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Sunday when I took Cash up for his nap -okay, our nap- I gave him his treat but didn’t throw a few of his toys on the bed like usual. Not that he actual played with them– more than anything I think he just liked having them around him. Seeing this, Cash took matters into his own hands (paws) and somehow managed to open the door to Belle’s crate and took her bone. With it hanging out of his mouth like an oversized, cartoon cigar he climbed up on the bed, turned around in circles and laid down– pressed against me– to go to sleep. Michael had Belle and Dudley in the other room, so this time was just about us.
I have a lot of memories like this- simple, not profound but beautiful.
Cashman. Boogey. Boogers. Boog. Goofy. Goof. Son. Brother. Big Brother. Baby Boy. Old Man. My Cash.
Yesterday, I had to say goodbye. Time simply ran out.
Twelve years and nine months. He outlived his sister by just over two years and has been my constant companion since then.
But it was time.
I thought I was losing him twice earlier in the day but Cash always was a fighter. He hung in there. He hung in through the ride to vet, where they were able to give him medication to make sure he was comfortable and he hung in until Michael could get there.
Nose to nose and staring into his eyes I told him I loved him. I told him it was okay to let go. I whispered it was time for him to run and find his sister. Nose to nose I felt him take his last breath.
Through it all I tried to stay calm, to not cry, to reassure him. When he was finally gone– through the sadness and grief– more than anything I felt lucky.
Cash was a gift. The last two years when I really got to know him and bond with him on a different level were the greatest gift.
I’ll miss his smell. I’ll miss the upturned corners of his mouth–that I call a smile when I’d kiss him or stroke his fur.
I’ll miss him pretending to sleep, one ear flipped up so he can hear what’s going on and not miss anything.
I’ll miss Michael getting out of bed every night when it was time to go to sleep and kneeling at the end, scratching his ears and covering him in kisses.
I’ll miss Cash waiting for me at the door, begging for treats, snuggling with me on the couch and in bed… his guilty looks… his playfulness.
And most of all– those eyes. I’d swear looking into his eyes connected our souls.
So very Lucky.
Before posting on Facebook, I posted the following:
I want everyone reading this to stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, take a deep breath– and be grateful for all the good things you have to be thankful for. Life comes with no guarantees. The only thing certain– is this moment.
I wanted to share– but not make this all about me. Grief and loss is something we all experience throughout our lives. So many times we get caught up and forget the important things.
Earlier this month, it seemed a lot of friends were experiencing grief and loss. I found and posted this:
When we got home from the vet, we let the babies out and I had to plug my drained phone into the charger… next to Cash’s empty food bowl. A while later, I opened the refrigerator to find his half can of dog food, covered in foil, staring me in the face. Little moments of grief and remembrance. There will be a lot of those moments over the coming weeks. The empty space on the couch, toys only he played with, tags in drawers forgotten long ago. It’s all part of the process.
Within hours of posting on Facebook, over a hundred people has expressed their condolences. Reminding me once again that I am so Lucky.
At bedtime, there wasn’t even any discussion. Belle and Dudley got their peanut butter, their crates were left open and they both climbed up on the bed. They played a little before settling down and going to sleep. I didn’t sleep well– but mostly because it’s hard to sleep with a sixty-pound boxer pushing me to the edge and snuggling with her head on my chest– snoring softly. I was blissfully uncomfortable.
So very, very lucky.
A friend just had to say goodbye to her beloved pet. My cousin just lost his Mom and his dog in less than a year. Two years ago, I stood by as a family of a former student laid their daughter to rest and a co-worker buried her husband.
So much pain and grief.
I find myself without words.
I realize nothing I can possibly say will make it better. My words are not going to heal the pain or make it go away… and silence doesn’t help either– I hurt a friend deeply when I didn’t reach out– because I didn’t know what to say.
I am here.
It’s the best thing I can think of to tell someone. Maybe that’s all they need to hear– to know that you are thinking of them, that you stand with them, you’re there to listen and that you share their grief.
When I find myself confronted with someone’s loss, I get frustrated and angry that I don’t have the right words to express how I feel. No words can truly express the love, the sorrow, and the empathy– wanting to reach out but not clearly knowing the right way to do it. I have experienced loss in my life and I know that no one else can feel or has felt it the way I do. Sometimes it feels like people say things because they should, not because they understand. I cannot pretend to know exactly what someone else is feeling, which makes it so difficult to know what words to say.
I am here.
Nothing makes me angrier than to hear someone belittle someone else’s grief.
“Why are they so upset? It was only a pet.”
“They hardly knew them! Why are they so emotional?”
How dare anyone be so unkind and unfeeling! What right does anyone have to judge someone else’s grief?
Loss is Loss.
My animals are my children. Losing them is a traumatic experience. They are members of my family. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand that. They’ve either never had a pet, or never taken the time to bond with them in the way I do. But- some people do understand how real that loss can be and that it can be as, or even more devastating than the loss of a person.
A friend of mine, battling leukemia, said that she’s had people say things to her like– “Don’t worry, it will get better.” or, “You’ll be fine.” She told me how angry it makes her feel because it isn’t fine. It just isn’t.
So, what are the right words to say?
I wish I had the answer.
To all my friends, acquaintances and those that may be reading this that I have never met… I do feel your pain. When you grieve, I grieve with you. I just wish I knew the right words to say. The best I can think of is: I am here for you.