Strange how your day can start off so great and come crashing to a halt in seconds. I felt good at work today, I got a lot accomplished and thanks to Thanksgiving break, I got to end my day at noon. I had plans to meet my research group at a local cafe at 3 and was going to eat my favorite salad with lemon tahini dressing beforehand. As I dodged puddles through the wetland that surrounds my office I admired medium sized dogs wearing rain jackets in the field. “You must look like their mother” the owner told me, his crinkled face hidden halfway past his gigantic umbrella. “Why is that?” I replied. “That one over there came towards you while you were walking down the trail and then stopped when you got close enough that he could see you properly.” I thought about texting this strange encounter to a friend but decided to keep it a guarded secret, something sweet and funny all for myself.
As I boarded my bus I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had my choice of seats. The few people who were already seated were calm and well-kempt, a big change from the screaming babies and explicit cell phone conversations that I suffered through during normal commutes. Because the bus was so calm I decided to forgo headphones and enjoy the sound of rain pitter pattering on the tin roof. It was then that I got the text … “You know that M went to heaven today don’t you?” It is almost too painful to write. No, I did not know that M went to heaven today and it was made that much worse by finding out secondhand through a text message.
It is hard to describe the first impacts of grief. Something hits you hard in the chest or waves past your head like a breeze only to catch you in a hurricane later. Everyone is different and every situation is different. I myself have experienced the deaths of many pets. The hermit crab who lost his shell, the other hermit crab who died of old age, the fish who refused to keep eating, the baby mouse that I found under the back porch. All were bathed in massive ceremonies. A graveyard in the forest dedicated just to them.
I have even experienced human death. Loved ones whom I still think of every day, whom still bring tears to my eyes when I see their picture or a movie that reminds me of them. Their smells, their laughter, that kiss in the breeze, the face that you could have sworn was theirs, that laugh that hits too close to home. This I know. What I didn’t know was how to face the death of a beloved companion. This is new to me. This is different. What is even more different is that M, the pet who died today, is not even my pet but the pet of someone who is now in my past. This is why I found out secondhand which I guess hurts in its own way.
I will not go into details about M, her life, or how much she meant to me (though she meant quite a lot). I will however never again take for granted the love of an animal regardless of wagging tails, fluffy feathers, slippery fins, or slimy skin. In some ways pets are people. They are the greatest manifestations of everything that is good about the human race. This Thanksgiving take a look at your pet, or a friend’s pet and say “Thank you.” It only takes a moment but you will be glad you did. Like humans (and most other things in life), you never know how good you have it till they are gone.
RIP M – Thank you for sharing your love with the world. ❤
PS: These pictures are of my dog Saidie whom currently lives with my mom in Pennsylvania. I will be sure to give her a ring this Thursday (both my mom and my dog) to say thanks. ❤