Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Give Up and Give In vs. Get Up and Get On

It is now the third day since our dog Cilla passed away. For some reason this has seemed different as opposed to some of our other pets passing. There are moments of relief that she is gone. Cilla could be quite a pest. Go and get yourself some cheese to snack on and there she was staring at you waiting for her share of the cheese. Not that I begrudged her the cheese, but at times I was put off by the starring as though you were depriving her of life's sustenance. There were times when I was working on the computer that I did not want to hold her in my lap, it interfered with my ability to type. Many a time I typed one handed just to hold her in the crook of my left arm. So there are a few times that there is relief from her being gone.

Other times there are moments of profound sorrow and tears. She was after all just following her nature of wanting to be with us and dogs are always hungry. We took her constant asking for table scraps as a sign perhaps as a pup she had been deprived. We also know that when she was with our daughter and her husband that her shoe chewing banished her to the porch. She lived outside on the porch for several years not allowed in the house. Cilla was deathly afraid of thunderstorms so I can imagine what that was like when she could not find shelter or comfort. We did provide her with shelter and comfort and good food and medical attention. We gave her love, seldom was a lap denied her or a head scratch or belly rub. Many times I would get down on the floor and we'd play bite the pesky hand that grabbed your feet. She enjoyed that.

For some reason her death is a little more difficult for me. The last pet we lost, other than Rosie the Cockatiel, was five years ago. I was 58, and I had not had cancer and major surgery. So perhaps my outlook was a little different, perhaps not so sensitive to aging and the end of existence. Now I am amazed that she was here Friday, Saturday she was gone. I cannot see her, I cannot hold her, I cannot tell her I love her or play with her, or feed her her share of the cheese snack.

I don't feel guilty for feeling relief, we are encumbered with all kinds of thoughts that run counter to compassion and caring. In the end it isn't the thinking that means too much, it is the behavior. I rarely behaved badly toward Cilla, I was tolerant of her wants and tried to satisfy her needs. It is the fact that she is no longer here that plagues me. I miss her warm little body in the crook of my arm, or the warmth of her body stretched out along my leg in my recliner. I miss her quizzical look when I said her name, or her enthusiasm and excitement when we asked her if she wanted to go for a ride. She was here a couple of days ago, now she is gone. I miss her.

Yet the words come to me that in our lives these events will occur and some will be of greater impact than others. The loss of a loving dog is the loss of a family member. Yet those of us left behind have a choice. We can give up and give in to grief, sorrow or inaction, or we can get up and get on with the time we have left. When you think about it, there really is no choice. So I will get up and get on with life, and I will keep Cilla in my thoughts and honor her memory. For the rest of my days I will remember all of those who have been a significant part of my life be they pets or people. For now though I recall Captain, Mattie, Blondi, Rosie and now Cilla as those pets who provided me with another dimension of enjoyment.

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