Monday, January 15, 2007

Getting On

Next month it'll be half a year since my dog Atticus was put to sleep after suffering through a bone infection (osteomyelitis) for most of 2005. We were together for 13 years.

During that decade plus 3, as "dog people" know, the gnawing knowledge that you will outlive your pet - barring unforeseen accidents - is constantly riding sidesaddle. There's dread and a feeling that you won't be able to cope when the time comes. There's fear that the pain will be unbearable.

Six months later I have coped and handled and I'm getting on.

I love seeing other dogs at the park and stroking their fur. And I particularly love seeing Goldens. But as a friend who lost her pet at the same time shared: "If I could just hug him one last time". That and wrap my arms around Atticus and inhale deeply. But one last time would never suffice.

There's a gap. And all of a sudden I miss her desperately at times and begin to cry. And my 5-year-old will ask: "What is it, mom? Atticus?" Yeah. I'll reply through tears. "Don't worry. We'll get another dog. And we can name the new dog Atticus," he'll reassure. Aren't I lucky to have such a wonderful kid (playing an adult)?

I dunno why I decided to share that. I guess to de-mystify the feelings or explain how they morph from sharp and all-encompassing pain to deeper longing. And during my initial loss, judging from the deep feelings resurrected within my mother for her dog Sharon who died years ago, the feelings never completely subside.



Savtadotty said...

I still miss my first dog, Vicky, who died in 1950! But I don't love the one I've got any less for that.

Liza said...

Our dog is 14 and 1/2, and being witness to his signs of aging is painful, even though he doesn't seem to be suffering at all. I know the end is nearer rather than farther, and I am absolutely dreading it.

I cried with the loss of both dogs that we had while I was growing up, and I know that this time will be far, far worse.

Sounds like you are raising quite the sensitive little boy.

Laura said...

Hi Stephanie,

Your story of Atticus and how you're dealing (or sometimes not) makes me smile in a big way. Smile?, you say? Yes, smile with gratitude. It reminds me of just how fortunate I am to have my boys around. Those moments where they drape their heart over me, protecting and caring for me in a way that is meant to be done for them, not expected from them, it's in those moments that I realize that I know the meaning of life. We miss you guys. Tell Raph we all say hello.