It’s the Day to Day that Hurts

Hartfelt_MD
4 min readFeb 24, 2021

The morning appears normal; it’s anything but. I get out of bed, head to the kitchen, pour my coffee, and shuffle to my favorite spot on the couch. Staring out the window, reading news on Twitter, and sipping on my cup of jo, the wakeup routine is incomplete. There are no morning whines and no delivery of a shoe, sock, or stuffy. There is no fluffy warm body gently sliding under my feet or big, brown, beautiful eyes gazing upward to request pets and attention. No gleeful tail wags as Elton rushes to the door for the first daily pee and no eager gaze from outside to make sure that his breakfast will be ready when he returns.

It’s the day-to-day things that hurt.

My Elton whistle (the same one that we used for Marley) is met with silence as I call for my companion to join me to take out the garbage. He’s supposed to be there to make the mundane choirs fun. He’s supposed to be there to roll in the snow while I drag the trash and recycling to the garage. He’s supposed to be there to make the monotonous bearable. Those moments of pleasure, that lift us from the daily burden, are gone.

My nights are sleepless right now. I’d do anything to wrestle with Elton over the covers once again. He had a knack for looking cuter and cuter as I got increasingly annoyed that his rolling over for belly rubs caused a vicious cycle of stealing more blankets. You couldn’t actually stay mad at him, though. His sweetness wouldn’t allow that. His genuine expression of “Aw, come on; be a sport and just love me” would melt my heart into laughter. Invariably, I’d give up and go find a different blanket somewhere. Then, he’d press up so close that I’d nearly fall off the bed. I didn’t care.

The house feels empty; life feels boring and joyless without Elton. The regular is just that — dull and tedious. Soulless. In the last few days of Elton’s precious life, we huddled around him bestowing and reflecting the love he provided selflessly for 11 ½ years. Friends called and stopped by to share stories. We gathered around an outdoor fire pit like sitting shiva (as my son aptly dubbed) while Elton was still alive. Elton lay on the snow, bringing his neoplastic fevers down but still basking in the glow of the flames, overlooking the woods and pond. He loved living where he could run freely — the community trails behind us were his backyard.

Ann and Mike reminded us that their rescue, Angie (one of Elton’s earliest four-legged friends), liked no dogs other than Elton. Angie would bark and growl when another pooch approached. But not with Elton; he had that calming effect on fellow canines. Elton’s cousin, Blazer, had a fear of all big dogs except Elton whom he looked up to and tried to emulate. Lori K and her two sons (now grown men) were Elton’s second family — his home away from home. Jonny reminded me that when he babysat as a teenager (my own children then in elementary school), Schmeltus (as his big brother Matthew called him), thought Jonny was there to play with HIM.

And oh the mud — that was spa-level luxury for Elton. It was also the only time he did not listen. When out on a hike, if he caught the rotten-egg smell of sulfur before the humans saw the pool up ahead, he got a certain look in his eyes — it was the point of no return. “Don’t even bother telling me no,” his body language would say. He would bolt for the puddle, marsh, or pond — no matter the size. Those moments of sheer delight in the water or the muck (the murkier the better!) were worth the potential consternation from his human mom, dad, sibling, or second mom, as we call Lori K. At some point, I stopped caring whether the car got dirty or the rugs were damp. Exchanging any faux fastidiousness for the gift of Elton’s happiness was well worth the tradeoff. This became one of many life lessons from our beloved Elton — aka Mr. EJ, Sir Elton John, Schmeltus, and more. Elton’s existence was pure love.

Elton taught me more than I could possibly teach him. He lived (and died) by a genuine creed. Lessons like relish in the day to day; being matters more than doing; acceptance is key; the proverbial “don’t sweat the small stuff;” and, above all else, family is defined by sharing a series of unexpected, unexplainable experiences. Elton’s presence — his essence — brought joy and light, even faith; his nature showed what was possible: a hope for goodness and kindness, and belief that peace may be attainable. Especially at a time of tumult and loss in our country and the world, Elton brought patience, comfort, and humility. Our dog was the best of humanity. We miss him terribly.

--

--

Hartfelt_MD

Mom. Wellness Doc. Love politics, hockey, nature, family (especially our dog!), health, and fitness.