Sun streamed through the window, bathing me in a delicious yellow warmth. I closed my eyes for a moment, imagining the sweet promise of spring. It had been such a long, dark winter.
I was out at Flight Coffee Cafe, sitting in one of my favorite seats, finally feeling good after a horrible weepy month of missing my little dog, Gigi. Her passing shattered my heart and left me with such a raw sadness.
After I wrote my last post about the dog’s passing, a fellow blogger sent me a thoughtful comment. Ray Laskowitz is a New Orleans photographer and storyteller, http://www.laskowitzpictures.com. Ray reminded me of what the well loved children’s book author, Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
Dr. Seuss’s words became my mantra for the next few weeks. Dr. Seuss helped, Ray helped and many friends had comforting words. But what helped the most was writing it all down. Again the power of words have been able to soften sadness.
I bought a beautiful journal to write about my little dog. The pages beckon to me. Every word I scribble is like a warm beam of sunshine. Every sentence and thought fills my heart. Years from now when I find her memory fading, all I have to do is pick up my journal and read how happy she made me feel.
After my little terrier mix passed away, I went back to the beach where we usually took our walks. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. How could she be pawing at my shoulder, pestering me to get me out of bed to begin our day and then be gone?
I had stayed in bed a little later that morning. I figured since I had to give her medication for an injured disk in her back, we could start out a little later. Gigi always knew when I had a day off. She would only let me sleep so long, before she nudged me out of bed and into the car. We would drive to my favorite coffee shop and then to the best bakery for homemade muffins. We would split the muffin and then go out to the beach for a walk. It was a ritual that we both loved.
Six weeks ago, I notice that she had started walking a little funny. She was off-balance and soon started to sway like a “drunken sailor.” X-rays showed that an injured disk was causing problems with her spinal cord. The vet put her on anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxers. She started to recover immediately with tons more energy. She was soon back to running and jumping. But it didn’t last long. The symptoms came back stronger than the first time. The vet said that sometimes older dogs needed more time to heal. We resumed the treatment with confidence that this time it would work.
Gigi felt better immediately, so I thought a short ten minute walk on soft sand would be alright. It was a beautiful morning and spring had finally arrived. Naturally, we would get the tea and muffin first.
Just as I started to get out of bed, Gigi had a seizure. It was brutal and lasted at least five minutes. My husband and I both had to hold her down. I thought it would kill her. When it stopped she didn’t even know who we were. Her eyes were wide and she was just staring into space. She couldn’t move. We got her to the vet and decided the best thing would be to put her to sleep. It seems that what was going on in her spinal cord had progressed. She would be twelve years old soon and extensive back surgery was out of the question.
As I walked along the beach, retracing our steps, I just couldn’t make sense out this. She was so happy one minute and then gone the next. It just wasn’t fair.
I tried to find answers in the sand, but all I kept seeing was my little dog walking beside me, riding in the car with that look of total bliss, the joy of getting the middle of the muffin where the best berries were and curling up with me in bed with a book and a glass of wine. It was like a movie playing over and over in my mind. Re-runs of all the happy moments throughout the years. I was so lucky to have her in my life. She left me with the best memories.