**Fund Raiser in Mina’s honor at Barrel Oak Winery to benefit Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary**

Shortly after Mina died my friend and co-volunteer at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Deb, described how she felt many years ago when her beloved Diva (a canine) died. Deb said she wanted a do-over, or a reset button or something because life without Diva just wasn’t working.

That’s where I am right now. I want this awful pain of trying to live without Mina to go away, I want Mina to come home whole and healthy so I can do this over and try to prevent her from getting cancer. I’d sacrifice 13 years off my own life to have one more year with healthy Mina. No hesitation. Because, as Deb said, this life without Mina just isn’t working!

Every night I stay up as late as possible, despite my daily 4:30 a.m. alarm (that’s a half hour later than when Mina was with me), just so I can be as tired as possible so maybe I can sleep for 4-5 hours uninterrupted. So far, that plan doesn’t work worth a damn. I wake up constantly. I hear things at night that I don’t ever recall hearing in the past three and half years that Mina and I have lived here. I swear there are rodents of all sizes living in the walls and in the attic above our ceiling, and every time the train passes I’m aware of it. Someone in the companion animal loss bereavment chatroom suggested it’s because I’m still listening for Mina. That’s possible as I’ve listened for her at night since she first came to live with me on my birthday in 1996.

My head hurts down to my jaw for several days now. Plus, everything I eat turns into a gastrointestinal nightmare. Being alone in the one place Mina and I lived the longest, and happily, is torture. My instinct is to be here and yet I can’t think of enough reasons to be here.

I cannot concentrate. In order to finish up the slideshows of photos of Mina’s life I had to force myself to sit at my computer for at least two hours. When I was done it was dark outside and still it was time to take Mina for a walk. So, I went outside and walked some of her routes through the complex and came home to the unbearable and oppressing silence.

You’ve never heard quiet like this unless you’ve experienced a profound loss. I noticed it the moment I walked in the door on November 9 when Sue and I returned after Mina’s death. I can hear the buzzing of the fluorescent lights in the kitchen. I hear every creak and groan of the vinyl siding on this building, I have a constant low buzzing in my ears. Mina’s absence is so loud it’s deafening.

There are other grief-related “side effects,” too. The lack of concentration is huge, there’s no way I can finish a news article or attempt reading a book right now. My colleagues at work are patient with me, even though some of them don’t understand why I’m grieving a mere non-human animal, they do understand grief.

My vision is affected because my eyelids are swollen all the time from crying. Driving in the dark is difficult and kinda scary. Staring at a computer all day leaves me with fuzzy vision. I think this will all pass once I’m not crying so much, as I am right now.

The bottom line is that I miss Mina so much it hurts. I cannot, at this time, imagine living however many years I have left, without her. Mina is my rock, my protector, my true love, my joy. There will be no replacement for what she gave me for 13 years; I just hope that some day I’ll walk out of this long, dark valley and find a way to live my life to honor her life. Until then, you can expect more blog posts like this one. I’m not calling my friends any longer with my crying ramblings, because I’d like y’all to still be my friends in six months. You’re welcome to call me, though, and please stay in touch. Your voices help me get through the darkest time of my life.