i debated on the 'when' of writing this.
is it appropriate to compose a eulogy
before the passing has occurred?
but the thing is
this has loomed over me
over our family
for the past several days.
it has consumed us
and dictated so many of our actions
and the only way for me to process it
is to go where i always go
when i need to think:
* * *
ten years ago.
my new husband
having never had pets as a child
was ready to take a big step
in the way of making a family.
he had done all the legwork;
found a litter of pups
via an employee
in a town
two towns away.
half golden lab
half golden retriever
neither of us able to get away from work and school obligations
we put his employee in charge of picking our pup.
'tell her to pick a quiet one,' i had said.
i remember meeting the young woman at the gas station
under the stars
to welcome home
our new baby girl.
we had chosen the name
because it seemed to us a name fitting enough for a girl pup
but gruff enough to allow her to romp around and get dirty.
she spent the first night hiding behind the toilet in our duplex
terrified to come out and play
and i remember sitting for hours in that small bathroom
cooing at her
and enjoying the fluff that comes with a new pup.
* * *
she didn't stay quiet long.
she quickly found her voice
and her energy
going for walks.
riding in the car to visit dad at work.
chasing our cats.
barking at the sorority girls next door.
swimming in ponds and streams.
trekking through prairie grass.
chewing holes in the carpet.
tearing up linoleum.
and biting my ass when i did the dishes.
(needless to say, there were many arguments during her toddlerhood).
* * *
it was when we moved home to iowa
that we saw a change occur in sammy.
i remember driving the four hours
in the dead of winter
with sammy in the backseat
of my chevy prism
sandwiched between the door and trash bags full of clothes
her head hanging over the seat
panting down my neck
so excited for what lay ahead.
we drove into a fresh start
and into some of the best years
of our lives with sammy.
* * *
when i think back
to all of the wonderful
and silly memories we have made
there is so much i don't want to forget
and so much i hope charlie will remember
about her buddy.
loves being outside
in the pool
or the snow.
i always knew i was in trouble anytime one of these elements
existed just out our back door
because it meant
i would have to physically drag her
if i could even catch her.
i will treasure the way she always stayed close.
i think it came from having been kenneled in her youth;
once we started allowing her to sleep beside our bed
she was always closeby.
after the accident
she would lay at the foot of my chair
or next to my bed
or just outside the door
and would lift her head from time to time
to make sure i was still there.
after charlie was born
and grew a little older
i would sometimes find her curled into a ball beside charlie's bed.
she is a loyal dog.
a good dog.
a dog to be trusted.
a dog to be loved.
she loves peanut butter
and cleaning plates after meals
she loves hanging around charlie's chair
(and has since charlie was old enough for solid food)
waiting for something to fall in her favor.
she loves tennis balls
and prefers them to rawhide bones most days.
in her youth
before there was oz
she especially loved cleaning out
and subsequently destroying
the remains in the peanut butter jars
and i'm fairly certain we lost a fair amount of tupperware
to her teething habits.
she loves to play catch
although she never quite mastered the terms
she can sit.
before her hips became so bad a few years ago
she was especially good with the cha-cha.
she loves riding in the car
and any other excuse to put on her leash and go.
she bounds into the backseat all on her own.
she tolerated my love for dylan
and the way i sang at the top of my lungs while washing dishes
with her underfoot.
incessantly at times
but she would never hurt a soul.
she is amazing with charlie
and has forever secured her place in the heart of her child.
* * *
that we are at the threshold of the end
i turned to her in the backseat of the car
tears running down my nose
and took her soft
silky ears in my hands and whispered
'it's okay girl.
you can go.
we will understand.
we won't be mad.
you're my good dog.
i watched as my guy
sat under our tree with her
watching the horizon fade
whispering to her
as his own tears fell on her fur.
i cried as we sat with our girl
and tried to explain as best we could
that sammy would not get better
and that all we could do now
was give her lots of love
so that she could take them to heaven with her when she goes.
'but i want her to get better,'
'i don't want her to live in heaven's house.
i want her to live in our house.
i don't want just one dog
i want two!'
and we all sat on her polka-dotted sheets
while sammy girl lay outside the door waiting for us.
* * *
and now we wait.
and we savor each and every moment we have with her.
and despite her ailing body
we cherish the fact that she still pulls herself up to sleep at the foot of the bed
or get a scratch behind the ears.
we've said our good-byes.
we've made our peace.
we've let her know it's okay.
how i will miss her.
how my heart will continue to break
how i will long for the click-clack of her paws on the floor when i arrive home
or her chin on my lap as i try to read
or finding her propped up on the counter licking up leftovers
or the way she would nearly jump in the bathtub whenever i tried to soak.
how my guy will miss her
his first dog
who he watched tear through swampy pastures
and chase after squirrels
who was always up for a game of catch
or rough housing
and who loved him no matter how many times she was scolded.
how oz will miss his companion
the one he ran with
grew up with
who played tag with her
and let her try to put ponytails in her hair
and gave her kisses
just after she'd been cleaned in the bath
who shared pool time with her
and worked puzzles on the floor with her.
my sweet sammy girl
we will love you forever.
* * *
before i had a chance to publish this
our sammy girl decided it was time.
she woke this morning at 6:30
next to charlie's bed
and started to pant.
i scooped her up
with no argument
and laid her on her bed next to ours.
she looked at me with scared, sad eyes
sat with her on the floor and assured her
there was nothing to be scared of
and that all was well
and that we loved her beyond words.
her breathing slowed
and she rested her head between her paws.
our sammy girl heaved a big sigh
and closed her eyes for the last time.
it was quiet
it was peaceful
it was on her terms.
and while i am devastated
i am also thankful.
thankful for the time we had
thankful for the years she gave us
thankful that our daughter (and we) knew the love of a dog so good
thankful that we were all with her
|sammy girl. november 2001 - september 9, 2011.|
you will be missed and loved always.