It was a year ago today that we had to say goodbye (for now) to my little girl, my sweet Payton. A year ago today my heart broke, never to heal fully.
A friend told me that the first year is always the hardest. I understand why. For me, it has been the back and forth of emotions, smiling and crying at once. Part of me wants to fast forward to a time when the sadness isn't so intense and the other part of me wants to go back and relive all the time I shared with her. This makes it so hard to live in the present.
Over the last few months, I've felt like I've been losing her all over again. I've been desperate to watch videos and look at photographs to remember her and what it was like to have her here with me. But right now I still get sad reminiscing because it reminds me of how much I lost. I know she would not want me to mourn her forever, so I try to be strong and happy. But I also try to allow myself moments of weakness and sadness.
It still amazes me how much I truly love Payton. She was my child. I don't like to compare myself to parents who have lost children but that's what I feel like. A friend recently wrote that "if love could have saved Payton, she would have lived forever". This is true not only because of our love for her, but she gave so much in return. On Payton's blog last year, I described how in her last moments she used all the strength left in her little body to smile and wag her tail at us when the oxygen chamber was opened.
She was so very sick and yet all she cared about was us. I get so tense and emotional just thinking about it, and I will never understand why such a perfect soul had to endure so much and leave this earth so soon. Payton's illness and struggles were a constant reminder that the end would come at some point, and yet I was still not ready. I don't think anyone ever is. I know she is free from the sickness and pain and her body is restored but I am selfish and want her here with me.
I long for the day when we can be together again, when I can hold her and kiss her. But until that day, I will continue on as best I can to live in a way that makes her proud. I'm still shocked at how many emails I get, about 2-3 a month, from those whose pugs are experiencing seizures or have been diagnosed with PDE. It was always difficult, but with Payton gone, it's even harder. However, I persevere in her honor, proud to carry her story and help others from our experiences. She will always be such an inspiration.
I have come to realize that I will always carry this profound loss with me, that I will always miss Payton, but as time goes by, it does become easier to live with the pain. I am still a work in progress, but I sleep better, smile more often, have a lot less anxiety, and can see a light in the distance. Donald and Daisy can't replace Payton nor eliminate the pain, but they have brought joy back into our lives. And as long as I try to live as Payton did, keeping my senses open to experience the special moments that life has in store for me, I know I will be happy. A friend suggested that Payton pops in on her special friends. This made me laugh thinking about her nosing around (probably trying to steal kibble), so the next time something around the house reminds me of her, I'm going to imagine her visiting me too.
As a symbol of her life, I'm going to make the Pink Flowers for Payton campaign an annual tradition each spring. In addition to a full vegetable garden and herbs, I will be planting these beauties on Sunday.
I'll leave you with two videos looking back at memories from Payton's remarkable life.
PS. I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend, enjoying family and friends.