. Now, it thrums with reminders of Wally. Whether I stand in living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom or bedroom, his absence is palpable.

These days neither J nor I want to be home alone. I literally can’t stand being home. It feels like a foreign place. I don’t know where to park myself to work or rest.

Where there was once rowdy, boisterous life, there is now stillness and silence. Perhaps it’s made more jarring by the volume and vigor of what once was.

I don’t want to rush out and fill the space with another dog; that feels dishonoring to Wally. I don’t want to erase him or look for band-aids to solve the problem of grief.

But, at the same time, how I desperately want to fill the silent space with something! Preferably something warm, furry and cuddly.

I know better, but the temptation is there simmering. This too shall pass. The sadness will ease, I remind myself. Rational decision making is in full force. Well, at least today. No guarantees about next week or next month.

I find myself baffled by the person I’ve become. The peace and quiet I desperately wanted  has become the very thing I dread about our home. And the quiet thump of my own heartbeat, which once soothed, now becomes a saddening reminder our family is missing a member.

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