Unprepared, but Breathing

It has been an eventful few weeks in our family but the most difficult has the been the loss of our beloved dog, Cassie. She was a beautiful seven year old full sized rough collie. She became ill and died in a very short time.

The physical impact of grief was not new to me as I have lived through loss, many times. It was genuinely unexpected so there was no time to prepare or create space for the oncoming pain. It took some time to breathe, to make room for the loss of my constant companion, to let the feelings land in the moments, and shed cleansing tears. In some ways, it was a storm and I had to let it pass over and through me.

It has been two and a half weeks since her passing. I have not quite stopped looking for her around the house, anticipating her greeting when I come home. I try to talk about the good times with her so we can all remember the joy she brought to our lives, not the last brave moments full of tears in the vet’s office. We took some time to remove her physical presence like her food and water bowls, toys, and leashes. Over the last few days, it happened as the time was right.

The outpouring of compassion from friends and family was something else I for which I was unable to preapre. People sent flowers, cried with us, sent cards, and expressed their love on social media. I had to breathe, to meditate and pray to accept all that wonderful love. I have a new appreciation for the people who fill our lives with amazing love in good times and bad. And I am truly grateful that they honored the place Cassie held in my life.

Just three days ago, we adopted a one month old puppy, and I found myself, once again, unprepared. Rationally, I knew there would be sleep deprivation and constant attention but I expected it to take longer to find the next member of our family. We found Finnegan and knew quickly that he was the one. I was moved to tears in lobby of Central Oklahoma Humane Society as I knew he would be ours. I was helpless to avoid the emotional earthquake that was this tiny, vulnerable life who would instantly be dependent on me, on my family, for his survival. I knew I wasn’t ready, that I needed a little time to prepare. Life isn’t like that, though. When you are open to relationships, even with pets, you have to leap.

With a round of texts and images, my amazing family took that leap with me, and he’s now taking an after breakfast nap in his crate in the bedroom my husband and I share. He is wrapped in a soft old shawl of mine surrounded by soft cuddly toys. We are shattered by the similarity to raising our own infants, by his utter need and devotion, and by the depth our own adoration for this dog. We had forgotten the simple joy of meeting the physical needs of a small one. Thank you Finnegan for reminding us of the joys we had set aside for the more sophisticated art of parenting older kids.

We have recalled the joyful times, not only with Cassie but with one another. We have, finally, remembered to breathe.

Finnegan

FINNEGAN

Cassie

CASSIE

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