Today is sad beyond words.
Our very geriatric grumpy resident senior citizen/canine, Cherokee, nearly 17 years old, has lost the “quality of life battle” that we have been monitoring very closely for the past year or so. We could see it coming…in her eyes, in her disposition, in the sound of her breathing. But somehow, after several bad days, she’d suddenly perk up and start chasing squirrels in the back yard, so we shrugged it off, choosing not to think about the inevitable.
But as of late, the bad days have outweighed the good, and the past two weeks have been particularly gutwrenching for our family. She lost weight, a lot of weight. She wasn’t eating and she was losing control of her bladder. This morning, she couldn’t even get up. Bill carried her outside at lunch and she couldn’t even stand on her own. It’s always in that moment you “just know.” She was suffering, the sparkle was gone from her eyes. She was still trying to please us, but she was unable to do what she thought she should do. We made the decision and Bill made the call. We cried. I’m still crying.
What is it about the animals in our lives that allows them to wrap themselves so tightly around our hearts that when they leave us we feel as though they took our heart with them. Indeed, they do take a small piece of our heart, for it belongs to them, and them alone. I have lost many pets in my life over the years, and none of them have been particularly easy. This one is especially hard. My mouthy mutt, lovingly nicknamed “Flappy” by me because she would “flap her yap” at you whenever she thought you weren’t listening, or she wasn’t getting her way. I will miss her spirit, her love of our family and home, the way she always “wiped her face” on the carpet after she ate. Those things will live in our house forever.
Whenever someone in my large group of friends who are animal lovers loses one of their own, I always send them this…I’ll read it to myself tonight before I go to bed, and remember how blessed I was to have known an extraordinary dog, an extraordinary family member. I love you, Cherokee.
inspired by a Norse legend
By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
they cross over one day. Rainbow Bridge
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.