It's been a year since he crossed the rainbow bridge.  I say good morning to his ashes every day.  It's still hard.  

According to tradition, at the end of the 1 year morning period

After the year-long mourning period ends and the Kaddish experience recedes, the mourner reenters the world of life — but not completely. Once you’ve encountered death, you are never quite the same. You stand somewhere between the realms of death and life, loss and renewal, sorrow and hope. A space all of us, eventually, will inhabit.

I think about him often.  Draco has joined our family, not to replace Captain, but to help us and him grow beyond our grief.  Draco is completely different than Captain.  We love him very much.  

In many ways, Captain was a tragic figure, one we rescued, albeit somewhat too late for the damage to his psyche be averted.  The bump on his ribs, where the break had been incompletely healed, the scarring on his ears and feet ... You just wanted to gather him up, and never let him go.  To protect him from bad people.  To make sure he was never hungry again.

It's hard to believe this was a year ago.  

I know its hard for some people to think of their doggos as family.  I can't think of them any other way.  They have personalities, attitudes.  They can be funny, inquisitive, unhappy.  They are sometimes shy, boisterous, aggressive, and kind.  Just like little humans.  They think, they feel, they experience.  They are social, need contact and interaction, need play time, need snuggling time.

Captain was terrified of thunderstorms and lightning.  We got him a thundershirt to help out, and sat with him on the floor and hugged him when they were active.  In an interesting parallel, Draco, our big tough 75 pound lapdog pit/lab mix, is also scared of these.

All of this is on my mind as I read the email from the people who helped our baby ease his path to no pain.  I think about how cruel it is that they live for only 10-15 years, while we live for 80+ years.  This in turn lead me to thoughts of an excellent science fiction short story by Ted Chiang, that was horribly butchered to make the movie Arrival (the movie had very little to do with the story apart from broad strokes).  The second to last paragraph specifically.

From the beginning I knew my destination, and I chose my route accordingly. But am I working toward an extreme of joy, or of pain? Will I achieve a minimum, or a maximum?

Bringing a doggo into your life, not as a pet, but as a member of your family, is an act of love and joy.  One, that you know will eventually result in an extreme of pain when they pass away.

I know Bella, now 11 years old, may not have much more time.  I hope she does, as we've been giving her one of the best possible lives.  Draco, 5+, is seemingly loving being with us.  He's a snugglebug.  Everything Captain wasn't.  Captain was a tragic figure in many ways, and we tried to give him a wonderful and fulfilling life, free of the pains and abuse that shaped his childhood/puppyhood.  Draco, we know somewhat less about, but somebody must have loved him as we do.

We know where these journeys lead.  We know how terrible it will feel when they leave us.  But the area under the curve, the integral of joy and love over the time we have them with us, in our family, is not to be defined by the end.  Its the sum total of everything.  Its, literally, life.  As well lived, and joyful, and as loving as we can make it.

We miss you Captain, very much.  

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