By Heather O.
I have vivid memories of the day my family celebrated my 9th birthday. I opened presents in the morning, and then we went to the state fair. I don’t remember all of my presents, but I remember that I got a pearl ring. It wasn’t a real pearl, of course. It probably cost a dollar in some bin in some craft store, but I was absolutely enchanted with it, thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world. I remember feeling that simple happiness of a child, when small things mean a lot.
I dropped the ring getting out of the car, in the parking lot of the state fair. I searched and searched the dusty ground, looking for that ring, but the family was moving on, we had to get to the fair, nobody had time to look for my ring with me. My mother gently took my hand and said, “It’s lost. I’m sorry. Let’s go.” I felt my happiness deflate, like a balloon, but I also felt something else. A familiar feeling of loss, but also an acknowledgement of that feeling. This is what it feels like when I lose things, I thought. I hate this feeling.
(Random side story: The day wasn’t a complete waste. Somewhere along the way, I won a stuffed parrot. I think I named it something like Lola. Definitely a girl’s name. She was small, but soft, and I carried her into the movie theater that night when we went to see The Natural. Spoiler alert: I was holding my stuffed parrot in my lap when Barbara Hershey shot Robert Redford, and was so startled that I threw my parrot up behind me. I spent the rest of the movie wondering if I would ever get my parrot back. I begged my parents to look for the parrot when the lights came on. My brother found it—three rows back. I still wonder who the parrot landed on, and what those poor people must have thought.)
This week, we lost our beloved puppy, Winston. My 11 year old son was taking him for a walk, and the dog saw a squirrel and gave chase, pulling free from my son’s grip. J chased Winston through the neighborhood, but the dog ran into the back woods and came out onto the road that backs up to our neighborhood, a 2 lane road with a 45 mile hr speed limit, a road that took the life of our neighbor’s dog about a year ago. The woman who hit Winston, a friend of ours, didn’t even have time to put on the brakes. We rushed him to the local vet, and then to the emergency vet, but 3 hours later he succumbed to his injuries, and died on the surgery floor.
I held it together during the evening, when my children were sobbing, when my dog passed peacefully to the other side, and I comforted my friend, who may never get over killing a golden retriever (she has two beautiful goldens of her own). But as I got ready for bed, and saw a shoe he had recently chewed on, I finally let down my resolve and cried. Because I remember this feeling. This is what it feels like when I lose things.
My son, too, is learning this lesson. Yesterday he asked why Heavenly Father caused this to happen, why He didn’t save Winston, or make Winston run a different way, when there were so many other ways the dog could have run. He wanted to know when things would stop hurting, and we assured him that although we didn’t know when, he won’t always feel so sad. I watched as my son came to know grief, and was grateful, in an odd way, that’s he’s learning it from something like this. A loss of a dog is hard, but it’s not catastrophic. It’s not the loss of a parent, or his sister. His world has shifted, but not irrevocably. There will be other dogs to love. Many, many dogs. And in the meantime, he can learn compassion and how to grieve with the ground still solid beneath his feet.
R.I.P. Winston. We will always remember you.
WordPress database error: [Can't open file: 'wp_comments.MYI' (errno: 144)]
SELECT * FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_post_ID = '2597' AND comment_approved = '1' ORDER BY comment_date