Saturday, July 24, 2010

Life and death

The blog "One Bark At A Time" has a final accounting of life after the passing of "Stella" & it can be found here. I happened upon this final blog posting by accident (As Stella's life ended the blog came to a conclusion and as the days passed I was no longer checking back in to read readers comments since they too had died down). Like many of this blog's regular readers I hoped there would be a new posting of dogs up for adoption-replete with Fred's usual character filled photos that never failed to make one want to head to Toronto to adopt-now.
This latest & last chapter is filled with the emotions one is always left with when a well loved pet passes and when, as is usually the case, an owner is left making the hard choice of when , precisely when, to euthanize. You never fail to doubt your choice once it has been made-despite the suffering that has so clearly been put to an end.
I can recall all of my pet's death's. In the "old days" the family vet -a very reserved man whose practice could be found in a fairy tale like brick house-was the last stop in all of our animals lives. I vividly remember him shaving cat Spooky's leg for the injection. The next memory that follows is of him touching her open eye to show us she had indeed passed. It was so hard to believe life was there, one second, and completely gone forever, the next.
I remember us putting the cats in plastic bags and returning them to their carrying cases. Then you had to pull yourself together and stop crying because the bill had to be paid and you were going to have to walk out to reception where everyone else waited with their dog and cat and you did not want to do that while crying. Perhaps vet's offices should have a private back door for the families of newly deceased pets so we can exit in tears and not feel the need to make ourselves presentable...
We always picked wooden wine "boxes" as final resting places for our pets-my dad must have kept them for that purpose. In those days wine came in glass bottles with real cork ,stored in wooden boxes and these small crates just so happened to be the perfect size for a cat.
Some of our pets were buried in our backyard, the first under a tulip tree, it's grave marked by a stone found by my grandparents home in Cupsaw Lake, New Jersey. Others found their final resting place on a ridge amid the oak & maple trees of Forest Park . One burial took place in the pouring rain, at night. It is funny what you remember, years later.
As Fred mentions in his post-there always was the post passing sightings. Those heart stopping moments when , out of the corner of your eye, some shadow had a form that tricked you into "seeing" your pet. These sightings faded as time passed but they did have the poignant effect of giving you a second's respite from the grief before reality quickly set in-much the way a dream about a dead loved one does-until you wake up and realize it was all just a dream.
Fred's writings about life with Stella & Rocky-and his readers comments-drive home the universal nature of our deep and lasting love for the animals in our lives .
As I read the last post and felt the wave of sadness crash-a combination of grief for Stella,Fred, Rocky and family combined with the pets in my own past-I turned away from my computer screen to find Nicky silently sitting on the bed's edge while Sandi sat by the chair. How did they know to be there?

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