As much as I loved the Rainbow Bridge poem, I prefer to think that you're just in regular old Heaven. You and I both know that meadows and hills and a bunch of animals isn't your idea of Heaven. So knowing that you know that you're better than all that, I hope you crossed right on over the bridge to meet up with those we've lost before, knowing that I'll see you there.
So instead I prefer to think of you spending time as you would have wanted. Two clear, seeing eyes, no lumps or gray hairs or snaggly teeth, the slender figure of the miniature Dachshund you were meant to be.
You'll probably spend your days lounging on a beach with our friend Bo, who died in a car accident a week before our wedding, who knew you were the coolest dog in the world and was delighted to see you every time he came over.
I bet you'll curl up on a couch somewhere with Robert, who was tragically murdered, but spent countless hours with you in his lap, either chilling on my parents' back porch or napping on their couch.
You're probably sharing McDonald's with Phil who would defiantly make ham and cheese sandwiches for both you and himself, despite my demands that he not feed you. "I don't care what you say. She loves me because I feed her so I'm going to feed her, " he would tell me as he handed you your sandwich.
You're probably riding in a convertible somewhere with Daryl, with the music too loud, silky ears flapping in the breeze, reminiscing back to the times you attended parties at his condo.
I bet you're even chasing cats again...cats with no claws since that's how you got your eye scratched up in the first place. Maybe you're even chasing Baby Freckles, she was always an easy target.
Maybe you're lounging around somewhere with grandma. I've got a ton of family up there, I'm sure they love you like I do, because I do. I know you'll be there with them when my time here is over. I'll be looking for you at the Rainbow Bridge and I'll find you waiting for me at the Pearly Gates. Probably on the lap of Saint Peter himself, helping make all of the decisions.
Everybody loved you. You were the coolest dog. We did so many fun things.
I loved you at first sight, seeing you there in the pet store window. You were $900 so you were far out of a 17 year old's reach, but I kept checking and you were always there.
I finally dragged my boyfriend down there and made them let me hold you. You shook, peed, threw up, chewed something off the wall and fell off the bench.
I had to have you.
Thinking I was nuts for wanting you, my boyfriend struck up a deal for $450 and a bag of dog food. I have teased you about this fact relentlessly, that you were half off, a clearance dog...but you were the best bargain ever. And honestly the best gift ever.
The boyfriend didn't last long, but you were instantly a part of my life and the lives of everyone around me. If you didn't like someone, neither did I. This resulted in countless food bribes since rumor got around quickly that if you liked Ashley, her dog better like you. When you met Mr. Ashley, it was love at first sight. On both parts. He loved your sassy self and you loved him, even without a food offering.
We had been dating 6 months on that fateful Thanksgiving Day when your eye got scratched. As usual, I was uncertain and panicky and he was In Control. When you were prescribed 8 different medicines that had to be administered in 2 hour intervals, and he set an alarm to do it every 2 hours, without one complaint or being asked, just because he loved you, I knew that he was the man I would have children with. I knew without a doubt that he was a good person and would be a great father. And he is.
You were our only child forever, and I'm sure you've spent time missing those days. Me too. You were at all the parties, all the insane boat outings where you'd hop from boat to boat eating hotdogs and spent your spare time attacking waves, growling and snapping at them and scaring them away for a moment until you had to fight the next one.
I remember that time we took you camping, to that rock festival out in the Everglades, and we were all tripping on acid (sorry mom) and we declared our territory as Camp One Eyed Dog and Arrrghhed at everyone like pirates, soon becoming famous throughout the festival with you as our well known and internationally loved mascot, adored and fed by everyone who ventured up to introduce themselves.
You went to several concerts, you loved going to the jazz concerts downtown and chilling on a blanket eating some popcorn. You hated the clapping though, just like you hated thunderstorms, so we'd cover your ears at the end of each song and you'd tremble until the next one started.
You were a regular at one of the most popular restaurants downtown, delighting everyone when you pranced in wearing one of your many T-shirts, declaring everything from our political opinions (Future President) to our favorite bands across your long back.
For Halloween one year, we were vampires and you were the bat, proudly wearing black satin bat wings Mr. Ashley helped me construct for you. You wore them all night, with an extra spring in your step, as you always did when people were watching.
We threw you a huDge birthday party one year, complete with keg, and had an enormous turn out...all there for you, most bearing gifts. You spent all night wearing a white doll sweater embroidered with flowers and fastened with pearl buttons and a silk purple birthday hat. You spent the whole night being the center of attention and you loved every bit of it.
You were there as we moved from my parents' house to a tiny one bedroom apartment in a bad neighborhood, to the foreclosure we bought and then to the home we built and live in now, the home we brought our babies home to.
You welcomed both boys without hesitation, tolerating ear pulling, food snatching and overaggressive petting without so much as a snarl and accepting your new position in our lives.
I wish it didn't have to be that way. I wish the frustration of children combined with the frustration of your quirks (ahem...peeing on the floor, yapping, trash picking...you did it before you got Cushings Disease, you know you did) hadn't made me feel out of extra love to give at the end of the day. I'm sorry my lap was always so full and that it was always hard enough to get out of the house with two kids, little less two kids and a dog. I'm sorry you lost your place and I'll regret it forever, but I know you know that I loved you. I just wish I had told you more lately.
I keep wondering and searching my mind for anything special that happened yesterday. I remember getting you some water. little kid had 3 muffins, surely you must have gotten one? I wish it had been more special. I had Planned for it to be different, but that's what I get for having Plans. But I know your life was special and that's what matters.
I'll always love you. We grew up together. You made me realize that Mr. Ashley was meant to be the father of my children and as he spent those last moments with you in the car and then brought you home to wash your body and give you a proper burial, it made me see all of that all over again.
He put you in a wooden Coca Cola box, wrapped in a baby blanket and his favorite shirt, with his favorite hat in there with you. This broke my heart as I saw him taking these things, reverently folded, this stack of green, well worn with his Irish pride, and I said it was just too sad and he said that you deserved his favorite things, that he wanted you to have them. Ooooh God. It's just so hard.
But it reminded me all over again why he is my husband. And that things like the garbage overflow and the weeds are not Big Things. That this is a Big Thing. This is a character defining sort of thing and just like you made me realize that we belonged together in the first place, you have reminded me of this all over again.
You are just such a part of our family. You always will be. I have this dread of hitting publish on this, as if making a final goodbye means it's really goodbye...but it really is goodbye.
I know it was your time to go. You were 13. Your disease was hard on you. You were losing your luster and sparkle for life.
This was quick and painless, with no need for a scary vet trip or a Big Decision or some Final Countdown. It just sucks that it is SO hard on us, even knowing that you are in a better place, a place I look forward to knowing one day, a place that I do have absolute faith exists, so of course you are there. And you'll always be here, in my heart and as a big piece of our family and our history.
I love you, weeze. It's been fun, old girl.
Until we meet again.