a love letter, of tear streamed sorts, to you, my dear minnie

Dear Minnie,

It's been a year since you left. The screaming howls of anguish are gone but I don't miss you any less. One year – one year since you were crumpled and crushed by an unknown car. One year since my world came crashing down. I'm still crushed. I don't fear I always will be. I know I always will be and I'm fine with that. You meant the world to me. In fact, you still mean the world to me. It will never be a case of “I loved her so much” it will always be “I love her so much”. And I do Minnie {Maxy, Maxybon, Bon Bon, Maximus} I do.

Remember that first day we met at the RSPCA? You were all alone in your cage and amongst all the barking you were huddled at the back, scared and shaking but when you came out the first thing you did was roll over for tummy rubs? We had to leave you that day. The wait for more money was excruciating. It was only two days but in that space I was sure someone else would come to get you. I was sure people would be fighting for you but we came back and there you were, this time sharing a cage with another dog. Seeing you with a friend broke my heart because I wanted to take her with us too. But you Minnie, you were the one.

You were all ribs and matted fur, tooth missing. You were abused. It had taken you weeks to recover, they'd told us. In that instant you reminded me of myself and I knew I loved you more than anyone else in the whole entire world. You were instantly my everything. You were me. Abused. Unloved. Abandoned by the people who were supposed to love you the most. I held onto that so much. I vowed to give you a better life. The best life. You deserved it and I needed it to happen.

The fact that you died from an accident made me hate myself. The fact that I let you out the back made me want to run out in front of a car too {in the melodramatic sense at least}. I couldn't, still can't, fathom it. How? Why? You wanted to go out even though it had started sprinkling with rain.

Are you sure? I asked. And you gave me a look and then walked away. It wasn't until five or ten minutes later when I hear a clap of thunder that I knew no matter how much you wanted to be out you needed to come in. Remember you were always a trembling ball when it was stormy? So I looked for you. Called your name. And when I couldn't find you I enlisted your dad for help. I wasn't worried. You were Minnie. There was no way in the world you would have crawled under a fence that had spikes on it and then under another wooden one and gone onto the road when you hated the noise.

But you did and your dad came back with the most terrible look on his face and said the two words that have haunted me ever since: she's dead. It all happened so quickly after I had enquired as to whether this was a joke or not {you see, it had to be a joke because you were meant to be with me forever. Remember?} It wasn't so I ran, barefoot, out the front door with your dad crying and trying to hold me back. Eventually he let go. The bones in my feet seared with pain but it was much later before I noticed. And there you were, crushed on the road. Cars passing by you and I fell to the ground, screaming that we needed to get you back.

Nobody stopped to let your dad cross the road easier. He navigated through the cars, scooped you up, and brought you back. My first sight was of blood and then your intestines and I screamed for you to go away because I couldn't bear the sight of you in pieces right before me. He left with you to wrap you up and I stayed by the side of the road, staring at that pool of blood, barely noticing the people in the cars staring at me, pointing and looking back as they passed.

It started to rain. A man came running up to me to ask if I was alright. He knew instantly what had happened, who had died and then he left on my insistence. I wondered later if he had been the one who hit you and if the guilt had made him hang around. I cried in the rain, my face on the pavement, wanting it to swallow me whole. The wet was perfect in many ways. After some time I got up and called my friend Sam. You remember Sam? She thought you were so cute that she always talked about stealing you? Then I called my sister. I needed someone close, not my Husband, who would give me a hug. I needed a hug from my sister.

Bailey was awake now and we had to act quickly. We took you to the vet to get cremated. On the way we put you in a box with your blanket in the boot. We didn't want to scar Bailey by seeing you like that, how you least deserved to be. We didn't trust Summer with you out in the open but we wanted her to come so she could say her goodbyes, gosh she loved you. And me, well I still couldn't hold you. If there's one regret I will always have it will be this. I wish I was braver. I shouldn't have cared about having blood or anything else on me. I shouldn't have cared how hard it would have been to wash off those last remaining bits of you. I should have held you until the vet had to pry you from my hands. I should have stayed with you long after the vet closed so you weren't alone that night.

I'm sorry. I wanted to make up for all the abuse you suffered just like you made up for all of mine and on your last day, when you were already gone, I wasn't brave enough. I'm sorry.

