Dear Kaylee –
Remember how last year I said that writing these annual posts had finally begun to feel more sweet than bitter? Well, this year was a bit of a struggle. Maybe because it’s just so soon after Jayne’s passing, but the prospect of penning this letter to you was daunting; a tangible thing that made my shoulders slump and my stomach sink.
You see, I worry that you’re slipping away from me. That every passing day takes with it a piece of you: a memory, an image, a smell, a fragment of thought. And no matter how small, it’s still you; all I have left of you, in point o’ facts. It hurts so much, this feeling that you’re like sand seeping through my fingers, no matter how tight and steady I squeeze them shut.
Some days I feel like Mags is overwriting you. Like I’ve so completely adopted her as your doppelgänger (but never your substitute! never that.) that her picture’s begun to ghost over yours.
Days like these, I wish I was an android with playback memory. Okay, I always wish I was an android; androids are awesome. But still. You know what I mean.
Anyway, I was feeling down – in general, because things have been the worst lately; and about this birthday letter, specifically – and then I read something rather lovely. Something that made me reevaluate all the Kaylee-based angst I’ve been grappling with.
“Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can’t even remember what she looks like. You know? Not really. I miss her, Subhi.” […]
I give Jimmie’s hand a squeeze. “It doesn’t matter what you see. I think it just matters what you feel.”
(from The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon)
You made me feel warm. Happy. Loved. Overcome. Content. Heroic. Awed. Grateful. Mothered.
You were home and light and joy. You were the best girl I ever had; my daemon; my soul mate. My wonder doggie. My avatar.
You’re still all of those things, of course, just more internalized than before. Those little lawn dances you used to do? Now they rock my heart.
I love you so much, sweet babygirl. And as long as I hold tight to that, a part of you will live on.
I am forever yours.
Sweet Jayne –
I’m so sorry. Sorry that we weren’t able to save you. Sorry that we put you through surgery and chemo, all for nothing. Sorry that you aren’t here with us to celebrate your twelfth birthday in person. Sorry that I didn’t make you my special project ten years sooner.
All those years, I thought I was doing the right thing: giving you your space, letting you come to us in your own time and way. And maybe I was. Doing the right thing, that is. Or maybe I could have pushed just a little harder.
I always worried, what the end would be like for you, our little outsider. If we’d be able to offer comfort and support, the way we did with Ozzy and Ralphie and Kaylee and Peedee. I think we did, though. I think you opened up to us, just a wee bit, in those last few months. You dug the drive-in, and sitting close to us while you napped, and even laying out in the sun with me. You even liked being pushed around in the stroller, though I’m beyond sad that we only got to use it twice.
It’s been two months and I still can’t bring myself to write about your death. I’m going through some hard-core avoidance. We got two new fosters the week after you died, and they’ve been keeping us busy. I thought they’d be a nice distraction, and they are both nice and a distraction…but I think maybe it was a bit too soon. Like maybe I should have given myself (and the other dogs) more time to process and grieve first. Because now I feel crazy stuck. The past six months just feels like one bad dream.
Anyway, I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this. Even though I haven’t been handling your passing terribly well, I want you to know that I love you and think about you all the time. It’s true, I never bonded with you the same way I did my other babies, and for that I’m sorry. But I do miss you, so, so much.
When I look at your little cave-bed in the corner of the office, I still half-expect to see you snoozing there. I catch myself leaving a book lying around, and then remember: with you gone, there’s no other dog who will steal it as a chew toy. Dad kept getting your bottle of Proin out of the cabinet for peanut butter time, until I removed it to your memory box (minus all but one of the pills, which we’ll donate to RBC). And every mealtime, I found myself setting a fourth bowl for you. Now, with Daisy and Brutus, we’re back to five bowls, which is hella weird.
It’s funny; when you were alive, it sometimes felt like you weren’t there: you existed on the periphery. But now that you’re gone, it’s like we feel your absence even more than we did your presence. Is that awful? I don’t know; I suspect it just is. Neither good nor bad, just how – who – you were. And I love you no matter what, with no preconditions. You’ll always be one of my girls.
That picture of Kaylee in the leopard getup may be my avatar, but the one of you wearing a Jayne hat? That’s my background. I glance at your sad Eeyore face roughly two hundred and eleven times a day.
Eighteen Little Kaylee Things
Thanks to this visionary, all the dogs are now sufficiently spoiled!
(Are you detecting a pattern here?)
(Not it, but close enough!)
Especially that one July 4th she escaped to the bathroom cabinets.
(Note to Paul Feig: PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN IN THE REBOOT.)
Sadly, I don’t think I ever took any pictures of Kaylee at the drive-in, so this photo from our 2006 Halloween Horror Movie Marathon will have to suffice. (This is why I take at least 50 shots of ALL THE THINGS now. Better to need a terrabyte drive than not.)
Twelve Little Jayne Things
Always on the periphery, this one.
Like that one time she provoked a woodchuck into biting her – but she played it so cool that we didn’t discover the wound until hours after the fact.
Never leave books unattended around Jayne, or she will transform them into papier mache artwork.
Ditto: tp, manilla envelopes, cardboard tubes, and all the paper things. The recycling bin is her brown heaven.
In the past year or so – roughly since she started wetting the bed – Jayne’s naps have begun to resemble mini-comas. Whereas the other dogs run for lunch as soon as they hear the dishes clink, not even loud shouts across the house can reliably summon Jayne if she’s sleeping. Nope, you have to shake her awake, and sometimes that doesn’t even work. A few times Shane and I have been able to lift up her head without waking her. Cute, but super-creepy. I’ve mistaken her for dead on more than one occasion.
Pools and bathtubs, not so much.
My favorite: As I’m petting her, she acts like it’s borderline abuse; yet when I stop, she looks at me like I’ve hurt her fee fees.
I only regret not trying it sooner. (Precious few pictures to choose from for this one.) Forgive me, sweet Jayne?