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Love, Loss, Resilience, and the Art of Never Forgetting How It Feels

Or: How to bury a pet and survive.

By Triple Decker SandwichPublished 7 years ago 9 min read
Not Cinammon, but a Llhasa nonetheless.

Cinammon was a Lhasa Apso that was a part of the tumultuous Frog Encounter family for three years.

I was like any 11-year-old, I asked for a dog every holiday and I would let slip how responsible I could be and how having a dog could offer me a lot in terms of lessons lived. My older brother, my senior by two years, played in my games too–often participating in faux competitions for our parent's benefit.

"I'll walk him more!"

"No, I will!"

And so on and so forth, I'm sure you know the scene.

One day it happened, and that day I met Cinammon. Cinammon came from Pet ResQ, an excellent organization that exists in New Jersey. You can rescue a critter from Pet ResQ here.

And so the story begins. I loved the shit out of that dog. Every time I got home, instant walkapalooza. Up the block, down the block, jogs, slow walks and everything in between. My brother didn't put up his end of the bargain, but I did.

My house was a crazy place sometimes, and Cinammon knew that no matter what, you come to Tremendous Frog Adventure, and TFA will protect you. I was very liberal with my people food, treats and the occasional treat wrapped in bacon. I went that far, I really cared.

And then I killed him. Murdered him. Cold Blood.

Not that dramatic, maybe a bit of overstatement. I would play wrestle all the time, getting down on all fours and slapping him (gently, chill, I love this dog) across the face. He would pretend I was a floofer in my own right and nip at me and make growl sounds. When it was all over he would usually flop on his back and I'd play his belly like a bongo. Intricate beats that would make a hippy drum circle go crazy played in the note of Cinammon skin.

I think my favorite part of Cinammon's character was that he looked up. He was a tiny pupper with the heart of a mountain. He was constantly on his hind legs playing bipedal, coming up to say hello. It was like he drew from my energy and knew that I have a soft spot for anyone trying to be bigger than they can be. The way his eyes would stay locked on mine while he awkwardly took the two step walk he could muster and eventually got to my knee. He liked to lick my knee, which is weird. I loved it though. What other dog kissed knees?

He was smart too; he was like me. If he were a person, he would have been a smart ass ladies dog like his boy Tremendous Frog Adventure. I just know that we would've been friends. He persevered through seeing anger in my family and he would be ready to play the next day.

He could read me. Know when it was time to play and know when I had work and it was time to hop on my bed, maybe groom a little bit but for the most part just be around. He knew what heavy eyelids meant and he knew sunken shoulders connoted. He recognized the cadence of my voice and he responded in kind. Homie knew me for real.

Cinammon was sensitive. He learned quickly but it's only partly because he's smart. People don't realize this, but intellect isn't the battle, it's sensitivity that makes a master. One must hold themselves to high standards to achieve anything noteworthy. Cinammon had that. He did weird shit, like the hind leg walking I discussed. He never had an accident and he knew how to be popular among other dogs, never fought. He just never made a mistake twice, so many times I can't remember the first time either. He was sensitive enough to learn.

He knew that I loved him and was always responsive. He wasn't like a dog that lived a dog's life, he was like a housemate that had a 9 to 5 but worked so that he could hang out in the evening. He was my best friend. I don't know what to say beyond that. Cinammon was my best friend for the time we shared. Maybe not my only friend, but my best friend.

Miss that dog a lot.

And one day, I killed him.

I remember it vividly. I was in the backseat of my mother's champagne early 2000's Nissan Altima (the one that looked like an elongated VW bug that was all over suburban New Jersey). I bonked Cinammon on the head and dashed out (he loved cars and playing in the car was maybe his favorite thing). Cinammon lunges out and when he hits the ground he makes this awful terrible no good terrible sound. It was a wince like tough guys make when they get their first tattoos.

It was high pitched and short. It was a sound I sure as hell hadn't heard at that point and never heard again. That sound deserves a spot in hell. That sound is too shrill for ears. It cut the soul and I knew something was wrong.

I was 14 and I had broken my dog's back. What actually happened was that he slipped a disk in his back and was rendered entirely motionless within 3 days. He would just sit in his bed and make crying sounds. When I placed him in his little bed I thought it would be okay, I didn't believe that my little furry homie would be dead so soon.

But he was. He was put down while I was at school. I don't think either of my parents were keen on seeing my breakdown, or whatever would happen when they took him from me. Would've burned the house down. Should've burned the house down.

And that's where this story begins.

Life is really, really hard. For me, the ebb and flow of success and failure, the push for love that grinds me down, the fatigue that comes from chasing a dream with no abandon.

I've seen the peak of the mountain of success with a beautiful woman on my side. I've looked down onto a crowd of people gathered by my hand and kissed the lips of a beautiful woman only to find within weeks that her beauty was skin deep and those people moved from participants to critics before the moon would turn.

I once had sex for an entire night on Adderall with my girlfriend, having been supposed to study for a neuroscience exam that I was not at all prepared for, and despite trading safety for pleasure, nailed the exam. Neuro at Oberlin is hard. Really hard.

With every success comes a failure, and sometimes the worst is when the failure doesn't come. There's something that can turn a hollow self full of fire– that chest pain that happens when you come to grips with the truth that success can't cure depression. That no matter how true her touch, bipolar disorder will cripple you and the scars on your legs will always be in question.

If I never said goodbye to Cinammon, no way I survive the next decade of my life. No chance in hell.

Beyond giving me a confidant, ally, and being to give my love to, Cinammon trained me on how to move forward. Being in the depths and feeling the weight of Sissyphus' stone set directly on my chest in guilt– I don't know that I ever got through it because I know it stayed with me for years, but I didn't die.

I've yet to have a dog since, but I've loved others, I've cared for others. When Cinammon left my life, I had to find somewhere to put that love and the world was a better place for it. I found a girlfriend and I found volunteer work.

This may sound terrible, but the same love I showed for Cinammon, I was able to transfer that to handicapped individuals, specifically those with autism and other neurologically based developmental disorders. I played Challenger Baseball and bongo drummed wheelchairs. I slid slowly into second, got tagged out, and played sad so that someone who wouldn't have the same opportunities I would have later in life could be the Champion. For at least a moment I helped someone forget their problems, at least for a second. Autism aside, I helped someone be a champion.

And that's Cinammon's legacy moving forward. I am in pain constantly, and I don't think anyone around me can see it. I'm in love with my mistakes, enraged at a potential I think my personality will always hold me back from and running down the path of development with little patience and high expectations.

I'm not a happy person.

But I lost Cinammon, so I know what to do. I play basketball to get my feelings out and I'm sure to be the most friendly person I can be. I tell jokes constantly and am always playing roles so that those around me might be more enthused for my presence. I participate in the Socialist party so that the working class might see a fair day and liberate millions.

If I don't lose Cinammon, I don't learn to move forward. If I don't lose Cinammon, I don't learn how to honor memory with pride in lieu of blood. If I don't lose Cinammon, I learn to fuck instead of make love.

I was not prepared for life. Maybe I'm not now, but I'm doing pretty good and I'm moving forward still. I'm not happy per se, but I have a woman in my life and while she's not around – I'm so proud of her and I understand why she is where she is, I wouldn't change her if I could. I have a job and a mission, two things that I always need, and they're in one package. I'm not prepared for tomorrow but I take it in stride.

Thank you for all those things Cinammon, because, without you, they don't come to be. You gave me so much.

Thank you Cinammon, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything.

I love you.

Rest In Peace buddy. I miss you.


About the Creator

Triple Decker Sandwich

I was in the bleachers now you know I'm shot calling

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