About a month ago, I took Bess for a walk and noticed that her tail was down, almost tucked under her bottom. When she crouched to poop, she yelped in pain. I was immediately concerned. We took her to the vet, who diagnosed a soft tissue trauma of some sort, and put her on anti-inflammatories. These worked for a while, but then she got worse again. So I took her to the vet again earlier this week. This time, she got a full work-up with x-rays and the whole nine yards and still, it looks like she only has soft tissue trauma, and perhaps re-injured her tail before it had fully recovered last time. So she’s back on anti-inflammatories and pain medication. I can’t tell you how sad it makes me to see her little tail tucked under like that. She just doesn’t seem like our Bess without her signature tail wag. But all we can do is wait and see if it gets better.
Why am I telling you all this on a blog about my grief? Because I looked at Bess the other day and she reminded me of myself. She’s still our Bess. She still loves to go for walks and curl up on our laps and prop her paws up on our knees for a scratch when we walk in the door, but she just doesn’t seem like herself. Without her tail to express herself, she seems fundamentally altered from the dog she is with it. Even she seems to know this, I think.
And that is how I feel. Like a dog without her tail. I am still me, but I am fundamentally altered. When Hudson died, I lost one of the most important parts of who I am—it is not my heart or lungs, or my arms or legs, or any of those other practical things that allow me to keep breathing and moving about in the world. But it is also something so essential to my being that one can’t help but notice how very different I am without it. I am just not myself, even though I am also still wholly myself. And while time and the love and support of so many people in our lives will eventually take away some of the rawness of the pain, I don’t have the hopes of a full recovery like our Bess does. No matter how much time goes by or how much I write or what I do or what happens to me, a part of me is fundamentally, irrevocably, and conspicuously changed forever.
No matter what, I will never again be the me I was before I lost my daughter.