[After a little over 5 months apart, Ceiba and I got to spend two and a half weeks together. Saying goodbye was not fun.]
Costa Rica — February 18th, 2018
I’m rushing around my house, throwing things together before I have to leave for the airport. Ceiba is lying down on our bed, still sleepy. This is earlier than we usually wake up.
At some point, I take a break to go be with Bita for a few moments. I gently curl around him and he moves toward me, rests against me. Sometimes we pretzel yoga ourselves around each other, but this time, we’re just simple, soft, soaking up the last of it.
I’ve been obsessed with Fall Out Boy for months (or should I say, fobsessed), and right now I have their music playing, weaving through the air all around us, shaking up my sadness. Patrick Stump sings, “I want to scream ‘I love you’ from the top of my lungs, but I’m afraid that someone else will hear me.”
This is currently most accurate in a very literal way, because all I want to do is shout out my love, and I can’t, because 1) that would scare Ceiba and 2) that would scare any humans who may overhear me hollering at 5 something in the morning.
So instead, I just say it, and then we breathe together.
A little later, in the kitchen, it’s time for the final goodbye. I dread this moment. I hate it. I want to kick it away, wash it down the sink, put it through a shredder, stomp it to nothing. But I can’t.
I kneel down on the ground so that we’re at the same level. “I love you,” I say once again, stroking Ceiba. I breathe in the scent of his fur, which I always wish that I could bottle because it calms me down better than any essential oil. I don’t cry. I won’t cry.
“I promise this is the last time.” How can I leave him, how can I leave this love? Never again, I vow fiercely. This is the last time. I will move mountains, I will unpour oceans, I will do anything. Just a few more months and then our forever starts until as long as our forever lasts. I won’t cry.
He buries his head against my chest and I keep petting him, kiss the top of his head, feel his soft, plush fur, massage the areas around his ears. “You’re my world,” I say. I’m not fully crying, but my heart aches and my eyes are swimming. I don’t want to get too emotional, because I know how sensitive Ceiba can be. So I won’t cry.
(Honestly, sometimes I think he’s like the dog version of me and I’m like the human version of him. We’re very similar, just in our species specific ways.)
I have to leash him up for a few moments while I go downstairs into the garage and then outside. He stands there watching me as I walk away. I can’t look back because I can’t bear it, because the hurt is thrumming through me, ripping at my rib cage, because the sadness is burning up into my throat. I start walking down the stairs. Now he can’t see me anymore, either.
I’m finally in the garage, heading towards the car, when I hear him bark, once, and I think, if my heart could shout out, that’s what it would sound like.
On the plane, I cry.