We would hear their collars clinking on their water bowls. Sometimes I would hear them snore at night. Other times I would hear them scratch at the door, only to become overwhelmed with sadness after catching myself walking to the door to let them in.
We continued to hear the dogs, but there were no dogs to be heard. There was no snoring, no woofing, and no other disturbances except those caused by Meghan and Colleen. Even with two wonderful, energetic children, the house seemed somehow devoid of life. Cozy had been the one to fill the house with life. She had been the one to show us that we were capable parents.
Our house that was so shiny and new all those years ago looked pretty well lived in, with lived in being a euphemism for wrecked. The light green carpet upstairs was long gone, having been replaced by a hardwood laminate floor. The doors still had scratches (gouges, really) on them from Cozy wanting to come in. Any time we’d go to clean something we’d find drool spots on it, even in unlikely spots like behind the entertainment unit in the living room. When we cleaned behind the refrigerator, I swear we found enough fur to make another dog. As Cozy had gotten older and sicker she would lean against the wall for support as she went up and down the stairs. With Daisy gone, Lauren repainted the stairway and we were both saddened to see all the scuffs and discoloration from Cozy being covered up. For a year after Daisy left us we would find fur and drool stains everywhere. We even continued to find dog hair in our butter.
Every time I mowed I would get sad. The anger was long gone, but somehow even the inconvenience of pulling my tractor out of the huge hole in my yard was a tie to my Cozy. The hole was still there, and we still called it the Cozy Hole, and I still thought there was an alien spaceship down there. I just didn’t care as much. Without dogs protecting the yard, the deer started becoming more brazen. We would routinely look outside and see them inside the fence where they had previously been afraid to go.
Our house slowly became cleaner as sections were either painted or renovated, but even with the nice new look, the changes made me sad. I missed my Cozy. We were a family of four, but some of the spark was gone. My Cozy was gone. Lauren’s Daisy Bear was gone. The spark that had ignited our house with life was no longer there to cause trouble and keep the love-sick deer at bay.
Cozy changed my life. Miss Daisy had certainly done so too, but Daisy was Lauren’s special girl. Cozy taught me that I needed to spend more time in the present. She taught me that I should take time to play while there was still the time and the ability to do so. Cozy taught me about death. My father died when I was 17, and I had not really faced death again until cancer came back to take my Cozy. Most of all though, Cozy taught me about love.
My wife and children love me, and of course I love them. There was something different between Cozy and me, though. A bond that I can’t describe, though I’ve written hundreds of pages attempting to do so. Cozy showed me unconditional love. That’s almost cliché, but it’s true. I will never believe that I was good enough for her. I did so many things wrong, but still she adored me. I was not worthy of her love. I am humbled and honored that she chose me to be her partner for the duration of her short life and I hope that I honored her choice by giving her a good life. I like to think that I did. I know that I tried.
I like to think that somewhere my Cozy is waiting for me. I like to think that when my time comes, she will be there to greet me with a thumping tail and a loud woo woo! Wherever and whenever that might be, good or bad, I can only hope that my Cozy is there with me, for my journey will by easier with her by my side.
I miss you Cozy Bear.
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