“The waiting is the hardest part”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Saturday was a tough day for the pack. To see Sammy get all his stuff together and get ready to head off to college was nothing less than heart breaking. But none of us could deny all the hard work and studying he did to achieve this accomplishment. We always thought his intelligence was underappreciated by the college review boards but we always clapped (inwardly) when he was denied acceptance into any schools. However, yesterday it was clear he was ready so we all sat around and supported him as he transitioned to the next stage of his existence.
As it turned out, the vet arrived first while dad was outside “talking” to our next door neighbor as the neighbor was unpacking his car with bags of mulch. Dad initially went out to cut down some of the irises around the tree in our extension when the neighbor asked how things were going. Both my parents had spent the last few hours piddling around with one meaningless task after another while Sammy and I puzzled over their odd behavior. They kept trying to get Sammy to hang with them outside in the backyard since despite the forecast for rain all day, the skies had cleared, the sun came out and the heat index increased beyond Sammy’s sensitivities. I myself found a nice spot in the sun to relax.
What was my point? Oh yeah. The vet arriving. Just prior to this while Dad was on one of these seemingly time wasting chores and mom was sitting on the chair next to Sammy, the neighbor asked how things were going but when Dad went to talk, rather than words coming out only blubbering, sobbing nonsense (and gesticulation toward the house and possibly the name of Sammy) came out of his mouth. The neighbor, in his patient way (he has three children), waited until dad could compose himself to actually articulate that we were waiting for the vet to come and help Sam off to school. Having two dogs (along with the 3 kids), the neighbor was appropriately sympathetic and compassionate even going so far to ask if there was anything they could get or do for our pack in this difficult time. Dad, finally, got his emotions in check and said, “thank you, but we are going to be OK.” They then started talking about the neighbors mulching effort, dad offering up our pitch fork, followed by general guy talk about yard maintenance when the car pulled up with the vet inside. All of a sudden Dad went from coherent (at least for him) to a gasping, sobbing mess again. Our neighbor got the gibberish Dad was speaking – did I mention he has a 2 year old? – and excused my Dad as he went to meet the vet.
Then one of my favorite people, who isn’t but should be, a part of the pack arrived. Our beloved pet sitter/dog walker Ms. A. We met her when mom panicked after about 1 day of having Sammy and Banshee and did a Google search for pet sitters. So, she knew Sammy almost as long as he was a member of our pack. Dad went out to meet Ms. A., and again he went non-verbal, and pointed at the house and was able to choke out that Sam was still here and we were waiting until everyone was ready to send him off on his next adventure.
We were able to get Sammy on his Big Barker bed and get comfortable next to Mom. Dad squeezed in next to them on the mini bed which was originally intended to be mine until I about doubled in size from when they got me. Maybe my cousin Snowy would like it? Anyhow, both my parents were on either side of Sammy and I rolled on my back basically wrapping my body around Ms. A’s ankles as the rite of passage continued. The doc gave Sammy his feel good meds and as those settled in, stories were told of Sambuca, “Banana” Banshee, Montana, Boomer, Hassenpfeffer and the star of any story time: ME! The Tempest!!
Although there was a lot of sniffling and nose blowing – not sure why you people would allow all that stuff in your noses…it is no wonder your sense of smell is for [Poop emoji] – the stories were by and large humorous and joyful (at least those were the odors they were transmitting during their conversation) – since I did not pay any attention to the actual words as I continued to lay on my back. Well that isn’t entirely true. If I heard my name or the words “center of attention”, “food motivated”, etc. I may have tuned in momentarily until I realized I was not going to get any treats right away.
The final moment came with no sounds of anguish from Sammy. Just the sweet smell of relief. I tried to give the vet a kiss, as well as Ms. A and Sam but I could tell he was already gone.
I won’t go into the details of how Sammy went from our living room to his school bus, since to be honest, I was not paying too much attention as I had to continue to be the bestest hostess to Ms. A and make sure Mom was OK. Suffice it to say, he caught his connection on time and we were all able to give him one last kiss and fur rub before he left. I must admit, for a wee second, I thought we were all going on a road trip and started to board the bus before I was reminded I had years of studying before I was ready for college…MANY more years (have I mentioned I still am not very good at doing our daily homework?). My parents aren’t too worried though since Montana was probably the best at it and she went to college way too soon (https://wordpress.com/post/montanamomentstrn.wordpress.com/300). Dad says I can still be awesome even if I am an under achiever (and he should know…wink, wink).
“And sometimes you close your eyes
And see the place where you used to live
When you were young”
Just after the vet arrived I saw all my peeps from the neighborhood run across the front yard. I was concerned they wanted me to come out and play at a time I knew I had to be there to give Sammy my highest praises for his great accomplishment. But as quickly as they arrived, they disappeared again. We found these on our porch when we took Sammy outside after he was all prepped for his limo ride to school.
Later, after Sammy had taken off, we were sitting in the backyard enjoying the day and possibly chasing a squirrel or maybe conversing with the neighborhood dogs. This was about the time we heard a rap-rap-rapping at our front door. Much to my relief it was not The Raven, Poe or anything sinister…in fact it was the complete opposite. Three of my peeps had returned! And in the hand of the middle one was a toy for me!! More on that in a bit.
Dad grabbed my collar and opened the door. The kids said, basically in unison, “We are sorry about your dog Sammy.” Then one said we brought a gift for Sammy, and again as a chorus “It really isn’t a dog toy though”. I didn’t seem to care and got very focused on my little treat while the children continued to talk to the guy restraining me from getting to my present which had been lofted over my head and was resting inches from my reach on the floor behind me.
