Today, a year ago, my childhood dog passed away. Tizzy was her name, and cheese was her game. One of her favorite things to eat was cheese, she would go crazy for it; it was her favorite treat. Tizzy’s passing was a hard thing for me to deal and cope with. I forgot she could die, that one day she would not be waiting for me at the door, or that her protective spirit would be gone after all these years.
My family got her after my father, who had been drinking all day, went out on a whim to buy her. My parents were woefully unprepared for her arrival, she left chaos in her wake and chewed through everything. As Tizzy got older, she mellowed out. She enjoyed the quiet moments soaking in the sun and liked when we would just lay on the floor next to each other. I went through a quick phase of touching her nose, she was not a fan of that phase. Tizzy’s best weekends were the weekends we had ribs. She knew she would have many new bones to chew on. Her touch was soft, and gentle. Tizzy never bit too hard, and she would never hurt a fly.
For a long time, I was ashamed of her. Tizzy was not always the most well-behaved dog, and when I was younger, I thought it reflected badly of me. I had walls up around something that let me be vulnerable with people. I did not even think of it as a wall, I had avoided or never invited people over to my home. Partially because of Tizzy, partially because my home was not like the ones in the magazines. I thought that was my fault, as if a 15-year-old controlled what their home was like.
Gradually, I chipped away at the shame of my home, and in turn of Tizzy. I realized just like myself, she had been affected by the people who were responsible for us. Tizzy had been a child just like me and needed structure that our parents did not provide well. Tizzy and I had a lot more in common than I had once thought. Once I realized this, I tried to spend more time with her during the times I would be home. I would dance with her while music played at a low volume because she did not like loud noises. We would lay in the sun and sleep together. I would watch Tizzy chew on a bone for hours on end. I would talk to her during these times, she would savor the bone while I cherished our little talks. Even though I recognized that shame, I avoided a lot of issues by just not being home. I wish I had spent more time with Tizzy, instead of all the time I spent away from my house, avoiding issues there. I treasure the moments I did share with her.
After I graduated, a lot of my walls came crashing down. Whether by choice, or because of cognitive behavioral therapy. Around the ending of February, I had the first person ever over my house, my ex: Hunter. He slept over that night, on an air mattress I slept on because it made me feel like I could get up and leave at any moment of my choosing. That night, I realized that I had power over my home life, to an extent. My father had been gone for a few months, and at the end of the day I chose how I react to things within my circle of control.
Tizzy passing away shocked me to my core. I cried for days on end, and I was so heartbroken. Not only did I lose my childhood dog; I lost a consistent, and protective presence in my life. I learned a lot from Tizzy when she was alive, and I am constantly learning more as I heal from her absence and death. I think Tizzy was one of the first beings to make me feel loved, or lovable. In my low moments, she would sit with me and listen. Tizzy taught me that even in the darkest moments, you can still find pockets of joy. Tizzy showed me patience, kindness, and compassion when some could not or did not have it.
Today I want to let go. I want to let go of that shame, the shame I have felt for feeling that shame. I want to let go of the past. There will be times that I will dwell on my mistakes and the past, but that is human. It is okay to be human. I am learning and practicing how to let go. I will hold on to the lessons that Tizzy taught me, I will cherish the memories she left me with. I will not ever forget the warmth I felt when she looked at me, or when she would be with me.
As Kesha once said, “it is time to practice what I preach… the past can’t haunt me if I don’t let it.” Tizzy was crucial to the person I am today, and I will never forget the role she played in my life.