I Couldn't Cry
© September 2009, Pi Arthur Stuart, pastuart.com
Updated: September 2009

Today is September Seventeenth Two Thousand Nine. Today we lost Nikki and Tko, our beloved chihuahuas. They were killed by coyotes.

I was going to put this at the end but I want you to know that the grammar maybe atrocious and I don't care. The words were written as I thought them. I don't think in paragraphs, my words don't flow smoothly and my thoughts are mostly random. The order of my thoughts went from one place to another and then back again, over and over.

I was numb. I couldn't cry. I hate myself for this. I wanted to cry. I thought it would help. It seem so unreal. Was it my fault? Yes, no, maybe. I cry at movies, at sad stories and even some poems; why can't I cry now when I need to?

For the rest of my life I will wonder, "What if?" What if I didn't go back in the house? What if I looked more carefully? What if ...? It happened so quickly, only a few minute. No more than two or three.

Nikki was twelve or thirteen years old.

Tko had just turn five.

I found their lifeless bodies. I imagined how it happened and I felt pain and numbness. I picked Nikki up and felt her softness, hoping for signs of life, but she was gone. I don't want to dwell on their deaths but rather on their lives and what they meant and gave us and what I, we already miss and always will.

Usually, when I write it helps; it's not helping now. I want to scream. I want to cry. I can't believe it's real. Maybe I'll wake up and find that it was a bad dream, or rather a nightmare. I wish I could time travel.

My pencil is shaking. I hope I can read this later so I can transfer it. I was supposed to do my morning run. I couldn't do that either. I look for excuses not to run. I don't find many. Was this me just using this as an excuse. No, I don't think so. I wondered?

My thoughts wondered. I look at the treats and see their image. I miss them so.

They say there are four stages to grief: denial, anger, ?, and acceptance. The ? might mean rationalization, guilt, frustration, hopelessness, wondering, they all seem to fit.

I wanted to blame and hate those coyotes badly but couldn't. They were only doing what nature has bred them to do—survive. My son skipped denial and went straight to anger. He said, "Shoot them."

Now when I sit down to read or do a Sudoku puzzle, I won't have Tko demanding to sit on me or Nikki pounding my legs so I'll give them treats. It was always annoying but I loved it so. I don't want to believe it is gone. Why? What if?

I think we need to get another or two. Not to replace, they were irreplaceable, but rather to fill this empty void I, we have. I feel empty and helpless. It will be a long while before I will enjoy life again.

On the way to the hospital, we stopped to be with friends and for a cup of coffee; neither of us could eat. There we told a few people. They were all nice and said it wasn't anyone's fault. It was. I'll just have to live with it. They hugged and consoled us. It helped a little, not much but a little.

As we drive to the hospital, for Pat's (my wife) appointments, we sit in silence. Each of us struggling with our thoughts and emotions. She couldn't cry either. Me with my guilt and failure. I didn't ask her but know her thoughts were as painful as mine.

I should have run. Running always makes me feel better but I felt if I ran that it would in some way diminish what had happened and I didn't want to feel better. I'll run on Monday. I want to feel the pain and I want it to hurt. I failed my loved ones when they needed me.

Pat feels guilty about keeping her appointments. Not going won't change anything, it won't help, and she needed the treatment and to be with people. Nevertheless, the guilt is still there.

What's the right thing to do? Not for the world, but for us. We love them dearly. I'm glad she's keeping her appointment. She's with people. At times like this that's good. Besides it will pass the time and it is said, "Time heals all wounds." I sure hope so. I sit and write while I wait.

Also, while I wait, I called my son. I didn't want to be alone. We spoke for a short time about what happened. We spoke a little bit about football. Talking about football made it worse. I felt so guilty. Football is just so unimportant. Maybe that's why I talked about football—to divert my attention for a few moments. I still feel guilty.

I'm alone again and will be for a couple of hours. I usually read during this time but I can't. Why can't I cry? Crying would help the pain but I guess I deserve it.

I tried to listen to music. I couldn't.

I don't want to live. I wish I went first. I don't have the strength to do it and I know it would cause more grief and change nothing.

In my spiritual guide I say, "When I make a mistake, I will accept it and get on with my life." I never imagined that my mistake would result in the death of two of those I love so deeply. I still can't believe it.

I wasn't there for them when they needed me most. I should have been.

