Tucker, Week 22

On Friday, August 11, 2023, Sheila Cooperman had to let Tucker, the love of her life, cross the Rainbow Bridge after fighting lymphoma. Every Friday since she has written about Tucker on social media. She agreed to let us reprint one of her posts here on DogCancer.com to share with readers.

Tucker, Sheila Cooperman's beautiful dog.

Read Time: 5 minutes

Jan 5, 2024: Week 22

I wanted to see Tucker and told David I wanted to dream about him. Someone listened.

Here is the dream.

I was in some sort of outdoor mall. Two sides of the mall were lined with nondescript shops. In the middle of the mall, separating the two sides, was a large area of grass.

There were many people there, but the ones that I recall were people who I have not seen in a long time. Many of them were teachers who I worked with for years, but have not seen since I retired. While I see them on Facebook, I don’t see them daily and the part of their lives that were a daily part of mine does not exist anymore.

While not dead like Tucker, they are not here for me to interact with. I miss them. But there is a big difference, I can pick up the phone and make a plan to see them.

You can do that on this side of the Rainbow Bridge.

On one side of the mall, there was a small shop whose door was open and was unmanned. My cousin walked into the shop and picked up a bat and a ball that was on the floor to go outside and play.

And then I noticed a lot of those blue racquetballs Tucker loved to chase. They were rolling across the middle section of grass.

I picked one up and called, “Come on, Tucker.”

He came rushing towards me when he saw me holding the ball. His face was smiling — well, you know, those looks that dogs have when we anthropomorphize them into smiling pups. He ran with the gait he used when David and I threw the ball that he tirelessly chased.

The world was his oyster. Have you ever thought about that expression? It means that the world is there for you. Oysters make pearls, and perhaps your world will yield you that pearl.

Tucker’s whole world was a pearl when he could swim, chase balls, schnozzle us with kisses, and have Tucker-time daily.

I threw the ball and he flew to get it. Not flying in the air, but flew with a great speed as though he needed to make up for the time we have lost together.

And yes, the times we had together were wonderful and they are the fodder for great memories, but sometimes I fear the sharpness of those memories will blur and fade. I do not want them to fade. I want them to be crystal clear like they were in the dream. 

As he raced past me to catch the ball, I noticed his fur waving in the breeze looking soft and brown just like  I remember it.  He got the ball and returned it. I threw it again, and again he happily retrieved it.

The people in the dream were watching us and began to warn me about the hill at the end of the grassy section because there was a dangerous highway at the bottom of the hill.  I became wary of throwing the ball in that direction because if he missed the ball, which he never did, and the ball went down the hill, he would be in danger. I did not want to take the chance that he would be hurt and die.

But something told me in the dream that I did not need to worry about that because that had already happened. The street posed no danger to a dog already across the Bridge. 

There was an apple on the ground that I picked up and threw instead of the ball because my cousin, who was in the dream, and who is a doctor, said apples are healthy.

I threw the apple to keep Tucker healthy and he chased it. He picked it up and then dropped it out of his mouth. He did not want it. It was as if he knew that his body had no need for nourishment.

He looked around and decided to pick up the blue ball that was next to the apple instead and started trotting in my direction. 

I woke up.

I wanted to see him. I did. When I woke up, I swear I felt him brush against my leg. I did not want to let go of that dream.

The rest of the day, I am sorry to say, was a bad one. It was a surefire example of the fluidity of grief and stages that have no borders.

If I felt like I had taken two steps forward in my grief journey, I took a light year back.

It was a busy day, spent with children and grandchildren. We drove home in a harrowing snow storm, and when we finally made it home safe, and I was comfortably lying down I started wondering why he was not curled up at my feet.

The grief hit. The tears, the ones that burn behind your eyes, started. And I squinted to hold them back. It was late at night and I did not have the strength to let the floodgates open.

I am not sure why the grief hit me so hard and why I feel like I was going through each of the stages again. The anger, the shock, the denial.

I sat up in bed and just looked out the window mindlessly shaking my head and asking why. It was with an overwhelming sense of self-pity that I finally fell asleep.

There are no words other than to say: I miss your  presence, Tucker–more on some days than on others, but there is no doubt that the hole and emptiness is still there.

Twenty-two weeks sometimes feels like yesterday.

 

Not Ready

 

I wasn’t ready for you to leave.

You gave me no warning. I got hit in the face with a tidal wave.

A tsunami

I had no life preserver.

 

I wasn’t ready for you to leave

You gave me no warning.

I was used to living with my heart

I don’t know how to live with a chunk of it gone

I have many things we didn’t do yet

Would you like to hear what they are?

Tucker, we didn’t make it to the ocean

We didn’t make it to the sand dunes

We didn’t make it to the lake

Your life preserver still sits unopened on the deck

Next to the girls’ swimsuits and floaties

 

I wasn’t ready for you to leave

You gave me no warning

I got hit in the face with a tidal wave

A tsunami

I had no life preserver

 

I still question what I missed

When did you stop sleeping on the bed with us?

Why did you stop sleeping on the bed with us?

Would I have caught something if I had been more aware?

Would it have mattered?

I go to the grocery store.

All those marrow bones I am not buying.

I go outside

All those balls laying dormant in the grass gathering moss because you are not here to catch them

I sit in my chair. All those moments of stroking your fur as you rest your head on the chair–gone

I wasn’t ready for you to leave 

You gave me no warning.

I got hit in the face with a tidal wave

A tsunami

 

I have no life preserver

Hope you are running in the snow, my snow dog.

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