The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Loss

To Lose. It is a verb when you are talking about it abstractly. "Did you hear that so and so lost their (dog, house, child, parent)?"
Loss. A powerful noun when it refers to you and your own life. "I have experienced a loss."


Cassidy, our 13 year old English Springer Spaniel, passed away on June 4th. She was born on May 15, 1998. J and I bought her, on a humid summer evening, from a breeder in MN in July 1998 when she was 10 weeks old. We've had 3 dogs in our married life, Cassidy was the only one who has been like a child to us. Faithful is the best word to describe her. She always trusted us, always knew that we were her people. She was never happier than when we were all together - her pack - going anywhere, but together.



Summer 1998
 There was a time, right after we got married in 1999 and moved to a small city in NY, that J was in graduate school and I was extremely unemployed. He was in an art program and in the studio day and night. I was experience the life altering shatter of the Christian college bubble. You know, where you suddenly realize that the world is full of awful people (like the drug dealer/pimp who had loud s.ex in the apartment above us) and that your bachelor's degree in international relations means less than nothing in a small city in upstate New York.

Cassidy and I would walk to the huge park near our house and sit. Just sit on a hill near the confluence of the Genessee and Hudson rivers. I'd cry. She'd press against my side and let me keep an arm around her. Then suddenly she'd take off, chasing squirrels and rolling in grass and throwing her full body into the river for a stick. She'd return full of life and joy and look me in the eye to say "hey! wake up! It is SO great here in this sleepy city. And isn't it SO great that we can just hang out all day together?!" :)



Summer 1998 - Trout Lake Camp, MN

Passed away seems too easy of a description. We made the decision to put Cassidy to sleep on June 4th. If you've been reading here you know that she was diagnosed with a large lung tumor in January. The prognosis was 4-8 weeks and she gave us almost five months. In the end it seemed pretty clear that she was holding on the best she could because she's not one to give up on us. So we had to make the decision for her.

I came home from Ethiopia on the 2nd. The next day Cassidy followed me around the house with the "eyes." I know these particularly "eyes" because she used to give them to me while she was suffering from undiagnosed Addison's disease in 2002. They are the eyes that say "I'm not feeling good. Can you fix it?"

She was struggling for breath, coughing a lot, and she couldn't just lay down and get comfortable. Her job here with us was done and there were no more pills that could help. So on Saturday we took her in and helped her say goodbye.

It's a terrible thing, taking a life. I've never done it before, not even humanely. I have selfishly tried to rescue little dying birds, puppies, squirrels, and even a raccoon we hit with the car one time. If it were up to me I'd always choose life, even over humane death, and I'd see every person and animal live forever.

But life has a really crappy way of calling you out and ending sometimes before everyone feels ready to say goodbye.

We gave Cassidy a double stack cheeseburger. And a peanut butter bone. And the vet staff were incredible and loving and made it as easy as possible. We told little stories about her while they were prepping. Cassidy was so tired. I told her it was ok to let go and she just layed down and it was over. But not over for me. I see her in my mind's eye every day. Those last minutes of saying goodbye. The way her fur was so soft still. Her long ears that I've cried many tears into over the years. It is baffling how life can be there one second and the body there but the life gone, the next. We learn about this concept, and maybe I am the last 34 year old on earth who hasn't actually experienced it in either animal or human form, but it is....well... baffling. Mysterious.



So it has been a miserable week and a half. I thought once it was done and the tears were cried that day that it would all be over and life would move on. But every day last week there were more tears. There are still tears, they just don't always flow now.

We got her ashes back last Wednesday. And again, I marvel at how that is all our lives boil down to. Because whether we are human or doggie, life ends and in the end our dust can fit in a little box.



Never have I been more glad to know that there is life after death. Never have I found more comfort in the knowledge that God promises us a better place, where ALL things will be made new. Beloved dogs too. Life on earth is so fleeting. 13 years went by in the blink of an eye. Surely our human lives will be just a speck as well. I imagine that by the time I am very old, and my time is up, I will have said many, even harder, goodbyes and be even more comforted by the thought of heaven.

We sang a song in church on Sunday:

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we are going to see the King

No more crying there, we are going to see the King
No more crying there, we are going to see the King
No more crying there, we are going to see the King
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we are going to see the King

No more dying there, we are going to see the King
No more dying there, we are going to see the King
No more dying there, we are going to see the King
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, we are going to see the King

It is an old gospel hymn with roots as a "Negro spiritual."
I can only imagine the losses of some of the people who have sung this song over the generations.

My loss, it is a first world loss. A priviliged loss. I don't forget that. But it is not any less painful for knowing that.

