Life is a series of pivots – normal to new normal to normal to new normal. Losing Duke this week has been extremely difficult. My biggest worry over the past few weeks and months has been the thought that I might miss being there to say the final goodbye to another best friend. Having been there for him in his final hours, final minutes, seconds, I can say that the only feeling more painful than the thought of not being there for him was actually being there for him. Stark emotional contrast in relation to what we experienced with losing Aaron.
Even with having lost two best friends in such very different ways, there are still patterns to be seen for those who would look. Aaron was one of my best friends, still is really, and easily the person who has had the most profound and lasting impact on my life; going to college, working in IT, Duke Nukem, listening to Stabbing Westward and Caroline’s Spine :-). And yet, losing Duke is more difficult in some ways. This thought may be offensive to some, but I know that Aaron would approve, so continue I shall. Losing Duke impacts my day-to-day life in ways that losing one of my best humans did not. Equivalency of love is not the issue, situational uniqueness is the issue. Duke woke up with me every morning, greeted me with barks every evening after returning home from work, laid by my side as I worked on my novel or cried about losing a friend, and slept on my feet as I napped.
The thing is, the thing about Duke as well as other pets, is that we never have to question their love or loyalty. Some might say that they only love us because we feed, shelter, and discipline them, but that description also parallels very closely with the parent to child relationship, which seems both natural and normal to me. Being part of a wolf pack is special. More than the food and shelter, they want to be close to us, travel with us, protect us, because we are their instinctual family.
And so we pivot from normal to new normal, folding each layer on top of the last until it feels like we couldn’t possibly fold again… and then we keep folding.
We miss you, Duke. Will write more to you and about you soon.