How does one’s heart feel jubilant and defeated at the same time. Does that even make sense? One minute it is in a euphoric state – hearing about the celebration of my grandson turning 12. Yes indeed. Holy moly where did that time go? Digressing here. It was only yesterday, a September Friday morning to be exact, when I got a phone call saying I needed to get home. Leaving a meeting to attend something of a miracle, the birth of a baby boy, my first grandchild to my second oldest daughter. Her first as well. Oh the worry and excitement at odds within me as I think of her going into labour. And now 12 years later, on this beautiful Sunday morn, my grandson welcomes in his birthday with all the hopes and dreams before him. Happy Birthday young man….woo to the hoo of you. Unbelievable!! Blessings abound.
Flip side. I’m reading in a text from my youngest sister, who by the way tried to call me and then texted me. My eyes bugged out with a hitch in my breath as I began to read her text. My oldest sister was putting her dog down today. What? What! What?! No comprendez. Seriously. I was just at my sister’s this past weekend. I left Sunday afternoon. It is now Tuesday afternoon. Jasmine, her dog, is/was a schnoodle cross same as my own dog Maggie May were month a part in birth; turning 9 years this coming fall. But they were just playing together, running around, barking in the fenced backyard while we watched on Saturday afternoon. So what the ever loving world happened?
My heart took a jolt. I know how much my sister loved her Jas. She was just holding her in her arms on Friday night, spoiled puppy dog. LOL. Obviously the best feeling as master and faithful companion snuggle. I should have taken a picture had I known. Did Jas know that her body organs were slowly shutting down? I did think that she seemed to be a bit slower coming down the stairs over the weekend despite her running outside. And her control of her bowels, well let me just say it was way off too as I had the distinct displeasure of stepping in her urine near the bathroom door, my dad’s room and then on the carpet next to front door. Thanks Jas. I just had a shower. Joking aside, the urine plus the four spots of vomit in front of dad’s room, the bathroom mat and at her dish did seem to be a little disconcerting. Dad put it off saying she must have eaten something off. I knew she had a serious form of diabetes as my sister has been giving her two needles a day for the last few years.
Yet Monday evening after returning a phone call to my older sister, she revealed that she just took Jas in to vet hospital and they are keeping her due to being so dehydrated and wanted her to be monitored over night. Then Tuesday morning, trying to be a good sister with a good memory (yikes), I sent a text, checking in. I had not heard anything back until I read a text from my younger sister stating, “do not call our sister. She needs to process. She is putting Jas down at 2:30 this afternoon.” Are you kidding me?!?!
Loss. It comes in all forms. Nothing prepares you. I realize that it is a pet, not a human. But to many many many people, pets are the ever lovin’ moon and sun and sky. And my sister is the whisperer of whisperers of animals especially dogs and cats. FYI: Not bees or ants or wasps or mice. Her heart is so full of love for the four legged and also the two legged feathered friends too. The loss is huge and I can feel across the airwaves. As she texts me, “how does something so small leave such a big hole. I feel so so empty”. I do not know my sister. Unconditional and faithful pet love maybe.
I am looking down at my own dog, in similar greyish white colouring to Jas but so different looking too. Jas was thin, longer legs, supple wiry body, with crazy looking fur doo while Maggie May is more stocky, short legged, no tail with curly poodle fur doo. They sort of, a bit, kind of, got a long. Haha. Because they were yippy. Yes, yippy!!! The wind blew, a leaf moved, a person walked by on the sidewalk a block away, a honked horn, a….you name it. Yippy yip yip. Not to make light of it my sister but you can do a wee bit of a happy dance now. Outside of dad or hubby talking up a storm as per usual, you get some much needed peace and quiet too. Please remember she did a lot of the jolt-and-jump-out-of-skin kind of yippy, waking you up out of a dead nap.
My heart hurts today. I cried after I got over the shock. For it reminded me of my own cat Marble whose body began to shut down too. The blessing in all of this for her dog (and for my cat) was that they were not alone. I remember like ti was yesterday. And all the feelings resurrected in me as I listened to my own sister try to voice what she could not articulate. It is not a time for words my dear sister. Loss is loss.
And yet wonder comes with it as well. For in the loss, the beauty and gift bestowed upon you (and I) and so many people too is that you got to enjoy this four legged rug rat. LOL. Why the big hole you ask? It is the wonder of life. The reality that the life span of a pet will generally be less than own human life. So expecting it to happen – yes. But when, that is the question. Why? That is another question. It is like a wonder and awe of the beauty of companionship. Maybe the hurt comes from the unbelievable bond between human and pet, an unconditional love and acceptance. No matter if you stick the needle in her folded neck skin, she comes back for a pat and treat and cuddle. Really!!
I mean think about it. Depending on your habits that dog followed. You have to go to bathroom, s/he is right there; kitchen, there; bedroom, there; dining table, there; at front door, there. In fact s/he is in every minor or major event in life including moves, relationships, divorce and even when kids grow up and leave. Yet, not everyone understands or relates. Which is okay too. But one thing I did learn today was that my sister, who had a St Bernard, Barney, many years ago, had kept her dog alive for another month even when he was in bad shape. No matter how hard it was for my sister, she could not do that again. Grateful my dear sister, for Jasmine is not suffering anymore. She could not tell you but she did show you. Tears drop here.
Loss and wonder. Life has such a funny odd way of showing us a humbleness. In faith, God takes care of all living creatures and brings comfort during our time of need. We draw strength. There is no time line for grieving nor healing. But for me I want to pray for my sister this day and the days ahead. The loss of Jas, your faithful and ever present companion, is real and beyond thinking. In this moment, I offer you words only as I draw comfort in some of the Scriptural passages that may relate to you my sister, a pet owner and to your Jas, your dog, and the loss of her.
Psalm 22:24 For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
A Prayer for the Loss of a Pet
Lord God, Bring comfort and healing to those who are mourning the deaths of their beloved pets. You know their pain, for you lost your own beloved son. You know the depth of sadness and grief your children feel when they lose a dog or cat who was so dear, near, and special to them. You know the emptiness of a home that no longer has that furry little (or big!) creature; you know the emptiness of a heart that longs for the comforting touch of a beloved cat or dog. I thank you for the gift of our pets, for the love these creatures give us, for the life that they offer, and for the chance to love them like we love nothing and nobody else on earth. I pray for comfort, peace, and healing as we let go of the cats and dogs that we loved so dearly. Amen.