It is now day four without my Tulip. This is the new calendar in my head.
She died peacefully in our home (via euthanasia, under the care of a doctor) the day after Thanksgiving after a year-long fight against lymphoma.
I love her to the deepest corners of my soul. She is a true love of my life. Some people may not get it, but that’s their loss. I’m so lucky to have have that kind of a bond with an animal, with her. That kind of bond – it’s an absolute pure connection of love that is so deeply sincere and absolutely true on every earthly and metaphysical level. We humans are so fortunate to be able to share our lives with animals in these ways.
Tulip entered my life nine years ago and burst open my heart, one that had been crumpled and walled-off for a long time. She taught me how to love more fully, live more in the present, and take a breather when my complex PTSD flared. She made my life brighter. I am forever grateful.
I am also forever shattered.
How am I doing?
“The pain, it comes in waves.” A friend told me this as she was grieving the loss of her beloved dog, Lynard. She was so right. I am seasick from these waves and this endless ocean of pain.
I’ll think I’m doing fine. Then I catch her eye on a picture, or see a toy, or go to give a piece of cheese to one less dog now and I’m gutted to the core. I burst into tears and sob. Out loud, without abandon. I sometimes wander around the house sobbing like a lost soul – I am a ghost of myself searching for my Tulip.
I find words pushing out of my mouth. I’m asking questions that will never be answered. Where is she? Where is my Tulip?
I have known where she was every second of my life for nine and a half years. Now I do not know. This is inconceivable to me.
There are moments when the absolute horror of it hits me like a brick to the head. Shockwaves or terror rush through my body.
Sometimes the world goes silent and I cannot hear my own shrieking.
As they say, the truth is not pretty.
But it also is.
Because as much as it hurts, the grief is still nowhere near as big as my love is for her.
This is all I can write now. I am exhausted by this pain and I must rest my eyes now.
Before I go, I will leave you with the story of my soul mate, Tulip…
The Abridged Story of Tulip, aka TT Sunshine
David (my ex boyfriend and still very much friend) and I started fostering Tulip from Alive Rescue in Chicago when she was five months old. She was a rowdy, cuddly puppy with a pretty serious issue of mange that required constant care. We fell in love with her instantly. She instantly bonded with our beloved cat Shadow too (I hope they’re together now).
While she was a goofy puppy, she was also an old soul. Every time she looked into my eyes, I had the feeling I had known her through lifetimes. We all bonded so quickly and naturally, and we quickly “foster failed” and adopted her. Over the next year, she slowly beat the mange…it was cured but left behind her trademark (adorable!) bald spot on the back of neck.
When David and I broke up, she came with me but still visited him. Her love never dies because of distance.
For a while it was just me a TT in our little apartment overlooking Humboldt Park. Then, a little over five years ago, these guys Thomas (aka “Shoe”) and Spot catapulted into our lives in the best way. Tulip and I fell in love with them quickly and deeply. Shoe and Tulip became as close as she and I were. And Spot became her brother from another. They slept on top of each other and shared everything. Our family was whole.
Tulip had many friends. She LOVED daycare and was often a wild child sprinting around trying to get others to chase her. She was incredibly fast. Like, shockingly so. She loved everyone at Canine Crews and Dogma Daycare. She especially bonded with Trish, who knew how to speak nervous dog so well and helped me learn how to better work with her when she’d freak out walking on a leash on the busy hectic streets of Chicago. (anyone who knows TT knows walks were not the easiest with her).
She and I were so similar. In our strengths, we love with full force. We are intentional, passionate and driven. We are also two anxious beings, highly sensitive to the world around us. We also both really like cheese.
As I learned more about my PTSD, I saw Tulip was teaching me how to live and stay in the moment more. She truly helped me heal from my past trauma, and continues to. She was one of my great supports as I wrote my book.
Tulip loved couch chilling, of which we were all very good at. She also loved an adventure, and became a road trip and airb&b pro. She liked hiking and walks through the parks, and she loved when we had company over. It took her awhile to not be fearful of new people at first, but eventually she was the belle of the ball at our little gatherings, often trying to make out with her favorite guests by the end of the night. It was so special to have guests stay with us in our new home. Tulip adored the company.
Tulip also was a foster sister to many dogs and cats, helping them heal so they could move on to their forever homes. I have so many pics of her cuddling them. She gave her heart out to anyone in need- human or animal.
Life without her seems unimaginable. The pain of her not being here anymore hurts beyond measure. I clutch my chest and try to regain my breath, and as I do a little flicker of love pops through my broken heart. That is her. Telling me she will always be there. I am shattered but forever grateful for her and that love.