Shocking, body rocking waves of tears flood over me. Do I really sound like that? It's been one day, not even quite. She's still real, but she's gone. Her smell is still here. I want to love on her, she's not there. The impulse is real, it's physical, I can feel it in my arms, the sensation of grabbing her skin, rubbing her neck, I can still feel it on my hands, but she's not there. I know she's gone, but I don't, because I turn the corner to see her, expecting her to be there, but she's gone. I make some coffee and think, I guess I should feed Bella now, but she's not there to eat. Her homemade food is still in the refrigerator. Goddamn she's become so fussy about eating late in life. Wait, she was fussy. Now she's gone. I don't need to heat up the food. There's no dog to eat it. I sit down at the counter and try to do something normal. I read ESPN. Suddenly I think, I'm sure Bella wants to go out now, it's about time. Every morning for the last 14 years. I turn, she's not there. She's gone. Her leash is right over there, but she's not. She's gone. Forever. I can see her hills out my window. She loved those hills. See that one? She frenzied every time we got to the top. It only took a small glance and she knew. Butt high in the air, staring at me, waiting for me to move. The smallest gesture and she's off, I can't touch her, she's too fast. She's laughing at me, now I'm laughing. Left. Right. Low to the ground. How long can she do this? I'm back in my kitchen. She's still gone. We won't be doing that anymore. No more getting chased by cows. No more rolling in shit. God that made me mad. And it made me laugh. Hey Nikki, check out Bella, she rolled in shit again. Get her outside now. Now she frenzies again. Baths make dogs do that. They all do that. Around the table. Rolling crazily on the floor. She's laughing at me, I can't catch her. I'd love to give her another bath. But she's gone. There's her blanket in the laundry room, her hair all over it. I pick it up, it still smells like her. Corn chips. All dogs smell like corn chips, especially their feet. I can feel her feet in my hands. But she's gone. But she's here, I can see her hair. I can smell her. But she's gone. I can't reconcile the difference. More body rocking waves of tears. Splitting headache. I think I just drooled during that wave. Uncontrollable waves of grief. Life goes on. But it doesn't, not today anyway. I'm in between worlds. She's here and she's gone. I pull out the old photos. There she is as a puppy. 4 months old with fully grown legs, completely out of proportion. Running, chasing, laughing with the other dogs. Now she's gone. The dogs link us to the start of our married life. The others have been gone for awhile and I've reconciled that. Today, though, Bella's gone and it's confusing. She's here and she's gone. I go upstairs. She was never here, her hips too tired to make it up the stairs. Refuge for my mind. I work a little. Small relief. I haven't heard Bella go out the dog door this morning. Oh yeah, she's gone. She won't do that anymore. I want so badly to walk downstairs and love on her a little bit. But I can't. She's gone. I've been through this before. Time heals all wounds, right? Maybe. I don't know. Not today, though. She's gone. I want to see her. Today. But she's gone. It will get better. But not today. She's gone.