Child #1: “Why did you let you dog die?”
Dad: “He was in a lot of pain.”
Child #2: “What’s pain?”
Child #3: “That’s when your body hurts.”
C2: “Like when I sprained my finger?”
D: “Yep. Sammy was like that all the time.”
C1: “Our dog when I was younger had a bad back leg and did this when it walked,” as she bent over, put her front paws on the ground and started kicking up her back paw. I was thinking we might need to take her to the vet ASAP.
C3: “One of our dogs has trouble with her legs too,” as he looked a bit concerned that said pup might also have to go to college soon.
D: “Sammy was 15 years old and had a lot of other troubles too, so you don’t have to worry.” – at least this is what he hoped he said to quell C3’s anxiety but in reality I might have pulled him over a bit to get to my toy.
C2: “Did you take Sammy to the vet?”
D: “No. He was sitting on his favorite bed in our house.”
C2: “Where is that?”
All three kids getting further in the house to see the place where Sammy took his last breath, a bit of awe over taking them. I finally got my mouth on my newest and favoritest toy ever…at least since the one I got during the Tesla kid car festival that I still haven’t told you about.
“Sorry about your dog.” – all three as they ran back to their respective homes and I settled in with said toy.
So first off, my parents really should do something about the couch covers. I mean this is getting a bit embarrassing to have my kid friends visit. Secondly, this is the text C2 and C3’s mother sent us later Saturday evening:
“C2 told me before bed tonight, that she picked her white stuffed animal because it was the closest she had to Sammy’s color. 💙 and C3 said if Tempi every wants a buddy, kenadee and bosee [their pups] can play.”
If that isn’t the two nicest things I’ve ever heard.
“The Sky is Crying”
Stevie Ray Vaughn
As the day began, the day ended with dreary skies and mist rising from the streets. A weird day all around for a June day here in the northern suburbs of Chicago. The morning had an ethereal feeling to it and this returned came night fall. The only thing that was there in the morning that had disappeared by the evening was my dear brother Sambuca. But is that really true. Sure tears were shed, hugs were received and given but as I went out for the last time that evening I looked upwards and if that wasn’t Sammy looking down on our backyard (with that concerned look of his which he often had just prior to breaking into that big ol’ grin of his)….
Well maybe it was wishful thinking but I believe in my heart of hearts he had arrived at college and was giving me one more lesson.
One he and the rest of my pack learned when Montana graduated: The world is full of great individuals who honestly look out for one another – whether they walk on two feet or four paws (in my opinion the better option) – the love and compassion we show one another is the positive energy that drives all innovation (my current favorite catch phrase), progress and creativity. We can only hope that our current world “leaders” can tap into this resource in a positive way.
Everyday is like Sunday
Everyday is silent and grey”
The next day we were all still a bit out of sorts but as a collective, we decided it was important to get back to some of our normal activities. So what better to do than go for a good long walk. Once we set off we ran into our neighbor who was so kind to Dad when the vet arrived. He kindly asked how we were doing and asked if there was anything we needed – including introducing me to one of their girls so I would have another canine friend. So sweet and likely something we will take him up on when the opportunity presents itself.
The walk for us was much further than we typically go when we are at home and Sam was with us. In fact, the last few mornings Mom and I have high stepped it around a lot of different streets than I’ve been on before. She told me this is where she used to take Sammy and Banshee when they were my age.
Anyhow, on the Sunday walk, we were nearing home we came upon our another one of our neighbors – the recently retired electrician who is going to soon be moving southward with his darling wife – something we are seriously not happy about. In fact, we had the great idea of giving their for sale sign to the guys who come around and collect scrap metal on the night before garbage pickup. Unfortunately, those darn people down at the internet had already found someone willing to buy their current domicile. Drats. So we met up with Mr. M (who when my parents first moved into the neighborhood had the alpha male of the block Max). Despite seeing that Sammy was not with us he engaged us on a very interesting conversation about electric vehicles, solar panels, and geothermal energy rather than the depressing topic of no Sammy. Despite the fact that I really had to go to the bathroom, I sat down, and was fully engaged in everything everyone was saying.
Both of these interactions really helped calm me down. First, it is OK to acknowledge what we lost when Sam graduated and secondly, his moving on doesn’t have to be the only thing we talk about.
We will grieve. But we will also move on and take try and embody what Montana’s subtitled her blog:
“It is great to be alive.” [a phrase she first heard on WXRT in Chicago]
Did I mention I’ve been hunting squirrels? Now that is living!
I’d like to end on this quote which I came across while doing research for this post:
“A person’s life consists of a collection of events, the last of which could also change the meaning of the whole, not because it counts more than the previous ones but because once they are included in a life, events are arranged in an order that is not chronological but, rather, corresponds to an inner architecture.”
RIP my knight – college can be an enlightening and tiring journey.
PS – I almost forgot! I started this post with the words Tick, Tick not only to reference the agony of having to wait but to tell a story about one of the strangest occurrences from this weekend. Mom found not 1, but 2 ticks on Dad which she promptly removed and squished. Unfortunately, from my perspective, no blood was in those little pests. These events makes me think maybe he (and not me) should be the one taking the flea and tick meds on a monthly basis! But now that they are chew-able treats he’ll have to fight me for them 🙂