Truth: I started writing this post a couple of days ago because I knew it’d be too hard to write today.

I can’t believe this, it still isn’t right, it’s just all … not right. I haven’t seen Mina in six months. I can’t really describe how the time is passing because it appears to be geographic. When I’m in our home, where we lived together for three years and seven months, it’s as if I’m in a bubble where Mina is still around. Kinda. I talk to her all the time and I feel like she listens but there’s no sense that she’s disturbed or unhappy, even when I can barely speak for crying. It’s the one place I feel closest to her, though sometimes when I’m driving and I’m quiet it’s as if she’s in the back seat, looking over my left shoulder.

When I’m not at home, time seems to pass at a normal pace so that my life is running on two different clocks.

She’s always on my mind, even if I’m thinking of something else. You see, after 13 years together it’s impossible for all roads not to lead to Mina. Our lives were so intimately connected and that bond isn’t broken, especially in the places we spent our time – home, the leasing office, walking around the property, in my car, out at the winery, or at Auntie Sue’s house.

I haven’t been inside a vet’s office since the day after she died. That’s so weird.

My friends say I’m doing better. I dunno if they’re tired of hearing me talk about her but I’ll talk about Mina for the rest of my life. She is the single most important relationship I’ve ever had (and will likely ever have). I am fortunate to have known Mina for so long, to have spent some years of my life with her, and I cherish that time. Now, if I could just practice all the lessons she tried to teach me! The most important lesson is how to live my life in the moment. That’s how Mina lived and you could see in the joy she expressed so often, even when she was sick. We were happiest when spending time together, and I still have guilt about all the time we spent apart during her too-short life.

I am eternally grateful for the gift of Mina to my life. I hope she feels the same way. Who knows how long I’ll live without her, but I’m sure we’ll be together again some day. I just hoped she picked a part of heaven that doesn’t have any bugs.

Ah, the bugs … Neither of us are fans of the insect kingdom. I remember back when we lived in Crofton, Maryland during the 17-year cicada invasion. At first there were just a few of these enormous, loud bugs flying around, but in a couple of weeks there were gazillions of them. Taking our walks became about dodging these, apparently, blind flying bugs. The sidewalks were littered with their corpses, so Mina would often pull me off the curb and into the street where there seemed to be fewer of them. She never tried to eat one, like some other dogs we knew, and she honestly seemed as grossed out as I was by them!

There are a lot of other memories, of course. I spent the weekend thinking about them, talking to her now and then, and missing her terribly. I can never tell when I cry about something I’ve read or something I saw on TV if the tears are for what I saw or for Mina. Sunday is hard as it was our last day together. The day that Mina pulled all of her strength together and showed me a good time, as so many human and non-human animals do just before they die. It was a miracle that morning and afternoon and one I’ll always treasure for the sheer amount of will it took for Mina to give it to me.

This morning, despite cold temps and high winds and pollen, I walked the route we took that last day together. I smiled thinking of how Mina could be walking beside me, but with a perky step and no age or pain to hold her back. Near the end of my walk I saw a woman from the charity car wash and she had a big, white English Boxer with her. I smiled at them, and he kept barking at me, insisting I come over for a meeting. I obliged and learned his name is Steve and he’s very sweet and young and really liked how I scratched his head. I remember how Mina would bark at people and some would come to see her and others, the people who will never understand or like non-humans, would run the other way. All she wanted was to say “Hey you! come over here and let me sniff ya! Yeah, you!’

Mina Bean, Mina Bean! Cutest girl I ever seen! Mina Bean! Mina Bean! Yo’ bowl betta be clean! (one of the raps I used to coerce her to eat during chemo)