Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world

Wink’s gone. My heart is broken.

Through my tears, and in my deep sadness, I want to remember. So let me do what I am best at: let me tell you a story.

There was once a girl who had a dog. His name was Luke, and he had a valiant heart. He was a white-gold collie, with bright gold eyes and a big, goofy smile, and this girl loved him more than life itself. He was her constant companion, and together they went on all sorts of adventures. Luke was the only thing that was good in this young girl’s life. Her parents hated her for being gay, and hurt her every day because of it, but Luke took away the pain with his licks, his bright smile and his endless kindness. He was the best thing in her life, and one day, when she was fifteen and he was only two, he died tragically of bloat.

After that, her life became despairing and grief-filled. After that, all the darkness that her parents forced on her became even worse. But, perhaps the hardest of all, she was now alone without her best friend. She promised herself that if she survived her teen years, she would try again. She would find another collie, and she would love him like she’d loved Luke. But this time, it would be better.

Fast forward many years, much heartache and sadness, but so many good days, too. The girl grew up and became a woman, and she found her soul mate.

And then she found her dog.

He was such a small, frightened puppy when she first met him. Like her, he had been terribly abused. He was so small and sad and lonely, but when he looked into her eyes…that tiny tail thumped against the ground in a small wag. She could feel his heart beating wildly under her fingers as she pet him gently, as she spoke soothing words to him. He was so afraid. But she knew he was hers.

With her wife, she adopted him on the spot. And she named him Wink. And they brought him home from the shelter, holding him close, giving kisses to his sweet puppy ears and promising him that they would love him forever.

Time passed. The tiny, frightened puppy who had been so terribly hurt began to heal. He grew up into a big, beautiful dog who trusted and loved his two moms with his whole heart. And, my God, did he love them. His capacity for love was endless and as boundless as his exuberance and energy, his joy and playfulness. And the women loved him just as much.

They went on many adventures and they saw many great things. But, better than everything else was the fact that through love, the women had healed Wink.

And, through love, he’d healed them, too.

Whenever he looked at the woman who had rescued him, he would always thump his tail on the floor. He would always smile. He would never stop smiling when he looked at her. Not once. Not even the day he died. There was such love in his heart that it radiated from him every single time he looked at her. And she felt it. She would sing to him and dance with him and play games (his favorite was tag) and give him a million kisses. She loved him with a fierceness she had wondered once if she was ever capable of feeling again after Luke. But she felt it again. Her heart had opened again. Because of Wink.

If we stop the story right now, if we could cause time to slow, gently, and come to a stop, we would be left with a happy ending. Here is a picture of a woman and her dog. Here is a picture of love that is boundless and timeless and endless. But we cannot stop time. And time moved on. This is not the picture of life right now, because that beautiful, golden dog with the magnificent, enormous heart, is gone.

And the woman in the picture is broken-hearted once more. The heartbeat that was always at her feet has ceased to be. Last night, she lowered him into the grave, sobbing so much that she cried her own salt sea.

Right now, no. This story doesn’t have a happy ending. But here is what I can tell you.

In between my many tears, in the midst of such bone-shattering grief that I am numb from it, I remember. I remember and what is remembered lives. I know that love is endless. I know that love is boundless. I know that love never dies. I brush my fingers over his leash and his collar, look at all the empty places in our house where he used to be, and I am gutted.

But I remember. I remember his smile, his bark, his prance, his bright, shining eyes.

I remember Wink.

And I love him endlessly. And Nat holds me close while I sob. And, someday, there will be a scar in my heart where there is an open wound now.

But my love will never stop.

And perhaps that is the bittersweet ending we all have. The bitterness of loss and the sweetness of love that somehow, through all the grief, makes the loss worth it.

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About Bridget Essex

Author of lesbian romances; madly in love with my wife, author Natalie Vivien.
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