I think many of my friends would describe me as “tough as nails and hard to rattle”. Today I’m sharing my vulnerable side.
In my last Coffee Talk post I hinted at some tragedy that my family experienced last year. I have sat down to write this post countless times and I’ve had to walk away. The tears are welling in my eyes and it’s hard for me to see the screen.
But I need to do this. I need to share my pain. I’m a firm believer that it’s part of the healing process.
And I know I am not alone in the sadness I am feeling.
In the years before we had our Two Sugar Bugs, Mr. Two Sugar Bugs and I had four legged children. The original girls ~ Hannah and Sahara.
Hannah came first; our sweet, gentle chocolate Labrador Retriever. We got her about one year into our marriage and she became an immediate part of our little family. Hannah didn’t have a mean bone in her body. She loved everyone and I loved her with all my heart.💗
We lost Hannah a little over three years ago. She was 14 1/2 years old. I was completely unprepared for the depth of loss I would experience. I sobbed for days. Mr. Two Sugar Bugs and I couldn’t even look at each other without crying. I think it was two weeks before I started to be able to smile. This past week we’ve had so much snow and my sweet Hannah came rushing back to my memories. She loved the snow so much.
But when we lost Hannah, we still had Sahara at home. Sahara, our wee-bug-chug-a-lug, the naughty, but oh so lovable Whippet.
I never knew my heart would have the space to love another dog the way I loved Hannah, but that’s the thing about love ~ my heart grew and I loved little Sahara just as much.💕
We are coming up on six months since we lost Sahara. She was weeks from her 12th birthday. Her death caught me absolutely off guard. It was so unexpected and I grieved in a very different way. Even with the passage of time I still find myself fragile. I walked into the garage the other day and saw her collar and leash and I burst into tears.
Sahara was a cancer survivor. She had a mast cell tumor on her tail when she was eight. The veterinarians we consulted with felt strongly that they could remove it completely if we amputated her tail. So the Wee-Bug became a tail-less, but cancer-free Whippet. She started having seizures in the last year. She’d had four that I knew of, but her body just couldn’t take the fifth one.
I take some comfort in the fact that I was with her. That I was holding her in my arms and hopefully giving her the love and support she needed to move on. But it rattled me and I’m still very emotional about the topic.
What I’ve come to realize in our loss is how embroiled the original girls were in my life. How much they were part of my routine. For a combined 17 years they were my first and last priority for the day. Even after having Big E and then little e, my days started and ended making sure my original girls were taken care of.
I miss the pitter patter of their toe nails on the hard wood floors. I miss the way they ran to meet me at the door when I’d return home. I miss the way they would beg for their daily walk and I dearly miss how they would snuggle against me.
Our Wee-Bug was my constant companion for her time with us. She became even more attached to me after losing our Hannah. Mr. Two Sugar Bugs works nights at the hospital and Sahara was my company in the quiet evening hours once the Sugar Bugs went to bed. I miss her more than I can put into words.
At seven, Big E is old enough to understand the finality of death. Little e was three when Sahara died and she is still grappling with the idea that Sahara isn’t coming back. Weekly, little e will comment, “I miss Sahara. I want her to come back.” To which I respond, “I miss her too and I wish she could come back.” The conversation then turns to her declaring we should get another dog.
I’m not ready. After losing Hannah, I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever be able to get another dog. The pain was too deep and I couldn’t imagine going through the loss again (although I knew it would come with Sahara too). That’s the funny thing about pets ~ we bring them into our lives full well knowing we are going to lose them. I was talking with a patient about this yesterday and he said to me, “a new dog will never fill the missing space in your heart, but it will help to make that space a little smaller”.
I grew up with lots of dogs (my parents still have four dogs!) and I know we won’t be dog free forever. I also know the time commitment a new puppy takes and I know I couldn’t devote the time necessary at the moment.
As the days continue to pass, I feel like I am slowly healing. I’ve cried a lot preparing this. Looking at all the pictures and having all the memories of the love and joy the two original girls brought to my life has been good and very hard.
The last six months have been tough. We lost our Wee-Bug, my sister lost her Layla and my parents lost their Paris (all three girls were litter mates). I’ve also had another friend lose her dog and another lose a cat. We’re all grieving and I realized that we don’t talk about the loss of our pets often enough.
Earlier this week I had a memory of the weeks following our loss of Hannah. Big E, who was four at the time, saw me crying and asked why. When I told her that I missed Hannah she looked at me and said, “but Mama, you hold her in your heart so she’s still with you.” (the words I told her over and over in the months of anticipation of our loss)
If you’ve stuck with me this far, thank you. Please give your fur babies an extra snuggle from me.
I believe my original girls are waiting for me at the rainbow bridge, until then I will continue to carry them in my heart. 💗