they are never gone

It’s currently 3am. I am once again unable to sleep, even though I’m exhausted. Lilly is sound asleep next to me and that’s about the only thing bringing me comfort. I truly don’t know what I’m going to do without her.
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On nights where I can’t sleep my mind is always racing. I can’t even begin to describe what goes through my head in these hours. There is a constant battle happening within the space between my ears. My opinions, beliefs, worries and memories are all going at each other in full force. It makes zero sense. And lately a big worry of mine has been Lilly. She’s been my rock from the day I picked her. She has saved me. I worry that I’m going to have to deal with the loss of her sooner rather than later. She’s thirteen, which means she’s towards the end of her life. That scares me.

I’ve been mentally preparing myself for what it’s going to be like when I can’t sleep and I don’t have the sound of her breath to calm me down. I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to replace the hundreds of smiles she brings me per day. And I’m starting to realize I’ll never replace it. I’ll never have another Lilly, and that’s okay. She’s not gone yet and when she does have to leave, she won’t really be gone. I know I’ll always have her watching over me when I’m crying, anxious, or even happy. She’s always going to be right here.

The other day I was really upset and came down to my room. I sat on my bed and cried for a little while. My dad eventually came down and opened my bedroom door, a few seconds later I heard Lilly running down the stairs toward my room. She raced through my dads legs and jumped on my bed and in my lap. After looking at me for a few seconds she turned around and rested on my legs, staring at my dad. I was instantly more calm, and my breathing started to slow. This wasn’t the first time she’s done something like this. She’s always been my protector. But that moment, specifically, struck me a different way. I realized just how special my connection with her was. She isn’t just my dog; she is love, guidance, happiness, acceptance, peacefulness, and the ultimate best friend.

So now I sit here with it already being almost 4am, and she’s still by my side. And I’m starting to realize that I shouldn’t be afraid to lose her in the physical sense- because I will never truly lose her. Our souls will forever be connected, and that’s always been the most important thing.

I think this feeling is true for anything you care about. Death is inevitable. Except you have to realize, no matter what you believe, they will forever be by your side. Whether it’s your mom, grandma, grandpa, dad, brother, sister etc, you can’t ever lose them for good. And it’s a very comforting thing to accept that. It’s scary as hell to imagine a world where you can’t reach out and feel their heartbeat, or wrap them in a hug. But that thought becomes a little less scary when you’re having trouble falling asleep at night and you can suddenly feel their heart against your skin, and hear their breath in the same way you used to. That idea is going to be what I hold onto. Because 10 years from now when I’m wide awake but completely exhausted, tossing and turning, I can only hope to still remember the sound of Lilly’s breathing.

-Kelsi

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