This past weekend we sold D.oris D.ay. Our scooter. I had this dream - that once we moved to Colorado we would travel everywhere by scooter. While some dreams are harder to bring true, this one wasn't so difficult - the scooter part. We bought DD within a couple of months of arriving here. We took her to the store, and for sunset rides around the lakes. She was sort of our last hurrah as a married couple without kids.



We sold DD last weekend. I cried both before and after. You know how once you start crying the tears manufacture much more easily? Yeah, that's been me since Cassidy's death. The tears are just there ready to spring out and fly all over the place - over a scooter, over a photo, over the thought of Ariam ever dying, over our under-celebrated 12th anniversary on Monday.

I think the couple that bought DD thought I was crazy. I may or may not have insisted that they call her DD and encouraged them to take her to watch the sunset at Sloan's Lake every night. I may have also (cringe) suggested that they buy the house for sale next door....

Here they are trying to appear understanding as I take a photo for this blog post and blubber about how my dog just died and I'm sad to say goodbye to the scooter too.



It would be nice to be able to pull it together in the coming weeks and enjoy some summer.

I think we need a puppy....

~A

21 comments:

  1. I'm really, really, very sorry for your loss. Cassidy sounded like an amazing addition to your family and I'm sorry she's gone. Thinking of you!

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  2. Lots and lots and lots of love.

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  3. No moment is more beautiful and more tragic as the moment of watching a life leave. I've done it too many times, for beloved animals, a father and a grandfather. But they know when you are there--her spirit knows that you remained present and walked her to the feet of Jesus. xo

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  4. Sooo hard, especially when a much loved dog has been through major live changes with you. It's the end of an era. I had to make the call on my beloved doggy when he was 16, and it was so strange NOT hearing him around the house. Everything sounded so different without those paws tap tapping on the floors. And it is an awful thing having to make the decision, such a moral weight. Be gentle with yourself.

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  5. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    And you should get a puppy. :-)

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  6. I'm very sorry about Cassidy. She was a sweetie. Having to make that decision for a pet is just a heart-wrenching thing to have to do and I feel for you and Jer. Having to put Edgar down just tore me apart. Sending big hugs your way...-Laura

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  7. Amanda,

    I cannot express to you how deeply sorry I am over your loss of Cassidy. She really was the BEST DOG EVER! Thank you for the beautiful picture you painted of her in this post. And, thank you for being true to yourself and being so candid in your posts. It makes me miss you so much more! :) Love ya lots Amanda Joy!

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  8. I really truly hope that berry picking can provide a couple hours of respite tomorrow. I'm so sorry, Amanda. My chest is holding a lot of sadness for you right now. LOTS and lots of love....

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  9. I know how hard this is, the tears come less frequently as time passes but reading this brought back memories of Jasmin and made me cry. Big hugs from DC and I'll be remembering all the happy times with Cassidy.

    xoxo

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  10. I wish I had the right words to help ease your pain. I'm so, so sorry for your loss doesn't seem nearly enough. But I am so sorry. I have a 12.5 year old pup who sounds so much like your Cassidy. I could not hold back my tears (or snot)reading this. Hugs to you.

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  11. I'm very sorry... Give yourself time to heal (you'll never forget or stop feeling sad) before finding a new puppy. Abrazos and Pablo misses A a lot.

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  12. :( Sweet Cassidy. So sad the world is without such a gentle heart.

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  13. A- so sorry. you wrote beautiful words for a beautiful being.

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  14. It is indeed sad to say goodbye to a beloved member of the family, especially one who has loved unconditionally as Cassidy has. Tears will come when you least expect them. Thoughts & prayers with you all as you find your new normal and when the time is right, god will place a puppy in your lives. Korana's mom

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  15. This makes me so sad. I am so sorry that your family experienced this difficult loss....

    As you wrote about your final moments with Cassidy, I went right back through time to the moment we had to put our cat to sleep. It was so painful and still, nine years later, remains so dang fresh when I read stories such as yours.

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  16. I am so very sorry. You wrote about her beautifully, I was captivated throughout the post. And I have to say that your last line made me smile. It's in our nature to look ahead isn't it? Even when we are in the middle of the pain.

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  17. Oh Amanda, I'm so very very sorry. She sounded like a lovely dog- I also went through a time of feeling extremely unemployed and a faithful friend who can't ask you about whether you've written any more applications is EXACTLY the right kind of company.

    You must miss her so much.

    And you DO need a puppy.

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  18. I'm so sorry to read about Cassidy. She seemed like a wonderful friend.

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  19. If you never have - google Rainbow Bridge. Its a very nice poem about pet loss. So sorry.

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  20. Cassidy was by far, the very best dog I've ever met. I don't think there will ever be a dog like her. She was my very good friend.

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  21. Sorry to hear about the loss. But always remember that when one thing's lost, another thing's coming your way. Always remember the good memories.

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