Over the years they were with us they grew attached. Tko just a little bit more to Pat. Nikki just a little bit more to me. At night Tko would curl up next to Pat and Nikki would be next to me. If either of us were gone overnight they would both curl up next to the one that remained. I'm sorry Nikki. I'm sorry Tko. I let us all down. Life for us will never be the same. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

As I walked about the hospital, just to do something else, I saw happy people. I wanted to scream at them, "How can you be happy? I just lost two of my most precious loves. How dare you enjoy life when I'm in such pain." I looked at several real attractive women. Women that would arouse my interest, but I felt nothing.

In the car again, I read the funnies but they held no joy for me. I just sit here in a sort of trance. The thoughts keep going through my mind. I replay and replay them, again and again and again ... I ask and ask, "What if?"

When we got home, we buried their little lifeless bodies. It was painful. We planted a tree above them and put a bag of treats for each of them. I told Tko and Nikki I was sorry. I came back several times and repeated myself. It didn't help. Perhaps their little bodies will somehow nurture the tree and it will get their spirits.

For Pat the pain was so great that the pain in her legs for which she is taking Vicodin disappeared for most of the day.

Mind numbing television helped pass the time in the evening.

Four glasses of wine numb me more and help me to sleep for a few hours. I woke at two and struggle the rest of the night with my thoughts, while I tossed and turned trying to find comfort. I couldn't and I felt I deserved it. I still couldn't cry.

I want to forget the bad part, yet I don't want to forget.

Day 2:

Well, I made it through the night. The wine helped me sleep until two. From then on there was no rest. Image after image popped into my head; some were good but most were awful. I struggled with my thoughts. Some were of the good thinks Nikki and Tko gave us. And some were of my guilt.

I spent most of the day transferring what I wrote to the computer. It was a numbing task that diverted my thoughts—somewhat.

Tko, this morning on our way to be with friends and have a cup of coffee, we spotted a squirrel. We stopped, as usual, so you could watch him. On the way back we did the same thing.

Besides spending time on the computer, I walked about, here and there in a trance. I visited Nikki and Tko's grave several times hoping that some miracle would bring them back. I spoke to them. I told them I love them and I'll miss them the rest of my sorrowful life. They gave me so much. I told Tko about the squirrel. I told them I was sorry.

Pat and I spoke a little about the event. We spoke of our love and joy Nikki and Tko gave us. She did her things. Played on the computer and worked word and number puzzles, but they were little more than a distraction. The usual intensity and joy just wasn't there.

We're still numb.

I know when I read this in the far future, I will cry but more than that I'll remember the good stuff. I'll remember the love and joy Nikki and Tko gave all of us.

Again, I will watch mind numbing television.

And again, I will drink some wine in the hope it will help me to sleep.

Day 3 and onward:

September 19, 2009 I was adding water to the goats trough when I looked at the stream of water which trigger the memory of how Tko loved to attack it. Chasing and biting the stream as we moved the stream from place to place was fun for him and enjoyable to watch.

Evening and mornings are the worst. Our rituals for going to bed and waking up with them are so empty.

The Lives of Nikki and Tko

Nikki came to us by way of the street. Pat found her wondering alone and scared. She's the one I wrote about in, "But I Fell In Love Anyway."

Nikki was so tiny and frail when Pat brought her home. We held her and loved her. It didn't take long to fall in love with her. If I have to admit it, it only took a second or two but I wouldn't admit it at the time.

Over time Nikki gradually overcame her initial fears and knew she was loved. We had four other dogs. They accepted Nikki immediately and without reservation. Being accepted to the pack gave Nikki the feeling belonging. They all quickly became buddies. Our two cats ignored it all.

When Pat and I were at home she would cuddle up next to the one that was most sedentary. If just one of us were home, you would find her nearby. If both Pat and I were gone, she would attach herself to whomever was home; my son or granddaughter, and worst case scenario one of the others in the pack. On the lighter side, if someone, anyone, was eating that's where Nikki would be, expecting her rightful share.

When it came to other people Nikki was a bit stand-offish If the person were around long enough Nikki would adjust, particularly if the person had food she liked.

When Nikki knew we were around she felt safe. You could tell by the way she slept on her back, snoring. It was peaceful serenity.

During the early years we took her with us when we traveled. Nikki was with us when we visited our son in Florida, our son in Indiana and our daughter in Oregon. Nikki loved to travel as long as she could sit on one of our laps. I know Nikki dislike being put in the travel case but she endured it. When I look over at her, I could swear the expression on her face said, "Daddy save me. Get me out of here." I would cave more often then not. Why not, I loved her.

During these visits Nikki would shadow us closely for most of the stay. After a few hours she was able to tolerate other people and the pets. Nikki was always close to one of us though.

