i can’t think of a title, so i’ll just say thank you

I once had a terrible case of the flu. In addition to the body aches and chills and stuff, I was puking my brains out all over the place all the time. The worst part of it was that it would happen with no warning; one second I was fine, and then I'd suddenly feel my stomach turn, and I'd be throwing up whatever was left in my stomach from the last time. I couldn't control it at all, and after about 12 hours of it, my neck and throat just ached like they'd been kicked by a mule wearing 1930s baseball spikes.

For the last 24 hours, I've experienced the same thing, but instead of throwing up, I'm hit by these unexpected waves of incredibly powerful grief that seem to start in my stomach and explode into heartbreaking sobs in a matter of seconds. My whole body aches, but my throat, neck, and shoulders are especially sore and tired. I know I slept last night, but I don't feel like I got a whole lot of actual rest. 

This morning, I made it about 5 minutes before the first wave of sorrow hit me, but at least I knew what set it off: automatically looking for Ferris on her little doggie cot in the living room, where she'd greet me every morning, wagging just the tip of her tail, until I came over to pet her. Since then, it's been less like I'm crying every five minutes and more like there are these occasional breaks when I'm not. Maybe my body needs time to make and store new tears, I don't know.

I went to the comic shop to get my mind off of things. I haven't been in almost a year because I've been so busy, but figured I'd pick up some trades and recent issues of my friends' books, so I would have something to do. Besides, going to the comic shop always makes me happy.

I picked up a lot of books, and decided to give Green Lantern, which was one of my favorite titles in the 80s, a look. My comic guy recommended this one particular trade as an entry point, so I added it to the pile. When I went next door for some falafel at Zankou, I opened it up while I waited for my order to come up. In the first panel, Hal Jordan is talking to someone named Ferris. I felt the sob rise in my chest, but I caught it in my throat and managed to keep it down with some deep breaths until I got into the car a little bit later.

It's been an extraordinarily difficult day. Our other dog, Riley, who we got as a companion for Ferris when Ferris was 2, has realized that something is very wrong in the house, and keeps looking for Ferris. All day today she's never strayed very far from my side, and though I'm aware that I may be projecting and anthropomorphizing, it sure does seem like she has sadness in her eyes.

Anyway, I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone who has offered condolences for our loss. Ferris was our dog, but she was as much a part of our family as any human, and loved us unconditionally. There is a gigantic open wound in my heart and a vast empty space in my house that feels like it's never going to heal (even though I know it eventually will.) I've always felt like telling someone "I'm sorry for your loss" wasn't ever enough, but being on this side of it, I can tell you that it's more comforting than I ever expected.

161 thoughts on “i can’t think of a title, so i’ll just say thank you”

  1. Still brings me close to tears now thinking about good canine friends dieing. What I can tell you is that recently we bought a new puppy for my girlfriend’s grandfather and he makes everyone smile through his intelligence, playfulness, persistence and friendliness. Plus, he’s made a great new companion for the dog that was left behind after the recent doggy death. So remember the good times and never forget them, but once you’ve stop grieving don’t forget to look forward, because Riley needs a new friend and I know how much fun and joy a bundle of puppyness can bring to a family.

  2. Wil, I’m so sorry to hear about Ferris. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a pet and my heart goes out to your and your family. I’m sure she’ll be deeply missed.

  3. And…when their name pops up unexpectedly like that (name in the comic book)…I believe it is them saying hello and that they’re ok and sending their love. Think about the circumstances that had to take place for you to read that one little, meaningful word. Coincidence…I like to think not.

  4. I’m so very sorry to hear about this. I’ve loved reading your anecdotes and looking at your pictures that you’ve posted about Ferris. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  5. I still cry over my dog, Daisy, sometimes and she’s been gone about 6 years now. It’s amazing how these furry beasts work their way into our lives and never leave.
    It does get better though.

  6. Riley absolutely feels grief, and misses Ferris. Just how doggie grief is, we don’t know, but studies have shown that we pack mammals have that in common.
    But we don’t need studies to prove that. She knows you’re upset, and she knows she’s upset, and where the heck is Ferris? Uh-oh, is this about Ferris?
    A friend of ours who breeds and shows dachshunds had a grumpy uncle in the flock of 3. He hated puppies, he snapped at the others without warning, the others generally knew to keep their distance. You didn’t have to know about dogs to know everyone was annoyed with him, and he was annoyed with everyone else.
    He passed away a few months ago, and the remaining two are still feeling the grief. We kept the two of them overnight, and we could see for ourselves they are feeling grief.
    Dogs no doubt feel it differently than we do, but it can absolutely be called grief, and Riley absolutely misses Ferris. I think the trick is to make yourselves both feel better simply by being there, but not to give her signals that she’s supposed to act out for you. Sometimes they do that, you know what I mean. I think for Riley the support is more in her beloved routines and togetherness that dogs generally love so much.
    As for Ferris, I’m not going to be one of those “Rainbow Ridge” types that totally don’t know how to RTFA, but I will say that our pets aren’t just _like_ family. They _are_ family, and we’re allowed to sob and cry and feel bad. What would you be if you didn’t feel sad?
    But when the worst wave of grief is over, and some of the centeredness returns, remember that Ferris would never ever ever want to make you feel sad. She would want you to always be happy, to live in the moment like she did.
    What else can I say, but that I’m so sorry for loss. To loose her so suddenly and so traumatically will take time to come to terms with. I didn’t say “get over” because you wouldn’t want to “get over” her. But one day, you’ll be able to look back on your memories of her fondly, and with the happiness she wanted you to feel. They never want us to feel sad.
    Angry, annoyed maybe, but never sad.

  7. Oh, Wil, I’m so sorry. I caught a glimpse of Ferris’s picture with “tears” in the headline and had to switch to another window for a few minutes. I lost one of my own fur-people, Oshi, to a brain aneurism earlier in the year, and started tearing up as soon as I realized what you were about to say.
    Part of is just knowing what you’re going through and being empathetic. But we’ve all been reading about how much you love Ferris all these years, it’s like she was a friend of ours, too.
    If it helps at all, it does get better. Not all the way (when I started recovering from Oshi’s death I was afraid I might lose her from my thoughts completely – I never have), but it does get better.
    All my best,

  8. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Our pets are as much a part of our families & daily lives as the human members and the ache of that loss is very intense. I lost my cat, Merlin, 4.5 years ago and it was months before I didn’t cry or feeling like crying every day. I still miss him constantly. Thank you for sharing so much of who you really are – even on the rough days.

  9. I missed the news, I was away – Wil, I’m so sorry to hear about Ferris. I know you loved him, although I can’t know how much in any real way – anyway, my sympathies are with you and your family.

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