I don’t even know how to start this post. I cannot believe an entire year has gone by since I last felt those velvet ears against my face. Listened to that soft snore. Snuggled up with the love of my life. Kissed that face, those paws, that booty…
It’s been a long year. It’s been a challenging year and I have felt the inner strength of Shelby time and time again. When I didn’t want to go on, I felt her angel paws pushing me forward.
It was a long summer … filled with happy new memories but still that bittersweet ache of missing beach time, happy hour time, late night cuddles. Summer also brought a new fur-baby home to get to know and to love (something I struggled with and still do on occasion).
Fall came quickly and I survived the first anniversary of what would have been her 14th birthday – October 15. I celebrated with cake and wine and in true Shelby fashion, glitter and tiaras!
Fall also brought the memories of extensive ER visits, the cancer diagnosis, our last trip to Santa Barbara, chemotherapy visits… It was also mixed with the celebration of a marriage of two of my dearest friends and a nice long trip to Seattle over Thanksgiving with the new fur-baby.
Winter came with the first Christmas without Shelby – desperate to create new happy memories and rely on Shelby’s strength, I put up a mini tree for the first time in years. Santa Photos at Petco simply were not the same without the beautiful outfits and doggy antlers.
January marked what would have been Shelby’s one-year ampuversary. I couldn’t believe a whole year passed. So much felt different and yet so much felt the same.
As I relived the past four months of her life as a Tripawd, I felt her guiding me, directing me, healing me… Shelby comes to me in my dreams. Not as much as before but definitely often. I feel her sitting next to me on the couch or on the bed. I know it is her and not the new fur-baby since I can see the new fur-baby on the other side of the room. I feel Shelby’s spirit in our home daily and I know the new fur-baby feels it to. Thankfully it spooks her less and she growls less.
Some days the waves of sadness are over-powering, still, after a year. I think about Shelby the most when I am alone in my car. I talk to Shelby every single day. She is the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing at night. I know she hears me talking to her. Sometimes when I am sleeping so soundly, I wake up and am startled to see the new fur-baby and not Shelby on the bed.
I am thankful that Shelby guided me to my new fur-baby, Jasper Lily. Her little antics and quirks brought laughter back into my life. Her willingness to accept and love me – with all my baggage – warms my heart and soul. Dogs love without abandon and it is a trait I desire to have. There will never be another “love of my life”. There doesn’t need to be. When you’ve had the greatest love and spent 13+ years with your soul mate… how can anything possibly get better?
I do cry less … maybe not every day. I have given myself a full year to grieve and take in all the emotions that come with grief – the highs and lows.
Last week, I was on vacation in Cannon Beach, OR at our family’s cabin. When I lived in Seattle, it was the location of many weekend get-aways with Shelby. So to honor her and the love we both have/had for the beach, I brought some of her ashes with me. I waited till the tide was low and walked out to a rock. I said a simple good-bye and told her how much I loved her and missed her. As I opened the bottle, filled with her remains, I struggled to keep myself composed, reminding myself that this was just a shell; that her true spirit lives within me every day. As I set her free, I watched her ashes float away from me but slowly. As if they didn’t really want to leave but knew they had to begin their new journey. The very next day, I found a single pink shell on the beach. The only whole shell I found the whole trip. It was from Shelby.
I have given myself this year to grieve, the mourn, to feel every bit of the pain associated with such tremendous loss. I have been guided by the universe and Shelby. I know that we have experienced all the ‘firsts’ and that time will move on, as it has. My heart and life will never be the same. My eyes are still terribly sad when you look deep into them, all the little tear lines remain (although I’ve been told they are starting to heal). They are my badge of honor. They remind me of the price we pay for loving so hard.
I have no regrets when it comes to our cancer journey. I have made peace with the self-doubt and questioning of my choices. I know that I released Shelby in the right fashion when she made it crystal clear to me. I can look back on her photos of our last 48 hours together and finally see it … see what I couldn’t see at the time … that she was sick and her body was tired and she was ready to be released. I could see what the doctors who lovingly guided me to the final decision could see when I could not.
Our story doesn’t end though … not today, 4.8.15, a year after her soul left earth. It just began it’s new chapter. Because a love like ours has no ending … a love that is true and real and filled with such intensity never leaves the soul. We remain #shelbystrong
I love you, Shelby Lynne, to the moon and back and for all infinity. I miss you my sweet angel and I know you will always remain by side, when I need you most. I thank you, forever, for the gift of strength, compassion and kindness. Forever in my heart, the love of my life. I thank you for the most amazing, wonderful, spirited 13 1/2 years we shared together. And I know our eternal souls will meet again.