I wanted to run and hide from the world.
Facing my everyday, without Waylon by my side, was too unbearably painful.
I always knew my illness-prone rescue pup wouldn’t be with me forever. But in our eight years together, he stood firmly beside me through more life and loss than I could have ever imagined—even when divorce tore away any semblance of our former lives. No matter what life threw our way, Waylon and I were in it together.
I knew that his soul would finally find the peace his earthly mind and body never allowed. I knew that his pain was behind him, and that finally he could rest. I knew that he could finally release the emotional scars he wore of the early abuse he had suffered, before that fateful day we met in Northern Oregon.
I had encountered loss before; my father’s heart suddenly succumbed to stress in my freshman year of college. But somehow, this felt worse. Waylon and I woke together, chilled together, explored our city for hours on foot. We must have covered hundreds of miles in all of the runs and walks we got to share. We must have watched a thousand shows snuggled tightly on the velvet sofa. We must have shared a million smiles. Waylon had a goofy, cheerful disposition.
I had known loss. But I had not, for eight years, known life without Waylon by my side.
As the weeks wore on after Waylon’s passing, I knew that if not for me, but at least for his memory, I had to find a way to be the dog-mom he had always known.
I thought of Waylon looking down and wondering where my walks had gone, my laughs, my love. I didn’t know how I could move on without him, but I knew I needed to. I owed him that.
Returning to life felt much like trying on old clothes. Most things just didn’t resonate any longer.
Most mornings, it took everything I had just to get me out of bed. My Kundalini Yoga practice had pulled me out of other ditches, but grief it seemed, was too big a task. My job had kept me busy for the months preceding, but without Waylon snuggled at my feet on his bright pink pillow beneath the table as I worked, it just felt for naught.
But I kept trying, for Waylon. And eventually, life did gingerly begin to regain its meaning by focusing on these three things:
Do what you were born to do.
When thinking of mortality, I thought of what my final seconds might be like on this earthly plane. I thought of all the beauty of my life that would pass before me, as I journeyed forth beyond this realm. I thought of the showings of my life that would bring me the greatest sense of bliss.
And in those painful days, as I struggled to move on without my furry compass by my side, I found peace in my chosen practices. I wrote; I taught yoga. It was in those mournful days that after six months of teacher training, I truly became a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. I nourished those parts of me that made my heart sing. I did the things I knew that I was born to do. And in those moments, life felt good again.
Practice merciless gratitude.
In those early mornings, when I couldn’t be dragged out of bed, I would lie there and think of lists of things in my life to still feel grateful for. But that was never enough. The good feelings I got from making the lists (recommended by a fellow Kundalini Yoga teacher), lasted for only a moment, and then the hurt returned.
So instead, I made a commitment not to simply record my gratitude out like a grocery shopping list, but to live it. I decided to remember throughout the day, within the confines of life’s beautiful and varied moments, to savor them. I remembered that someday, I would look back on even the most challenging of times and find the beauty that I was too blind with grief to see.
Many say that depression is being stuck in the past. After a painful loss, futures, too easily, seem to disappear. It felt overwhelmingly difficult to envision crafting a life without Waylon, who I so deeply cherished.
But to fail to move on, would be a disservice to the incredible life force that he was. The life that for years, helped shape the person I am today. In time, I found things to look forward to. I even began meeting rescue dogs in search of my next furry angel.
He helped me to find my way. I honor his life now, by living mine for the magnificent gift it is.
Author: Kristen Campbell
Image: Courtesy of author
Editor: Deb Jarrett