I’m not trying to toot my own horn when I say this, but I seriously don’t recommend anyone read this who doesn’t feel like crying anymore. This piece came from an incredibly dark place in my heart, and it isn’t kind to the reader, because it wasn’t kind to the writer. I have been writing it for days and finally got it to the point where I can’t work with it anymore. I needed to write this though, just like I need to publish it, it is a cathartic experience for me, but I am putting a warning on it. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t nice, and it most likely will make you cry. I apologize in advance. ~ Aimee

To my Angel:

The hole that Daddy dug you wasn’t very big. It didn’t need to be. You weighed just thirteen pounds the day you died. It is deep though. The depth was a finality which ceased my tears as I sat in the grass with Smokey and watched Daddy dig your grave.

We picked a spot in the yard where those white wild flowers you always liked to chew on grow. I took the stickers and your name off your Bailey chair and decorated your coffin with them instead.

And then we put you in the ground. I could picture you in there, just as we’d left you, head resting on your puppy, curled up on your blanket with your collar from Grandma Rhonda and Smokey’s matching leash to one side.

My fingers twitched, and I ran my hands over your coffin several times. I wanted to open it just once more, kiss you just once more. But ultimately, I didn’t. I knew what I would find, and I didn’t want to remember you like that. I wanted to remember you warm and soft and barking your puppy bark. I wanted to remember you alive, and in that box, you weren’t.

We didn’t say much, just that we loved you, and we missed you so much already. Then Daddy filled the hole. I could hear the dirt sucking the air out of the space. I could hear the coffin compressing from the weight of reality, and I almost tackled Daddy to make him stop. I felt like I was suffocating.

But because the hole was not that big, it didn’t take long to fill and then Daddy was gathering stones to circle your grave. Numbly, I followed.

When we had enough stones to circle your resting place, I ran to the front of the house and picked some pink flowers from the flower bed. I’m sorry I didn’t have something better, but I don’t have much of a green thumb. If you’d lived to spring, you would have seen that, but since you didn’t, I guess I’ll just tell you.

I put the flowers on your grave and fought the urge not to push my hands into the freshly unearthed dirt and pull you out. Over and over I said in my mind, “She’s not dead. She’s not. She’s not.”

But the cold truth is that you are. And there’s nothing I can do to change that. And as much as I know, logically, that we did all we could, I can’t help but feel like we murdered you Dusty. We signed the papers to let the vet put that needle in your leg and suck your little life away. And I hate myself because I feel like I’m no better than a baby killer.

That’s part of the reason I don’t come and see you much, even though you’re not really in that hole, not anymore. I just can’t look at that cross that Daddy spent three nights making, the one that we pinned your big girl collar on, the one you never grew into.

I hate myself even more when I see pictures of your bothers and sisters, getting so big already, and get angry. I’m not angry because they’re alive, but because you aren’t, and in them all I see is you, only a little less perfect to me.

So it’s hard to visit you. Because every day I come home, and you’re not there, but your big girl collar is hanging on a piece of wood out back, a constant reminder of my crime.

Last night, Daddy got some bad news at work. And he laid on my lap and cried about how much he missed you. He needed your cuddles, and you weren’t there, and I feel like it’s all my fault.

What if we held you in the Bailey chair longer? What if we hadn’t let you play in the snow? What if we hadn’t taken you to grandmas? What if we’d put you in that hospital? Would you still be alive – still be fighting? What if we didn’t make the right choice for you?

I had a dream last night that you crawled out of your grave. You were running around the backyard and you attacked me. You were so angry. And then you ran off. The neighbor and I dug up your grave, but all we found was an empty box, still sealed. And all I could think was – did I do this to you?

Smokey woke me up, pacing, always pacing. I took him out and laid in the yard with him, the cool dew soothing my hot tears. I laid behind the treeline, so I couldn’t see your grave and plucked grass and cursed myself for cowardice and selfishness while Smokey sniffed the grass and whined. He wants to go back to your grave. He likes those white flowers too, likes to chew on them and carry them around the yard, but he doesn’t have your grace. He walks, clumsy, unsure of his own size, but you, you floated, so proud to have captured your toy.

I put my hand on Smokey’s head, and he sighed and kissed my face, but then he was wandering off again. Never a cuddler, not really. He isn’t the one who likes to sleep right on top of my head, or sit on my feet or follow me around the yard or the house while I do the chores. He likes to do his own thing. But you, you were different. You liked to be wherever I was, or wherever Daddy was, and you weren’t happy until you were right there. You were the best puppy, and I wanted so much to see you grow into a big dog and wear your big girl collar that I spent two days deliberating over. I wanted to see if you were going to grow into those paws everyone kept talking about and see how silver you were going to become.

But I don’t get to do those things, and neither do you. Because you’re there, in that hole in the ground behind our house that I can’t go to because I’m afraid that you hate me. And I’m sorry that I failed you as a parent, and that I wasn’t strong enough or brave enough to see this through. I just kept hoping for a fairytale. Life isn’t like that though, and I was an idiot to think that even a puppy as magical as you would change that.

I’m sorry Dusty. Please forgive me.

Love always,