We are graced with their presence, beauty colors our universe like an endless ceiling of bright blue sky. Then one morning we wake with heavy hearts, realizing they have gone, as though sneaking out in the middle of the night without a word, their existence seemingly nonexistent. Iron-gray clouds move through that lovely cloudless sky like a brush stroke of lingering gloom. We suspect the sun has an attitude, refusing to rise. And each new day magnifies the question: Did words accidentally slip from our tongue landing like poison? Then we reflect to a deeper layer, flipping a switch because maybe it’s not us. Maybe it’s them. A surmising… to soothe the bruises on our hearts.
It was close to 7:30 am when she walked into his room, sitting down in front of him. She looked into his eyes with a combination of love and resolution, as if to say, “Don’t you know, too?” He looked at his adorable black lab and shook his head, thinking, this is a little odd. But the obligation of school called, so he patted her soft head, saying, “Love you, Girl, see you later!” And he finished tying his shoes before walking out the door, heading for the high school.
The rest of us also left for the day’s routine: work and school. Just the ordinary; it was to be an ordinary kind of day. She was curled up and content on her soft bed in the backyard where she liked to keep an eye on any trespassing critters.
But shortly after we all left, she cried out. Our good neighbor next door heard her high-pitched cries, so he called us on our cell phones, then he stayed with her. One significant glitch was that all our cell phones were turned off, which had never happened before, and which proved to be the conundrum on this tearful day. So, over an hour passed before I even listened to the urgent message; during this time, our neighbor waited patiently with Lucky Girl breathing her last breaths. The guilt from this unintentional blunder stayed with us for a very long time; we felt sick inside imagining that she was lying there waiting for one of us to come home to tell her that everything was going to be okay.
He got down to her level, parking himself on the cool November concrete, her head resting on his leg. He was not a dog person, but he was a dog person on this day, petting her with compassion. It was ironic that she had had an aversion to him for some unknown reason. But that morning, any dislike she had for this man faded into the uncertainty of what was happening.
I pulled into the driveway, eyes wet and puffy from the phone message, and this was only the beginning. Walking through the side gate, I spotted our neighbor sitting on the walkway, his back up against the house, legs stretched out with Lucky Girl lying beside him. She was barely there, though – her eyes revealing acceptance and sadness. I think she knew more than we did at that moment.
He helped me lift her, gently laying her in the back of the car so she could lie on her side with plenty of room. As much as I wanted her in the front seat where I could see her, I knew she wouldn’t be comfortable. It wasn’t until I pulled out of the driveway that I realized the inevitable was drawing closer. She was eleven years old, but until today, she still seemed so full of life.
With tearful eyes, I drove, feeling grateful the freeway wasn’t a necessary route. Half-way to the vet, I knew. My heart felt the crossing. I pulled over to the side, got out of the car, and walked to the back, lifting the car door. I saw that my Lucky Girl had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. I sobbed again, knowing more tears would follow.
I kissed her on her nose then managed to get back into the driver’s seat, continuing for another ten minutes to the vet. When I arrived, frantically entering the building, I shared my devastating news with the girl at the counter who acted amazingly aloof for my untamed emotions. But two vet techs wearing light blue medical jackets carried Lucky Girl from the car into a private room. I asked for a few moments alone with my girl. There she was lying on the silver table, where I’m sure many furry family members have done the same. I bent over, laying my head on her soft black fur, gently petting her, and whispering on behalf of her family, “We love you, Lucky Girl.” More tears slid down my face as I was unable to comprehend that this was it…
No more walks together, no more cuddles on the bed, no more tossing of the ball, watching her chase that silly round toy with the excitement of a toddler. No more playing tug-o-war with her favorite rope toy, entertained by her incredible strength and admirable effort. No more watching TV with her lying at our feet as though she’s enjoying the show as much as we are.
