I’m not sure how I want to write about Maggie. I started off not being sure how to express myself. I knew I was sad, but the words were coming out right.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Maggie’s body couldn’t stay there in the entryway, we needed to do something, but doing something made it real. Doing something meant that soon I would never see her again. So maybe she was just paralyzed. Or sleeping very uncharacteristically. I shook her, but no response. “Maggie…” I called to her, looking for something, anything, to tell me she was alive.
That was the first thing I wrote. I tried to write about how great Maggie was, but that felt… real. I couldn’t think straight, I was just writing shit on the paper and hoping that I’d feel something. My mom was already on her way over, and there wasn’t anywhere else to put Maggie, so we called my mom and told her we found Maggie. She came over to make sure I was okay, and then she went home.
My husband and I took her to the house we’re buying, and we picked a spot that we’re going to call “Maggie’s Garden.” I had never dug a hole before, but my (very naïve) idea of digging was like Disney’s Holes, and the hole we had to dig was only half as deep as the one in the movie. Piece of cake, I’ll just sing the song and all the other digging songs I know, and we’ll get this done.
It hit me again while I was trying to dig. My husband was very expertly instructing me on the actual digging of the hole because it’s totally not like the movies, and it kind of sucks. But if I wasn’t digging my dog’s grave, I’m pretty sure I would’ve kicked that hole’s ass. When my father- and brother-in-law came, I asked them to help my husband finish digging. Maggie was still in the backseat, I’d been helping by holding the light and staying out of the way, and I was ready to be done. I knew I couldn’t deal with that situation right then and there, and I had no outlet. I felt trapped.
There was no Maggie to come home to.
I miss her. I miss my dog like crazy. I didn’t realize how much I depended on her for stuff.
That next day I called in. I didn’t want to get out of bed or do anything, and I was ready to cancel the camping trip. The only reason we still went was that I couldn’t stand being in the apartment, and I was prepared to run away from my problems. There was no reason to text or call anyone to watch Maggie. There wasn’t a Maggie for anyone to watch.
On the drive to the park, I kept having slight panics at everything and feeling nauseated and anxious and exhausted. I threw up halfway there, and my husband drove, and by the time that we saw the park sign, I was so happy I almost threw up again. I didn’t want to think about anything bad. This was a camping trip to get away, to talk, to work. Of course, talking meant that we would eventually have to talk about Maggie, and everything I was writing was either talking shit about personal space invader families on the river or theories on why she died. Everything I wrote felt like crap. I felt like crap. But I also felt free. Free from responsibility, free from social convention, free from judgment. I decided to bask in that because I could be sad about Maggie when the trip was over. There wouldn’t be a Maggie to come home to.
I drew a picture of my feelings during camping:
I cried unceremoniously at the end of the trip, after a fight, I started about something stupid. Josh seemed to know I was crying about Maggie. He held me, and I felt better, and then it was time to go. It felt weird not worrying about needing to pick up Maggie. She was eight years old, and there were times when she couldn’t live with me, but there was always some part of me that knew she was safe. It seemed that part was absent on the drive. When we came home, the cat started yell-meowing at me because he was hungry. We’d left out dry food, and most of it was gone, so I fed him a can. I sat down on the couch, and after some time, he came and lay down in Maggie’s bed.
I don’t know what to do with her bed or her stuff.
We had a bond. People do with their dogs. I named her after the planet Magrathea from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Every time we watched the movie, she would turn her head when they called after the planet. She protected me, loved me, and her fierce loyalty was never lost on me. She stood by my side, and she always knew when I was in trouble or having a mental issue. She’d let me hug her if I needed to cry, she exercised with me, and we spoke our own language. I don’t even know how a dog would become like Maggie. And every time I think about that, I remember that there won’t ever be another Maggie.