It’s been more than 6 months since Lincoln died. Many, in fact most of you don’t even know his story. Most of you don’t know me. I’ve been away since then; unable to participate. I’m writing now for selfish reasons; to confess, I suppose. To admit my hubris and apologize for not having the courage to stick around. I always did say I wanted to be more like Lincoln. I’m still trying.
I’ve kept a log, as silly or sick as that is. Always knowing how many days have passed since his luminescent spirit flew away from us, swirling and twisting into the ether. Since that day I’ve felt that I cracked in half, and that part of me went with him so neither of us would be alone.
I feel like I have to justify my feelings, although on this site it’s probably not necessary. I have lost other dogs. Many. Including my very first golden who lived to the ripe old age of fifteen. He was a wonder dog, and saying goodbye to him after having him my entire adult life was beyond difficult. He was my link to the past; things now gone, and I felt lost. Lost but not cheated. I now know the difference. I said goodbye to Cuervo knowing he had lived a great and long life. I said goodbye to Lincoln feeling adrift and desperate and treacherous.
After everything he went through at my hand, my judgement, I couldn’t bear that that was how it was going to end. Everything I did to him I did with the truest belief that he would survive. Death was supposed to be afraid of him.
I wish I could say I’ve gained perspective about those choices, but I’ll take a rain check on that. Maybe someday. Today, I’m still missing him, with guilt as the chaser.
After living more than 6 months without Lincoln, I can now admit that I truly didn’t believe he would die of cancer. I thought he was my miracle dog. I believed in something for the first time since my brother was killed over 20 years ago. I want to believe, and perhaps with time I will, that Lincoln paved the way for me to lead a truer life. I want to believe that some of his strength and courage seeped into my marrow and I’ll be a better person. I want to believe that he chipped away at the barrier around my heart and started me down the path of a life without armor.
I want to believe those things, but I’m not quite there. Maybe someday. Maybe even soon. Just not quite yet. Believe it or not, that’s promising. The fact that I can embrace “someday” is only because of Lincoln.
To recapture that feeling, I read Lincoln’s blog, post after post. It’s an attempt to remind myself what it was like to live that way. Each time it brings me to tears, but not so quickly that the sting can overpower the strength and sweetness of my memory. My ghosts walk among me, welcome and warm.
I thought that I was learning from all of the people who went before me. I believed I empathized with their losses. I felt as if I understood. Empathy and understanding are the ugly bookends of arrogance, however, and once it happened to me, I became a member of a club I hadn’t intended to join. I was woefully unprepared despite my pretentious, yet sincere claims that I was learning from those before me. I spouted poetic, but my treacherous heart was in complete control. It convinced my methodical and logical head that it was in charge. My heart whispered, often and convincingly, that Lincoln would be the miracle, and I trusted it. So I offered sympathy that was genuine and heartfelt, but hope had taken over inside of me, and I never truly believed I would be on the receiving end of the same sentiments.
Was that foolish? Probably. But it was nice to live that way, even though it was temporary. I have Lincoln to thank for that reprieve. I have a feeling he knows the importance of that gift. I have a feeling we were brought together because the universe knew I needed it.
Foolish? Probably. But it’s what I choose to embrace.
I tend not to believe in much, but I believe in Lincoln. It may not seem like I’m being positive, but I really am. The fact is this – because of Lincoln, I can say, however briefly, the roots of hope began to grow inside of me. Because of Lincoln, just for a while, I lived life differently. He forced me into it, kicking and screaming, but who could ever resist a golden retriever with such strength and exuberance and courage? Certainly not me.
For now, I still miss him. For now, I still cry when I think about him. For now. He did his job; it’s up to me to do mine.
But that seed is planted. Maybe someday it will grow.
That is his truest gift to me…the prospect of hope.
“Hope is a waking dream.” – Aristotle