Sometimes I think that, even if there were no other reason for me to be crazy about dogs, this one reason would be enough: because they have such short lives, dogs are teaching me to say good-bye, a skill I badly needed to learn.
I’m not good with death. I don’t feel like googling it right this minute, but there’s a poem my mother taught me, with this line about death (I seem to remember it was a kind of refrain): ‘I do not approve, and I am not resigned.’ That’s expresses what I feel, too, in a nutshell. I’ve always been surprised that my mother likes the poem, because she is quite good at dealing with death. But not I, not at first…
I didn’t notice I was getting better until I began losing the Six Pack. It helped a lot that I had significant amounts of time to prepare myself, in four cases. And it helped that I was finally able to fully realize that it wasn’t about me. I understood, at that time, that the approaching death of a loved pet is exactly when you’ll have to remind yourself most frequently that your job is to be with him or her, to focus outwardly, not inwardly.
I think I’m a little too wrung out to write eloquently about this tonight. I will try again some other time. But briefly, this evening I checked what was new on Facebook and saw that a friend’s tiny Chihuahua puppy, born with a birth defect which surgeries were unable to correct, will probably die tonight, and I found to my surprise that it hit me almost as hard as if it had been one of my own.
It made me remember all the good-byes I’ve said to my dogs, the pain and the loneliness and the disbelief that between one moment and the next, someone so important could just cease to be. I remember, and I can feel with my friend, tonight.
There’s a chance little Mia will pull through. Whether she does or doesn’t, this entry and my thoughts are devoted to her. If you would like to, please pray for Mia and her owner, or hold them in your hearts. This is my prayer:
Mia, may you always know, in this world or in some other, how very much you were loved, from the first breath you took outside of your mother. And my friend, may you add one more gift to all you’ve given Mia–may you have the strength, if she knows it’s her time but doesn’t want to desert you, to tell her that it’s OK for her to go, because you want her to be free of her pain. And if that’s what you need to do, may you have the strength to lie through your tears and put a smile into your voice, so that the last thing she hears will be your cheerful, loving words.