"The loss of a loved one and friend can reduce the biggest man imaginable to tears. Whereas some big boys don't cry, real men do!
I was never so strong as the day I discovered that binding friendship could not be broken and would never require of me the need to stand alone. I also discovered that only open expression of one's feelings can make any feeling, however hard to endure, bearable. That was the day, I learned the true power of ''friendship' as being the most necessary aspect of survival and the hardest to endure when it dies.
It takes a lot of courage to reveal one's vulnerabilities and insecurities to another as opposed to hide them, along with much more sense to relate to people and pets than to ignore them. There is more 'manhood' to be found in allowing oneself to both feel and genuinely express the loss of a lifelong friend than any amount of flexing brawn and bulging muscles can produce.
In my life, I have had a number of loving dogs die. However often we experience this situation, it is always hard to get through. When someone you love dies, and you're not expecting it, you don't lose them all at once; your grief loses them in pieces over a long time, Day after day, you recognise one more bit of the loss you are feeling. You miss not having that recognition the first thing every morning that another is glad to see you up and about. You miss that awareness that told you when you looked at your pet, that it loved you more than itself. Above all else, your days began much happier when you opened your eyes and saw your pet so glad to spend a new day with you.
For a while, immediately after their passing, you care not for the rest of the world and think you will never be quite as happy again. As the months after their death go by, gradually you find their smell vanish from your home and in their favourite corner of the room. A part of you tells you to clean no more, so that you don' lose that precious smell. You notice with sadness every morning and evening when the hands on the clock reminds you that this was the time of day you used to walk your dog. You see its leash which still rests on the hook behind the door and which you are loathe to give up or even use around the neck of another. Gradually, you accumulate all the parts of them that are gone. It is as if only the pain of the process is deserving of such loss. You box their belongings, their ball, bone, leash, identity collar, and hide them away down the cellar. You think that all parts of them are now out of sight and therefore out of mind, but you couldn't be farther from the truth.
One day, some time later when you least expect it, you are emotionally taken off guard as you find one more thing to remember them by. You know that they are still alive in memory to your want of close companionship. You sense your need to stroke their affections one more time and touch the comforting feel of their cold nose as they nuzzle your face for attention.
As time passes, you realise the dependency you had on your dog's love as they had on yours, but deeper thought leads you to realise that their dependency was always greater than yours, their love ever deeper and always unconditional. It is then you realise that the greatest loss of all would have been to have died before them, leaving them alone in grief, unable to ever understand why the person who they loved more than themselves had left them!
If you should die before me, ask if you can bring a friend and meet again the ones you had." William Forde: May 3rd, 2016.