I spent more than a year moping and struggling without you. A tough year indeed- as if losing you wasn't hard enough divorces and other calamities rain around us and death took two more of my loved people an one more of our pets ( remember Pinky?).
In the midst of this, your memory still hurt. I would find in me no trace of the pleasure of being with you, only the glaring hollow of your absence.
The past 30 of May we celebrated our 25th anniversary by returning for the first time to the beach we still call Troilo's beach; your old favourite.
By then we had already started the process of attempting to adopt another dog. It was the very next day that "Bobo" came home to meet us for the first time... and in the end to stay.
He is a loving, gentle and very happy dog. Although more than a human year and a half in age, he mostly behaves like a puppy. You'd like him, in that almost human way you had of liking other pets - I know you always saw yourself as a pet-owner, blessedly unaware of your own pet condition.
I had a bit of a hard time accepting him entirely. On the one hand my whole body was telling me I needed a dog in my life; but then again my body itself constantly rebelled at the thought of replacing you.
"What is that dog doing in Troilo's house, with Troilo-like noises and attitudes, cuddled by Troilo's owners, sleeping in Troilo's place...?"
You are going to hate this one: He doesn't sleep in your place anymore; after forbidding you access to our bed for your entire life, it only took a month for Gabi to allow Bobo in there.
I did protested in the beginning, I promise. I would grab the invader and toss him gently back to his pillow once and again. But in the end he won; Gabi says that because he is so much smaller than you and he doesn't shed, but I know that for me the reason is that it was actually easier to see Bobo in our bed than taking your place by my bedside.
One of the things I liked from the beginning is that he is so very different from you: light where you were dark, always happy where you were grumpy, noisy and sometimes hyperactive, nothing like the slumbering beauty you had become in later years.
In the beginning he almost looked like a generic happy dog; not a trace of character, of real identity. Nothing compared with your strong sense of identity. But do not forget the little guy has had a rough time in life, with a dead owner and a series of foster homes, so his over-eagerness to please faded his own identity.
Later on he stated to come out of it, he is not so blindly docile, not so fearful of rejection; I think he is starting to accept that he has found a home and a clan.
Slowly it dawned on me as well that I have nothing to fear, that in reality there is no possible way to betray you, that I will not replace you because your place in my heart and my memory is occupied by you forever.
All a newcomer can do is to create his own space in me, just like you did a few years after I lost Perdido - You do know how I feel about him, we have talked about it...
A few weeks ago I sat at my computer and watched the video of us playing together, remember the one we took upstairs? I had sat through it before, but all I had gotten out of it was a sense of loss. This time it was different Troilo: this time I got you back for a while; this time when the video ended I had a smile in my face, however short lived.
All in all what I learnt is that I still have you. I lost the ability to touch you, to share a space with you, but I haven't lost you.