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Last night as Cash climbed up on the bed, he did something he hasn’t done in a while.
I don’t mean he laid against me– he does that every night, or, for at least part of the night. After he did his little spin around in circles, deciding where to land, he sat against my side and then inched his way down between Michael and I, until he was laying and his head was nuzzled against mine.
At first he lays with his shoulder on my arm and buries his face in my pillow. I wrap my other arm around him, snuggling until he eventually signals (shifting around) that I need to pull my arm out from under him so he can be truly comfortable. Then he takes a deep breath and sighs and falls asleep. I love that so much. He slept by me all night like that. Snoring softly next to my ear.
Cash was never a snuggler. Not much of a licker (kisser) either. That was always his sister Roxie’s job. Roxie would spend five minutes every night licking my face before digging in the blankets, flopping down and snuggling. Cash would just climb up on the bed and lay at my feet. It was the same thing every night.
And then Roxie died.
I’m not sure if it was out of his own grief and feeling of loss or maybe a need for a greater connection– but all of a sudden Cash was snuggling. For the first six weeks after Roxie died, he snuggled every single night.
Then little by little, he did it less often. Or, not for the whole night at least.
I miss it. Every night I hope he’ll snuggle– but now when he does, it’s even more special. It warms my heart and fills me to the brim with contentment.
Just a boy and his dog.
I never really knew Cash before Roxie died. He was always aloof, letting Roxie take all the attention. She never asked for it– she took it. Like Cash does now.
After Roxie was gone, we had a lot of time alone together– Cash and I. He followed me everywhere, never wanting to leave my side. That’s when I started trying to go to the gym or grocery shopping, only early morning, while he and Michael were still sleeping. I couldn’t bear the thought of him being in this house alone.
Whatever room I’m in– Cash is there. He helps me with whatever I’m doing. If I go outside, he wants to go outside. If it’s wet or cold– things he never particularly cared for before; he’d rather be outside with me, than inside by himself.
There’s something about the look in a dogs eyes when you really get to know them. I can tell when he’s happy, sleepy or distressed. He has good days and bad days, as do I; and we seem to be able to comfort each other.
Sometimes Cash will just sit and stare back– talking without words. Other times, he’s laying next to me, head in my lap.
We connected in a way I never expected we would. I couldn’t be more grateful for this time we’ve had to just– be. Co-exist. A boy and his dog.
It took a lot of thought and consideration before we were sure we wanted to try to bring home a furry companion for Cash. We weren’t sure he’d be able to handle the energy of a puppy; and were even less sure he’s be tolerant of a rescue dog’s baggage.
We took the risk with Belle and Dudley– and it’s worked. Cash get his exercise, playing with toys like he hasn’t done in years. He let’s Belle snuggle up against him while he sits as proud protector.
With the puppies, he seems to be pretty content to let them have the bulk of the attention; knowing he’ll have his time.
They have their crates– he gets the bed.
And we always find our moments throughout the day that it’s just he and I. I make sure of it. If for some reason I wait too long, he reminds me.
Maybe because it took so long to get here is what makes our bond so special.
I enjoy it. Love it. Treasure it.
A boy and his dog.
To All My Friends:
I take you with me.
Though we may not share every moment of our lives,
Though years may pass without our sharing a single day,
I take you with me.
You are with me, and you are loved.
Michael and I have already mentioned, probably more than a dozen times, people in our lives, past and present, that we’ve thought of on our trip. You see, friends, you are always in our hearts and minds.
People I meet, share time with, develop relationships with– impact me daily.
Even thousands of miles from home I can’t help but think of many people along the way.
*Walking the streets of Old Town in Stockholm, I immediately thought of Gay and her love of European life and culture. I pictured her here, remembering all the many students she exposed to the world with her many trips to Europe.
*When we visit Danzig, how will I not think of my cousin Ginger, whose character in the musical RAGS escaped from there?
*When we visit the Stutthof Concentration Camp, how will I not have my friend Kathy, close in my thoughts? She and I shared a close bond and understanding of the events of the Holocaust and the importance of telling the stories to future generations.
*How will I not think of Jason after our frequent Patti LuPone conversations, while she performs on our cruise?
Yes, my friends, I have brought you all with me. I carry you with me every day of my life. Your impact and importance in my life goes far beyond the times we might have shared or the experiences we encountered. I think of you often.
Rejoice and celebrate every connection you make. You’ll be surprised how sometimes the most unexpected people influence you the most.
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.