“They had buried him under our Elm tree, they said – yet this wasn’t totally true. For he really lay buried in my heart.”
— Willie Morris, “My Dog Skip”
Several people have asked about the cats, Harry and Wilhelmina, since last week when I described searching for them in the dark. Hide and Seek is a game we play most nights. I’ll find Harry peeking around a tree, hiding. Harry is mischievous like that. Whereas Wilhelmina seems oblivious. I’ll find her engrossed in some hopping thing, maybe a grasshopper, a cricket or a frog. I’ll scoop her up and take her inside.
The thought of losing Harry and Wilhelmina brought to mind other pets I have lost. Most all my dogs and cats have lived long lives which gives me a certain amount of pride. Losing a pet is a gut-wrenching experience. If you’ve experienced it, then you know. If you haven’t, I can’t explain it.
Two dear friends are suffering; one lost her cat of 13 years. The cat came with the house, she said. “I feel bad I didn’t love her more.” Whether or not it is true, I’ve been told a cat loves a place more than a person; whereas a dog loves a person. I hope it comforted my friend to know the best she could do for Fluffy was to let her stay at the home she had always known. She had cared for her and fed her. Perhaps that is love.
The second friend is watching her dog, Annie, slip away. Annie came from what we used to call the “Dog Pound.” Annie is a big, lumbering, anxious dog who is quite generous with grandchildren laying all over her long, soft, auburn hair. At one time my friend labored in the kitchen cooking Annie’s food from scratch. She actually made the dog’s food. Some husbands don’t get that much care. As Annie’s biological processes are shutting down, Annie’s mother, my friend, is struggling with end of life issues. Even a friend can’t help with those decisions.
It happened I took Anne Lamott’s book “Help, Thanks, Wow” to the doctor’s office because I hate that there will be a big screen TV with CNN or FOX news making me more anxious than I would be anyway. Fortunately, the big screen was off. I thought it timely that Anne Lamott had this to say:
“It’s nighttime now, and Jeanie passed an hour ago, miserable and afraid. When the vet came, we tried to gently get her out from under the futon, and she went crazy, and the next ten minutes were so awful … It broke my heart. But she had been suffering, and is suffering no more. She was a proud little union cat, and also a model of queenly disdain with a bit of grudging affection for most people, and pure adoration for me. Was my prayer answered? Yes, although I didn’t get what I had hoped and prayed for … Am I sick with anxiety, that I did the wrong thing? Of course. Sad? Heartbroken. But Jeanie hit the lottery when she got me as her person for 13 years, and the bad death was only 10 minutes. So, let me get back to you on this.”