The days, weeks, months following were torture. Every second without you felt like the worst seconds I'd ever experienced. That time was a blur of sleep, showers for hygiene sake and barely eating. We spent most of our time in front of the TV but not even noticing what it said. After your dad went back to work Bailey and I didn't venture out of the house by foot. I couldn't. I wasn't brave enough. I hoped that you were at the RSPCA having been found. I hoped that the dog on the road wasn't you. We left the back porch light on. Summer looked for you everywhere. We didn't give up hope even though we all knew that you were there in your little paw print urn.

We moved, the scene of it all was too much. I toyed with the idea of leaving signs up on the road, leaving a note for the driver who killed you to let them know that they ruined us. But I didn't. They didn't stop for you. They wouldn't care. I dreamed about a law being put in place that drivers who kill animals were put in jail or fined. I dreamed of you dead. I dreamed of us finding you sooner. I dreamed of you there, wide open and people hacking at your insides with forks and spoons. I dreamed a lot of things. I went out of my mind. I took cold showers that burnt my skin. I cried alone. I blamed myself. I blamed Husband. I blamed Summer. I even blamed you.

Why would you do that? Why would you escape?

We changed our bed. Our sheets. Our bedroom furniture. Everything in there reminded me too much of you. Our bedroom was your place. It all had to go. It helped for a while and then the cold, burning showers resumed, and I dreamed of everyone I loved dying and I finally admitted to myself what I'd know when I was pregnant with Bailey, when the anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks – I needed help. You did that. Thank you. The doctor told me I had generalised anxiety and we're on our way to fixing it. Losing you didn't get easier but the pain lessened and the torturous dreams stopped.

You would have hated seeing me like that. You would have had to go the whole hundred numerous times a day. That wasn't your style. Remember when we brought Bailey home from the hospital and you were so protective of her? Like you thought your dad and I had no idea what we were doing. Every time we fed her, there you where making sure we did it right. I'm sure we only did because of your watchful eye.

I was convinced we were best friends. You and I were kind of one and the same. We both got cold really easily. We both loved lounging in bed and watching TV. Remember when I realised you were addicted to Antiques Roadshow so we'd watch it together and you'd actually stare at the TV? Or the ANZAC Day match when the Bombers were losing badly and then you came and watched and they won? Or when I came home from another crappy day at Uni and we'd cuddle until forever? I made you my everything. I wonder now if that was too much pressure for you? If it was I'm sorry.

You were the first person I really let myself love properly and you made it ok for me to finally love your dad properly and for us to get married, get Summer and then have Bailey. Every piece of wisdom you left behind is still here. Every amazing thing you ever did is still here, in everyone in this family. We are all the much better for you.

It saddens me that Bailey will never remember you. That she'll never be able to reminisce with your dad and I about how great you were. I think sometimes of how much she loves Summer though and I wonder if it was best she didn't get to know you too well. You were amazing, she would have felt your loss as much as I did, I'm sure of it, though I think she did notice your absence because she never napped in the day until your ashes were returned and once they were it was like she felt safe again. We all did.

You know how you pretended to detest Summer but when you thought no one was looking you'd play or cuddle with her? I know you loved her in your own Minnie way and, gosh, that crazy poop obsessed dog sure did love you. Until your ashes were returned she looked for you. She'd stare at the bed just willing you to appear. She looked outside for you and when she would return with her friend still missing she looked stricken. When you returned in your urn it was like she knew you were back with us but sometimes, especially, when she's around other dogs, well, it's like her little heart is breaking for you all over again.

Maxy, we miss you so much. We miss snuggles. We miss the drive ins, we miss everything. We miss talking for you. We miss rubbing your tummy and giving you treats because you gave us that face.

I'm sorry it happened this way. I'm sorry I was so convinced that you would never die. I was so sure that you'd be this miracle dog that would live forever. You were a miracle but your forever wasn't long enough for me. I'm sorry if it felt like nobody aside from us four mourned your death properly. I'm sorry that nobody else who knew you mourned you in the way they would a human. You were human to us and I guess that's all that matters. Still, parts of me long for flowers and condolences and a little memorial service. Something, anything, from someone else to remind us that you were loved and loved greatly. Other parts of me are glad people left us alone so we could cry on bathroom floors and feel our hearts ripping into pieces.

All of me is glad we got to know you and I hope that you know you were and will always be the greatest gift of all. 

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