A Cardinal at the feeder in Cherry Grove
It's apparent to me now that my own health challenges and long recovery from difficult surgery delayed my reaction to the loss of my beloved animal companion Bradley. This past weekend at the beach house, I couldn't get his loss out of my mind. As I took my familiar walks, the very same walks that Bradley accompanied me on so many times over the years, I saw him, and sorely missed him in my mind at every corner and at every familiar spot. There is a name for this phenomenon. It is called delayed or unresolved grief. The pain is real and perhaps stronger given the tendency to minimize the health problems Bradley was having in favor of remembering only the good, healthy times. Our friend Louise wondered if I would get another dog so that I would have a companion on my walks. For a number of reasons, getting another dog is problematic. But also problematic is the loneliness and the empty feeling I have now without a dog by my side. I've always enjoyed canine companionship in my adult life. Perhaps I've depended on them too much to be my companions and friends. Perhaps my delayed grief will pass, and I won't feel the emptiness and hurt on those late summer afternoons when Bradley and I used to go to the beach, take walks, play in the waves and fetch the ball. Perhaps, but right now I doubt it.