Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rainbows and Paw Prints

Today I picked up my dog Rogue from the vet. I've been there a million times before, but this time it was all I could do to pull into the parking lot. As I turned off the car I wondered if I could make it through the door. Much to my surprise I actually got to the receptionist. She took one look at me and said "Ok, here for Rogue then?" Wow, I thought to myself, they really are hardened here aren't they? I then noticed her face go from regular color to white as she realized that my pick up was anything but routine. She stumbled over her words as she said "I'm so, so sorry, I just realized, it just came out."

That's the thing about death. Life keeps going on all around you. Time doesn't stop even though there are those moments when you feel like it should. You desperately wish that it would so that you could just breathe again, find your footing and move forward.

Last weekend I found myself desperately searching rescue organizations and humane societies for hope. If I could just find something to fill this hole inside my heart, then maybe I wouldn't feel so broken anymore. Sean quickly put the brakes on my plans. I was wrong and I know it too.

As I was reading a whole host of blogs I like a few days ago I came across one written by a woman who had recently suffered a terrible loss in her life. In it she wrote about the empty feeling death leaves behind and how she had been searching for something to fill it up again, but then realized that you can't fill it up with things. There are no substitutes for going through the grief process. There are no fixes for it. It's brutal, raw and hell. But only truly going through it can get you to the other side of the pain.

And so as I unpacked the bag of things sent home with my beloved dog, I wept. As I moved the medicine bottles, the leash, my favorite collar and a tin with all that I have left of him, I found three precious gifts. The first was a beautiful copy of "Rainbow Bridge", which is reproduced any time one loses a pet, but it gives me hope none the less. The idea that Rogue is out there romping round just waiting to see me again gives me peace. Second was a card filled with hand written notes from all his caregivers at the vet school. As I read through them I realized that Sean and I are not the only ones who are grieving for him. We are not alone in our journey. I will carry their words with me always. Finally, there was a beautiful paw print done in clay. It will hang on my wall as a reminder of our loyal friend who will remain in our hearts forever.

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