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Hey, Monk. I know you’re busy running around with your new friends. I hope you’ve met Bull and Dayzi, Boo and Emma, and Sadie-Girl. I’m sure you have several new furry friends who are waiting for their family members to come and get them. I doubt you’ve had time to check in on us, what with all the tail-sniffing and tail-wagging you’ve likely been doing since you arrived at The Rainbow Bridge.

I miss you, Monkey. I miss you so much. Daddy misses you even more, if that’s possible. And the kids, omigosh! We’ve emptied three Kleenex boxes in less than 48 hours. I think Vic emptied one all by herself. It rained for the past two days, so today was the first sunny day that I was finally able to sit on my swing next to your grave. Your headstone will arrive in a few more days, proclaiming you The Best Dog Ever. It’s the truth, you know. You were the best dog for us. I hope you know how much we loved you.

Mabel misses you, too. Although she didn’t spend much time with you when we brought your body home for burial, she knew. She tried to play it off like it was no big deal, but she looks for you still. She hasn’t strayed far from my side. Even as I type this, she lays curled up just a few feet from me. It’s funny…the independent dog who loves to be outside doesn’t want to be outside by herself anymore. But, as I sat with you on the swing today, she wouldn’t come close. She stayed far away, choosing to lounge in the sun and gaze our direction. Only when I stood to walk back inside did she come near, and then she eagerly followed me in. She didn’t do much bug-hunting these past two nights. She hasn’t complained, but we can tell by the way she stares out the window or looks at the floor that she misses you.

I don’t worry about you anymore, so that’s the up-side. I find that I am free of the constant concern that you need to go outside and aren’t saying anything, or that you’ve slipped on the hardwood or tile and can’t get yourself up. Or that you’re thirsty. I hope that water bowl in the sky is big enough for you!

No, I don’t worry about you anymore, but I miss you so terribly that it buckles my knees sometimes. I really didn’t know it was going to be this hard. I thought I was ready to let you go. The rational side of me said it was time. And I felt like you were ready. But I didn’t know that I could go for three hours completely accepting of the situation, and then break down out of nowhere, awash with this unutterable feeling of loss. Did we do the right thing for you? Did we wait too long? Not long enough? Only in my tears are there questions, only in my grief, doubt.

I miss seeing you next to the back door when I come in. I awaken at night and listen for your breathing or your cough, maybe even the playful snort as you rub your face on the carpet, “quarter-rolling” as we call it. Daddy misses seeing your head spring up when we enter the room. He buried you by himself, you know. He asked us to let him do it alone. He needed that time with you, that last offering of care for the faithful companion that he loved so much. We know ultimately that we did the right thing for you. Death is a part of life, not the end of it. A segue to a Something More. It’s just that when you stand on the edge of it and peer over the rail, you can’t see the bottom, and it’s terrifying. I don’t like that part. I don’t like it at all.

I still have my necklace on, the paw-print charm that I finally wore on Tuesday. Do you remember me showing it to you? You sniffed at it, but I don’t think you were all that impressed. I had it engraved with your name to honor your place in my heart. In the last two days I have grasped it countless times to calm my mind or steady my tears. I told Victoria that she could wear it too when she needs to feel close to you. She has asked to wear it three times already. I finally took it off and put it around her neck last night. She slept with it. I felt so lost this morning that I woke her up to take it back. She understood. I might have to invest in a charm just for her. 😉

Lots of people have missed you and cried with us. Some of the people you just met a week ago, some you’ve known for years. Vic’s friends all cried and posted sweet notes for you on Instagram. They all loved you. You are very hard not to love, Monkey!

I had decided one time that Heaven likely occupies the same space that we do, just veiled by a shimmer that separates the dimensions. A “grey rain-curtain,” as Tolkien said. I hope that’s true. It gives me comfort to think that you can still run around in our yard, even if we can’t see you. Not everyone understands the loss of a pet. Some of my friends will think I’m crazy. Some of my friends will think I’m mis-informed, or worse, sacrilegious when they learn that I believe you will be in Heaven with me. A dog with a soul? Yes, a dog-soul. Not a human soul. Something different…better. Because you were better than human. You loved everything. You loved unconditionally and without prejudice. You showed us by example how we are supposed to love each other. Humans are supposed to be smarter than dogs, but I’m not sure we measure up. You are an energy, Mason. And energy can be neither created nor destroyed; it just is. I believe that energy is soul-like. And that yours, like many beloved pets, exists on a plane somewhere between Human and Angel. Closer to Angel, I believe. Definitely.

Go run and play some more, Monkey. We love you.