Although Nikki didn't like to be picked up, she loved to lay on our laps. Particularly when either Pat or I were using the computer. Initially Nikki would just stand next to us waiting until we either picked her up or let her jump up. As she grew, jumping up was her preferred way. As Nikki got older, she avoided being picked up more and more. Closeness was never a problem. She loved that. At some point Nikki realized that just standing there wasn't working as fast as she wanted so she started to hit our legs with her paws. At first it was gentle—light touches. As time went on, she began to use both paws and use them with more force. We always got the message and she got the lap. As time passed by, I wanted her to be more comfortable so I put a pillow on my lap. Nikki loved it. The pillow was softer and more even, allowing her to spread out, so to speak. Nikki like the pillow so much she would not jump up on to my lap until I got it. She would literally pound (hit my legs with her front paws repeatedly) me into submission. Since my computer is near my bed, Nikki would sometimes get on the bed and stand over my shoulder to get my attention. If standing there didn't work she would touch my shoulder with her paw, continually until I got the pillow and allowed her to get on it. I love the whole game.

When we watched television Nikki would curl up next to one of us. If we were both there, she would get between us and make an effort to touch both of us at the same time.

After a year or so, Nikki knew she was a part of the family, as well as the pack. I think that is when she began to train us. When the water dish was empty Nikki would get our attention by putting her front paws in the dish and start to dig a hole like it was the ground. It was noisy and got our attention. We fill the dish.

I know now that it is never safe to allow small dogs, cats, or other animals outside in this environment alone. Nor to let them get far from you. For many years we would let Nikki, and later Tko, play outside in the yard, while we were in the house. When we first did this, we had a large German Shepard and two other dogs bigger than a coyote. Perhaps that's why nothing happened during those years and we got comfortable with doing it. Nikki learned that she could get our attention by scratching on the patio glass sliding door. It rattle so loudly that the first time my son heard it he asked, "Did we just have an earthquake?" It always got our attention and that's how Nikki trained us to let her in; the rest of the pack followed.

Training us to give her treats was quite an experience. At first, when Nikki wanted a treat, she would touch us with her paw to get our attention. Then she would stare at the treats, then back at us and then back to the treat. Repeating the process of touching and staring until we relented and gave her a treat. As time passed Nikki's antics grew. On the bed she would jump from spot to spot, bark softly and then look at the treats. We'd give in. Now that I think about it, Nikki didn't abuse it. If I said, "That's all" and turned away she would quietly curl up and go to sleep. Also, after one or two she would just retreat, knowing she could hit us up again later. Perhaps, she thought, "Don't ruin a good thing." Like that would ever happen with us.

As Nikki grew older she seem to lose a little of her ability to jump up on our laps or it may have been that she got big, in relative terms for a chihuahua. At this time, she would get on a living room chair that I had next to my computer and curl up on her pillow. The chair was also close enough for her to leap across the space to my bed. From the bed she tap me on the shoulder to get my attention. Most of the time it was to get treat, but on occasion she wanted to sleep on my lap. In the last few months I could see that her leaping ability was weakening. Although Nikki could still make, I made it easier by moving my desk chair into a position for her to use, like a steppingstone, to get to the bed.

Bedtime was always fun. When I was just ready to turn out the light, I would give a special treat, that I kept in jar alongside the bed. Nikki would sit patiently staring back and forth at me and the treat jar, until I finally gave it to her. She would take her treasure and move to the corner of the bed to eat it and then sleep.

We have found that everyone we asked has said that their chihuahua slept with them and how much their chihuahua liked to get under the covers, even when they were not in bed. Nikki was no different.

In the mornings when I woke up, or rather opened my eyes, I had to lie still. If I moved Nikki would then pester me by putting her face against my face until I relented and got up. Impatiently she would pace about while I got dressed. Once dressed I would take her, Tko and Sugarbear outside. Sam the cat usually tagged along. While they were outside, I brushed my teeth and got ready to run. As I got ready to leave, I would call them in. When I run, I take a handful of biscuits with me for the dogs along our street. Nikki knew with was also time for her to get one. She always waited for me to close the lid on the container, hoping I would give her another one. Sometimes I did.

If there ever was a puppy that could be named, "Will Rogers" it was Tko. He never met anyone he didn't like and everyone that met him, liked him. He had a strong following wherever we took him regularly. He was small in stature but he had a giant personality. Pat named him Tko because he was a "Technical Knockout."

I'll add more about them and the joy they gave us but each time I start I can only do a little. I'm having too much difficulty, it still seems so unreal. Along with the additional stuff I'll add a bunch of pictures that will tell the story. Again, I can only do so much at a time; it hurts so much. Sorry. They were so beautiful and loving.