When we were all home later that day – the news weighing heavy on our hearts and minds – we huddled in a strong embrace, emotions running wild. This unforgettable chapter was part of life, part of owning a pet, allowing their unconditional love to wrap around our hearts. But this chapter was also about learning how to say good-bye.
The strange thing was Lucky Girl had never indicated that something was off kilter…except, perhaps, when she walked into his room that morning. She looked at him with knowledge we couldn’t possibly have been privy to. Even though her behavior was unusual, she was quiet, not crying or whining, so it didn’t propel us into worrying.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty. If we only would have known. It just happened so fast.
Remembering Lucky Girl who received her angel wings on November 11, 2011. ❤️
It’s incredible how we become one big family here on WordPress. I’ve been blogging for about six years now and “met” Kim in those early days. She had become a wonderful friend, and her writing was honest, raw, and beautiful. I had often thought that if I made it to her side of the country again, we may have the chance to finally meet.
I knew she had been struggling with her health lately, but when I found out she had passed, it hit hard. The finality is tough to deal with, but even though this sounds cliche, I’m so grateful she’s no longer suffering. I believe Kim viewed life as one big adventure – to live it to its fullest…
Below is a beautiful poem Kim wrote for a woman who was going into hospice care, a woman who was like a mother to her. As I read Kim’s words, I realize how much they relate to her new journey now and to how her family and friends are feeling.
All things are possible
I know the road before you is long and hard it would be so easy to lay down your load breathe in the tranquility of everlasting rest as you climb the ladder to your promised reward I know the challenges you face wrestling with the peace calling you and the comfort of loved ones pulling you you have done your time it is your choice if you take this path to glory take the gift of love from those who care lean on their strength to find your way you are in my heart I care more than the words express selfishly I want you to stay there wasn’t enough time to do the many things there are to do to share the words silently kept my life was enriched by you you are a part of my soul and forever I will keep your spirit close
Selfishly, we would want you to stay, Kim, but, it was your time for eternal rest, to be free of pain and suffering. Just know that You have enriched the lives of so many who loved you and cared – family and friends…We will miss you dearly, and “You are in our hearts and we will keep your spirit close.” ❤
You couldn’t find your place You were lost in a space Where nothing made sense You had friends and they cared But they didn’t dare To look beneath your surface smile
In our hearts we carried hope That strength would win, that you could cope And for a while our worries were for nothing We lost touch though; our worlds separated But memories stayed true that we had created And you weren’t forgotten
Then we learned of your demise Tears fell from our clouded eyes Our hearts shattered with disbelief The sorrow showed with no disguise
If only we had shared some time Precious time that we hold dear To talk and vent and even cry Maybe then you’d still be here
Before darkness settled in and sun bid farewell I took a drive not far from home going fairly slow What happened next I’m reluctant to tell Yet the story has been told; others already know She darted out from nowhere I did see to this day I wonder how it all could be
Poor little one was naive though surely in control She was unaware of the danger lurking outside Her cries echoed through my heart and soul Provoking tears and sadness deep inside We simply met at the wrong time and place And departed with my many prayers of grace
I wish to rewind that awful hour in my day To save an innocent doe from unwanted sorrow Let a little one run freely and be on her way For a much, much brighter tomorrow The suffering is over now but images aren’t kind They lie still so fresh in my mind
(This happens all the time where we live because deer are in abundance. Many people don’t like them because they eat the gardens. Well, yes, I suppose that is an annoyance but I’m a little different. I love watching them walk gracefully down the street and always hope that car and deer don’t meet. After many years of living here, my car has never come in contact with one. This time though, the deer hit me on the left front side by the headlight. She was tossed into the gutter, hurt very badly and suffered about an hour before she was put out of her misery. I knew it wasn’t my fault. She truly did fly out of a backyard on my left side, out of the blue, and into my car all in a matter of seconds. But it was a very heartbreaking hour and I wouldn’t leave until she was taken care of…sadly this happens so often that it’s not a big urgency. We live in their territory and they are the innocent ones..)